Palestine: Life has returned to Gaza

"We are alive, it's amazing!"

On 26 August 2014, I was born anew. It’s the day of my birth – and my wife's and children’s too. We are alive, it's amazing! In Gaza, life has returned. People walk in the streets, they hug each other, everyone is smiling. Everywhere people are saying, "Thank God, we’re alive." At MSF’s clinic, even the patients who come for care after their surgical operations are smiling.

People have lost everything
Now we can breathe again. Yesterday Gaza was a ghost town, the streets were deserted. The Israelis were bombing buildings. All the time we were wondering, "Which building will they bomb next? And when?" The building where friends of mine lived was bombed. They were able to get out of their apartment in time, but they lost everything. Absolutely everything: that means the cup you drink your tea out of, the pillow you sleep on at night.

For the first time yesterday, I didn’t go to work at MSF’s clinic. I was like a zombie. My wife and children were in a state of depression too. I didn’t eat anything all day, I just drank coffee. I had lost all hope. It was all too much.

Children can play in the garden again
When we heard the news of the ceasefire, I cried, and my wife cried too. My five-year-old daughter was leaping around like a lunatic, yelling, "The war is over, let’s celebrate the end of the war." But my sons didn’t react at all at first – they couldn’t believe it had really happened until they were able to sleep in their own beds. Today, children can play in the garden again, they can go out and see other people again.  

Today, people are going out and doing ordinary things. They’ll be happy for three or four days, perhaps. After that they will start looking at all the houses that have been demolished, everything that has been destroyed. There’s no electricity most of the time, and water is a problem. They will see that there is lots to be done, and they may become depressed again.

When will schools will re-open?
Normally the school year would have begun this week. No one knows when schools will be able to reopen, as lots of people who have lost their homes have taken refuge in schools. Some schools were also bombed. The other thing is that, in my opinion, children need to be given a break. For seven weeks, there has been shelling, bombs, deaths and injuries. It has been hell. It will take time to forget, for our children to readapt themselves. I just hope that it won’t all start up again.