GAZA, Palestinian Territory (WNB) - Scooter Van Neuter is blogging live from Gaza, as Israeli forces mount a ground offensive against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip.
My editorial assistant Mistee and myself have established a base of operations in Gaza at the Grand Palace Hotel. Our vantage point gives us a good view of Hamas strongholds and suspected tunnel locations.
We arrived late Thursday evening as Israeli forces (IDF) bombarded Hamas
positions nearby. The electricity was out and I managed to get a substantial discount on the room, as well as complimentary terry robes and slippers for both of us.
9:30 a.m. Woke up and called room service for some coffee and cheese blintzes, then called the front desk to register a complaint about our lack of sleep due to all the noise outside and smokey smell. The hotel is obviously poorly insulated.
9:58 a.m. We ate breakfast on the balcony so we could observe IDF movements in the surrounding neighborhoods. We saw several IDF armored vehicles down the street and explosions in the area. Mistee noticed two men leave the hotel below that appeared to be Hamas combatants - I managed to hit one with an ashtray, even from the seventh floor.
11:52 a.m. Went to lunch. Mistee had a tuna salad sandwich and I had a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Everything was good. Our waiter said the IDF killed the hotel assistant manager with an ashtray this morning. I suspect Hamas did it to try to make the Israelis look bad, as that's something they've been known to do.
1:00 p.m. We went to the pool to catch some rays and watch the sky for possible Israeli paratroopers or drones. Our cocktail waitress said IDF troops were outside looking for tunnels.
3:06 p.m. Got back to our room. The stress of combat is clearly taking its toll on both of us. I ordered some chicken fingers and a pitcher of margaritas from room service.
5:03 p.m. We see smoke coming from a few blocks away. Mistee thinks it's a barbecue grill, but I don't think so because the smoke is too heavy. Also, it smells like rubber. We decide to take a nap.
8:08 p.m. It's been a long day and Mistee is hungry. We're going to catch a meal at the fantastic restaurant downstairs after having a few cocktails in the lobby bar. One last glance out the window confirms something's still going on outside.