From Gaza: The Explosions Are Everywhere

Mustafa Ibrahim –
Palestinian Human Rights Activist
May 15, 2021
Over the past fifteen years, I have lived through three rounds of Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip. This is the fourth. The strange thing is that the past aggressions all awoke, as soon as the last round started.

“Where should I go with my four daughters?” asked a woman walking down the street carrying a bag after the apartment block where she lived was destroyed. 

Last night, Israeli warplanes bombed a house in the Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, killing eight civilians, six children and two women. Only a five-month-old baby survived.

I could not stop myself from crying. An act repeated more than once in the past six days, that is: since the beginning of the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.

I cried a lot when the Al-Jawhara and Al-Shorouk towers were destroyed in the Al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, which are two of the city’s main landmarks. I have strong memories of the two places that host media offices and TV stations.

My friends have lost what they built there over many years.

They lost their memories, hopes and future. Their equipment and offices have been destroyed, and there is no longer a trace of where they spent their days and years.   I try to sleep for two hours a day since the start of the aggression. My son Yusef is in secondary school and he is supposed to do his exams next month, on June 17, yet he has not been able to open a book or sleep for many hours. With every explosion, he wakes up, stands in the middle of the hall and asks: “Where is the bombing?”  

Over the past fifteen years, I have lived through three rounds of Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip. This is the fourth. The strange thing is that the past aggressions all awoke as soon as the last round started.   

Psychological warfare and history bring me back to past years: Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, the 2012 aggression, the 2014 aggression, and the crimes committed during those aggressions, killing women and children, destroying homes on the heads of their residents. There is no time lag between them in my memory. The scenes overlap imaginatively and realistically.  

I do not hide my fear and concerns, especially in regards to the targeting, bombing and destruction of homes. They are carried out without discrimination or prior warning.   

My goal and determination is to destroy and iron out consciousness. My mind and heart can no longer bear the scenes of blood and infanticide.

Memory revolts against forgetting, and insists on preserving pictures of children who will not be returned to their mothers’ arms.   

How can I ever forget the picture of the only child survivor from the Abu Hatab family in the Al-Shati camp massacre?

I am not hiding that I am writing while I am worried. I am afraid of a sound that will terrify my children. I am writing to the sounds of explosions, especially those coming from the cannons of the naval ships at sea, close to where I live. But the explosions are everywhere.  

I am afraid from the sound of WhatsApp messages indicating that the Israeli army warned the residents of Burj al-Galaa in the center of Gaza City, which hosts the offices of the Al-Jazeera news channel and several other media. The tower was destroyed minutes after the message reached us.  

Then there are the sounds of the reconnaissance planes that do not leave the sky, with their thin voice that gnaws at our heads. I feel they are standing over me to check what I write.  

This is what I live with two million other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. I am now trying to write faster to save what is left of my computer battery, so excuse me, my dear editor friend, for not doing a second reading of what I wrote.

Electricity is scarce and lasts for only three hours. Also, I will not be able to recharge my computer with the UPS in order to charge the router and keep some lighting at night.   

The Electricity Distribution Company has announced an imminent shutdown of the power station due to the fact that fuel is prevented from entering through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.   

The suspension is also due to the destruction of electricity lines, as well as fuel shipments being banned from entering to keep the only power station in the Gaza Strip operating.  

The electricity crisis has begun to affect vital sectors. The import of fresh water suitable for human consumption from Makroot, the Israeli national water company, has stopped.   

It is fortunate for me that, so far, the Internet has been working, despite the fact that the Israeli raids have destroyed the Internet and communication infrastructure in large parts of Gaza.  

What luck do I have to be alive and living in the Gaza Strip? Is it because I have a feeling, as a friend once told me, that we are the liberals and the rest of the Arab countries are the occupied, even if the price we pay is high and our sacrifices are even greater?  

Living here in Gaza today coincides with the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, the first anniversary of my father’s death, his stories of displacement, his horrors, his anxiety and fears for family and friends, and me and a large group of “crazy people” living here in Gaza, dying and demanding revenge upon revenge.  

This instinctive demand helps me to bear the cost of survival. I think about the future of my children and I postpone the discussion about the usefulness of armed resistance, popular resistance, and the failure of Arab regimes.  

I no longer have the ability to send messages in light of the killing, the absence of justice, and the widespread complicity in our killing.  

There is no horizon to stop the influx of aggressions. Questions remain open in the light of an unbearable humanitarian situation. Before the computer switched off, I forgot to point out the lack of food.   

In the presence of death, blood and victims, I cannot taste food except coffee, cigarettes and water. You may think that this is an exaggeration. But it is the truth.

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