Will Israel observe the truce?

Many people are likely to visit homes that have been badly damaged during the truce period. 

Omar Ashtawy APA images

There was a sense of relief in the house where I am staying when news of a long-awaited truce – albeit a temporary one – was announced.

After nearly 50 days of a war that has left communities shattered and lives upended, anything that brings a tiny bit of peace is welcome.

My siblings and their families are scattered in different parts of Gaza: Deir al-Balah in the center and Khan Younis and Rafah further south.

My mother has told everyone that they should not go outside in the hours before the truce is actually in place. Israeli troops are known to become more cruel and brutal just before a truce comes into effect.

Unless it is extended, the truce will only last four days.

I am filled with both happiness and apprehension as I prepare to be reunited with my family.

I can’t help but worry about a potential breach.

During a major 2014 offensive against Gaza, Israel carried out a massacre in Rafah at a time when a 72-hour truce had supposedly come into effect. I have a vivid memory of that massacre.

As well as emotional concerns, practical matters weigh on my mind.

I am determined to find someone who can fix the solar panel on our home.

Our home in Deir al-Balah has been bombed during this horrible war.

Before we were forced to leave it, we had to rely on mobile flashlights at night. Because electricity has been cut off, I went from one neighbor to another to charge my cellphone, laptop and power bank.

Getting repairs done will be tricky. The staircase leading to our rooftop has been damaged.

Fixing it will require more than four days. First we have to find the right materials.

Feeling guilty

I feel a bit guilty that such practical matters are on my mind.

Many people will be spending the truce period burying family members. Others will be searching for people who have yet been accounted for.

I have just learned about how 13 people were killed all at once in eastern Rafah. They lived very close to my sister.

My nephew told me that 13 is the initial figure. There are still some people under the rubble.

During the truce period, we will try to find some calm. We desperately need a break from the turmoil and devastation caused by Israel’s airstrikes.

We probably will not have any real silence. Israel’s drones are likely to continue flying over our heads.

Children are struggling to comprehend what is happening.

One of my nephews asked if people killed during this war would somehow come back once the truce begins. The answer was a somber “no.”

The truce may pause the immediate violence. It won’t bring back those who have lost their lives.

Another nephew wondered if an escalation of Israel’s attacks could happen. My niece responded by urging him not to dwell on such gloomy thoughts and discouraged him from asking such questions.

“Keep the spirits high,” she said.

Innocence under attack

My sister was scrolling through her Instagram feeds, when she came across a video of people trapped under rubble. There didn’t seem to be anyone around to help them.

She hesitated when her 13-year-old son asked to watch the video.

He is hoping to become a doctor and believes he will encounter such scenes in a professional capacity. But my sister declined, stating that she would not expose him to such distressing content.

Despite the hardship of their lives, she argued that it is essential for her children to maintain some degree of innocence, even though she cannot do so herself.

If you visit Facebook, you will find people who lived in northern Gaza expressing their sadness that the truce will not give them the possibility to return to their homes.

There are a large number of people from the north who need treatment for injuries. Who is going to help them?

Since I began writing this article, I have learned that the truce will not come into effect before Friday. That is one day later than had been initially reported.

My father is strongly advising us now against going back to our home.

My mother has just told me about yet more attacks on Rafah. One airstrike was so severe that it resembled an earthquake.

There are also fresh reports about Israel committing atrocities in northern Gaza.

I am not surprised that the truce has been postponed and that we face another day of the bloodshed to which we have become all too familiar.

Ghada Abed is a journalist based in Gaza.