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Memoirs from Gaza: A sign of life from beneath the rubble

Memoirs from Gaza: A sign of life from beneath the rubble

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إقرأ باللغة العربية:

يوميات من غزة (2)... "أخرجنا الصغيرة وكأننا أخرجنا الحياة كلها من تحت الركام"


Bombing the barber shop

As I am displaced from my own personal pain to the suffering of others, my own tears put on hold, I drown in a much larger sea of tears and sorrow that stretches across Gaza, from its bloody north to its bleeding south, and from its burning east to its desolate sea.

The other day, I sat there, helpless and broken. Our neighbor's house was bombed and had collapsed, caving in on its occupants, as well as the twenty young men waiting for the barber and some others inside the mobile phone store downstairs.

I sat there, helpless and broken. Our neighbor's house was bombed and had collapsed, caving in on its occupants, as well as the twenty young men waiting for the barber and some others inside the mobile phone store downstairs.


We quickly bury the victims and hurry back to search and rescue

In just an instant, the four-storey building collapsed on itself and everyone inside, creating a massive cloud of dust and smoke that engulfed the neighborhood. In the first few minutes, they managed to pull out Ahmed Ali Al-Shanna, but he was already dead. He was taken to Nasser Hospital, where his body was prepared for burial and prayer. He was quickly transported to the graveyard and buried under the incessant buzzing of surveillance drones.

But the story doesn't end here; Ahmed's mother and two sisters were still buried beneath the rubble. All efforts began to pull out those who had been at the barbershop; Abu Mahmoud and Mahmoud Al-Tabash (the barber and his son) martyrs, Ali Amer a martyr, little Ahmad a martyr – one martyr after another. A few were pulled out alive, but suffering from serious injuries.

I stopped to look around and realized that half of the house was piled in pieces on the street, while the other half was lying on top of my friend and his wife and daughters.


Waiting for al-Baqir

Night fell, and work came to a halt. My friend and neighbor Ali Al-Shanna was still under the rubble, as were the neighbor's children. Then later that night, two more massacres hit the same area, leaving two residential buildings destroyed and dozens of casualties from various families. I say this to point out that with very limited machinery capable of clearing rubble, the wait for ‘Al-Baqir’, the only heavy machinery capable of fully moving the rubble, will now be even longer.

It's been thirty hours since the bombing. The hope of finding survivors has faded. Our main priority is to honor the deceased and bury them. When a bulldozer arrived, it was unable to move efficiently or clear rubble, only able to extract the bodies of two children – two more victims of this terrible war.

The hope of finding survivors has faded. When a bulldozer arrived, it was unable to move efficiently or clear rubble, only able to extract the bodies of two children – two more victims of this terrible war.

I stopped to look around and realized that half of the house was piled in pieces on the street, while the other half was resting upon my friend Ali Al-Shanna's wife and daughters.

Afnan's voice emerges from under the rubble

While wandering amidst the rubble, a man yelled out that there was a noise coming from under the wreckage. Her uncle confirmed that it was Afnan's voice. It was a miracle. After more than thirty-six hours, there was still a sign of life from beneath the rubble.

While wandering amidst the rubble, a man yelled out that there was a noise coming from under the wreckage. Her uncle confirmed that it was Afnan's voice. It was a miracle. After more than 36 hours, there was still a sign of life from beneath the rubble

The rescuers brought in Al-Baqir, to dig a tunnel to where Afnan’s screams were coming from. The girl was recovered, alright, conscious, with a few minor scratches on her face and some fractures in her ribcage. The rescue revived hope, and we watched the life return to her father’s, brother’s and uncle’s faces. What a merciful act of God! We pulled out Afnan, and it felt as though we were rescuing life itself from beneath the rubble.

Night resumed its reign, and our rescue mission had to wait again. Ali's wife and other daughter were still trapped in the rubble, but digging had to stop. Nonetheless, with some insistence, the efforts continued into the late hours, to no avail.

"My sister was playing right in front of me"

On the morning of the third day, digging resumed to retrieve Afnan’s mother and sister. Afnan had shared that her sister had been playing right in front of her, and her mother was nearby on the couch, reading the Quran. The men began to clear rubble, with the aim of reaching the described location. They dug with their bare hands, fueled only by hope and prayers.

The rescue revived hope, and we watched the life return to her father’s, brother’s and uncle’s faces. We pulled out the little girl, and it felt as though we were rescuing life itself from beneath the rubble. The men began working with their bare hands, only powered by hopes and prayers. But that's the thing with hope. It makes no guarantees..

Throughout those three days, my friend Ali remained strong, steadfast, thankful, and composed, only occasionally letting a tear slip from the fire raging within his chest. His strength gave us strength, yet he could not hide the pain in his eyes, even though he was patient and persevering.

The digging continued with bare hands, slowly crumbling this overwhelming helplessness. But that's the thing with hope, it makes no guarantees. After three days, Ahmad's mother was brought out from under the rubble, a martyr, alongside her daughter Ikhlas, also a martyr. They had joined Ahmad, alive in the presence of their Lord ( أحياء عند ربهم يرزقون).



* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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