Gaza, Palestine - ‘My name is Nader, and I’m a Cast Lead survivor.’ A phrase I’ve always imagined myself saying as an introduction to a keynote, especially after making it out of the most unmerciful, brutal twenty-eight days a human being can live in one piece.
Spending a month with no electricity, water, or basic needs to survive could have been a reason to die. Sneaking out of the front door and walking as fast as possible, making sure to stay next to the wall on the way to the nearest supermarket, fifteen minutes way, knowing that death can strike any moment in the interval between the front door and the supermarket to the way back is really terrifying.
Empty streets, partially damaged buildings, shattered cement blocks, columns of smoke everywhere, indicating fire resulting from at least one Israeli air raid with ambulance sirens blowing in the background at different distances, killing the silence.
The sky was once blue, until the Israeli F16s, drones, and helicopters occupied it; spreading fear, terror, and death among unarmed citizens whose only mistake was existence.
Hearing tanks nearby, innocent people killed, houses being shelled and bombed around the clock, along with everything else happening around made sleeping at night, a daydream.
The time relying between day one and the very last few moments of Cast Lead is an experience of a lifetime, an experience that nobody will forget. 28 days of continuous shelling and killing had left more than 1300 killed and 5500 injuries. 20,000 houses were demolished and a total estimated physical loss of 5 billion dollars.
Life didn’t go back on track after Cast Lead, mainly because almost all aspects of life were affected dramatically at different levels around the Gaza Strip. Those who made it out of Cast Lead were left traumatized, especially children. There have been many projects funded by different countries trying to help those kids, as well as other projects that mainly help the severely damaged infrastructure.
People look at life from a very different perspective since Cast Lead, a brutal chain of terrorist acts on a million and a half residents in the besieged Gaza Strip. We all have battled against death multiple times; we have seen it with our eyes and kicked it away.
As a Palestinian residing in Gaza, Cast Lead and its aftermath dramatically changed the way I think and look at life. I have always believed that there is no way negotiations would bring one inch of the stolen land nor will it grant even one Palestinian in exile the right to return.
Negotiations were made to find a solution to an issue or matter where it is negotiable, unlike anything related to Palestine or Palestinians. Negotiating over Palestine and the non-negotiable right of return isn’t any different than negotiating with your rapist. The so-called peace process is nothing but a big fat lie that was created for us to lose more and more of the very little we still have left.
I believe neither in the so-called piece process nor the negotiations. What’s taken by force can and only will be taken back by force. If not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the day after.
I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him.~ Ariel Sharon Prime Minister of Israel 2001—2006, magazine Ouze Merham in 1956.
Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don’t care. ~Ariel Sharon
Daily Davar, 1982-12-17