Today I walked the streets of Gaza for the first time after the announcement of a ceasefire. I spent nine hours slowly making my way from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south. I cannot believe what I saw. It is horrible. Everything is devastating. It is a shock greater than my ability to absorb. I feel suffocated and I just want to cry. It is the heaviest day I have ever lived.
The scenes of devastation are unbelievable. I find myself involuntarily looking under the rubble looking for trapped children. I imagine that I am hearing the screams of children who are still asking for help from passersby. I think this sound, which I did not actually hear, will stay with me throughout my life.
I left my house in the morning heading to visit our partners with high spirits. I felt that we had done our duty and played a good role in supporting the displaced and injured people during the attacks. Now on the evening of the same day, I feel that I need much more support than ever before.
The destroyed building of Abu Al-Ouf does not leave my mind’s eye. Ayman abu Al ouf is doctor who worked around the clock for an entire week and as soon as he returned home to check on his children, his house was bombed. He and his children were killed.
Throughout the horrible eleven days of Israeli attacks, we had no time to grieve, to cry or to understand what is happening around us. We were just counting the people killed, looking shyly at their faces for the last time and witnessing the gradual death of children under rubble. We were witnessing the destruction of buildings and collapse of dreams. But we didn’t really take it all in.
We kept focusing on what is in front of us and the work we have to do. We were holding on to life, doing our part to resist the situation through providing emergency support to displaced people and injured as well. But now, I cannot do more, it is time to stop and cry.