We are ready to rebuild and rewrite Gaza’s narrative

Haneen AbdAlnabi

+972 Magazine  /  May 18, 2023

The constant state of fear and uncertainty cast a dark shadow over our lives. But our dreams and resilience help us survive Gaza’s dark times.

We rebuild our lives and homes, only to have them shattered again and again.

The story begins in 2008, when the Israeli occupation decided to demolish our home in northeast Gaza, near the border with the other side of Palestine. I was only 11 years old at the time, and the weight of losing my safe haven crushed my spirit. It was devastating to see the place where countless cherished memories had been made reduced to rubble. We were forced to seek shelter elsewhere, but the pain of losing our home lingered in our hearts.

In 2011, with indomitable resilience, we managed to rebuild our home from scratch. It symbolized our determination to reclaim what was rightfully ours. However, the fragile peace we had found shattered in 2012 when the sound of explosions and breaking glass echoed through our neighborhood once again. All the windows of our newly-built home were mercilessly destroyed. The fear that had temporarily subsided came rushing back, and my heart ached with every blast.

Then came 2014, a year etched in my memory as a time of unbearable anguish. The bombs from the F-16s roared overhead, shaking the very foundation of our existence. The windows, which had become a symbol of our hope — overlooking the myriad fruit trees we and our neighbors had grown, they made our home feel surrounded by life — shattered into a million pieces. The terror was suffocating, and I could not help but tremble every time I heard the piercing sound of those bombs. It seemed like our dreams of peace and stability were forever out of reach.

The constant state of fear and uncertainty cast a dark shadow over our lives. In 2021, we made the heart-wrenching decision to leave our home near the border. Our proximity to the conflict zone had become unbearable, and we sought refuge in a safer place. It was a bittersweet departure, leaving behind the place we had tried so hard to rebuild.

But even in our newfound sanctuary in the center of Gaza, where my grandparents’ home was located, the echoes of war haunted us. In 2022 and 2023, the violence escalated once again, reminding us that peace remained elusive. Each passing year, the wounds grew deeper, and the dreams I once held dear seemed to slip further away.

The most recent tragedy unfolded just last week in the most recent attack, during which my youngest sister, only 12 years old, cowered in fear. She clung to a bedsheet, hoping it would shield her from war’s horrors. She had grown up far too quickly, her innocence shattered by the relentless attacks. It tore at my heart to see her live in constant fear, robbed of the carefree childhood she deserved.

A future free from war

Living in Gaza means living on the edge, always at the mercy of political tensions and military aggression. It is a place where dreams are overshadowed by the persistent threat of violence. Each war has taken its toll on our physical and emotional well-being, leaving us scarred and weary.

But amid the darkness, a flicker of hope persists. The strength and resilience of the people of Gaza are awe-inspiring. We hold onto one another, united in our collective struggle. We find solace in the unwavering love and support of our family and community.

As I reflect on my journey, I am reminded that my dreams may have been delayed, but they have not been extinguished. The wars and escalations have tested our spirit, but they have not broken it. We continue to hope for a brighter future, where the sound of bombs is replaced by the laughter of children, and where the smashed windows are mended with the power of peace.

My story is not unique; it is a testament to the resilience of countless individuals who have endured the hardships of war. Through it all, I have learned the power of compassion, the importance of unity, and the unbreakable bonds forged in the face of adversity. And as I navigate the scars left by a decade spent under Israeli attacks, I carry within me a flickering flame of hope that one day, peace will prevail, and my dreams will come true. It is my fervent wish that future generations in Gaza, including my younger sister, will grow up in a world free from the terrors of war.

My journey through the heart of Gaza’s dark times has taught me to value the little moments of peace and stability that we often take for granted. It has shown me the strength of the human spirit and the resilience that lies within each of us. Though the scars may run deep, they serve as a reminder of our unwavering determination to rebuild, to heal, and to never lose hope.

I hope that by sharing my story, I can shed light on the realities faced by those living in war-torn regions. I want the world to understand the profound impact that conflict has on individuals, families, and entire communities. It is my hope that this understanding will lead to greater empathy, compassion, and a collective effort to pursue lasting peace.

I dream of a day when children in Gaza can sleep soundly without fear of bombings or shattered glass. I dream of a day when families can rebuild their homes and lives without the constant threat of destruction. I dream of a day when the dreams of the people of Gaza can flourish, unhindered by the scars of war.

Until then, I will continue to hold onto hope and work toward a better future. I will strive to amplify the voices of those living in conflict zones, to advocate for peace, and to support initiatives that bring about positive change.

The path ahead may be uncertain, but I am determined to persevere. In the midst of darkness, I will be a beacon of hope, standing tall alongside my community, ready to rebuild, and to rewrite the narrative of Gaza. Together, we will overcome the challenges, heal the wounds, and forge a future in which dreams can thrive once more.

Haneen AbdAlnabi is an English Literature graduate and a writer for We Are Not Numbers