Gaza City Diary: Safa Joudeh
Posted by noah on January 8, 2009 at 12:30pm
photo: Creative Commons/
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December 27th, 2008
It was just before noon when I heard the first explosion. I rushed to my window and barely did I get there and look out when I was pushed back by the force and air-pressure from another explosion.
What followed seems pretty much surreal.
Outside my home, which is close to the two largest universities in Gaza, a missile fell on a large group of young men. We’ve all been warned not to stand in groups as it makes for an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. Seven were killed, four college students and three young men.
The three young men were our neighbors. Nothing could stop my 14-year-old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends lying in the street. He hasn't spoken a word since. As I'm writing this I can hear their funeral procession go by outside. They were best friends, spent all their time together when they were alive. They died together and now they are sharing the same funeral together.
Never had we imagined anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me. I’ve been watching TV seeing images that you probably can’t see in the US.
There were piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you looked at them you could see that a few of the young men were still alive, someone lifts a hand, and another raises his head. They probably died within moments because their bodies were burned, most had lost limbs, some of their guts were hanging out and they were all lying in pools of blood.
December 28th, 2008.
This has been one of the longest nights of my life. About an hour ago they bombed the Islamic University, destroying the laboratory building.
We heard the first explosion, the windows shook, the walls shook and my heart felt like it would literally jump out of my mouth. My parents, siblings and cousins, who have been staying with us since their home was damaged the first day of the air raids, had been trying to get some sleep. We all rushed to the side of the house further from the bombing.
Hala, my 11-year-old sister stood motionless and had to be dragged to the other room. I still have marks on my shoulder from when Aya, my 13-year-old cousin held onto me during the next four explosions, each one as violent and heart-stopping as the next.
"I'm mostly scared of the whoosh," I told my sister, referring to the sound a missile makes before it hits. Those moments of wondering where it's going to fall are agonizing.
Looking out of the window moments later the night sky had turned to a dirty navy-gray from the smoke.
January 3rd, 2009
At the moment, and in the midst of the aggression, it is hard to make sense of the current situation or make future predictions. It's hard to come to grips with the numbers and the extent of our losses. It's hard to even remember a time when basic necessities such as food, water, warmth and daylight weren't a luxury.
January 5th, 2009
I stayed up most of the night and caught a few hours sleep after the sun rose.
When I awoke, I readied myself for yet another day if incessant drones and constant nearby explosions, but today, would prove a calm day for my family.
After lunch we all spent a half hour on our balcony, looking out through the metal railings like caged birds…breathing in the fresh air that we so longed for. We heard occasional explosions in the distance but stood there anyway, breathing in the fresh air that we so longed for.
We passed the day reviving small shreds of our former livers. My father, a doctor worked a few hours at his downstairs offices. My 3 brothers gathered water from the only working tap in our 14-story building. And my sister and I tried to tidy up the house as much as possible.
That night, huddled around the television, watching footage of families who’s day was not like ours, our gloomy mind state returned. And it wasn’t so much that their suffering reminded us of the suffering we were likely to face tomorrow. It was more that today’s calmness reminded us of our need to experience real life again.
It was a state that made me feel lost, wondering if the real world ever existed. Wanting to be anywhere but here, and wishing that the clock would turn back and things could be as they had once been before.
January 6th, 2009
My grandmother, uncle, aunt, their 2 year-old boy, my brother and his wife all arrived at our door today, shaking with terror. They live in A neighborhood recently bombarded by Israeli artillery shells and missiles, and They made their way to our house in cars belonging to strangers who had stopped to offer them a lift after seeing them out on the street.
Today is also the day when many people made the mistake of thinking that UN facilities would provide safety and protection from Israeli bombing and shelling. They were wrong. 3 UN facilities were attached and the Al-Fakhoura school would end up a gravesite for more than 40 people.
January 7th, 2009
Much rain and little hope.
We prayed for rain, and at last rain came tonight. A heavy, tumbling shower of clear refreshing beautiful rain.
We prayed for rain hoping that it would blind the visual capacity of Israeli warplanes and gunships. We prayed for rain to combat the fires that have been rising from homes, due to the attacks.
We also prayed for rain to cleanse our street of the sewage water that has started to seep from the drains. For over a week now, waste pumps have stopped working in Gaza city because of the lack of electricity. We don't know whether we should close our windows to keep out the stench, or open them so they don't blow in during an attack.
Israel announced a 3 hour ceasefire today, in order to allow trucks of aid to enter Gaza, loaded with food and medicine. Our joy was unbound, and we quickly readied ourselves to go to shopping for necessary items and even some not so necessary ones, such as chocolate and chips.
But the ceasefire was not what was promised…close artillery fire kept us from leaving our house.
We spent the rest of the day trying to get over our disappointment, and wondering about what kind of state we’ve been reduced to. It’s a sad thing to become overjoyed at the opportunity of walking in the street and shopping for necessities. But to feel unworthy of even that, is a sad thing indeed.
Today is the 12th day of the Israeli air and ground raids on Gaza and the only change we have witnessed is the steady rise in the intensity and ferocity of the attacks.
For more excerpts from Safa Joudeh's diary, and links to news articles for context and contrasting viewpoints, see our earlier story or read full entries at electronicintifada.net.
A note about the photographs. Photos for this story were appropriated under a creative commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license from the flickr stream of Amir Farshad Ebrahimi. View more of Amir's excellent photos at Flickr. Be advised that due to the subject nature many of the photos are extremely graphic.Read More:
For one historical perspective on the invasion of Gaza check out Ben Cohen at The Daily Banter.