“As the early rumbles of thunder reverberate up the valley in France, I am transported back to a day just after ceasefire in Gaza, last November. The second ceasefire finally held after the previous nights opening of the doors to Hell by the Israeli forces. A bombardment so intense from sea and air, an Israel, enraged by the force of public opinion that had driven it to cease fire, unleashing every evil morsel of its armament onto a defenceless Gaza.
As we all held our breath the second ceasefire did hold and celebrations broke out on the streets of Gaza, a euphoria that they had indeed won a war in which they had no army, no navy, no airforce, no defence against the 4th largest and one of the best US equipped armies in the world. Yet they had won the war of public opinion, their voice had never been silenced.
A day after the ceasefire, the rains cascaded in from the sea, billowing clouds and eddying winds drove the torrential rains onto the roof at Al Quds hotel. We walked into the rain, feeling its essential life force, its power to cleanse and purge the streets of Gaza of the stench of death and destruction left behind by the rampaging Israeli airforce and navy. I watched a friend of mine stand beneath the deluge, turning her face to the skies that hung heavy and sodden overhead, the rain streaming down her cheeks mingling with the tears she could not shed for the lives that had been lost this time and every time that Israel’s wrath is turned on Gaza, her Gaza, her family, her friends. Her clothes were soaked and clinging to her proud frame, her hijab mishapen by the battering raindrops and fluttering in the tearing winds.
It is an image that has remained with me and will never leave me..she embodied all that is dignified and resilient and strong in the Human spirit. She symbolised Gaza, tyrannized, oppressed and devastated by the malevolence of Israel, yet unbowed, unbeaten and elemental in her survival.
It is this spirit that Israel will never comprehend and will never overcome and it is this spirit that resonates in all of us, that makes of all of us a fighter, a campaigner and a defender of the most basic of Human rights…freedom of choice and liberty to live life as a free man not as a prisoner in your own land.