There is no post-traumatic stress in Gaza because the war never ends

Gaza destruction (Bel Trew)

Ahmed Dremly

Mondoweiss  /  May 28, 2022

Palestinian injuries in Gaza have not healed yet from last year’s Israeli assault and there is now fear of a coming war as Israeli provocations in Jerusalem and elsewhere intensify.

Is life miserable all over the world or just in my country? Is military occupation and apartheid the main reason for pain, loss, and death for others or just in my country? Is it normal for a young man to open his eyes and see nothing but wars, growing up in a big cage, losing relatives, living with a post-traumatic-stress-disorder even during ceasefire, or just in my country? Too many questions fill my brain every day with no clear answers.

As a writer in Gaza I meet many people and hear their stories. It is clear that a year is not nearly enough time to heal Palestinian memories. I can speak on this myself, especially after the latest 11-day Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, at least 260 Palestinians were killed and thousands injured in 11 days of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip last year. Sixty-six children, 39 women, and 17 elderly were among those killed in the onslaught. 1,800 houses, 3 towers, 437 apartments, and 3 mosques in Gaza were destroyed.

My uncle. Mansour, 69, was one of those killed.

He was beloved by many in Gaza for his kindness and for always helping people.

I still remember when he told me that one day when I get married, he would throw a great wedding for me as gratitude. How could I tell him now that I am about to get married, as he’s no longer with us for no good reason at all? How can he ever attend or participate in any events now? I miss him badly.

An incomplete Eid

One of Muslims’ Eid customs is visiting family and friends. My uncle and four other relatives of my neighbors were killed in the street by Israeli airstrikes last May for no reason except they are Palestinian. They were killed just before Eid al-Fitr last year. It’s apparent that Israeli aggression aims to hurt us on our happiest and most holy days of the year. Eid al-Fitr this year was still not complete for my family without my uncle. I’m sure this story resonates with countless families throughout the Gaza Strip.

Still today, I have nightmares of the 11 days of violence and inhumanity of the Israeli aggression on Gaza. Wars change people’s perspectives of life. It changed mine. Even after a year, I don’t take the road where my uncle was killed. Because I always imagine him there and remember that day.

What makes things worse in Gaza is that the entirety of your life depends on the path of the next Israeli rocket. You don’t know who will be the next martyr. Being Palestinian means that you could be killed without any reason, even if you were a civilian like my uncle.

The next war is knocking on the door

Last Thursday, a group of Israeli soldiers raised the Israeli flag beside the Damascus gate to provoke Palestinians. Now, Israeli far-right groups and thousands of Israeli settlers are preparing to participate in a flag march on Sunday in East Jerusalem and at the Ibrahim mosque in Hebron. They are also blustering to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque.

Hamas, as a result, announced a clear message to Israel and the international community that they wouldn’t stand idly by and do nothing. “The Israeli government is aware that this portends a new war,” Basim Elian, the head of the Department of Foreign Relations for Hamas, has said.

The general atmosphere in Gaza is full of terror of a coming war. Palestinian injuries in Gaza have not healed yet—many of those who lost their homes are still without new homes so far. Gazans are afraid of a coming war. The destruction, bombing, killing, terrorizing nights, and horrible memories are still in our minds. And people here wish only for an end to the Israeli aggression and to live a normal life.

What would a new war mean?

Thousands of Palestinian civilians will be killed by the Israeli war machine for no reason except they live in Palestine, like my uncle. Towers and buildings will become rubble with all of their memories. Shops and workplaces will be destroyed, leading to even more unemployment.

As a young Palestinian writer in Gaza who listens to many heartfelt stories of Palestinian victims, I just want all free people to know how Israeli settler-colonialism, and the international indifference that allows it, will gradually continue destroying Palestinian buildings, holy places, and society until there is nothing left.

In Palestine, you don’t know what will take place in the days ahead, and you know you may be killed at any time. In Gaza, there is no post-traumatic stress disorder because war is never over.

Ahmed Dremly is a creative writer and translator from the Gaza Strip