Gaza – shopping for another war

Gaza market (Ashraf Amra - APA Images)

Ahmed Dremly

Mondoweiss /  August 17, 2022

Israeli wars of aggression have become so common in Gaza they’re the new normal.

I sweat in the darkness brought on by the power cuts—or maybe it’s just the terror of dying? The sound of the “zannana,” or the Israeli military drone, is deafening, piercing, beating along with my heart.

I wonder why Israel does not let us live normal lives in Gaza, forgetting for a moment that Gaza is about the farthest place from normal. Normalcy is a lull between attacks, a momentary glitch in the fabric of a siege that has lasted for fifteen years. And here we are, one year after Operation Guardian of the Walls, amidst the sound of those bombs we foolishly thought were a distant memory.

I was on my way to a friend’s wedding party when the Israeli forces attacked several places today at the same. On the first day of the Israeli aggression, at least 10 people were killed, including a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman, in addition to 55 injured. The death toll in the days that followed was over four times greater.

People started moving in a hurry to their houses, and I shuffled along with them. My brother called me and asked me to bring home bread, beans, and baby formula for his 6-month-old daughter Suza—enough of everything to last us two weeks. By now, we had grown used to following the protocol, putting our wartime shopping skills we have honed over a decade and a half of intermittent wars to good use. Then again, I thought about the people who wouldn’t be able to afford that much food and supplies in advance as I made my way to the nearest grocery. 

The nearest, of course, because I couldn’t be picky—many people will have gotten the same idea, and I didn’t want to be greeted by empty shelves.

The reason for this sudden shopping frenzy perhaps should be obvious, but everyone in Gaza has grown used to adhering to a self-imposed curfew, knowing that the Israeli killing machine would consider any moving thing in Gaza as a legitimate target, much like my uncle, Mansour, who was killed while he was going to buy food in the last Israeli attack on Gaza.

But shopping is the least of it. We’ve learned far more from the never ending rounds of Israeli aggression, like wearing light clothes in the event of having to leave our houses and run, escaping the rubble. We learned not to eat or drink too much, so that we wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom often—when you might die at any moment, you want to be with loved ones. Israeli wars taught us not to trust the night, since that’s when they chose to carry out the heaviest bombing.

When I first wrote these words, I still heard the distant (and, alarmingly, not-so-distant) sound of bombing around me. All of us were afraid of becoming the next target of an attack—my father, my niece, my sister, all of us. No matter our circumstances, anyone might be targeted, civilian or no.

This is a life we’ve grown weary of. We no longer have the energy to bear another loss, another trauma, another night of madness. Wanting to live a normal life without the fear of being murdered should not be so unreasonable.

The day before the attack, I was sitting in the living room, having fun with my family and chatting about my upcoming first trip outside Gaza to Italy. My father asked me to buy him classic Italian shoes. My brother was telling me how lucky I was to be traveling. My mother was content to smile, knowing that I would be happy on the trip.

The next day, we were in the same living room, but I couldn’t look at my father’s face, nor at his frightened eyes. My mother was glued to the news, silently weeping for the families of those who were killed. My brother was musing loudly about where we should go if the Israeli airstrikes bombed our house or another nearby place. And all I thought about was how, in one day, a war could change everything, bringing our short-lived normalcy to a grinding halt.

And, of course, I thought of whether I would survive long enough to go to Italy.

Ahmed Dremly is a freelance journalist, writer, and translator based in Gaza