My life during the war

Rana Selfie

Rana Selfie

The night before was the worst ever! An F-16 targeted my neighbor’s home. I remember it well, it was around 3:00 am. I could see nothing but the sky turning red and the lights of the ambulances flashing…

Article by Rana Alshami

(GAZA STRIP)  I live in Khan Younis, Gaza. I am a twenty-one years old college graduate from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). I have been witnessing the bombing of my homeland with great pain and distress in my heart. We have been at war for 48 days and there is no sign of a permanent ceasefire. People in Gaza are experiencing massive amounts of death and destruction. People can barely leave their homes to do even the simplest activities. People can’t even sleep.

July 29th, 2014 marked the second day of the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-fitr. We were supposed to be festive but no one in Gaza felt like celebrating. My family and I spent the holy month of Ramadan gathered in one room in the West side of our home because my father thought it was the safest part of our house. We kept our phones charged so we could continue receiving the news in case the power went out.

The night before was the worst ever! An F-16 targeted my neighbor’s home. I remember it well, it was around 3:00 am. I could see nothing but the sky turning red and the lights of the ambulances flashing. The attack killed one martyr and left three people severely injured. But we didn’t receive those famous Israeli leaflets supposed to warn us to leave until the next morning!

In Gaza we can do nothing but try to survive. My dad told us to prepare ourselves to leave the area. My little brother Mohammend, who is only 10 years old, started crying and putting his toys into a bag. He said, “Rana, I want to bring with me my favorite toy, Spiderman,  because I always fight with him and he is my friend. I want to live. I want to grow up and go to the university. I want to marry and have little kids.”

My dad made many calls to his friends to see if there was any safe place where we could stay. A friend of the family suggested for us to go to the local school and another friend offered for us to stay in his house. My dad felt so helpless when we left our home. While we were on the way to our friend’s house we witnessed heartbreaking scenes of people that were displaced from their homes. It was worse than the 1948 catastrophe (Nakba).

Three days later, a 72-hour ceasefire was announced. My dad immediately wanted to return home to see the damages caused by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). My mother argued and begged my dad to stay at our friend’s home and wait at least another day but she failed to convince him. My grandmother and my aunt had stayed at home since the war on Gaza began. My grandmother could not hear well because she was ill. My dad and uncles sent an ambulance to take her to a safer place but she strongly refused. She said, “No, I will not leave my home. This is my land not theirs.”

We got home at 12:00 pm. My mom started washing clothes and preparing food. I went to my room to get some sleep because I hadn’t slept for days. My head felt like it was going to explode from the lack of sleep. My dad was at the mosque praying on Friday’s prayers (Salah) when suddenly my aunt called. She asked, “What are you doing there? Get out of the house! Israeli tanks are near you!”. We never thought the tanks would reach our area. My mom lost her mind. She could barely stand up. Dad ran from the mosque without his shoes. Artillery shells fell everywhere. It was horrible! I stayed in my room on the second floor. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. We had been without electricity, water and Internet for over a month. All of our relatives went in different locations and we lost connections with all of them.

Khan Younis has been bombed into submission. Israel has dropped warning leaflets on the villages of Abassan Al-Kabira and Beni Sahila to urge residents to go to the safety of Khan Younis to avoid the upcoming ground invasion. How perverse can Israel get? Is it really safer to be the indiscriminate target of bombs than of artillery shells?

Shrapnel I found in my room

Shrapnel I found in my room

August 21st, 2014 was supposed to be my wedding day. I was supposed to wear my white dress! It was supposed to be the moment that I have always longed for, instead, on that day 30 Palestinians were killed in cold blood!

We have never recovered from the last two wars on Gaza (in 2009 and 2012) and now we are witnessing another one. The scenes of injured children dig deep into my head. The scenes of bodies in the streets kill me. The smell of blood is everywhere.

Israel has violated three humanitarian truces in the past weeks. Israel has expanded its operations with gunboats and missiles to target anyone, everywhere. I am so angry that my blood is boiling. Why? Because Israel is raping my homeland while the United States, the Arab leaders and even human rights organizations remain silent.

The people of Gaza know well that there are many people in the world that sympathize with us but we urgently need these people to transform their sympathy into action!

Prove your humanity, act now! Raise your voice! Tell the truth and stop racism.

Don‘t lose yourself for the sake of money and popularity and causing corruption. Be a human and stop funding and supporting Israeli racism, Fascism, Communism, suppression, and oppression.

We are all human, sharing the same qualities. American, French, Italian, Muslim, Jews, or Christian, whatever you are or wherever you are from, be human.

We have to unite and cooperate in order to end the horrific massacres. All we call for is justice.

Special thanks to the team at Mondoweiss

About Rana Alshami

Rana Alshami, 21 years-old, graduated from Islamic University- Gaza with a Bachelor degree at English Literature. She lives in Khanyounis. Follow her on Twitter at @ranaalshami

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