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What will tomorrow bring for Gaza — a lasting truce or continuous war?

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A Palestinian employee inspects damages at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, after the building was shelled by the Israeli army on July 21, 2014, killing five people and wounding at least 70. (Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP)

A Palestinian employee inspects damages at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, after the building was shelled by the Israeli army on July 21, 2014, killing five people and wounding at least 70. (Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP)

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?

Omar Ghraieb
About Omar Ghraieb

Omar Ghraieb is a journalist in Gaza. He blogs at Gaza Times. Follow him on [email protected]_Gaza.

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41 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 10:44 am

    On Cspan now: I-P Conflict.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 11:02 am

      Thanks for the tip. I am watching it with much interest.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen on August 6, 2014, 12:11 pm

        Watching too. On August 4th Washington Journal had Tamarra Cofman Wittes director of the Brookings Inst middle east policy was on. She pushed Israel’s “narrative” in a softball manner. Very subtle (for some) biases. Avoided the facts. Pushed the repeated “both sides are wrong” narrative. Called Washington Journal the next day during open phones asked them once again to have the Leveretts on Phil Weiss put a plug in for Mondoweiss. Gretta threw in some hooey about going to their site to look at other guest and views. Washington Journal avoiding having on substantive guest who can provide the Palestinian experience based on facts. Today they had Bill Kristol…still can not get over how these outlets are willing to have Iraq warmongers on. Kristol was deadly wrong about Iran and many believe these war pushers knew exactly what they were doing…when they pushed the WMD lies

  2. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 10:46 am

    Accounting for 1/4th Paelstinians’ death.

  3. Kay24
    Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 11:24 am

    Listening to Proser the Occupier’s ambassador to the UN. It is the usually Israeli whine and victimization. Must be a record having an occupier being victim to the occupied….he blames Khamas for everything, and even showed disdain for the Palestinians not having developed after they “left” Gaza. Justifications for their brutality abounds. No mention of the occupation so far. In fact he implies that the Palestinians were free after they left Gaza. I wonder why then the people in Gaza cannot go in and out of Gaza freely, are blockaded, have checkpoints, cannot go to the West Bank etc. He is making Hamas to be ISIS and Boka Haram.
    He is accusing Khamas of genocidal tendencies….excuse me, but have they killed only 3 with their rockets, and how many have the poor occupier killed again?

    He sounds condescending and disingenuous. Just like the others in the Israeli leadership. I wonder even if he believes the crap he is spewing.

  4. American
    American on August 6, 2014, 11:24 am

    The sad, bad, fact is violence and Israel’s frequent slaughters of Palestines is the only thing that draws world attention to Israel’s true nature and intentions.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 11:45 am

      I agree. Usually the world is indifference to the daily suffering and murders.
      The Nakba anniversary murders of 2 young kids, has been lost and forgotten.

      I am glad the Ambassador of the EU is speaking strongly for the real victims here, the Palestinian people. I think Israel did get condemned for their brutality and the killing of refugees at shelters.

      I wonder what if anything the US will say here. Most probably the talking points are from AIPAC.

  5. Kathleen
    Kathleen on August 6, 2014, 12:13 pm

    Over the decades the majority of UN nations have rightfully stood up for the rights of the Palestinians and condemned the criminal actions of Israel. How many times has the U.S. blocked sending in UN international observers to the conflict?

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 12:18 pm

      Too many times. At the moment the US deputy ambassador to the UN Rosemary Dicarlo is blaming Hamas mostly, and blamed IT for the starting of this war.
      So far no blame on the occupation, and plenty of support for Israel the aggressor, and the right to defend itself. The usual show of love for Israel.

  6. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:30 pm

    Cspan now: China will give $1.5 Million to Gaza to help it out. China wants to see peace there re I-P.

    • annie
      annie on August 6, 2014, 12:39 pm

      1.5 mil is a mere pittance from a global power like china.

      • Kay24
        Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 12:44 pm

        I agree. It is mere pittance all right. When I heard that amount, I was shocked. It seems China is not very generous when it comes to handing out aid.

      • just
        just on August 6, 2014, 12:54 pm

        We outdid China by giving $3 billion+ to Israel.

        Israel and all of its supporters need to foot the bill– $$$ and shekels will help, but not until it’s in every grieving Palestinian hand.

      • ivri
        ivri on August 6, 2014, 12:57 pm

        Come on, you know that most of the world could not care less about either Israel or the Palestinians or conflicts between them. This is a side show for almost everybody apart from those directly concerned and perhaps also some in the West. That is why it ii important to reach local settlements, The “Intl. community” is no more than a phrase.

      • ivri
        ivri on August 6, 2014, 1:01 pm

        Come on, you know that most of the world could not care less about either Israel or the Palestinians or conflicts between them – they have their own problems to worry about. What happens here is a side show for almost everybody apart from those directly concerned and perhaps also some in the West. That is why it it is necessary to reach local settlements – The “Intl. community” is no more than a phrase.

