A Palestinian’s perspective on the Gaza war and beyond

The recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has been one of the deadliest and most devastating in the history of the conflict. More than 2,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced or left homeless. The war has also exposed the deep-rooted grievances and aspirations of the Palestinian people, who have been living under occupation, blockade, and oppression for decades.

In this article, we will hear from a Palestinian who was born in Gaza and now lives in the West Bank. He will share his personal story, his views on the war and its aftermath, and his hopes for the future of his homeland.

Growing up in Gaza

Abdul Rahman (not his real name) is a 35-year-old journalist who works for a local media outlet in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority. He was born and raised in Gaza, where he witnessed the first and second intifadas, or uprisings, against the Israeli occupation.

He says life in Gaza was always difficult, but it became unbearable after Hamas took over the coastal enclave in 2007, following a violent power struggle with its rival faction, Fatah. Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization, imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, also tightened its security measures, effectively sealing off the strip from the outside world.

“Gaza became a prison, a ghetto, a hell on earth,” Abdul Rahman says. “We suffered from poverty, unemployment, power cuts, water shortages, lack of health care, and constant fear of Israeli attacks. We had no freedom, no dignity, no hope.”

A Palestinian’s perspective on the Gaza war and beyond

Abdul Rahman says he was lucky to get a scholarship to study journalism in Turkey in 2010. He left Gaza through the Rafah crossing, which was briefly opened by the Egyptian authorities. He says he was shocked by the contrast between Gaza and the rest of the world.

“I felt like I was living in a different planet,” he says. “I saw how people enjoyed their lives, how they had access to education, health, culture, and entertainment. I realized how much we were missing in Gaza, how much we were isolated and deprived.”

Witnessing the war from afar

Abdul Rahman returned to Palestine in 2012, after completing his studies. He settled in Ramallah, where he found a job as a reporter. He says he was happy to be back in his homeland, but he also felt guilty for leaving his family and friends behind in Gaza.

He says he tried to visit them as often as he could, but it was not easy. He had to apply for a permit from the Israeli authorities, which was often denied or delayed. He also had to go through several checkpoints and security procedures, which he says were humiliating and exhausting.

He says he was in Ramallah when the war broke out in October 2023, following a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel. He says he was glued to his TV and phone, trying to get updates on the situation and contact his relatives in Gaza.

He says he was horrified by the images and reports of the Israeli bombardment, which targeted residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. He says he was also outraged by the international silence and complicity, which he says enabled Israel to continue its aggression.

He says he lost several friends and acquaintances in the war, including a colleague who worked for a media center that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. He says he also feared for his parents, siblings, and nephews, who lived in a crowded refugee camp in the northern part of Gaza.

“I was in constant panic and anxiety,” he says. “I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t focus on anything. I felt helpless and powerless. I wanted to be with them, to support them, to protect them. But I couldn’t do anything. I felt like I was living a nightmare.”

Hoping for a just peace

Abdul Rahman says he was relieved when a ceasefire was announced on November 5, after more than three weeks of fighting. He says he was able to talk to his family and confirm that they were safe, although their house was damaged by shrapnel.

He says he was also glad that the ceasefire included some concessions from Israel, such as easing the blockade on Gaza and allowing humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials to enter. He says he hoped that this would be the first step towards ending the siege and improving the living conditions of the people in Gaza.

However, he says he was not optimistic that the ceasefire would last or that it would lead to a lasting solution to the conflict. He says he did not trust Israel or the international community to uphold their commitments or to address the root causes of the problem.

He says he believed that the only way to achieve peace and justice for the Palestinians was to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. He says he also supported the right of return for the millions of Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war and subsequent conflicts.

He says he was not opposed to coexistence or dialogue with the Israelis, but he insisted that this should be based on mutual respect and recognition of each other’s rights and aspirations. He says he rejected any form of violence or terrorism, but he also defended the right of the Palestinians to resist the occupation and defend themselves by legitimate means.

He says he was inspired by the popular and peaceful protests that took place in the West Bank and other parts of the world during the war, which he says showed the solidarity and resilience of the Palestinian people. He says he was also encouraged by the growing support and sympathy for the Palestinian cause among some segments of the international community, especially among the youth, the civil society, and the social media.

He says he hoped that this would translate into more pressure and action on the governments and institutions that have the power and influence to change the situation and to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and human rights.

“I was born in Palestine, and I will die in Palestine,” he says. “Palestine is my home, my identity, my history, my culture, my faith. I love Palestine, and I will never give up on Palestine. I dream of a day when I can live in peace and freedom in my own country, with my own people, without fear or oppression. I hope that day will come soon.”

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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