Racing heartbeats, heavy breathing, random tangled thoughts, sore throat choking with fear, blurred vision — I’m fully aware of and familiar with such feelings. I remember each one precisely. Oh, my dear God! Here we go again!
It was a normal Friday afternoon in Gaza. I was in my room chatting with a friend online when suddenly he disappeared from the chat and then sent me this message: “I have to go. There was an airstrike near my house.”
I turned immediately to the news channel to learn what was going on and froze in place when I read, “New Israeli airstrikes on the south of the Gaza Strip.” “Airstrikes on the city of Gaza.” “Two apartments in the Palestine building were demolished by Israeli airstrikes.” “One martyred and several injured have been reported.”
I was shocked and in complete denial of what I was seeing on my phone. “How did all of this happen all of a sudden?” I whispered to myself.
I turned off my phone, but all the dark memories rushed into my mind, all the fear and terror, those loud sounds of bombs.
Breathing heavily, I grabbed my phone again and started calling friends and loved ones to check on them, rotely, one by one. I even contacted one of my dearest friends who had been mad at me for some time. He said he was fine but was still mad and did not want to talk to me again. I hung up and burst into tears, sobbing like a child, crying as if my heart would break. I don’t know even now which was harder for me at that moment, the news of a fifth Israeli aggression taking place in Gaza or the cruel attitude of my friend at such a hard time.
I kept on crying, getting flashbacks from that very morning when I had been fully engaged in planning for the next phase of my life after having resigned my latest job. I was in the process of considering a whole new career path, writing all my ideas in a notebook, thinking of every detail to have a perfect plan for my future. I was happy and excited for what was to come, but in just a few hours the whole equation had changed.
For me and every other person in Gaza, even those who had some silly plans to spend the week doing nothing important, our lives were put on hold. Everything was in doubt. Our intention to live normally in this city was postponed. Instead, we were all just frozen in the current moment of “now.” Families gathered in one room—wherever was the safest spot in the house—with bags and suitcases packed with important papers and documents in case our own house or one nearby would be the next target!
We Gazans are experiencing the fifth aggression. Our lives have been turned upside down once again. Our unhealed wounds are torn wider. We are all hoping this will end soon and praying that no more people will be killed or injured, that no more children will be terrified and traumatized. We go about our lives silently praying and whispering to ourselves and each other, “Everything will be okay. This too shall pass!”
I’m no different than any other Palestinian living in Gaza. I’m horrified and looking for comfort in the arms of my loved ones, in their voices, their words. I keep promising myself for what is now the fifth time that if all of this passes and I survive, I will start living. I’ll do whatever it takes to not be labeled a victim or a mere survivor. I will be someone who is living her life to the fullest and who survived to keep this promise.
August 6, 2022