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Palestine: “In Gaza, only the dead have seen the end of this war”

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Israel, Palestine, Disaster, Humanitarian Response, Refugees, War & Conflict

The people of Gaza are discovering the extent of the destruction inflicted during three weeks of Israeli attacks, and are slowly starting to rebuild their lives. Some bloggers are wondering about the less visible psychological and emotional damage. One asks, “What will be the reward for getting up and going on, one more time?”

Australian activist Sharyn Lock writes at Tales to Tell [1]:

Tuesday [20 Jan]: I woke today to the sound of shelling from Israeli ships at sea. I’m not sure they really get this ceasefire concept totally, though of course it is nothing like what it was. In the port area on Saturday night, we had fliers dropped saying something like:

Israel will unilaterally stop attacks at 2am Sunday Jan 18. We won’t retreat from our Gaza positions, and we will respond to any Hamas attacks. Don’t come near us. Don’t go near Hamas positions. We don’t attack civilians, only Hamas….you have to know quiet will bring quiet. You have the choice.


Canadian activist Eva Bartlett blogs at In Gaza [2]:

(S)o many Palestinians don’t really have a means of addressing their pain and psychological scarring. Particularly as so many have repeatedly endured invasions, as well as other emotionally-damaging things like living under military occupation, being imprisoned or having family members imprisoned, and living under siege and in closed borders, to name but some.
Abdullah, one of Abu N’s grandchildren, cries pretty much all of the time I see him now. He was a bit of a cheeky 6 year old when I first met him 2 months ago. Now he seems stuck in his memories of bomb explosions and drone sounds (the drones I can identify with: even now, near midnight on January 20, 2 days post cease-fire, the drones circle. The very distinct noise the drones here make is not a noise I can disassociate from the 3 weeks of precise bombardment and death which accompanied it). And very likely he won’t get any sort of therapy for this, although his family is compassionate, and will have to carry this baggage along with future baggage, as will the majority of those here. The most visible aspects of this war on Gaza are the massive craters, the demolished houses and buildings in every direction, in every town and city, the burnt-out warehouses and shops and hospital rooms and schools and cars…and the amputated limbs, the burned skin, the still-burning fires. But those very deep emotional injuries are what were intended to cripple society even more than physical damage.

Louisa Waugh, who was living in Gaza until recently, writes at New Internationalist's Gaza Blog [3]:

My friends tell me Gaza is changed forever, grief-stricken and ruined, and still there is no immediate prospect of the borders opening so people can be released from this jail. ‘We have lost everything,’ Mohammed, one of my friends in Jabaliya refugee camp, tells me over the phone. ‘My whole neighbourhood has been destroyed. But tell them, tell the world, we do not want food or money – we just want our life back, and we want our freedom.’

Vittorio Arrigoni is an Italian activist blogging at Guerrilla Radio [4]:

A Gaza solo i morti hanno visto la fine della guerra. Per i vivi non c'è tregua che tenga alla battaglia quotidiana per la sopravvivenza. Senza più acqua, senza più gas, senza più corrente elettrica, senza più pane e latte per nutrire i propri figli. Migliaia di persone hanno perduto la casa. Dai valichi entrano aiuti umanitari col contagocce, e si ha come la sensazione che la benevolenza dei complici di chi ha ucciso sia solo momentanea.

In Gaza, only the dead have seen the end of this war. For those who survived, there is no ceasefire in the daily battle for actual survival – due to a complete lack of water, gas, electricity, bread and milk for their children. Several thousand people lost their homes. Only scarce humanitarian aid can make it through few border crossings, and it feels like the benevolence of the killers’ accomplices is just temporary.

Prof. Said Abdelwahed, who teaches English at Al-Azhar University, writes at Moments of Gaza [5]:

The whole Gaza society is depressed for the losses of souls, havoc, devastation, wreckage, casualties and annihilation! Huge losses were seen in the agricultural fields, farmers’ homes, and everything around them! Depression, trauma, shocks and pain are common among the civilians! I am shaken by the psychological situation around! Wherever the Israeli soldiers attacked inside the residential buildings they turned the place into disarray! They scribbled on walls Hebrew threats of death, bad language, David star [Star of David] and they scribbled on the Holy Quran too.

Ghada Al-Najjar works for the NGO Oxfam, and writes at the Oxfam blog [6]:

For two weeks now, I have not been in my home. I had to move out after a strong explosion close by shattered my windows and broke the doors. Even if I were to fix my windows with plastic sheeting, what would protect me from the shelling? I had to try and stay safe, like my mum said, so I fled to my relatives. It is one day since the ceasefire and I have now returned to my home to find it partially destroyed. […] (I) am thankful that I was safe in the end. Unfortunately, not all of my relatives were. Four members have been killed. […] Irreparable damage has been done to our lives. I may be able to replace my windows but I will never be able to bring back the dead.

