The circles in the sky over Gaza

The sky over Gaza City, 21 January 2011. (Yasmeen El Khoudary)

People keep talking of a new war. They tell you about their neighbors — they’re probably too shy to admit that its their family, not their neighbors — who already started stocking up on food items and candles in preparation for the upcoming war. “People are really scared,” they tell you, using “people” instead of “we.” Everyone — groundless news reports and loud rumors — is saying that they can hear the war drums, can’t you?!

Well, to me war has already started, and Israel is already chanting victory, given the very conversation the two of us are having. About two weeks ago I saw what looked to me like a confused Israeli pilot flying around in his F-16 jet, drawing circles in the sky. People immediately took it as a sign, a threat and a signal that war was coming. They even made up memories from back in 2008, and were convinced that on 27 December 2008, an Israeli jet, possibly even the same one, drew the same circles in the sky, and that was when war started.

Well, congratulations Israel for winning the psychological war on Gaza. No, you don’t find it enough that you are honored to be the only power on the planet that finds purpose in physically besieging a whole population, but you also want to drive them mad. Only when people started to heave a sigh of relief and take baby steps towards recovering from the 2008-09 war do you start disseminating rumors about a new war. What a fool you are, even if you think you’re winning!

Sure, some people actually believe your rumors and have already started buying supplies in preparation for the “eventual” war and shortage in all kinds of supplies, from baby formula to medicine. But have you heard of a single family that prepared itself for leaving Gaza? That question sounds absurd to you, doesn’t it? How can anyone question the possibility of running away in times of fear? In your traditions, you build and hide in safe shelters, prepare mass evacuation plans for your citizens and buy tons of gas masks as soon as you anticipate the launching of even the smallest rocket. In our traditions, people only buy candles to light their homes and flour to bake bread while you flatten their cities to the ground with your merciless army. They seek no safe havens and nor are they provided with any kind of protection against gas, let alone phosphorous bombs. They seek protection from God and in their unity and their love, as they find war a good time for families, or whoever remains amongst them, to gather and share love and warmth.

You know, Israel, you remind me of the scientist and the frog. You — in this case the scientist — order the frog to jump, and it obeys. You cut off its arms, order it to jump, then it struggles to jump. You cut off its legs, order it to jump but it doesn’t jump. You then proudly announce your discovery: when a frog is limbless, it becomes deaf, and so it cannot jump. Yes, deafness caused the frog to lose that physical skill, not the fact that you amputated its four limbs. Is that not what you are trying to do to the Palestinians every single day? You have been slowly cutting off our limbs for the past sixty years, one by one. You have been forcing us into getting used to a life with one missing limb, two missing limbs, three missing limbs, and now four missing limbs slowly as the years go by. You run your experiments on us and show the world that we can still jump. When you cut off that last limb, however, you claim that we were unable to jump because we suddenly turned deaf. In real world terms, that translates into you blaming us for the misery that shapes our every day life, and take your occupation, your wars, your siege and your merciless acts out of the equation.

We might be accustomed to a limbless life, but that doesn’t mean that we lost our ability to jump. We will crawl on the floor and catch our own food. You will always be the oppressor, rather the foolish oppressor with false scientific theories, at least in this case. Living a limbless life means that we will continue to live any kind of life as long as we live it in our country, where we legitimately belong. Israel, when you cut off our limbs, we lose our ability to jump because you cut off our limbs, not because we turned deaf. However, we would indeed turn a deaf ear to your threats and your illogical claims; because frankly, nothing you say or do will succeed in making us even think of leaving this place. Some of us might see the circles in the sky as a sign of war, others might see it as a barbed wire fence stating that even the sky has a limit. To the frog, however, the circles in the sky are reason to keep its head high towards the sun, regardless of the missing limbs.

Yasmeen El Khoudary is a freelance writer and researcher based in Gaza City, Palestine. Her blog is