Just like every time: three, four, maybe five days at the max, this round of escalation will be over. This is how Gazans have been dealing with the constant rounds of escalation recently, and unexceptionally, me too.
But exceptionally, this time was different: the volume of violence was higher - no surprise, as the resistance went much further. Targeting the jeep on the Israeli border wasn’t something that Israel would let go easily; therefore, an Israeli reaction was definitely expected – just not this big.
As a freelance journalist, I went down to the street to work on the story, and yes, I felt common, just like all the officials and people I met. People where telling me that they don’t even know what sense it makes, when we injure a couple of Israelis, and Israel kills more of us in return. “Logic!” I shouted. "Why does the resistance start it if they are just going to run to the Egyptians and ask them to mediate for a cease-fire?" I never got an answer.
Gazans have been talking about a second operation like Cast Lead since the first one ended. They know Israel has no farfetched solution. However, the first operation happened without introduction; people expected that any of the recent escalations would be the introduction this time, especially considering the nonstop Israeli threats.
On the contrary, however, the militants that I interviewed were totally eliminating the possibility of Israel making a “Cast Lead II.” They believed the Israeli threats were merely elections propaganda. “The more they threaten, the more they do nothing,” one militant told me, with all the confidence in the world.
Only one hour after this militant finished his sentence - one hour - Jabari was assassinated and Operation Pillar of Defense was officially declared.
I was doing my normal work when the air strike took place near my home, I didn’t hear it in news; I heard in from the mosques calling out “God is great, Jabari is now a marytr.” And all in a second, I was witnessing the same scenario of how Cast Lead I started. Crazy bombings were everywhere; literally, everywhere. I called my family to make sure they were all fine, and thank God, they were all fine. They said that it’s them who are supposed to be worried about me, as I was caught in the cross-fire: I couldn’t go back home; I should stay where I was. Luckily, I was near a hotel where I could stay the whole night.
The night was hard on everyone in Gaza, and hardest on me, staying without my family beside. I spent the whole night following, writing, and not obeying my mum, going to the hospital to check it out there. At the morgue, where death smelled really ugly, there were dozens of people rushing to say goodbye to their relatives. I saw Al-Jabari's young cousin: he told me he’s not sad at all. “I’m happy he’s a martyr and I wish I could be one, as well. It’s the way of resistance that we chose.”
At the hospital, children were involved in a battle that they have nothing to do with. I saw a one-year-old girl who had all of her body burnt, but was still hardly surviving death. All the injured I saw were civilians, including children and women, who always pay the taxes to Israelis and Palestinians stretching their muscles.
Before Jabari was assassinated, life in Gaza was going normally, just like during any other round of escalation. But not anymore: The area has become a city of ghosts. Everything in Gaza has closed its doors, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, schools, shops except those for food and fuel. People know they are going to have to repeat what they learnt from their experience in the 2008-09 war. They will get enough living supplies and stay, hopefully, safe in their homes.
Today, at Al-Jabrai's funeral, I saw what proved to me that Gazans have a strong immunity against any Israeli threat or attack. People of all the ages were there, saluting and screaming in one voice: “There is no God but Allah.” They had that wild smile all over their faces. One old woman was standing at her home door, and waving her hands with a bright tear in her eye, calling: Good Bye Abu Mohammed, please say hi to my nephew, he is there in heaven waiting for you."
Abeer Ayyoub is a journalist in Gaza
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