Abu el Sharif writes at Shajar El Ba6a6a [7]:

مبدئيا إنتهت الحرب…مش مهم ازا كتنت انتهت لحين و حترجع…بالوقت الراهن وقف الموت و وقف الخوف…
غالبا عدد الزيارات اللي بتجيني علبطاطا رح تقل…مهو خلصت المصايب !!
اليوم نزلت لفة مبدئية على السوق لسة مش مرتاح إنو أبعد…كأنو إعصار ضرب السوق…المحلات مخلعة من مكانها مباني متهدمة و محلات مقصوفة من أصلها…ضايل
منها الفراع اللي كان فيه المحل…
كل اللي كان بالسوق كانو بشتركو بسؤال واحد بتحسو واضح وين ما رحت…
من هادي النقطة : كيف ممكن نكمل ؟
إيش الواحد لازم يعمل عشان تستمر الحياة ؟
و بتهيألي كل واحد بدو يدور على الإجابة بطريقتو…
واحد بكنس الواجهة المكسورة بتاعت محلو…
الناس طوابير على البنك…يمكن شوية مصاري رح تعطي شوية حلول للأسئلة…
حتى الشحاتين كانو مكانهم…
تخيلو…مشاواري بالسوق كان يمكن ساعة..شفت فيهم حادثين سيارات !!
فيمكن هادا هو حل الأسئلة المعقدة هادي…
الكارثة عملاقة و الدمار لسة مش قادرين نتصوروا و الجرح رح يكون غميق و تقيل…
بس حال الدنيا دايما هيك…
مشاكلنا الصغيرة رح تلهينا عن الصدمة هادي…
رح ننصدمها فش مجال…
بس برضو رح ننساها شوي شوي…
مش عارف ايش قاعد بخبص…بس جد الكلام مرتب بعقلي…
و المصيبة إنو منطقي !!
In principle, the war has ended… It isn't important whether it has ended for a while and will come back. At present, the death and fear have ended. Most probably, the visits to Ba6a6a [this blog] will decrease…as the catastrophes are over!!
Today I took a preliminary tour of the marketplace. I am still not comfortable venturing further. It seemed as if a hurricane had hit the market. Shops have been displaced from their places and the buildings were completely destroyed as well as shops which have been blasted. All that is left is the vacuum of where the shops once stood… All those at the market had a common question which was evident wherever you went.
From this point onwards, how can we continue?
What can one do for life to continue?
And I imagine that everyone is searching for an answer in his own way.
Someone was sweeping the broken windows of his shop.
People were queuing at the bank … Perhaps a little bit of money will give them a few solutions for their questions…
Even the beggars were in their place.
Can you imagine… I was at the marketplace for about an hour…and I saw two car accidents!
This may be the solution for those complicated questions…
The catastrophe is massive and the destruction is beyond imagination and the wound is very deep and cumbersome… But life goes on like this… Our small problems will keep us preoccupied, away from this big shock which will have to treat… However, we will still forget it, one bit at a time …
I don't know what I am saying… but I have the words arranged in my mind…and the tragedy is that it sounds logical!!

Laila El-Haddad, whose parents are in Gaza, blogs at Raising Yousuf and Noor [8]:

There is an unfamiliar stillness in Gaza today, says my father. No F-16s ripping through the sky. No ravaging explosions. There is time to hear yourself think. All a sort of anesthetic. A pause in a sick calculated brutality – to allow the caged disposables a moment to contemplate their options – to create the illusion they even have options.

“This siege will endure until we are truly persuaded into choosing a harmless slavery but in total freedom!”


“They destroyed anything in their path-people, buildings, streets…nothing was left untouched” my father said. “It is calm, for now. We sleep, for now. But the siege continues. And make no mistake – Gaza will rise.”

Sharyn Lock tells us in another post [9]:

The strength of Gaza people astounds me. Everyone was out today fixing things. Re-laying water pipes, clearing rubble. Putting aside the thoughts of the children who are dead, to smile for the children who are still alive. How is it done? Where do they find the courage? And what will be their reward for getting up and going on, one more time?

MaRiAm, who blogs at A World Called Contradiction (عالم عنوانه التناقض), quotes a saying [10]:

“نحن كمسمار كلما طرقته زاد ثباتاً”
We are like a nail; every time you bang it, it becomes firmer

Sharyn Lock has posted photos of the devastation in the Azbet area of Jabaliya here [11]. Lina Al Sharif, who blogs at 360 km2 of chaos, has made some vlogs (video blogs) of her experience which are linked to here [12].