"If you're not gone by the count of three, I'm firing." Two months earlier, we noticed that not all soldiers bother to issue similar warnings.
Without notice, two rounds of M16 machine- gun fire aimed at the ground burst from that same watchtower, splitting a crowd of "undesirables" into two distinct groups; one to the right of the shots, the other to the left. No one is likely to come back there! We are very careful not to move out of the watchtower's blind spot. As we continue through the desolate surroundings, a cold January rain beats down.
No one speaks. Faces are serious. Some people stare with empty expressions. A man explains why the Palestinian police, who were present at the time, did not shoot. "If they had, it would've been worse," he says.
Another man shows us what remains of his house. He has nothing. When we ask him what he and his family are going to do, he raises his eyes slowly towards the sky and, in a whisper, says, "Wait for God to take pity on us."
In silence, we return to our car, which is parked a few streets away. As we make our way through the narrow alleys we think about the emotional wounds that have just been inflicted. How many people will find a way out without suffering severe psychological damage? Will it be this cold tomorrow? Will it still be raining? And will the tents be distributed today? We finally reach the car.
Coughing, the engine starts up as rain pelts the windshield. After a few seconds of silence, we turn to our translator. "Are you all right?" His dignity requires that he smile, sadly. "Chouaia, chouaia," he answers. "It's O.K., it's O.K."
It is impossible to pull mementos, papers or objects from the debris. Soldiers stationed at a watchtower threaten to fire if anyone approaches.