Gaza Two Years Later: War is never over

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“Let it go for God’s sake,” one would suggest. “Two years passed; just move on.” Though quite infuriated by how simple it can be thought of, I can somehow see their point. We, people of Gaza, seem to be still whining over the losses of the war. Objectively speaking, it is pretty justified to find it weird for Gazans to be blaming, probably cursing, Israel for the last war till the moment. Why can’t we “move on”? why is it hard for us to “forgive” or to even “forget”?!

In Gaza, when slightly open, a door makes a terrible sound as it keeps moving backward and forward. The sound can be provoking and greatly irritating that you would sacrifice some of your precious sleeping time to go close the door. In Gaza, the most miserable moments are never planned. Reaching the home’s entrance wanting to do nothing but shutting the door, you unintentionally take a peek through it. “Shh.. this can get really interesting,” you whisper to your little sister, trying to listen to a seemingly-interesting conversation in the hallway of the building. “Good heaven! My quiet neighbor is having a true normal talk with the chummy janitor?” you think.

To your surprise, the chat turns out to be anything save a delightful conversation. Having heard your neighbor say he was visiting his son’s grave, you start cursing the moment you left your bed to close the damn door. The old man starts narrating how his son was shot to death in the last war on the Gaza Strip. This day when he went to the cemetery happens to be the second anniversary of his young boy’s death. The janitor, the time at which he is supposed to offer the greybeard some consolation, secretly wipes his own tears. And as a gesture of tactfulness, he invites the man over for some tea. Too feeble to help, you calmly shut the door and go back to bed. You, too, drop a tear.

In Gaza, the unique Gaza, you can weep as much as you can. You can complain as much as you can. You can say whatever you want. No one can ever send you to jail for this. This is relieving, by the way. But, all of the fuss you are capable of causing doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be heard or responded to if supposedly heard. Speak out about the war (the “offensive”, some prefer to call it), nag all the time, cry, shriek, yet don’t expect too much.

Speaking of the names, many say that what occurred in Gaza was an “offensive” rather than a “war”. For a war has to be between two armed nations, and for Gazans didn’t have real defense weapons, it is usually preferred to call it “the offensive”. That is, completely-armed soldiers attacking and invading the land of unarmed citizens and barely-armed young fighters. I don’t really care about names; I am no journalist. Call it whatever you like. As long as you mean the 21 days I have in mind, we are cool!

In Gaza, you spare no effort to “forget”, if only for a second, about the war. Everything around tells you to do the exact opposite, however. The wreckage of your university lying on your way, the uprooted lands, the erect tents you pass by, the homeless kids all staring at you, the roof of your house being totally sabotaged, the echo of your neighbor’s voice telling his story to the janitor, the people stuffed in oddly-long queues waiting to get some coupons, they all urge you to moan, to scream, and to never “forget”. Otherwise, you will be entirely detached from your reality—from your Gaza.

I am sick of attempting to be objective. I don’t want to be “objective” anymore. I want to be Palestinian. I want to be a mere Gazan. That’s who I actually am, and that’s what I would have liked to be had I been something else. I want to keep talking about the war. I don’t want to “let it go” because it still hurts. It will always.

In Gaza, though it can technically “end”, war is never over.

Sarah Ali, 19, is a second-year student of English literature at the Islamic University, Gaza. Gaza Two Years Later is a series of posts by Gazan bloggers and writers reflecting on the two-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/09. You can read the entire series here.

About Sarah Ali

Sarah Ali, 20, is a student of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. Read her blog here and you can follow her on twitter @Saritah_91.

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10 Responses

  1. annie
    December 29, 2010, 9:40 am

    i call it the gaza massacre or the gaza slaughter.

    i am definitely not over it and i was not even there.

  2. Kathleen
    December 29, 2010, 11:41 am

    “”Let it go for God’s sake,” one would suggest. “Two years passed; just move on.”

