November 15, 2012 Gaza.
As I begin to write this piece my computer falls from my hands to the floor as a bomb drops meters from the Abousalama family home in Saftawi neighborhood, Gaza, Palestine. I have grown accustom to the loud blast of bombs being dropped around two kilometers from our family home this past night, as Israel launches its attack on Gaza. But as these new attacks reach our backyards mere meters away the fear caused by the deafening sound of the F-16 bomb grows. It grows inside my body — inside my every nerve; inside my stomach; my bladder; my back; my head and my soul. We run to the yard to see what has happened; there is smoke in the air and the smell is potent. I look up and see the neighborhood apartments filled with children peering through their balcony railings at the site of the most recent bomb dropped.
These children are too habituated to the sounds of F-16s and dropping bombs. If the Gazan child is older than four years old then this is the second war they will witness in the span of their young life; and enshallah they will all survive this most recent wave of attacks.
This most recent escalation in violence began yesterday afternoon. We were enjoying a moment of normalcy in Gaza as a team from Nordic consulates in Jerusalem arranged the screening of several Swedish and Norwegian films. The first of these films was interrupted with the news that Israel had just assassinated Ahmed Jabari (leader of the al-Qassam Brigades) by blowing up his car and killing him and his security guard instantly. The scene of his mangled blown car covers the news reports that evening. So the normalcy of a Gazan afternoon is interrupted by a different normalcy; that of war. The young Gaza bodies know the routine; it is time to head home to be with their families. Their smiles don’t fade; their jokes don’t subside; their energy remains — it is simply time to head home.
The home is meant to protect us. But the indiscriminate fall of the Israeli bomb is to be feared from any location. The aggressive result of the Israeli obsession with war and destruction is to be feared deep within one’s heart and mind. The forbidden peace at Israel’s hand is to be missed by us all who suffer under Israel’s war mongering tactics. Yesterday morning a ceasefire was reached between Israel and Palestinian resistance fractions. Yesterday afternoon Israel assassinated Hamas’s top military leader. Prior to this attack Hamas was not responsible for the rockets being launched into Israel. Hamas was trying to broker a deal in order to prevent an escalation in violence. Such a deal was reached and such a deal was broken by Israel mere hours later. Israel achieved its goal, as it always does. It got to go to war on Gaza.
A war on Gaza is complete with all of Israel’s latest technological killing inventions. “The drone” flies high in the sky, filling the airy space with a constant deep buzzing, which does not subside the entire night. His buddy, “the F-16” flies lower down making a most terrifying roaring sound which tears out the heart and carries it down the lane, and which is always followed by the sound of a bomb blasting. “The Bomb”, which crashes down, breaks the sky, rattles the windows, moves the chairs, pierces the ear, stops the heart and causes a deep feeling of sorrow and profound fear. The bomb that we know is always followed by death.
Eleven Palestinians have been killed since yesterday evening, including a pregnant woman, a four month old baby and an eleven month old baby. Over a hundred bodies have been injured and rushed to hospital. I don’t know how many lives have been lost today. All I know is that the bombs continue to drop down on Gaza and Israel continues to justify its attacks as self-defence. Gaza is a land under occupation and its people have been resisting this brutal siege on their lives for over sixty years. The homemade rocket launched into Israeli territory is a form of legal resistance by a people under occupation. Their rockets, which are made from shit and sugar attempt to reach Israeli territory and some make it and some cause injury and death. Gaza is surrounded by hovering planes, encroaching warships, approaching tanks all supervised by the drone. This is not a conflict; rather it is the routinized terrorization of civilians who continue to support the resistance any way they can. And as I witness the mother of the household made embarrassed by her tears or the father’s face light up as we return safely home I know that these are Palestinian lives who have suffered too much and have witnessed too much war. And here it goes again.
Catherine Charrett, currently in Gaza, is a PhD candidate at Aberystwyth University (UK). Twitter: @CataWinnie