Gaza, Israel’s war on Gaza started getting uglier day by day, or minute by minute more like it. We were close to the four weeks more as Israel continued its massacres in Gaza. More UNRWA schools were hit, many of those displaced who sought refuge there got killed which led to worldwide condemnation, including Obama. More houses and mosques were hit, more families were completely wiped out. Jordan and France decided to “Shyly” condemn Israel. More global protests supporting Gaza. All of this led to further political movement and pressure into giving birth to a ceasefire.
Marking the one month milestone, making this third Israeli war on GAZA the longest and most vicious, a united Palestinian team was formed from all political factions headed to Cairo to re-negotiate and insert alterations on Egypt’s proposed ceasefire plan. Israel boycotted negotiations at first but then was pressured into sending a team also. An American team headed to Cairo to mediate, but without John Kerry. UK’s Tony Blair, also headed to Cairo. And at night, gradual news of a ceasefire started spreading everywhere.
A 72 hour pause\truce\ceasefire, call it what you may, was agreed upon by all parties and was declared. It will start at 8 am on Tuesday, 5th of August, 2014. People were skeptical and anxious. I was nervous. I wanted this war to end, I know this ceasefire would be the beginning to this end, but also Israel breaks every ceasefire and commits heinous massacres before and after ceasefires. I held my breath, and that night I couldn’t sleep.
Last time a ceasefire was announced, I woke up to the burning of Rafah instead of a ceasefire. I heard things outside before 8 am so I slept with no hope of waking up to a ceasefire.
I woke up again, rushed to the news, apparently a ceasefire was indeed effective. I also found missed calls from Ziad, my best friend. I rushed to call him so we could make plans on going out and get a few things done.
“This time Omar, you will not regret it. You will rejoice and enjoy your time”, I told myself trying to sound as convincing as possible.
Gaza was like a wounded woman with pride, bleeding but not broken, weak but holding up like a firm palm tree. People were out, most shops were open but it still had the vibe of “City of ghosts”, perhaps because people were under complete shock and walking like zombies.
Everybody was congratulating each other for remaining alive, all the talk on the street as about war and exchanging horrible memories. “I lost my home”, “I lost my children”, “I lost my dreams”. “I lost my car”, “I lost my friend”, “I lost my job”, “I lost my leg”, everybody seem to have lost something. Well, I lost things too. I lost the sense of humanity, my belief in peace and parts of my soul. I am sure no aid agency can ever compensate me for that.
I fluctuated between being very hyper and all over the place, hungry for life and everything else, and being distant and lost and confused and silent.
I went by the beach. How much I missed visiting the beach and within the sunset instead of watching it behind the bars of my house’s windows. It looked so serene, untainted, beautiful and breathtaking. So did the beach. But I dared not get closer. Bakr boys flashbacks were still bolting in my mind.
It started getting late, sun dived into the sea, and I automatically felt the urgency of returning home, just like a prisoner on a “yard break” routine. My family felt the same urge and started bugging me to rush home. We knew better than to naively give in completely to any ceasefire. The ride home felt like I was being taken to prison again. Sigh.
I got home and I started losing my mind like I was on anesthesia and the effect is wearing off. All the numbness was slowly leaving me. I started freaking out. I was overwhelmed. Traumatized. Mentally and emotionally scarred. I felt lost, lonely and confused. All the deafening silence outside became so noisy, my head couldn’t take this amount of quietness. I started walking back and forth in my room, frantically. PTSD much?
The power was back for a couple of hours, after eight days of no power whatsoever. Power was scarce before that. So I was lost and confused, kind of pissed off that the power is back. I was used to having all my batteries empty and drinking room temperature water in this scorching summer. Screwed up mentally, I know. Gaza suffers from PTSD, and with each war it gets worse and we suffer from deeper more complex version of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I was taken by so many emotions, contradicting emotions. I wanted this to end but what if it was only a ceasefire? What if war continues?
But the most chilling and scary question was: what if this ends? What comes next?
Gaza didn’t feel the same. Lighter with the demolition of so many houses, mosques and the wipe out of complete neighborhoods and areas. Heavier with the blood of two thousand people, including more than four hundred fifty children. Oh my god, we lost hundreds of people and children. I stared weeping uncontrollably and shaking badly. I remember I only felt this panic attacked when my grandmother died back in 2012. I started screaming. Tears burning my cheeks. But this doesn’t even come close to the tears of all the mothers who lost their children, all the people who lost their loved ones, and all those displaced people who lost their homes. Oh my god, hundred thousands lost their homes. I wept some more, but this time, in a calmer fashion.
It took us years to recover from Israel’s first war on Gaza, the second as brief and less intense but left a huge mental and physical damage behind. How much will Gaza and its infrastructure need to recover? And will we ever forget all the horror we experienced?
This war has ruined and deformed so many definitions. Ceasefire meant massacres. Bombing meant wiping out areas and families. Fired back meant Israel bombed schools and hospitals. Two missiles targeted an area meant more children got killed. A houses was bombed meant a whole family was wiped out. Strategic targets meant mosques, schools and hospitals. Ground invasion meant burning cities in Gaza. Self-defense meant launching an unequal war on a highly populated impoverished coastal enclave homing nearly two million people of which most are civilians. And peace finally meant killing 1% of Gaza’s population while the world watched silently and castrated Arab leaders sent donations.
Death toll reached 1875 by the time this was written, number will increase due to many critical injuries and many dead bodies under the rubble. Over 9500 others injured. more than 450 children among the dead. Most fatalities and casualties are civilians varying between children and women.
What will tomorrow bring for Gaza, a long lasting truce or more war?