I used to look out of my bedroom window and stare at the sky at different times of the day, and lose myself in my dreams and the vastness of the skies above.
I would think about my life, where I would be years from now, what I would want to accomplish, and so many other important but trivial thoughts. However, most importantly, I would imagine traveling to different countries and cities around the world.
My bedroom window was like the window to the universe. Through it, I imagined the next adventure on which I would embark.
Right now, the sight of my bedroom window makes me cringe.
I have been housebound for more than ten days, a little prison located inside the biggest open-air prison on earth — besieged Gaza. Due to regular nearby explosions, I have been told by my family not to go near the window. It has started to look like it has prison bars.
And when I get close to it for some fresh air, I start wondering about completely different questions, such as: When will I ever see my friends again? When will I see Gaza’s beach? When will I visit my favorite places in Gaza? Will I survive to dream through this window again?
With war, nothing is guaranteed. Who can guarantee my survival when four little kids playing on the beach are killed by Israel? An Israeli warship bombed a shack near the boys — who ran away after that first strike and were then directly, deliberately hit in another strike. They had hopes and dreams too.
“Is this the end?” I ask myself. How did I go from dreaming about the impossible to wondering whether I would live to see another day, at the same window? Ah, war. I regretted listening to Adele’s “Skyfall” song. It’s not the right time to quote it or even play it in my head. I don’t want the sky to fall on Gaza.
The United Nations proposed a brief “humanitarian” ceasefire of five hours on Thursday, 17 July. Both Hamas and Israel agreed to it. It started at 10am. Yet seconds before the ceasefire ended, Israel committed a massacre and killed a number of people — which ruins the whole concept or a humanitarian ceasefire. At 10am, drones and warplanes were still over our heads.
When the ceasefire first went into effect, nothing changed. Few people left their homes. Silence was laying heavy over Gaza. Careful anticipation spread until, just a little over an hour in, people start leaving their houses in unison, as if everyone had coordinated it — but of course they didn’t.
Cars started moving, streets became busy, people rushed to stock up on items they needed. An electric mood ran through Gaza. Ironic how life in the human body is represented by the blood flowing through the veins but death is represented in Gaza when blood is flowing in the streets.
I stayed up all night, wondering, would the short ceasefire happen? Should I go out? Where would I go out? Who would I see? What would I do? What would I buy? A series of endless questions bottled up in a building sensation of pure anticipation. Oh, and adrenaline.
When the time came, I went to the door, with no certain plans in mind, and started to open it when it all hit me. What the hell was I doing? I closed the door and went back in.
As much as I was dying to go out, to breathe, to see the sky and the beach, to see any of my friends, to see the streets, I realized that I was being treated like a prisoner and a lab rat — both at the same time.
I am being confined and controlled. I am being told when I am allowed to leave and when I should return to lock myself back home and wait till we get bombed and killed again. It felt like a scam, a humanitarian scam in that we need to stock on up medicine and food, which I understand.
How can I ever look at the beach the same when those little Baker angels played football on the beach in the early morning, and then ran for their lives only to be shelled and killed by Israel? For playing football. Isn’t it enough that it took us years to forget the Ghalia family massacre on a Gaza beach years ago? Now we have a new massacre that reminds us of the old ones.
How will I ever look at Gaza beaches the same now?
The beaches are some of the most beautiful jewels of Gaza. They are like lifelines that keep people sane and help them enjoy themselves beyond the siege, the occupation and personal hardships.
Even they have been taken away from us. The beaches are now ruined and tainted. But I guess this is the effect of war and occupation. Israel wants to diminish your soul, your being. It wants to confine your existence and stain every nice aspect of your life or where you live — as if the siege wasn’t bad enough.
I boycotted the “humanitarian” scam of a ceasefire, and I decided to stay in my prison. Going out to the prison yard for a few hours won’t really take away the fact that my home is a small prison inside a big one.
It was difficult, but my heart felt like it was the right thing to do. I will boycott every humanitarian ceasefire until the war ends and children stop getting killed.
Israel kept threatening us with ground invasion every day for days, until that one night. I felt it before it was reported. We were attacked by land, air and sea. Gaza was turned into a scene from a Hollywood movie, except we were living inside of it.
The sky turned red, night turned to day and you could hear every kind of weapon being used. The ground was shaking, the house was lit like a discotheque and the loud blasts were no longer a background sound. The numbers of deaths and injuries have started increasing dramatically since the ground invasion, which proves how vicious it is.
War continues. New lives, dreams, hopes and existences are being killed. New bombings are everywhere. New bloodshed. New massacres. New families wiped out completely. A daily renewed contract of imprisonment.
Can you see the light at the end of tunnel?
Photos by Omar Ghraieb.