Today, memories flow into my brain. My brain goes back 3 years ago, the scenario starts playing in my mind, I recall every minute happened that Saturday; I rehear every bomb, every cry of fear. I re-witness the scene. I recall each and every second happened on Saturday, December 27th, 2008 as if it was still today. I recall the silence, the shock, the horror that took over my body that day. I recall in memories, the still living memories in my mind.
Today, 3 years ago, I was still 17 years old, a Tawijihi student, the last year and the most important year in school time. It was final exams time for most of the students but Tawjihi students were not having exams. At 11:00 am I was done with the management class and ready to go back home. I waited my sister who was still having her Arabic exam; I waited here in the school yard where a lot of students were standing there. As I was waiting for my younger sister, a very thunderous series of explosions started hitting the sky. I looked up at the sky immediately, and then I looked around, I stared at the faces surrounding me, they were all looking up at the sky. I looked around and around trying to find my sister among those shocked, terrified faces. I finally found her.
We hold hands. "There is nothing to worry about, they are just sonic bombs." I told her. We walked out of the school. I could see school students shouting, crying or sitting in the street unable to walk because of the fear and panic. I remember laughing at them at the very first moments as I thought the bombs were just sonic. I walked home with my sister. The streets were very crowded with people. Women were all out looking for their children. Children were crying not knowing where to go. As we were walking many bombs were falling, we could hear them falling, and every time we hear an explosion we look around to make sure that we are in the safe side. We managed going back home safe. However, many others did not.
Home, I shouted, " Basil, Semsem, where are you?" I shouted my little brother and sister's names to make sure they are safe. I found them hiding in a corner holding each other's hands at the staircase. They were scared and their small faces looked pale and bewildered. I calmed them down, and I turned on the radio to understand what was going around. "120 martyrs were killed so far in the last series of explosions and many wounded" the reporter said. I shouted placing my hands on my mouth then stayed still. I was dominated by shock. Unable to talk, I stayed.
One of my sisters was still at her university and we were unable to contact her as all the communications went down. There was no network coverage. My family was very worried but thanks God she finally came back home safe. My family and I kept following the news. The number of the martyrs was increasing, bombs were still dropping, the electricity went out and the situation was getting from bad to worse.
I never thought that Saturday, that this day would be the start of the war. I do not know what to call it. A war? A war is supposed to be between two parallel forces. But it was not. It was a brutal genocide against unarmed civilians. It was Israel using all the military forces and all illegal weapons against the so called Gaza terrorists who have nothing to defend themselves or even their home. It was something inhuman, something unbearable.
First day had gone, the second had begun, and the same scenario repeats itself every day. Explosions, destruction, martyrs, wounded, orphaned, horror, shock were the main characters of that nightmare.
My family, 6 sisters along with me and 1 brother, used to sleep in one small room. We used to gather around the radio and listen to the news. The radio which works on batteries was our only mean to follow the news because there was neither electricity nor phones. The horror was living among us. We would ask ourselves a thousand questions a minute. Are we going to stay alive till tomorrow? Will Israeli army attack our home and kick us out? Are we going to sleep in our home tomorrow or in UNRWA schools such as many of Gazans did? Are my friends safe? Are we going to find something to eat, something to drink the next days? And many many other horrible questions and thoughts were terrifying us and dominating our mind.
The sound of the bombs became as a rhythm. A loud explosion then sounds of ambulances then the news reporting the place that was targeted and if they could identify the martyrs, they would announce their names. However, tens were not identified or even mentioned as they were buried under the rubble and they lost all their face's features.
I used to sit on the roof in order to study because I was a Tawjihi student and I am required to study even if over 10 drones were droning over my head. The sky was not the normal sky we used to know during the 23 days of the war. It was most likely a gloomy gray sky filled with black drones, F16s, helicopters… I remember studying history, World War 2 in particular, while looking at the sky counting the drones. I had no doubt that I would pass the history test as I was living a war already! I proudly passed Tawjihi with an average of 96.6% and that is to send a message to Israelis that your crimes would never stop our dreams of the future.
The massacre ended in January19, 2009 but had left behind, 1085 martyrs, 420 of which are children, 105 women, 510 men, 14 medics, 4 journalists, 5 internationals. Israel still claims that the war was against Hamas while most of the killed were innocent civilians. The number of children who were killed during Gaza war amounted to more than 45% of the total number of civilian victims! We demand that Israeli criminals should be brought to justice.
Yes the massacre ended yet the pain it left behind never did. I went to school after a week. I was literally scared to go back to school, I didn't want to learn that any of my friends or classmates have been hurt during the massacre; unfortunately, many of my classmates were affected directly by the massacre. Two were wounded, one lost her father, one lost her mother, two lost their cousins, one lost her home.
"I saw my mother dead, her head was separated from her body, I saw the blood covering her" the one who lost her mother said with a broken voice and teary eyes. I imagined her seeing her mother dying and couldn't help but cry with her and weep over all the martyrs who were killed in a cold blood. Today, after 3 years, I remember the martyrs again and their families who remember them every single day. I wish I can put a rose over every martyr's grave. I pray they are now resting in peace.
Today, I am twenty years old and the Gaza massacre is three years old. As I grow up, the memories of the brutal massacre will stay unchanged in my mind. 3 years had left but every Gazan commits to memory every second of the twenty-three days massacre. I assure you that tens of thousands of Gazans have a story to tell about the massacre. The black Saturday will remain a shame on all the Israel criminals. People of Gaza shall never forget the Gaza genocide and shall never forgive.