Saturday, August 02, 2014

Buff in Gaza: On the beach

I don’t know how I escaped being picked off. Maybe the sleeping bag I was still stuck within was enough of a camouflage. Maybe they mistook me to be one of the boxes that were drifting like me away from the wreckage.

I kept my head down, not wanting to draw attention to myself, until I saw the crowds from shore become people, individuals, scavenging the packages of medicines and surgical supplies. Then I freed myself from the sleeping bag and swam the final few yards to the beach, feeling the sand beneath my feet.

Turning I could see Luna Rossa captured by the Israeli naval vessels: it seemed mostly in one piece. Somewhere on board was my camera and the lower half of Rachel.

For a long time I could say nothing but just sit there, staring out to sea, watching the yacht be rescued while the bodies floated away. I kept hoping against hope that the others would have escaped to join me on the beach. Maybe Ali or his sister Doha, big man Michael, singing joker Samar, the watcher of Team NZ Isaac, the quiet farmer Ghazi or Gideon, surfing his way to shore.

But all I saw were bodies with holes and faces with vacant eyes.

I had to get away, so I ambled down the beach towards some kids playing with a football. They were laughing, as kids do everywhere.

Then there were explosions all around, and there were children dropping to the ground in pieces. Out to sea I could see an Israeli warship firing round after round, like death stalking its victim.

As the surviving children ran the shells followed them, cutting them down one by one, leaving a trail of little bodies.

What was going on? I ran, terrified, into a sprawl of buildings.

Just take me to the Australian embassy.

To be continued...

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