Gaza: The Neverending Nightmare

I wish all of this was just a nightmare and that I would wake up tomorrow at 5:00 am at the ring of my phone alarm that I set again!

By Aya Alghazzawi,Gaza City

On Monday night, I told myself that I needed to sleep early in order for me to get up early next day to head to my work as usual. I sat the alarm at 5:00 am this time. However, it was not the phone alarm that awakened me. It was an Israeli strike targeting the home of an Islamic Jihad senior commander Bahaa Abu Al- Atta at 4:00 am, leading to his death alongside with his wife, Asmaa. The assassination came as a total violation of the peace truce held between Gaza and Israel not so long ago. It is very Ironic to put the name of the city of Gaza versus the Apartheid State of Israel!

Since Tuesday morning until this moment, Israel has killed 34 Palestinian civilians including three women woman and six children and injured at least 111 others. And since the beginning of the Israeli assault over Gaza, we have been listening to the radio and following up with news on social media for we cannot watch TV due to the frequent blackouts which are something we have been suffering from over the past 13 years. It anguishes me to refer to the murdered in numbers for I think that statistics dehumanizes us. We are not mere numbers to be counted. We are human beings with untold pain, stories, memories and dreams.

My little sister Raghad, 7 years old, asks me why she is not going to school and why we jump every time we hear that resonating sound ( she means the explosions). It is very hard for me to explain to her that schools have been suspended owing to the irritating situation Israel has put us in to cover its political stalemate. It is hard for me to tell her that we are killed, shelled and ignored because we are Palestinians not born to Jewish mothers. Therefore, we are not worthy of life. Yet I tried my best to distract her and keep her calm. But how can I comfort her while I myself still recall the three Israeli war aggressions I have experienced within less than a decade? How can I forget about the thousands whom these assaults reaped including my own cousin? How can I assure her that everything is going to be ok when I know that anyone of us can be the next target of an Israeli strike?

Gaza, the thorn in the mouth of the enemy, has been always a testing field for US-imported weapons. Two million residents in Gaza are being trapped in 360 square kilometers and rained by Israel with rockets and bombardments. 2/3rds of its population are refugees. 80% of its citizens are reliant on international aids. 290,000 Children are in urgent need for psychiatrists. For me, all of us here are in a pressing need for psychotherapy. And now, we are left with no electricity or water to add additional burdens to our misery.

Israel hates Gaza because Gaza refuses to be a collective graveyard. Because Gazans refuse to die in silence. Because we love life. It is not enough for Israel to cage us. Israel always finds a way to exterminate us. It is leading this Genocide. And it wants us to accept death with from-ear-to-ear smiles!

As for the international community, we stopped expecting good from the official representatives. In his statement, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, Nickolay Mladenov said that he is “very concerned about the ongoing and serious escalation between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel” and that “the indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars against population centers is absolutely unacceptable and must stop immediately”. Not only did he equate between the colonized and the colonized, the murdered and the murderer, the occupied and the occupier, the oppressed and the oppressor, but also ignored the fact that Israel has begun this escalation in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the humanitarian law, and that resistance is completely legal for Palestinians under the international law!

Hence, what we really bank on is the civil community and mass mobilization to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and exert pressure on the governments to stop arming Israel and endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction’s call, known as BDS, until Israel ends its violations and comply with the international law.

All of this takes us to the always-posed question: who is to blame? Who is to blame for executing us, maiming our youth, terrorizing our children, and depriving us of a peaceful life? Who is to blame for keeping us in a constant state of fear, fear for ourselves and fear for our beloved ones? For captivating us in the biggest open-air prison on Earth, the Gaza Strip?

I am still thinking about what I am going to tell my students when, hopefully, things deescalate and get back to “normal”. To be honest, I wish all of this was a nightmare and that I would wake up tomorrow at 5:00 am at the ring of my phone alarm that I set again! If this could ever happen!