      • annie
        annie on August 6, 2014, 1:02 pm

        The “Intl. community” is no more than a phrase.

        oh really. checked this out lately?

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen on August 8, 2014, 9:04 am

        Yes indeed Annie

  7. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:40 pm

    CSPAN now: Egypt spokesman on I-P conflict: Pattern: Israel revenge on civilians for killing of any of its soldiers. Targeting UN shelters by Israel. Not cooperating with any accountability entities, e.g. Goldstone Report ignored. Crime of aggression accountability needs to be supported. Right of self-defense includes not just Israel, but also Palestinians. Opening the crossings, lifting the blockade–need to force occupying power. No occupation, no violence.

  8. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:44 pm

    CSPAN Now re I-P conflict : Indonesia spokesman hates the disproportionate response by Israel. Humanitarian relief needed. Help Palestine with economic recovery. Join call for UN protraction of Gaza. Inalienable rights of Palestinian people and to dignity.

  9. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:50 pm

    CSPAN now: Brazil: Israel using disproportionate force. Condemns all racism. 450,000 Palestinians displaced from their homes. Ask UN SC to do their job. Need 2=state solution.

  10. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 12:53 pm

    CPSAN now re I-P: Welcome 72 hour cease fire. Gave Palestinians $30M charity. Blames HAMAS for bad stuff. Israel has right to defend itself. No trust so long as tunnels. Canada supports destroying Hamas.

  11. Kay24
    Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 12:55 pm

    Wow Canada is shameless blaming it all on Hamas. Quite a staunch supporter of Israel. Looks like Harper is doing the bidding of Israel dutifully.

  12. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 1:02 pm

    CSPAN now re I-P conflict: Argentina: Notes expansion of extremism. Ethical & political obligation towards peace. In light of Israel’s offensive against Gaza, we need to give humanitarian aid and law for Gaza. Most victims have been Palestinian civilians. We want to see this 72 hour truce is respected. How to negotiate towards peace? Need to open up Gaza, put an end to blockade there. Egypt’s playing a key role, others need to do same. The status quo won’t do. Need two states, side by side, with ’67 borders. In Argentina, no return to cycle of violence; same news to be in I-P conflict.

    • just
      just on August 6, 2014, 1:21 pm

      Indyk seems in love with el- Sisi…………

      he’s even grown some brush over his lip in honor of dubya.

      (why is nobody speaking about this Genocide?)

      • just
        just on August 6, 2014, 1:32 pm

        Natan Sachs is rewriting history now.

  13. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 1:22 pm

    On CSPAN now; Tamara Cofman Wittes: Center for middle east policy director:

    She sees it as a domestic policy thing; but in last month, rally around the flag on both sides re Gaza. Jews read about destruction of temple, and so what? Martin Indyx here to tell you what’s important, inter alia. She asks him, are US-Israel relations under strain? He says Kerry and he were involved in intensive effort for peace. Says Kerry said status quo was not sustainable. Yet we’re headed there again. Mentions Isaeli press against US efforts for peace. Yet US congress gives moe $ for Iron Dome. He goes back to 1982, when he went to Washingon DC–“special relationship” rebounds, as Americans support Israel. But Israel today is a different county, is strong, around the world, not just in USA. China, India,Russia, eastern EU, all support Israel. Israel feels more independent from USA, this includes Egypt, S Arabia, other oil countries. Israel is independent. Israel does not care about US opinion. Dont’t need Sadat types anymore, back when US gave Israel everything & all knew it. The length of time since 2000, the failure to achieve any solution since then?

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen on August 8, 2014, 9:06 am

      Tamara represents apartheid lite angle. She went on and on about how both sides have their “narratives” She seems to slide by historical facts both past and present

  14. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Khaled Elgindy, Brookings Institute:

    Prisoner exchange deal. Palestinians think HAMAS produces more results. US keeps Palestinians divided; doesn’t work. Unified Palestinian government desired. HAMAS more imbedded in over all Palestinian efforts.

  15. American
    American on August 6, 2014, 1:34 pm

    Is anyone as fed up with talk as I am?
    We have seen this movie a dozen times.
    Israel provokes, kills, destroys, the world frowns on Israel, condemns Hamas, the VIPs huddle to natter about peace and rebuilding what Israel destroyed on everyones dime but Israelis—then the same movie plays again and again—provoke, kill, destroy, frown on Israel, blame Hamas, huddle to natter, pony up more billions for the Israeli destruction

    Do we all realize how f’ing INSANE this is?

  16. Citizen
    Citizen on August 6, 2014, 1:36 pm

    TAMARA on CSPAN Now:

    Natan Sachs, Brookings Institution:

    What do you (Israel) do with Gaza? Take it over completely? Let HAMAS rearm, hope for the best? Silver lining: Egypt & Israel control Gaza, both funded by USA.

