As of the ceasefire that took place on May 13, 2023, I have officially lived 100 days of Israeli wars on Gaza. Even though I am a physicist, I doubted my math, so I calculated twice the number of days of each of the six wars I have experienced, and the result was confirmed: 100 days!
Do you know what I could do in 100 days? In order to save you the time, I googled it. I really did! It turns out that I could read over 40,000 pages. I could listen to 1,500-4,500 songs. I could complete the game of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I could learn the basics of how to play the piano. I could begin to travel the world, which I desperately want to do.
And yet instead, I spent 100 days bitterly enduring and suffering from inhumane Israeli aggressions and terrifying bombings.
Shockingly, I found out that not only had I lived through 100 days of Israeli attacks on Gaza, but I have experienced Israeli aggressions on Gaza in every single season of the year. This leads to the fact that the four seasons of the year look different in every part of the world except in the Gaza Strip.
Winter of 2008
In the winter of 2008, I was a ten-year-old kid. The war started during our geography class — another dreary, grey class. As the bombing came from multiple angles, everyone in the classroom put our hands over our heads, the same hands that had been leaving red prints where their cheeks were now resting. My face turned white with fear, especially when my teacher called us to follow him out of the classroom.
My biggest concern was how I would run downstairs from the third floor wearing soccer shoes with pointed studs. We had just finished our sports class, and I hadn’t had a chance to change them. I was afraid I would slip on the stairs.
The moment went by quickly. And till this very day, I cannot remember how I got home safely. That winter, not only did the sky rain drops of water; the Israeli military forces dropped heavy missiles throughout the 22 days of the war on Gaza.
On some frigid nights in January, I did not have a cozy warm bed. Instead, I had to sleep in a room with a wide-open window to reduce the atmospheric impact of the falling bombs.
Autumn of 2012
I was born in autumn, but in 2012 it was not a happy birth season. I had just celebrated my fourteenth birthday. I went with my father to pay a visit to our sick neighbor. The sun was nearly set when, all of a sudden, the house began swaying back and forth.
My father grabbed me under his arms and bent his chest over my back. It felt like an earthquake. But it turned out it was Israeli warplanes, assassinating a major leader of a resistance movement. It was an attack by which the Israeli government started the 2012 war.
If I compare this war to the one before it, I would say that in 2012 Israel took its brutality and barbarity to another level. The next eight days were filled with ear-splitting bombings that could destroy a whole neighborhood, not just a house.
Summer of 2014
Summer in 2014 was not the time for vacation; it was the time for evacuation. My family and I spent most of the 51-day war moving between our home and my aunt’s. This was because of the nonstop threats that the Israeli army was sending to our neighbors, indicating its intention to demolish their homes. It was also a season of random bombshells and their fragments falling over our heads.
In that war, we spent days without electricity or water in the middle of sweltering July. It was pure torture, especially for someone as shy as me. Even though I have my own bedroom, I never slept shirtless or in boxers. That July, I did both. I even slept shirtless in my aunt’s home, which is something I wouldn’t do on normal days.
I know that my experience cannot be compared to the experiences of the hundreds and hundreds who got killed, injured, or lost their houses. I know, however, that the Israeli attacks on Gaza not only targeted lively bodies and demolished lifeless walls, they also targeted and demolished our inner souls, our inner selves. This war, indeed, was the hardest one.
Spring! Oh! I love spring. How can I not love it when it is the time my secret crush, the planet Venus, emerges in the sky? Still, and for 75 years, Israel has always ruined every sign of beauty and love in my city, in my country.
For three consecutive years, starting from 2021 to this year, 2023, and for eleven, three, and five days, respectively, the occupation forces maliciously attacked the civilians of the Gaza Strip. Two of these wars occurred in the lovely season of spring.
Not only did they tear buildings apart, they also committed massacres by killing helpless women and innocent children.
Although it was the season for me to enjoy Venus in the night sky, I found myself developing a close friendship with the red planet, Mars. (Shhh! Don’t read this out loud! Venus does not know yet…) The thing is, I found that I have a lot in common with Mars.
Watching those innocent children who were playing in Jabalia being shattered into pieces by the Israeli warplanes broke something inside of me. I could not cry, for I felt like my lungs were shrinking. I ground my teeth. My eyes became cold, hard, and flinty. I needed space to clear these heavy emotions off my chest. So, I went out to the balcony, and I noticed Mars up on the horizon. I noticed that it was more reddish than it used to be. Well, honestly, I did not know whether it was really that way or if the feeling of anger and sorrow was just reflected in my eyes.
Mars, in a way, opened his arms to me. He helped me get over those unbearable feelings. It was as if I finally had a friend who “gets” me.
Different seasons, same wars
Anyway, I have gone through all this and I have survived. Wait! Have I? Sometimes I ponder the moments and events of each war, and I get confused as to whether that happened in this war or another one.
Instagram reminded me of a story I shared back during the 2021 war. My story said: #GazaUnderAttack. When I reshared the story, no one noticed that I was talking about a different war. Do you know why? Because I reshared it on May 11, 2023, when Gaza was also under attack.
People often say: “the days look the same.” In Gaza, years look the same. The same aggressive occupation. The same state terrorist tactics by the occupation forces. The same innocent people killed, even if their faces look different. Wars are the same.
Enduring all this makes me feel like I have lost a part of me, a part of my past, and subsequently, a part of my future. I try to convince myself that this does not matter. They are just bitter memories. Who cares? I tell myself that the war is over and this is the time of Venus, and that’s what counts. Well, Venus is beautiful. But what can beauty do when you cannot put the shrapnel of your heart together?
Growing up with wars
For me, war has been more than 100 days and more than a four-season thing. It has also accompanied many important milestones of my life.
In 2008, I was a primary school student. In 2014, I was preparing myself for Tawjihi, my senior year, a life-changing year. In 2021, I was studying for my final exams in college. And finally, in 2023, I was finishing a freelance content writing job for an Austrian client. Sadly, I grew up with wars and aggression, and I am really not pleased with such company.
I do not want you to get me wrong, or to consider these lines as a summary of my experience with war. Wars are beyond mere words. Every corner of my home, every inch of my neighborhood, and every span (or, square foot) of my country bears witness to uncountable stories. Stories that are not only inscribed on the walls but also internalized and eternalized in the memory of my generation.