In Gaza…Is Home Different?

The house rocked with blasts and aftershocks as the Israeli war planes surprisingly fired nearly 6 rockets at a nearby building. It is in these situations one realizes the value of having a socio- psychological therapist among the family members at least for the kids’ sake. “Hey ,it’s thunder”, called out my sister-in-law, which seemed to make sense to some of the kids since it had been raining heavily all day and thunder was actually heard earlier. I guess when they’re still young, it’s easier to convince them of anything.

It was a matter of seconds before the shelling started and ended, but it was amazing how a stream of thoughts flowed in the mind during such a horribly swift interval. One thought dominated my mind: This could be the end. But then I remembered having heard some people who had survived the War two years ago say that they never even heard the rocket . Instead, all they recounted was being suddenly thrust up in the air and falling down again which clearly means: not knowing what hit them. Another thought that rushed through my mind which seems inexplicable to me now was how I was overwhelmed to go back home. Is it safer at my own house which is about ten minutes away from my parents’. ? In the late Offensive on Gaza, the Director of UNRWA operations , John Ging was reported saying: ” There’s no safe in Gaza”. So what is it about home that impelled my eagerness and assured me that it would be safer there at my house? What is it about home that soothes and comforts the heart? Is the meaning of home different in Gaza?

Home, for the Palestinian people has a predominant and distinguishably different meaning than it does to any other peoples. Home is the place which the Palestinian people were forcibly displaced from in 1948. Villagers lived peacefully on their own property, grazed their own sheep, cultivated their own land and supported their families. The survivors of the Nakba reported stories of horror and anguish on how they fled their villages and their long journey of hardships to Gaza. May were killed on the way; others collapsed and kids died from sunstrokes. Breathless and fatigued, those who survived the journey no longer had home. It took years for many of those, who soon were named Refugees, to be able to build a house of their own. Harshly enough, many of those had their houses bulldozed or shelled in the course of the struggle and returned to dwell in tents as their parents did upon the 1948 expulsion. So by all means, the physical structure of home is of tremendous value to the Palestinian people.

On my way to home, I contemplated the houses on the streets thinking how each one is precious to its owners. At that point, my sense of fraternal love for the people of Gaza told my heart that my own house which is my source of comfort is located inside my bigger home…Gaza. I acknowledge the fact that there may be no safe place in Gaza, but the bond that ties me to this soil is entrenched deep within running through my veins. To state it in simple words I think what I mean is: Home is where the heart is.

May Allah protect my big Home and make its nights and days peaceful so our children may have sweet and colorful dreams.

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