Two years later, in 2002, the IDF invaded Nablus under the mission, Operation Defensive Shield.
For one month, my camp was under blockade with a curfew imposed, which meant we no longer had access to the food and water that we used to receive from the United Nations. One memory will never leave my mind. How could I ever forget the pool of blood surrounding Mahmood AL Ghandor, my audacious neighbour, who felt he could no longer stay at home and, in need of some fresh air, he decided to break the curfew. What I remember is seeing him lay on the floor through my window, less than 10 meters away from my house. I saw the pool of blood around his body, and watched as people tried to withdraw his body. They couldn’t do anything, because the snipers were waiting.
From that moment, I felt hate growing around me, as people from my side were killed day after day. I saw a lot of my people’s bodies lying on the mortuary and I witnessed so many funerals. Through all that terror, it felt like families started crying blood, not tears.
I was nine years old when I saw my best friend shot by the Israeli military in front of my eyes. He bled out and died in front of me. Throughout the second Intifada, I saw the Israeli military bulldoze houses, I saw rockets melt the skin off my neighbours. And all I gained, all I could possibly gain, was hatred, and more hatred.
My house was located on the top of the hill of my camp. As I mentioned, we had a lack of water supply, as most of the water pipes were damaged by the war. Water, this essential resource of survival, could not reach my house through the pipes. So, my siblings, cousins and I would wait for the Israeli military to lift the curfew for a few hours. We went out, carrying empty water bottles to some neighbouring houses, down the hill from my camp. We were running, we were very rushed, as we only had a few hours to get our water or our food from the United Nations. We felt the weight of homelessness: mixed feelings of depression, injustice, coercion and oppression. I can’t forget, during Operation Defensive Shield, the sound of the military’s voices on amplifiers. The military forced everybody between the ages of 15 and 55 to come to the collective punishment area. Then, they broke into our houses filled with children, elderly people and women, looking for guns or anything they felt could threaten the state of Israel. And I can never forget my father returning back home, handcuffed and blindfolded.
The Operation Defensive Shield ended, eventually, leaving all of its memories. But more than that, these memories had conquered our hopes and stolen our childhood dreams.
To be continued.