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Diary of a war: The al-Dalou family's apocalypse

Dec. 1, 2012 6:53 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2012 11:44 P.M.)
By: Ahmed Ferwana
This is the fifth in a series of journal entries documenting life in Gaza during Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud. Previous entries can be read here.

November 18

Uncertainty's claws severely lacerated a feeling of comfort I thought I had, and on that hill of injustice, scrambled with adamant, immovable blocks of brutality, the inexorability of the war's inhumanity reached out to deliver its death notes to the uninformed little innocents and the elders of the al-Dalou family.

To that family, Nov. 18 marked the end of time. It was the al-Dalou family’s apocalypse.

To many others, including myself, it was a time of questioning the values of a life that's lifeless.

Clutching onto the little faith of smothered humanity within me, I fainted wakefully, and in a demonic sky with free-flowing arrows of unmerciful death and a sun eclipsed by the wings of savagery I carelessly floated.

Oppressed freedom, aimless hopes, unfulfilled wishes, suffocated dreams, unachieved goals, unheard screams and voices, pale smiles, undiscovered paths, and above all, lost and terrified souls were all I could see inside that prison-like cloud; a Palestinian cloud that has been waiting for the winds of freedom and justice to blow for more than half a century.

Dare anybody have a taste of such a life? That is the Gazan life in Gaza; the contemporary version of T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land. Except that April isn’t the cruelest month: in Gaza, November is. And fear isn’t shown to us in "a handful of dust," but in "a handful of airstrikes."

That's The Waste Land of Gaza being wasted through the opposites of this life’s values.

November 19

The war entered its sixth day, Nov. 19, and all I could do was count the passing days and nights. With every minute crawling by, the situation in Gaza kept getting worse, and that feeling of security that I deluded myself and my family with was fading as the war's heat escalated.

The tunnels area, less than half a mile from my home, was being heavily hit by F-16 fighter jets, and the balcony of my house became a window of terror my family and I kept running to with every explosion to see how close those "Pillars of Smoke" were.

Then, I received some shocking news. The American International School in Gaza, where I teach, was partially damaged in an Israeli raid on a nearby police station. In the 22-day war of 2008-2009, the school was completely destroyed by heavy shelling as Israel claimed military factions used it as a rocket-launching site. Since then, the school has struggled to perform its educational mission. It was never rebuilt because of the siege on Gaza and the difficulties of getting any construction materials into the Gaza Strip.

Instead, the school’s administration rented three buildings over the past four years and proceeded with its mission to Gazans. And during this war, the mission was again interrupted, and the school had its share of the destructive power of the war machine.

The school's buildings were just an addition to the many buildings already targeted and demolished in the Gaza Strip -- not to forget the death toll that was increasing with the careless killing of civilians and kids. And all I could do was overdose my veins with another unjust shot of sorrow to the existing sorrows in my heart, and contact my students to make them feel less hopeless about the matter.

That's how the blind giants of wars all over the world are: thirsty for destruction and blood. And the price for that is the suffering of the innocents.

Ahmed Ferwana is a language and literature teacher at the American International School in Gaza.
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