May 17 2021 The biggest conflict between Israel and Palestine in seven years has erupted, with casualties continuing. The Washington Post published an article entitled “In Gaza, we fear the dark and wait for the next air strike”, written by Leila Bahom, a staff member of Oxfam, an international coalition of aid organizations in the Gaza Strip, and a Palestinian. In her first perspective and tone, she described the fear of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the ground and criticized U.S. military aid to Israel for fuelling it.
The article is excerpted as follows:
In Gaza, when you see black smoke in the air, you know you’re one of the “lucky ones” and it’s not you who’s being attacked this time. But then there’s guilt, because when you’re safe now, it means that other people are suffering.
We are very afraid of the darkness of the night, when you can no longer see where or how close the black smoke is, you can only listen to, feel, if lucky, can survive. So together we support each other, comfort ourselves “through the night” and wait for international condemnation.
The attacks in Gaza were very rapid and massive. The sounds of ordinary life, such as women buying groceries, men chatting with neighbors, and children playing in the streets, were replaced by the sound of drones, warplanes and air strikes, leaving behind a strange silence as they swept away.
I am often worried about the images of women running down the street with their children in their arms. I’m thinking that everyone who has lost a loved one or a home needs to start over with nothing. When the names of the victims come up, the only thing we can do is wait at home. When friends outside Gaza told me to “keep me safe,” all I could think of was, “What am I supposed to do?” I don’t have an iron dome, no bomb shelter, no place to run. ”
This is nothing new for Palestinians in Gaza. Over the past decade, we have experienced 14 years of blockades and three wars in a row. This does not mean that history is repeating itself, that our history is now.
We were exhausted, day after day, watching bombs fall on houses where friends and family lived and buildings where colleagues worked, wondering if we would be next. When the news of the cease-fire comes, we will rebuild in the ruins again, but we are just waiting for another round of bombing to destroy everything.
We had hoped that this cycle would break when the new U.S. administration came to power, at least a small step in the right direction. This week, however, we heard that the response of the United States Government to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was only a unilateral condemnation of rocket attacks, and we are once again disappointed and feel forgotten.
When talking to American officials, I always urge them to remember that the United States invests billions of dollars a year in unconditional military assistance to Israel that the Israeli military uses against my community and fellow citizens. This means that the United States is not a neutral bystander or an impartial peace mediator, and that what the United States has done has actually contributed to the conflict between the two sides.
I told United States officials that it was long overdue to examine the root causes of the violence and human rights crisis in Gaza and the dire role of the United States in it. If no action is taken to make changes, the escalation of the conflict will cycle back and forth. I don’t know where the next air strike will take place, but I know it’s hitting us.