Friday is the 1st day of the weekend in the Middle East. Families gather and spend time with each other after a long week of work and in Gaza it is no different. We don’t have Western-style malls nor do we even have a movie theatre but that really doesn’t bother us. We are simple people and we don’t need fancy things to keep us entertained. So today we piled into a couple of cars (4 in the back and 3 in the front) and headed to the beach in the North part of Gaza. The entrance fee of 20 shekels ($6) got us 10 plastic chairs, 2 tables and an umbrella. Each of us brought snacks to share and carafes of hot tea and Turkish coffee and we settled in for a relaxing afternoon. The women sat and talked and played with the newest little addition to the family while the men swam and played games with the children. Time passed slowly and the last afternoon gently turned to dusk. Just before sunset the Gaza fishing boats were making their way out to the 3 mile limit of our allowed area. I was watching the children play in the ocean- care-free and laughing- when the sound of the Israeli Navy shelling brought me back to reality. Three gunboats were making their way across our narrow stretch of water firing large calibre machine guns as they went. The fishing boats were not even near the border yet- their 45HP motors were still put-putting along slowly. What was the reason for this shelling? Were we having too much fun? Did we forget for a minute that we are under a brutal occupation and blockade? The Navy gunboats eventually stopped and turned around going off to the North shore. No one was hurt from the shelling and the boats escaped without further harassment. Children continued frolicking and adults continued sipping coffee-this is nothing new or strange in Gaza. In fact there were no worried faces or strained looks, no babies crying from fear, no mothers calling for their children- this is just the way life is in Gaza. No matter what they hand us we will keep living- we will not let them creep into our hearts and our minds and impregnate us with fear. As I reflected on this I became angry. Why should this be normal? Why should we be so accustomed to shelling and bombing? They dare tell us WE are violent! ! That WE don’t love our children! Such hypocrisy. They are the ones that have brought violence and destruction to our doorstep for 65 years but to their dismay- we Palestinians keep LIVING.