Gaza City – As the bombs relentlessly fell on Gaza during the third night of intense bombing, my family and I gathered together in terror. Seeking refuge in my parents’ house, we huddled in the darkness, listening to the harrowing sounds of destruction echoing through our city. We tried to distract the older kids with games and drawings, desperate to convince them that the noises were mere fireworks – but deep down, we knew they didn’t believe us.
My baby, whimpering and exhausted, eventually fell into a troubled sleep. Every loud bang brought him jolting awake, screaming in fear. I had taken him to my parents’ house after our own home became uninhabitable due to an Israeli missile strike while we were out. Meanwhile, my husband and daughter sought shelter at my in-laws’.
Just as I closed my eyes, we were abruptly awakened by a deafening noise. Instinctively, without even thinking, I swiftly picked up my baby. It was clear to all of us that we had to escape. Panic set in as we ran for our lives.
Within moments, the air grew thick with dust and the stench of gunpowder, making it almost unbearable to breathe. Our neighbors were shouting and crying, their voices drowned out by the chaos. Our vision was obscured by the debris and shock, leaving us disoriented and unable to see clearly.
This particular attack felt closer and more menacing than anything we had ever experienced. The ringing in our ears seemed to reverberate through our eyes. Who did this missile target? Whose home was destroyed?
As we stumbled onto the street, we followed the direction in which our neighbors were running. The four-story apartment building that had been hit stood just a few meters away from my parents’ house. We caught sight of rubble strewn across the road, but before we could fully comprehend the extent of the damage, the police urged us to seek shelter once again. They couldn’t determine if the missile that struck was a mere warning or the main attack.
Across the street, compassionate neighbors embraced the families who had fled from the demolished building, taking them into their homes. Meanwhile, my own family regrouped on the ground floor, exchanging silent looks filled with a mix of fear and sorrow. Our frayed nerves had reached their breaking point, and in that moment, I half-expected to hear screams escaping our bodies. Would there be another strike?
The wailing sound of approaching ambulances filled the air, leaving us anxious for news of those injured. How were we supposed to endure such unthinkable horror? It was unfathomable to imagine a world where a missile more devastating than this one existed.
After some time passed, and the dust settled within the house, we cautiously ventured outside. Dozens of people had gathered around the fallen building, their empty gazes fixed upon the rubble that had replaced their once cherished homes, erasing history, memories, and comfortable beds.
With a heavy heart, we retreated back inside. There was little we could do amidst the destruction, so we began the daunting task of surveying our dust-covered home and belongings. Soon enough, messages and calls from concerned friends and relatives poured in, all asking the same question: “Are you okay?” My sister, known for her dark humor, responded wryly, acknowledging that we had become the news of the day.
Overwhelmed by emotions, I sank onto the nearest sofa, cradling my sleeping baby. Miraculously, he had slept through the entire ordeal, and for that, I thanked whatever higher power was listening. The awake children stared at us with wide, pale-eyed expressions, and as I observed their mothers’ faces, I realized we were all equally powerless to shield them from the trauma unfolding around us.
The sound of bombs continued to reverberate through the night, becoming a chillingly normalized backdrop. In the brief pauses, I found myself anxiously anticipating the next explosion. Day and night, our house trembled under the impact of projectiles, tearing apart lives.
There is no denying that what we are experiencing is a relentless onslaught of genocidal bombing, surpassing all levels of fear and insanity.