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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Gaza: Life goes on despite Roadblocks and Landmines

Gaza: Life goes on despite Roadblocks and Landmines

Behind those trees there is a fence a few meters away
with Israeli tanks and watchtowers behind it. Its dangerous
to get closer and take pics. They might open fire.

Gaza, January, I recently realized that my journey in life is in parallel with Gaza's struggle, we meet at a turning point, and if I had to name it would be: "Roadblocks and Landmines". This has both a literal and a figurative meaning with many layers and dimensions.

We navigate through the maps of our lives left to detect our own roadblocks and landmines if we are smart enough, and\or circle them with a red marker if they were inevitable. Either way, it's our responsibility to manage our path and lick our wounds if we couldn’t help hitting a 
roadblock or stepping on explosives.

Gaza, too, left to face the unknown on its own, left to suffer silently and expected to stay strong. 
Gaza, too, is filled with roadblocks and landmines both literally and metaphorically speaking. Gaza, too, is left to navigate through the darkness guided by voices that claim to have intentions of creating light, but in reality they are nothing but loud useless vibrations.

I often commended Israel for its intelligence, and was intrigued by their tactical and long termed strategic planning of how to kill the spirit of a nation they occupied. I saw the plan in action here in Gaza. We all think we are experiencing slow death due to siege, occupation, unemployment, the lack of freedom of movement, water shortage, electricity crisis and the list goes on and on and on…..

Until I started noticing something in myself and in the people around me. something unexpected. Unplanned. very surprising. A sudden sense of unbreakable determination. Being invincible, like we have the strength to defy the world and the power to stand against all odds. I smirked. I just realized that what "clever Israel" planned is actually majorly backfiring. And in reality, everything we are going through is just empowering us to exist more and more.

Ofcourse, I am not finding or giving Israel excuses for the deplorable psychological and devastatingly physical warfare that it uses against Palestinians across Palestine. All the inhumanity, massacres, wars, imprisonment, terrorism, instilling fear, violence, internationally banned weaponry and endless land theft are against every International law. All I am saying is that those tactics are actually working against their set goal.

Let me give you a few examples: Instead of us being scared, we are becoming fearless. Instead of weakness, we are becoming invincible. Instead of the unbearable pressure due to lack of resources, we are mastering the art of adapting. Instead of becoming tired and giving up, we are becoming hungrier for freedom and justice.

I admired Mahmoud Darwish since an early age, I was fascinated by his command. He managed to make a whole room of people go silent and absorb every letter he uttered, I often wondered what was his secret. I then discovered that he managed to grasp Palestine and the Palestinian spirit more than anyone especially when he says things like "We suffer from an incurable Malady: HOPE.", that’s the power of Palestinians and Darwish himself.

Take a trip along the borderline in Gaza, from south to north, you'll find people living inches away from the fence that separates them from Israeli tanks and watchtowers. They wake up every day to a very scenic view from their windows, they see fully armed Israeli soldiers on top of their tanks and watchtowers, they can even hear them interact. They feel and hear every movement done by each soldier and tank. And if that wasn’t enough, Israeli warplanes are constantly buzzing over their heads.

I talked to these people, who shocked me with their smiles. They were acting like waking up to Israeli tanks outside your window is so normal, it baffled me.

"We got used to it, they don’t phase us. Yes, we get scared at night hearing tanks move and Israeli soldiers shouting. The warplanes also sound louder at night, but we would never leave our land under any circumstances", they all said unanimously adding to my confusion.
Those people varied. Some lived in partially damaged houses, some were luckier and lived in rebuilt houses while others lived in caravans or little plastic huts on their land that once housed their dreams and future. They barely have electricity and water (its not much different everywhere across the strip), they face unbearable coldness and fear at night, yet they don’t see leaving as an option even though they were all affected by every Israeli assault or war on Gaza.

I have to admit, only standing there for a few minutes, looking at Israeli tanks being so nearby, left me at unease. I could see Israeli snipers on the watchtowers, I could see and hear the buzzing Israeli drones on low altitude. I felt uncomfortable and violated. How can those people just live through this agony every day?

Yes, we live in a prison under collective punishment for nothing we did. We suffer from allot of circumstances, injustices, economical bust, a crumbling infrastructure, lack of basic human needs and human rights, suffocation, unemployment and a million other thing. But we love life and we burst with hope and the will to keep going.

Perhaps there is a single sentence that you'd hear in every Gaza home or street: "Life goes on", its not just a saying or a mantra, it’s a way of life.

From Gaza with strength and light,