  17. michelle
    michelle on August 6, 2014, 5:15 pm

    is it a war
    when after years of abuse
    the abused stands up to the abuser
    instead of the usual unheard plea
    for rescue help justice
    just because someone (Khamas/Hamas)
    is standing up to this maroon (Israel)
    does not a war this make
    G-d Bless

  18. Citizen
    Citizen on August 7, 2014, 12:34 am

    Charlie Rose, on TV now, early Thursday

    Yousef Munayyer & Rula Jebrael.

    RJ: Palestinians were told they could achieve things through negations. But Israel released 1,000 prisoners for one soldier. Perverse message sent to HAMAS.

    Nadia Bilbassy: HAMAS lost lots of friends when MB lost in Egypt. Israel cut off donations from international community to Palestinians. HAMAS is politically savvy and not just a simple terrorist organization. Unit government called for elections under one government. Disarming Hamas will be tough, as with Hezbollah.

    Another speaker: Khaled Elgindy:
    This conflict has solidified Palestinians generally. When there’s calm, nobody gives a crap about the Palestininians. Even before HAMAS was elected in 06, borders were being closed; problem began with Israel’s blockade; now HAMAS weapons are stronger. Whole new generation of Gazans who can’t visit relatives living 2o minutes away. Israelis control everything.

    Rose: Will HAMAS modify with PA?

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen on August 8, 2014, 9:07 am

      thanks going to watch that Charlie Rose. No mincing of words with those two. Clear and concrete

    • Tuyzentfloot
      Tuyzentfloot on August 8, 2014, 10:00 am

      But Israel released 1,000 prisoners for one soldier. Perverse message sent to HAMAS.

      That reminds me. Israel quickly put many of those 1000 prisoners back in their dungeons. Perverse message to those guys in Hebron who (speculating but it sounds credible) thought they were going to do something heroic and arrange for a renewed prisoner exchange, this time with 3 israeli teenagers.

  19. Citizen
    Citizen on August 7, 2014, 12:38 am

    Reality is Likud Party platform flatly rejects loss of control of WB. Nobody talks about this, only about HAMAS charter. All Palestinians, all HAMAS wants a Palestinian state. They know Abbas recognized the Israeli state and got nothing in return. What about Palestinian security? They are only people on earth asked to recognize their occupier state, Israel. What about the occupation? Absent from conversation.

  20. Citizen
    Citizen on August 7, 2014, 12:43 am

    What Bibi calls a Palestinian state is just another way of repacking Israel control. But Israel wants to keep as much land as possible without the Palestinian people. Israel will give up occupation but won’t give up control of Palestinians. If Israel was really concerned about its own security it would not be expanding settlements in belligerently occupied land. The cost of occupation has decreased. Israel continues to exploit water and natural resources of WB, and Israeli leaders find this politically profitable–there’s no down side.

  21. Citizen
    Citizen on August 7, 2014, 12:49 am

    But Israel will never have security without justice. Real friends of Israel will put pressure on Israeli leaders to make justice happen. Bibi N won’t do it.

    Huge gulf between Arab public thinking and Arab leaders’ thinking. Even S A had to come out with statement against butchering of Palestininians. Nobody pays attention to Palestinian plight unless HAMAS is sending rockets into Israel. All that happens otherwise is brutal Israeli oppression and more settlements. But independent and social media are pushing young Americans to awareness, and this is so even in Poland–increasingly the social media wants an end to the occupation.

  22. Citizen
    Citizen on August 7, 2014, 12:55 am

    HAMAS is a pragmatic, political organization. Not recognizing Israel is but a bargaining chip. Israel cannot simply go another 20 years giving nothing to the PA. As Jimmy Carter says, time to bring HAMAS into the fold, time for unity government. Situation with HAMAS echoes Ireland and S Africa–bottom line is the occupation. US leadership needs to join in linking violence with occupation. Road map called for dropping occupation to insure Israel’s security. Obama has ignored this. Message coming across is one Israeli life is worth 1,000 Palestinian lives. US peace process has totally ignored Palestinian security. This must stop.

  23. jon s
    jon s on August 7, 2014, 2:30 am

    Just back from a family visit to the USA, not much of a “vacation” since we were constantly in touch with loved ones and friends at home.
    The death toll , caused by Hamas, has been horrific: nearly 1900 Palestinians, nearly 70 Israelis. Also thosands wounded, and huge property damage , and a wave of Anti-Semitism in the world. What a calamity.
    We have a ceasefire now, but we hear that the Hamas terrorists are threatening to renew firing tomorrow morning, while Israel favors extending the ceasefire. Haven’t they had enough blood and death?

  24. Citizen
    Citizen on August 7, 2014, 10:15 am

    Obama put pressure on intensive ceasefire negotiations in Cairo by saying Gaza could not remain cut off from the world forever. Looks like Obama angling for a way to open up 7 year siege a tad. Somehow put Abbas in charge in Gaza too. He’d have to promise to drop ICC war crimes charge option. What would HAMAS agree to? Bibi still won’t accept a unity government, will he? What did his 60 or so dead IDF soldiers buy him? Isn’t that about half the number Hezbullah gave him?

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