From a prison to a ghost town

Israel’s attacks are destroying homes and dreams. 

Salam Yasser APA images

What does it mean to be a Palestinian from Gaza?

Let me tell you.

On 6 October, a few of us met to talk about preparing for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was scheduled to take place on 11 November.

The next day, we woke to the sound of war.

“Maybe, this is the end,” I said to myself.

Maybe this is the end of the hell we have been living inside the world’s largest open-air prison.

Within two days after Israel’s genocidal war began, my friend’s home was completely destroyed.

All her bridal belongings were gone.

What could I possibly say?

Nothing really.

We tried to comfort ourselves by looking at pictures from the recent past when we were happy.

We kept wondering if we would ever get another chance to make some unforgettable memories.

We played with children, trying to hide from them what was going on outside.

We tried to comfort them.

They were always scared.

My cousin has a 6-year-old son called Basem.

Basem asked what we have done to deserve all this.

He was the one who tried to comfort his mom, telling her that the noise of the explosion was far away.

Hoping for strength

I kept thinking to myself that God will save us.

God will protect us because we have never hurt anyone and because God is the greatest.

I kept singing one of my favorite songs of my childhood.

Its message is that we never give up.

No way will we give up, so long as we are still alive and breathing.

I kept reading the poem “We teach life, sir.”

I read it in the hope that I can be a little bit stronger.

It is nearly a month now since I evacuated my home.

For almost all that time, we have had no electricity or internet connection and barely enough drinking water.

I have been thinking about how other people in different parts of the world are living.

They are living happily, all their needs and wants fulfilled, while we – Palestinians – are suffering every single day, especially in Gaza.

We were suffering before 7 October.

We are suffering so much more now.

Life is harsh.

Life is unfair.

I don’t know what we have done to deserve all this injustice.

The Gaza we know and love is falling apart.

Israel’s attacks have flattened not only our homes and other buildings.

They have destroyed the hopes, dreams and lives of Palestinian refugees.

Gaza used to be an open-air prison.

Now it is a ghost town.

Deema Aed Yaghi is a resident of Gaza.