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Memoirs from Gaza: We lost our city’s madmen, but Israel has turned the rest of us mad

Memoirs from Gaza: We lost our city’s madmen, but Israel has turned the rest of us mad

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Opinion Homeless Marginalized Groups Basic Rights

Wednesday 21 February 202408:18 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

يوميات من غزة (25)... هكذا تم قنص "مجانين" المدينة، وهكذا جُنّ غيرهم


One by one, we lost the city’s madmen, as they slipped back to places they were familiar with, far from all the noise, and the rush for a meal, or the fear of an explosion. Who will tell the madmen of this city that it is now filled only with death and bombardment, and that safety no longer exists? Who will tell them that the occupation army is out on a demented mission to hunt us, not caring whether their prey is a madman or a child?

Before he made it home, he was killed by an Israeli sniper. Didn’t this sniper notice that the walking man was talking to himself? Didn’t he notice him laughing to himself, reaching into thin air, saying “Give me a shekel”? Didn’t he notice that he was a madman?

The first madman

The most known madman in our neighborhood was killed by occupation snipers. He was tired of running, seeking refuge, and sleeping among people, and for a moment, sought to live out his day in peace, following his usual routine. So, he decided to walk home. Before making it home, he was shot by a sniper, which killed him instantly. Did this sniper not notice that the man approaching was talking to himself? Didn’t he notice him laughing to himself, and reaching into thin air, saying, “Give me a shekel.” Before he could make it home, his place of comfort, he was forced to bid farewell to this cruel life. This man had only recently returned from the Emirates with his brother after their entire family died. His brother then died, two years after their return to Gaza, and now this man, the last of his family, is gone as well.

The second madman

Abed was also killed after he decided to return home. He had grown tired of the noises of children and people all around him, since crazy people have their ways and our chaos does not suit them. So he headed home. Two days later, he was found in the square just a hundred meters from his house. Occupation snipes had killed him. Some thirty years ago, this was a bright young man. He had studied medicine in Algeria, and on the day of his return to Gaza, he lost all his documents. Someone stole them, and he was never able to find them. Years of hard work were stolen in an instant, and so, he lost his mind. Now dead, he has that piece of his mind back, as he has finally reached the quiet he had been seeking.

One woman lost her mind after they executed her children and husband before her very eyes. Another couldn't stop hysterically laughing after all six of her children were killed by a single missile. The madmen we all knew are now gone, and Israel created new ones

The third madman

This third madman, whose family used to restrain him to prevent him from going out, was unable to forget the taste of freedom. When returned from Libya to Gaza, he did so without his sanity. This is all that we know of this madman’s story. If you made eye contact, he would ask you for a cigarette. He definitely did not ask an Israeli soldier for a cigarette, and just wanted to break free from confinement and return home with the freedom to live life as he was used to. He was killed before getting there.

None of these madmen were able to make it home. They planned to leave the chaos of displacement, and instead take refuge at home, in the calm and quiet they were accustomed to, with the privacy to carry out their daily rituals and with the freedom to exercise their lost minds. Our madmen were killed, and in the process, Israel has created a host of new ones.

One man left this world after the body of his only child was ripped apart, along with the bones of the house they had been sheltering in. At some point, I even almost lost my mind from the continuous bombing above us, from being awake for days on end waiting for the next missile. I almost lost my mind from the constant anxiety and fear. All of us in Gaza have similar stories

One woman lost her mind after they executed her children and husband before her very eyes. Another woman was unable to stop hysterically laughing after all six of her children were killed in a single missile strike.

One man left this world, crying non-stop, after the body of his only child was ripped apart along with the bones of the house they had been sheltering in. And at some point, I even almost lost my mind from the continuous bombing above our heads, from being awake for days on end waiting for the next shell or missile. I almost lost my mind from the constant anxiety and fear. All of us in Gaza, the new mad people created by Israel, have similar stories, as we try to hold onto our sanity until the last moment.

The meager amount of bread they managed to acquire was not enough to feed all the children, and so the kids resumed crying, and the father had a heart attack right there. What could he do? He was helpless to his starving children; Death was the easiest way to escape this.

New mad people

He was sitting in despair while his wife made sandwiches for their starving children. There is a lack of flour and helplessness is all around. His wife, busy trying to quell her children's hunger and pain, couldn't have noticed that on her husband's face. The meager amount of bread they managed to acquire was not enough to feed all the children, and so the kids resumed crying, and the father had a heart attack right there. What could he do when his children were this hungry? He was helpless to his starving children; Death was the easiest way to escape this.

Uncle Abu Amer's heart suddenly stopped. Only his ten-year-old daughter, Sara, mentioned that he had complained about chest pains a few days prior, after the first shell exploded in their neighbor's house while they were inside, and again after another house was hit by a rocket while he was next to it. He knew that his house was next. Before the end of the day, Uncle Abu Amer died at home, surrounded by his memories. To those who say that humans are only flesh and blood, I correct you: we are hearts and memories, too.

He found the house completely leveled to the ground. The toil of a lifetime, the warmth of the children, and the memories had all turned into ash. At that moment, he also turned into ash. He died instantly, and eventually, his body was found in front of his house. His mouth and eyes were open, his final gasp frozen in time – the shock that killed him has been permanently etched on his face.

When escaping the ‘fire belt’ (Israel’s tactic to destroy entire neighborhoods in one go), Abu Samir left 70,000 dollars in his home. He ran for his life and for his children, and was forced to leave behind his entire lifetime’s earnings. When he felt that things had calmed down slightly and that he had had enough of running, he returned home to reclaim his life's work, only to find his house completely leveled. The toil of a lifetime, the warmth of the children, and all the memories, were turned to ash. At that moment, he also turned to ash, dying instantly. His body was finally found in front of his house. His mouth was open, and his eyes too, his final gasp frozen in time, the shock that killed him permanently etched on his face.

The first shell exploded in his neighbor's house while he was inside, then another in a nearby house. He knew then that his house was next. Before the day ended, Abu Amer died there surrounded by his memories. Whoever says that humans are only flesh and blood is lying. We are hearts and memories


The faces of Gazan death

A person dies before getting used to his own home. With each day, the gap grows, and death inches closer. A person dies when he is forced out into the cold, forced to leave his bed and blanket behind. Anyone who says they are adapting to the circumstances is lying. I tell you in all honesty, the greater fear and distance from home, the sooner death is. With each crack in the home, the owner cracks too. Eventually, the home and its owner will die together, the loss of hope and of returning is a shortcut to death. Hajja Salma died far from her home; she left it 50 days prior. On that day, she fell ill and stayed in bed at the shelter. She couldn't live anywhere, and the day she died was one full of shelling, hysteria and displacement. She was tired of running and racing to places of temporary safety, so she left it all behind and slipped away. Who said that a home is just four walls? A person dies without his home, no matter where he moves.

A person dies when he is forced out into the cold, forced to leave his bed and blanket behind. Anyone who says they are adapting to the circumstances is lying. I tell you in all honesty, the greater fear and distance from home, the sooner death is. With each crack in the home, the owner cracks too.

There are many forms of death. Some of us died of hunger, sorrow, cold, grief, and heartbreak. Here, death is not limited to a missile, shell, bomb, or even a bullet. Death has many forms and voices. It takes on a terrifying appearance and never stops. This city, that we praise for its mild winter and its beautiful sea, has become cloaked in a darkness as intense as the dead of night; it is now a suitable set for filmmakers to shoot their horror films in.



* 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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