By Lara Nassar, YWCA of Ramallah-Palestine. Lara who is a second-year student at Birzeit University, majoring in History and minoring in Political Science.
“Relative calm”, “death toll”, “airstrikes”, “bombing and shelling”, “war crimes”, and “humanitarian truce” , seem to be the only things that I’ve been hearing lately, the only things anyone’s been talking about. I personally think the most irritating of them all are both “relative calm” and “humanitarian truce”, it makes it feel like the heinous attack on Gaza has a shred of humanity integrated into it, which is utter nonsense. “Relative calm”, commonly used as a term to describe a temporary state of ceasefire, the reality is, relative calm only happens when the opposing party wants to take a five-minute break from shelling babies. Whereas “humanitarian truce” is a term used to fool the international community into believing that Israel is less barbaric than it actually is.
100 down, 200 down, 300 down, and the blood bath continues, as Israel keeps on targeting unarmed civilians. The death toll has reached over 1840 in Gaza alone, 40% of them have been identified as women and children, more than 9400 injuries; 17 hospitals have been bombed and are running out of medical supplies. Why do we keep mentioning numbers? Because that’s what the international community wants to hear, it’s the only thing it’s willing to hear when it comes to Palestine, and we just became so used to it that it’s become a natural thing for us to speak in numbers. On the other hand, from the local front, each of these “numbers” has a name, a story, a dream; we call them martyrs. For us, they are Palestinian heroes, even though they were only kids playing on the beach, only a family breaking fast during the holy month of Ramadan, only a young woman expecting her first child, dreaming about raising her in a peaceful world. They weren’t really in on this war, they weren’t out there fist fighting the enemy, they were merely trying to stay alive, but we still call them martyrs, why? Because in Palestine, even the will to keep on living is resistance and even the strength to keep on smiling is a threat to Israel’s security.
Living in the West Bank makes me feel like I’m just another bystander, Gaza is two steps away from me, yet it feels like another country altogether, separated geographically by an abusive apartheid state called Israel. I wake up every morning, have my coffee, sit on my laptop and read what has happened within the last 5 hours since I’ve last checked. This is not the best way to start your every morning I’m sure, but being a Palestinian, it just becomes part of your daily life, you get used to the images of gruesome crimes committed by Israel, which is actually really pathetic if you think about it. After catching up on the news I get myself ready for University, I don’t forget to pack ear plugs because I know that all I’m about to hear is more of what I already know. It’s exhausting; actually the most exhausting part is being so close, yet so far away from my people suffering in Gaza. You know you want to be safe, but at the same time you’re thinking “They shouldn’t be alone in this, we’re all the same people; we should suffer with them”, as masochistic as it may sound. However it’s very true, we constantly claim that we love dying as martyrs, we love dying for the cause, not because we have suicidal tendencies, just because growing up we were taught that dying for the cause is the most honorable death in the world.
I’ve been having this dream lately, I’m in Gaza city, there’s an airstrike happening, three little girls are all alone in the street, they’re not afraid, they’re not crying, the loud sounds of war aren’t scaring them as much as they are scaring me. I head towards the girls and tell them that we should run for a safe place, they reply “there is no safe place”, I’m struck with reality, they’ve bombed schools, hospitals, homes, mosques, and just about everything else, there really is no safe place in Gaza. Even though this is my dream, the truth is, it’s also reality; children really are that realistic, because they face circumstances that take away their right of rainbows and butterflies. No child should have to go through that; a child’s life shouldn’t be about finding shelter from shellings, or having to worry about surviving another day. Our children do. My only wish is for them to fall asleep today and wake up tomorrow morning to realize that this was all just a bad dream, and that it’s still safe for them to go to the park and play.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes and are in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical care. Over 200,000 people urgently need food aid; 1.5 million people have no or very limited access to water or sanitation; and over 65,000 people are now homeless after their homes were severely damaged or destroyed. To donate, please visit the Disasters Emergency Committee website.
In September the YWCA of Palestine will be hosting an international conference to discuss women’s, including young women’s, role in ending violence and promoting human rights and dignity for all Palestinian women, men, youth and children, through the framework of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325). More information can be found here.
Source: YWCA of Great Britain
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