Walking in our neighborhood every day brings me painful and dreadful memories of the first day of the 2014 aggression. We were eating lunch when a massive explosion shook our home. Some of the windows shattered and we couldn’t see anything but smoke, dust, and shattered glass. After a minute, we heard another explosion from the same direction. We were all so afraid and my sisters started crying. I could hear people outside screaming for help, so my father and I went into the street, shocked and barefoot. Our neighbor’s house, occupied by the Nouasra family, had been bombed.
“There were five people inside the house!” a neighbor shouted. He and others joined the paramedics to search the rubble for survivors—really, any sign of life. But there was none. I watched as they pulled the body of my friend Salah out of the rubble just 10 meters away. Only two days earlier, we had played football together. Then came the body of his pregnant wife, Aisha, who would have given birth to her first child in a few days. Her body lay on the ground, covered in a white cloth stained with blood. That was the first time I was so close to a dead person, and I felt pain in my knees and chills all over my body. I cannot forget that sight; it still haunts me until now. In the garden next door, the rescue workers found the bodies of Salah’s two young nephews. They had been standing by the window when the shells hit.
Israel has inflicted so much pain on the people of Palestine: displacing us; controlling our economy; imposing a blockade on Gaza; waging wars; kidnapping our young men off the streets and from inside their homes; and denigrating us as terrorists. Each of us has countless stories of misery both large and small. Nevertheless, we Palestinians are still standing and teaching the world lessons in resilience, patriotism, and steadfastness, even when we feel we are barely alive.We are barely alive