    Can you imagine for one second someone saying this to someone who lost family memners in the WWII genocide. Accountability is critical. We can not even get Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews etc to even whisper about the Goldstone Report. SILENCE

    • Kathleen
      December 29, 2010, 1:18 pm

      oops “members”

      Can imagine saying “get over it” to a holocaust survivor?

  3. tommy
    December 29, 2010, 2:33 pm

    Letting go of cries for justice can only be achieved after the Israeli and US leaders responsible for the war crimes allegedly perpetrated in Gaza have been tried.

  4. Citizen
    December 29, 2010, 7:58 pm

    I bet Bush never even mentioned Gaza in his book. As to Americans waterboarding humans up to 50+ times to get information from them, he said on TV he just took the advice of his lawyers it was kosher. What else did you expect him to do? Similarly, as to attacking Iraq, he said he took the advice of his intelligence consultants at the time. Again, What else was he to do? And, BTW, he embellished, Sadat was such a bad guy he’d do it again. The poor Iraquis were glad to get rid of Sadat. The famous TV interviewer did not
    ask any follow up questions in behalf inquiring Americans in the TV audience. Nice to cash in on that book; probably the easiest gig he ever had, and didn’t use Daddy’s money or rep either to etch his name for history. Bush also said there were two types of people: doers, and those who write about them (the historians who never had or have to display their discretionary skills on the power hot seat).

  5. kalithea
    December 30, 2010, 3:50 am

    I’m sorry, I should have written this sooner. I find it very commendable that this site keeps the memory of the tragedy that occurred in Gaza alive this way. We shouldn’t let this memory fade, especially since war crimes were committed there that have been totally ignored by Western governments, therefore, we should keep grating on everyone’s last nerve with this reminder. Justice must be done for these people who suffered this atrocity.

    Cast Lead awakened me to the depth of suffering caused by Israel’s occupation. After days and days of bombardment, depraved disproportionate destruction, phosphorous and children’s’ mangled bodies, I broke down in tears of rage and made a promise to myself, that I would not let this subject go until I see justice for Palestinians.

    Keep on doing this honorable thing here.

  6. Richard Witty
    December 30, 2010, 4:32 am

    People that experience suffering, rationally move on. They move forward. They are resilient. They recognize that resentment is more of a lead weight than a motivation for anything.

    Even as a motivation, it is best directed to the present. “I will not let suppression define who I am. My freedom and dignity is NOT dependant on how others think of me or even treat me. It is dependant on my attitude, my resilience, my determination of my choices. And, I will continue to act for my best and the best of my people.”

    That determination does not result in hate. It results in assertion, and sensitivity to others’ experiencing similarly. As it is constructed of self-respect, it is capable of respect of others.

    For those of you that are not over it, please pay attention to the consequences of those on the ground, still in a setting of raw nerves and loaded weapons.

    • kalithea
      December 30, 2010, 11:02 am

      Did the majority of Jews in particular Zionists move on from their victimhood? Or are they clinging to it as the only ace in the hole they have to serve as an excuse and cover for the crimes they’re committing against Palestinians?

      This post of yours is replete with self-righteousness, pretense, and feigned compassion.

      It’s no more than patronizing bullshit.

  7. seafoid
    December 30, 2010, 5:13 am

    Someone should explain the Israeli position to Gaza. Here is a stab at it.

    Dear Ghazzawi. You are being punished by righteousness and the side of the light because our people in Vilno and Bialystok were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust and we have a Yad Vashem museum on the site of what could be your destroyed village because we swear never again and because we are the chosen people and G-d is on our side and and we have the support of the world’s greatest power and you are powerless. And the world hates us and we project that hatred onto you because it is all we know. We have been dehumanised by our suffering and its untreated symptoms and the only way we know how to deal with our pain is to dehumanise you . Because if we treat you as human we are afraid that you will destroy us.

    (In reality we do not know what we are doing but nobody is in charge. We desperately need national therapy to help us rise out of this pit of nihilism)

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