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    Posted November 25, 2012 by
    Gaza Strip. Palestine
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Your stories

    More from AhmedFerwana

    A Journal of a Blind Rescuer, an account of war and survival in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. PART 1

    Smiling out of exhaustion as I wished a nice weekend to my colleagues and students, I left the American International School of Gaza - AISG, where I work as a Language and Literature teacher, to my apartment that’s located in Al-Shuhada Street; one of which I consider to be the most beautiful street in the Gaza Strip. It was on a lovely Wednesday, followed by a three day vacation, when I set up a plan to meet some friends for a barbeque. Then, time and date was all that mattered once I had that moment of silence as a response to the noises in the street; the waves of an unknown instability? I looked out of the window wondering about the noises and the loud sirens of the ambulances and the firefighting vehicles to see nothing but rushing journalists coming out of a nearby building. That was a sign that I questioned; a sign that curiously urged me to invade the local news websites to investigate what was happening. Few minutes after that curious internet invasion, I could resolve the mysteries behind “time and date” and “the waves of an unknown instability.”
    At 04:00 pm on November 14th, 2012, the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) assassinated the leader of the Islamic Resistance Brigades of Hamas; Ahmed Al Jabari. For that was the spark of the instability coming ahead, I could do nothing but humbly lay down my paralyzed body on the bed, and unintentionally I collapsed into my pillow falling in a pessimistic sleep. Hours later, I woke up on a phone call from my mother, terrified with a voice weakened by worry and anxiety, begging me to leave the apartment in Gaza City and head to Rafah so that I get to be with the family through a hardship that was fully anticipated. I could barely convince her that the first thing I would be doing the other morning is getting myself together and head down to Rafah; a city bordering Egypt with hundreds and hundreds of tunnels that would be on the target list for the Israeli’s warplanes, and then I spent the night seeking foreknowledge for I knew that traveling to Rafah from Gaza City is not going to be a road of roses. In fact, going to Rafah through that time would merely be an innocent attempt to escape death through a road shadowed with death; a time marked by the initiation of Israel’s military operation against Gaza; “Pillar of Cloud.” Strangely, I could sense sudden changes within myself; Deep thinking, strategic planning, wise judgments, calculations, and percentages of surviving. I, all of a sudden, transformed from a normal individual who seeks to normally live a regular life, to an eager survivor who seeks to eagerly survive a war. Defenseless I was in a place that is a little safe and less-targeted by Israeli airstrikes, yet I choose to empower myself with the desire to be with my family in a house not too far away from the borders with Egypt; literally just less than half a mile away from the heavy Israeli airstrikes on the tunnels’ area. Luckily, I could find a bewildered, anxious taxi driver as I walked through the empty streets of what turned to be “the ghost city of Gaza,” and the goal was achieved when I finally made it to my family’s house around 02:00 pm on Thursday November 15th, 2012.
    Victorious! Yes, victorious was how I felt when I saw the happy faces of my family members circling me and asking about the difficulties that I might have faced on my way home. Victorious was how I felt when I was hugged through a rainbow of thanks directed to the lord of the skies for bringing me home safely. However, that blast of joy was horribly interrupted by a nearby explosion that shook the house for few seconds. My parents, four brothers, two sisters, three nephews and two nieces were all silenced by the incident for a moment; then, I chose to immediately act and kill the silence saying, “Gazan’s got talent! Even the house is belly dancing!” The whole family started laughing at my silly comment, and the little nephews and nieces started jumping and laughing as I started playing around with them. At that moment, I felt helpless, defeated, and above all, less of a so-called victorious. How could I be victorious if deep down my heart I know that the destructive power of war is right around the corner? How could I be victorious when I know that the most I could do through this war is a bunch of reassuring words that might make my family feel less terrified, worried, or depressed? How could I be victorious when I know that I can’t protect myself in this war so to protect my family? How could I be victorious when I know that Gaza is going to turn into a pool of blood and I won’t be anything but a blind lifeguard? Nothing could stand in the way of that trail of doubtful questions except for an indescribable smile from one of my little nephews who approached me with his arms wide open; as if he was saying, “I understand what you’re going through! Take it easy and hug it out!” I thought of that as an act of innocent courage from a little innocent kid during a time of an unknown destiny; an act that melted my heart and got me into a challenge against my inner feelings. I started thinking, “What should I do, shield them inside and smile unaffected, or let those eyes of mine blink a goodbye to a river by their edges?” And I forgot myself hugging him to the extent that he started pushing himself back; alerting me that he needed to breathe away from my conflicting clashes of thoughts.
    What should I be indeed? A worried Gazan who should think of his dear Gazans, the war, the stress, the destruction, the exchange firing of rockets between Israel and Gaza, the materialistic losses, the death toll, the innocent civilians, the airstrikes, and this whole madness? Or should I be a member of a trembling family who should deal with one main concern which is the safety of that family; the safety that I won’t be able to provide except through poor, humble attempts to keep them calm, and therefore feel safe? All of this took me back to the 22 day war in December 2008 – January 2009 when the Israeli army launched “Operation Cast Lead” against Gaza, and I miraculously could survive, escape death, manage to keep the family safe, and above all, receive a good amount of knowledge about the conflict that took place and how to deal with it. Although that military operation caused immeasurable destruction to so many houses, mosques, families, factories, farms, schools, and hospitals in the Gaza strip, it also left behind Gazans who became experts of how to deal with a war. To dodge most of the things that happened through “operation Cast Lead,” I started to think of the least damage I could avoid. I started by opening all the windows and keeping the doors ajar in the house because in the latest war those windows and doors flew off the walls as a result of the pressure caused by the explosions of the airstrikes. Then, I urged my family to evacuate the part of the house that lies by the main street; a precautious evacuation to avoid flying bullets or shrapnel. After that, I had to make sure that my brothers’ and sisters’ curiosity to whether leave the house or look through the windows to see what might be possibly happening outside deterred through comments that would make them less enthusiastic and eventually stable about matters outside the house. Many precautious procedures to satisfy my perplexity of avoiding the unavoidable; procedures that served as an insecure balloon-like fortress, yet made me a bit relieved knowing that my family clutched onto that little feeling of security.

    To be continued..PART 2..
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