I carry a special nostalgia to Gaza as every Palestinian who feels that he cannot do anything to help or be there for people who have been under siege for the last decade and a war every few years. The extreme aggression on Gaza in 2014 that left it with heartbreaking damage and destruction is still vivid and alive in our memories here in the opposite part of this homeland.
Each time I enter Gaza I carry with me many emotions that in a way insist on seeing it all as positive as possible.
I cannot at all deny the huge impression I get from seeing the resilience of people. Each time I stop in front of myself and say: DAMN …how can they do it.
It is true that there is something about us human beings in general that make us willing to adapt and survive. I also don’t know if it is just my nostalgic emotions that make me see things this powerful and meaningful each time I encounter creative initiatives and stories. The amount of tragedy that continues to befall on people there is unbearable to a regular human being. I tend to think that there should be something in the genes of the people there has developed by time with an extra resilience component and creativity.
Of course one cannot but feel like swinging between the amount of misery, destruction, damage, poverty he cannot but see passing by almost every scene. It is captured in the memory like a camera taking snapshots of each and every scene. It surrounds you from all directions from the moment you enter Erez and walk in that 1.5-kilometer of the cage. The smell of sewage is the first thing you receive, before even meeting any Palestinian in the minutes later. You cannot but get the impression of what is coming next. I have to say that the high stinking odor of sewage makes all the scenery that comes next natural. As if you are accompanied by musical to a movie.
But then you arrive at your hotel, if you are “lucky” like me, to be a Palestinian who is not Gazan! And the hotel is just an average place like any in the civilized world. You are surrounded with a clean environment, high prices, well-dressed people, service that amounts to what you expect in 4 or 5 stars hotels, and of course you tend to ignore whatever is not up to your expectations in a five stars hotel. At the end of the day, you are in GAZA…
The energy you see around you is overwhelming, people talk and talk and talk. So many stories to be told. Everyone wants to tell you how painful and miserable it is in Gaza. And you feel like saying: PLEASE STOP …it is all-in-front of our naked eyes. No explanation needed.
But those who tell you about the miseries and tragedies. The destruction, the fragmentation, the corruption, the abuse, the occupation, are sitting right there with you on the heights of an expensive restaurant or a conference explaining to you what the aggression did to the poor people of Gaza.
It could sound arrogant at the first instant, but then you realize that each of the people lecturing you has a story that is miserable and tragic as the story of the misery of Gaza. Each time I listen, I think to myself: how on earth can anyone survive this? A loss of a child, a friend, a brother, father, a mother, a shell in his living room, children sleeping under the beds from fear, diseases, sickness, lack of health services, a tragedy that feeds the drama.
All this is not why we go to Gaza….
We are there to see the people who were displaced during the aggression and still wait to rebuild their houses.
A NAKBA that never leaves the Palestinian livelihood. Did these people adapt so much to displacement the new caravans seem to be a better solution than tents?
Tens of thousands were left displaced after the 2014 and Gaza became a hub for business people from all sectors and directions. The investment in the rebuilding became what defines and what unifies. Fateh and Hamas problem disappeared. All that you hear people talking is who is rebuilding and who is taking the bigger share. It sounds like a cake that everyone jumped over to grab. So messy with no forks, no plates, no knife to cut.
Tens if not hundreds of projects under the title of reconstruction and rebuilding to the displaced. Everyone take you from the hand to convince you that he works on this issue while everyone else is a thief. The UNDP, the UNRWA, the Government of Hamas, the Government of Fateh, councils of rebuilding, Islamic relief, all that you imagine in hearing about aid.
And there…. Remains a person who is still waiting for a paper that may mention their names to be next on the rebuilding list.
There are families, hundreds, thousands, of them waiting, praying, preaching, begging to see their names on the upcoming list of rebuilding. While you will hear everyone involved telling you how much his side has built, and how eloquently stating the criteria and obligation of his side, you just walk in those caravans to witness a human tragedy.
Words can never describe the tragic circumstances people live in … not to mention all the social, cultural issues that aroused from this, just what you see with your bare eyes is enough to tell a story of humanity falling apart.
As another winter is approaching.
There are people out there in Gaza…. Tens of thousands of them staying under a roof of caravans that are leaking from all directions, with no fundamental rights of the living. You look at children, and you see the flu taking a different shape from what we usually see with our kids. No basic hygienic or survival needs are provided. Whereas from outside you think. They are sheltered. The floors are shaking under the feet of the people who live there. Caravans that were made to support people for a few months with a limited number of people have been homes to families for the last three years.
People are living at the mercy of someone who will sign. Inside there you will hear and realize how corruption is contagious like diseases.
In the meantime, these people tend to pretend to live with hopes that they believe won’t come, accepting the dehumanizing lives they live.
A story of tragedies that combine in one huge cloud of miseries of people who are cursed to live under a set of patriarchy that is topped by occupation and rooted by corruption and oppression.
I am back with the image of this lovely woman Um Habiba and her daughter. Who lives in the caravan pretending that life is good and even proposed to me that I marry her husband. Her laughter and her social presence give a splendor to the tragedy that the tens of families left in Khuzaa waiting for their turn to have their homes rebuilt. She lost one of her eyes in the previous war (2011). There was that instant when she showed me around her caravan, and suddenly she became serious and strikingly silent …. I felt what it means to be abandoned by the human race.