When the Stars Twinkled

doaa amar.jpeg

Doaa Ahmed Ammar

Journalist - Palestine

During my second year at university in the Department of Journalism and Media, Al-Aqsa Intifada erupted. On September 28th, 2000, my perspective about life in Palestine changed, especially that I had returned to it only 6 years earlier after a long stay in different countries.

Palestine was not the same as I had imagined. Earlier after the Oslo Accords, the situation was prosperous economically and movement through crossings was generally improved. Only a few people were faced with obstacles. Everyone was happy about their way of life, except for a few who saw the true nature of the occupier, and were not deceived by the smiles nor the handshakes on media, and in conferences and agreements.

Those people saw an occupier that controlled their movement through its checkpoints, that had strict agreements making their lives dependent on them. If we, the Palestinian people, behave; the occupation will let us live. If not, its methods of murder are various. That was the truth about the economic prosperity that most people failed to see. The Intifada, however, came out to take down the cover off their eyes and hearts.

It was then when the electricity was cut for the first time, leaving the Gaza Strip in complete darkness because of the occupation’s bombardment of the only power plant in the Strip. It was the first shelling I had ever witnessed. My father at the time was a police officer, and it was night. I was working as an intern journalist without anything to do nor social websites to follow up with since at the time we did not have such privilege.

I still remember the details of the evening very well. We did not know anything about my father, nor about my sister who had not come home yet as the occupation had closed the checkpoints, and I was incapable of sleeping, standing on the rooftop watching the sky shining brightly. I did not know whether they were stars – could there have been that amount of stars in the sky? – or were they rockets landing from all directions?

Perhaps it was fear I should have felt, but in reality I felt vengeful. I wanted to avenge the state of foolishness we had lived thinking the occupation could grant us life in the delusion of peace and agreements. How could we believe such thing?

The only truth is the resistance is what gives us life no matter what the international community thinks; the international community which clearly sided with the occupation. Even the killing of Mohammed Al-Durra, the little child who was brutally killed before everyone’s eyes by the occupation’s forces, the forces managed to escape the responsibility for his murder until this day.

Days – rather months – passed, and the resistance grew in the hearts of the youngsters, children and women; until its stars twinkled in the earth and the sky when the females engaged in resistance work. Earlier, they merely helped the youth throw stones and hide from the occupation. The women played major roles, but they were limited due to several social factors.

Taking part in martyrdom operations was more prominent in Al-Aqsa Intifada. The names of several female executers rose at the time; they were educated, brilliants and beautiful to the extent that no one would have thought they could carry out such operations.

How would a young woman, so beautiful, educated and about to get married, leave everything she dreams of behind and carry explosives to blow herself among the occupation’s soldiers? This is difficult for any person; how about a soft spoiled girl?

It was true faith in wanting to live freely without an occupation, and honorably without humiliation that pushed them to do so. Murder out of boredom and pride had already spread, so the women felt they needed to make a step forward.

Faith pushed these girls to participate in all forms of resistance: even with their bare hands. That stage was one of the most significant stages in the history of the Palestinian popular resistance. About 11 female martyrs had their names carved in the memory of Palestinians. The most well-known of them are Hanadi Jaradat, Ayat Al-Akhras, Wafaa Edris, and others. One less famous martyr Sanaa Qdeih. She was an average woman with her husband and children at their house when the occupation’s forces decided to demolish it. Her husband refused to surrender, and she decided to stay with him. They took the children out safely, and fought together until their last breath.

Now, we have something stronger than our bodies to fight with. Our resistance has developed, and our rockets, though simple in comparison to the occupation’s weaponry, are enough to make us feel pride and dignity.

Ever since, whenever the occupation’s rockets shine in the sky, I realize that they will disappear. However, the souls of our martyrs are the real stars that will forever twinkle. Whenever the occupation turns the power off, whenever it closes all borders, no matter how many years they besiege the Gaza Strip – rather whole Palestine – these stars will continue to show us the way if we ever trip or get lost. A dignified life is reached only after entire Palestine is freed from all forms of occupation; without any exceptions.