Eman Alshawa | 22-05-2021
The bombing and shelling started in the last three days of Ramadan while we were preparing for Eid Al Fitr, the celebration that takes place in the three days after Ramadan. At the beginning, our expectations were that the escalation would end in a couple of days, as usual, in an armistice agreement that would stop the attacks but not give any recognition to the rights of Gazans in Palestine.
I’m talking about the right to live without constriction by the unfair blockade and the right to peacefully go about getting an education, working, building the economy, seeking medical treatment, traveling, and practicing religious rituals including being able to worship in the holy city of Jerusalem (the occupiers only permit Gazans over the age of 50 to visit Jerusalem and praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque).
These rights have been requested in every armistice agreement that has been made before but not provided. We also expected that in this agreement, like every one before, Palestinians would have to abide by all its stipulations, while the Zionist occupation would have the right to break the armistice agreement whenever it wanted and would still keep up the unfair blockade on the Gaza strip, which it has imposed since 2006, stealing freedom from 2 million people.
However, we were wrong in thinking that the violence would last only a few days. No armistice of any sort was agreed to after 24 or 48 or even 72 hours. The war continued.
On the second day of the escalation, we heard on the news that the Israel Occupation Forces had issued a statement that it was about to bomb a residential building, al-Jundi Tower. The warning of course provided insufficient time for evacuation, and the attack resulted in many martyrs and injured persons. We feared for the safety of my uncles, who lived nearby.
My mother rushed to the telephone to be sure they were okay. Thankfully she was able to get through and learn that they were fine, with only material damage to their home — broken glass and cracks in the walls resulting from the vibrations of the bomb blast.
That evening was very long. Our occupier’s forces hit multiple residential towers, including one with more than 40 apartments. More than 400 people were now homeless.
I couldn’t sleep. You would think that the lack of electricity would make the night dark, but the sky lit up from the glow of the missiles hitting everywhere in Gaza. The sounds were horrific, and I couldn’t control my fear. Despite the heat, I felt cold and could not keep from shivering.
My hand tightly grasped my mobile as I tried to follow what was happening via the radio stations. I tried to switch from station to station to corroborate news reports, but without much success because the Zionist occupation was disrupting the airwaves so that the madness of its offensive would not reach the world.
One piece of news that I was able to hear was that Al-Telbani House was bombed without warning and its inhabitants were martyred. I fell asleep as a result of my severe fatigue, but woke up panicked at the sound of another bombardment. After that, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I browsed in my Facebook account. My eyes fell on my friend Yara’s post, which told about the death of my friend Rima, her husband and her kids. How had I not realized earlier that Al-Telbani House is where Rima lived?
I logged out of my Facebook account; my tears were my only condolence for the loss of my friend.
I didn’t have the strength or will to log back into Facebook again that day. But before breakfast on the last day of Ramadan, I logged in to ask people to pray for us and for an end to this fierce offensive. But I received another shock when I was read condolences posts on my friend Yara’s wall – for her mom and dad’s death. They had been driving in a Honda Civic from their home to her sister’s house to escape the bombing in their neighborhood, Tel al-Hawa, but instead got caught in the middle of it.
The next day was Eid al-Fitr. It should have been the beginning of our celebrations. But instead it brought the news of the bombing of another friend’s house.
The shocking news continued day after day, forcing me to deactivate my Facebook account. I couldn’t tolerate any more bad tidings as we waited for the end of the offensive. I didn’t know what the next shocking news would be or whether perhaps I would be the next shocking news for my friends.
Posted: May 23, 2021
Mentor: Catherine Baker