Gaza Diary: The Worst of Times for Gaza and It May Not Be Over

Despite the large number of people killed, the spirit of strength and steadfastness is palpable in the streets of the Strip.

Abeer Ayyoub
Abeer Ayyoub
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Searching in the rubble of a building in Rafah, the Gaza Strip.
Searching in the rubble of a building in Rafah, the Gaza Strip.Credit: AFP
Abeer Ayyoub
Abeer Ayyoub

It wasn’t the first time a humanitarian cease-fire had been announced, but this one meant the end of the war for the 1.8 million Palestinian living in Gaza, or at least this is what they hoped. People rushed into the main streets in Gaza, either checking the damage left by the 30-day Operation Protective Edge or getting the basic necessities they had been deprived of while stuck indoors.

At the fancy toy store, Jihan Qannu’,25, was choosing new toys for her two daughters, who seemed delighted to be walking in the street again. Qannu’ said she wanted to take the children to an entertainment zone, but none of them were open. She bought them new toys instead.

“They have suffered enough; I’ll do my best to make them feel better,” Qannu’ said, while her three-year-old daughter pulled her dress asking for a new toy.

Shopping areas were full of people and the war was the talk of the town. Everyone was saying, “thank God you are still fine,” whether you know them or not.

Abu Ali, 45, was walking with his children near a huge government compound that had been reduced to rubble. He and his children gazed at the building for a while; they seemed choked with emotion.

“I went out into the street because I’m missing it and I’m missing the air, but Gaza is no longer the way it was; it’s totally devastated,” he said, displaying the mixed emotions of happiness at being alive, along with his children, and sadness for the hundreds killed and injured.

The number of people at one of the UNRWA schools, where thousands of residents from Al-Shejaiya and the northern neighborhoods have been sheltering, was lower than than it had been in recent weeks. People had gone to check up on their houses. Most of those who remained in the school were convinced that they no longer had houses.

Ghalya Kafarna, 45, said that she had gone to her damaged family home to fetch food and clothes. “People here ran to their houses when they heard about the cease-fire,” she said, with her two-year-old child in her arms. “I don’t know how long I’ll be here; I’m homeless now.”

People spoke constantly about resistance and their satisfaction with it. Despite the large number of people killed, the spirit of strength and steadfastness was dominant.

Muhammad Musa, 54, who works as a security guard at a public association, said he was totally supportive of the resistance and angry with the attitude of the international community toward the “massive crimes being committed against the innocent Palestinians in Gaza.”

“I have always opposed Hamas as a government, but when it comes to resistance, I support them with all of my might,” Musa said.

“I know that even if I have a fighter in my house, that doesn’t give the IDF the right to kill dozens of people and demolish houses to kill only one fighter; that can’t be fair.”

Thirty days of war has been the worst of times for the Gaza Strip. More than 1,800 people were killed, thousands were injured and complete neighborhoods were reduced to rubble. The brief cease-fire gave people a window to breathe, but they are still cautious that the nightmare is not over yet.

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