Seeing the Gaza border from 1 mile away was unreal.
But what was more unreal, where the responses from my friends on Instagram.
I was conflicted for a while, about how to write this article, because I want everyone to understand that it's okay if they don't know what "is Gaza" or its significance and hope to motivate people to read more about this conflict, and the world around us.
I realized that we all have opinions about what is going on in Israel, yet little of us actually know what is happening. We seem to have a lot of opinions about something we don't really know about.
The Gaza Strip is a section in West Israel, bordering Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea that is occupied by Hamas government. The border has been closed, so no one can enter or exit. This makes the living conditions almost unbearable. There is no electricity, and it is a matter of time before they run out of food.
While the West Bank is an area east of Jerusalem that is under Palestinian government, which holds a secondary status, meaning they are subject to Israel military. They are divided into three zones, A, B, and C. With one checkpoint, screening everyone leaving Palestine. Leaving the checkpoint can take up to an hour, or more.
Both Gaza and the West Bank are territories within Israel. They are conflicting areas for different reasons. Homemade bombs from Gaza land in Kibbutz (small democratic socialist community) on Israel land. While the West Bank has a wall that not only keeps people in and out but deteriorates the economic growth of Palestine.
In my recent trip to Israel, I came as part of a student leadership delegation. What does that mean? It means that 25 students and I spent 9 days in Israel, learning about the conflict in Israel. We did this by listening to the narratives of people that live there, from diverse backgrounds. We listen to the stories from Benny Begin (the son of the former Prime Minister of Israel), social workers from a hospital helping Syrian refugees to locals and (Arab and Jewish) university students.
During our visit, we were only a mile from the Gaza border. In the distance, we could see the smoke from the fire.
It was one of the weirdest feelings because this place was so alive. There were birds chirping everywhere, and kids giggling in the playground. How can a place this happy be so close to so much war?
Our tour guide Chen Abrams lives there and explained that when rockets fly bye, there is an alarm that goes off throughout the community signaling 10 seconds to run for shelter. Kind of like in the Purge movies. These alarms have triggered PTSD in children as much as adults. While our guide was narrating their story, I couldn't fathom how people could live here. Why would they want to stay? Why would they stay in a place that causes their children to grow up with PTSD? Aren't they supposed to protect their kids? I understand that it's their land, but to what extent is staying in your land worth it?
Below is a picture of Chen Abrams showing the homemade bombs that land in her community. Most of the times there is a balloon attached to it, which caters towards children. Kids sometimes mistake the bombs for balloons. She also showed us bombs made out of condoms, which are dropped by drones. Since Gaza barely has money for food, it's very suspicious how they are able to afford drones.
I have attached a couple of links to help you form your own thoughts about the conflict: