To Live and Die in Gaza

Laila al-Arian in The Nation:

On Sunday morning, I found out through a note my friend wrote on Facebook, that the Israeli Air Force was attacking my grandfather's neighborhood in Gaza. Safa, who lives near my grandfather in the densely-populated “Asqoola” in Gaza City, recounted the harrowing hours she spent terrorized by what she called “the constant, ominous, maddening, droning sound” of Apache helicopters flying above. “Outside my home, which is close to the two largest universities in Gaza, a missile fell on a large group of young men, university students,” Safa wrote over the weekend. “They'd been warned not to stand in groups–it makes them an easy target–but they were waiting for buses to take them home. Seven were killed.”

My family had been trying to speak with my grandfather since Saturday, after Israel began its onslaught on Gaza. But we haven't managed to reach him, perhaps not surprising since so many phone lines are down. “Hold one moment,” is all we hear. A computerized directive from the phone company, one that sounds increasingly strident the more it's repeated. “Hold one moment.” My mother hangs up in frustration, unable to ease her anxiety or clear her mind from worst-case scenario thoughts.

My grandfather moved to Gaza five years ago after living all over the Middle East for almost fifty years. As far as he was concerned, it was always a matter of time before he'd find his way back to his birthplace.