Ramallah Diary: Ruins will be rebuilt, we shall overcome

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The Independent Online

The soldier on the tank announces we are free to roam Ramallah for at least four hours.

I go to my office because I am worried about my colleagues inside the company. The Israeli army raided the company's headquarters on Saturday night. Twenty-five soldiers occupied the offices for a day and a night.

I step in the building, looking for my colleagues. There are about five waiting for me at the reception. One engineer has a camera and asks me to tour the building to assess the damage.

The soldiers came in through the back door. They shot at the security cameras and gathered all employees in one room. They were then taken to another building down the street. They spent the night together on the cold floor of a large room. The soldiers insisted they spent the night alone on the premises of our private property

They had an electric saw with them and other tools that will open any locked door. All doors were broken even though the keys were available for them to use.

To enter the transmission room, they decided to knock the wall down, rather than use the keys to unlock the door. Work stations with glass panelling were also smashed. The glass is scattered all over the carpets.

A cameraman from one of the news channels is now with us inside the building and I am continuing to take pictures.

Other colleagues are checking the inventory. There are many "missing" items, such as phones, gift sets, CDs and digital cameras.

There are carpenters and technicians working on each floor, trying to assess the requirements for reconstruction. The engineers are checking the main switch with care, as if comforting a sick friend.

I enter my office. There is no office. The doors are gone. Empty boxes are everywhere. It seems my personal property has been studied avidly by the soldiers.

A broken picture of my brother, his wife and their baby is lying on the floor. My brother and his family live in Egypt. I haven't seen them for a while now. I pick up the broken picture frame and I look at my brother.

Brother, will I ever see you again? Will I ever hear your baby cry and giggle again? Yes, I will. In fact, you will come here to visit me in Ramallah. You will see a beautiful, modern and clean Ramallah. You will even have lunch with me in this office.

That's a promise, brother. A promise. We will rebuild. We shall overcome.


The writer is the general manager of the Palestinian mobile phone firm Jawwal