By: Refaat Alareer
Gazans become fighters in a battle imposed upon them. They are soldiers who do not want to be soldiers.
Mohammed was probably 2 when he had a high fever and an acute ear infection. He had already started to articulate his first sentences. His bright green eyes, despite his illness, told of a bright kid. Mohammed could have been taken to the nearest clinic had it not been for the Israeli curfew forcibly imposed on recently occupied Gaza some forty years ago. How could they venture to get out when they heard so many stories about people shot in the head for defying the curfew? They were told the Israeli heavily armed soldiers did not check or did not want to check whether their neighbor, Abu Salma, was taking his little teething baby to his grandmother’s for some herbal medicine she prepared. He did not have a watch to check the time. The Israeli soldiers did. It was five minutes past seven. Or so they claimed. They just shot at him— or rather shot him. His little daughter, Salma, cried herself to sleep in a narrow alley trodden by nothing save rodents and stray animals, and Israeli patrol jeeps. Abu Salma bled. And bled. Even the shrieking voice of his daughter could not move his lifeless body.
Mohammed went deaf.
Forty something years later, Mohammed’s youngest son, Bilal, fell headless in a narrow alley by a stray(?) Israeli missile. It was only recently when Bilal knew how his dad became deaf. He never asked. He took it for granted that his father was born thus. It was when Bilal told his mother why he was hesitant about the idea of getting married. He feared deafness might be in the genes. However, his mother, Salma, confronted him with the truth. “Does my father know?” asked Bilal after a while. “No!” Bilal, who saw how much his dad suffered because of his deafness, swore to take revenge: to make those heartless killers pay.
Bilal’s dad is now too weak to be told he lost his dearest son. But at least 20 of Bilal’s relatives and friends swore to make those heartless murderers pay.
Palestinians do not need to be taught incitement hatred. The occupation is their teacher. They know no matter how long you plan your future, or how much you save, or how hard you work to stay safe, death will eventually get at you. They have seen tens of times how very old, very young, and very promising talents lose their lives at the Israeli alter of macho.
Only Gazans know how peace is truly made. It is never luxury rooms and five stars brainstorming sessions and talks that lead to peace. Peace can be made by eliminating the causes and the injuries and the scars wars cause. Israeli leadership knows that. Yet, Israel has managed to cause injury, pain, and suffering to every heart of every Palestinian. Some hearts are stricken by layers of sufferings, pains, and injuries.
Israel, apparently attempting to both test and market their Iron Dome system, managed to provoke Palestinians and kill 20, half of whom unarmed children, women, or elderly. What is strikingly new in this Israeli insane policy is that the lab rats this time were not the Palestinians of Gaza alone, but also the Israeli residents of the towns neighboring the Gaza Strip whose lives were also used by their government to test, and promote, their new Dome system. Do not they have to hide and be subjected to manmade Gaza rockets?
Gazans know very well that will bring a lot of money to Israel, but it won’t at least on the long run bring them peace and quiet, for more hearts have been broken, more vows have been made, and more young promising guys must have decided to join the Palestinian resistance seeing their relatives, friends, and neighbors being slain in front of their eyes. They become fighters in a battle imposed upon them and become soldiers who do not want to be soldiers.
What has Nedal, 22, who was busy planning her wedding party, done? She was not in the street, she was not being used as a shield, and she was not shooting at the Israeli tanks. What about her quadragenarian mother? Why was she killed? They both were safe and sound, or so they thought, in their house till the Israeli missiles chased them and hunted them down. If the world can’t see this, Gazans can. And they will not forget.
That is why Gazans know peace goes farther than finding the “suitable” peace partner. Peace requires a whole new generation that has not been subjected to the systematic terror of consecutive Israeli governments. Occupying Palestinian lands, Israel has dug itself a hole. They know it. And they are not even attempting to stop digging.