Bisan and her groom left their new home in Gaza in a hurry after hearing screams in the street; Neighbors were warning each other after learning that a neighboring house was under threat of bombing.
The couple had prepared for such a possibility and prepared an emergency bag with only their essentials – and Bisan thought the worst that could happen would be to find, upon her return, a broken window or a broken room door.
They left home after three minutes. Bisan closed the door, put the key with her, and followed her husband and his elderly parents to find a place to temporarily hide. It was three quarter in the afternoon local time.
In four and five minutes, a building in the neighborhood was bombed, Bisan Harb, 30, told BBC Arabic. “It was only a quarter of the worst hour of my life.”
After the bombing attack on a house next to their home near the Al-Khulafa Mosque in Jabalia camp in Gaza, the couple returned to find their house without a door and covered in rubble.
All of this happened to their mustard and gray-walled house within minutes on May 18 – the ninth day of the Gaza war that ended with the declaration of a ceasefire at dawn on May 21.
“When we saw what happened to the house, my husband smiled at me and said to me: Next time, what torment me is by choosing the color of the walls,” Bisan said.
Since the fighting began on May 10, hundreds of buildings, including homes, hospitals, and schools, have been damaged or destroyed, with clean water, electricity and fuel shortages, according to UN reports.
During the eleven days, at least 243 Palestinians, including more than 100 women and children, were killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health there. The Israeli Medical Service says 12 people, including two children, have been killed in Israel.
Israel said its operation had ended with the elimination of at least 225 militants.
“We wanted a crazy home like us.”
After a love story that brought them together, Bisan married her co-worker about five months ago and they had spent a whole year before their marriage preparing their house on the ground floor of the building in which the husband’s family and relatives lived.
“We built it stone by stone …”, says Bisan, with whom I spoke hours after the truce was declared.
She pauses for a moment to take hold of herself.
“We wanted a different house … crazy, like us. It is a two-room house with a garden that we planted with seedlings. We looked at the trees every day and we saw them grow before our eyes. The avocado tree was going to give birth to the first fruit. It was all gone after the neighbors’ house fell on our house.” .
I learned about her story from a Facebook post she wrote on May 18 mourning their home. She said in it: “I hear now the sounds of bombing near and far. I fear nothing, as if fear died in my heart today the moment I saw our home on the ground. The war has ended for me, and a new war has begun with everything, the youngest being in regaining my morning cup of coffee. What I was drinking with Sameh in front of the garden of the house, which we looked over every morning as if it were our little boy who had not yet come. ”
Bisan tells me how she lost her small fortune that she had accumulated over ten years: antiques, artworks and other hand-embroideries that she made herself to decorate the corners of her home, and she tells me how the memory of the house in which she lived only for several months became a distant memory.
“The moment I entered the house and saw my legs under the rubble, I remembered the day a bride dressed in a wedding suit came to me before a hanging plate written on it” Home sweet Home“”.
Although Bisan had witnessed three previous wars in Gaza (2008, 2012 and 2014) and lived through the complete siege imposed on the people of Gaza since 2007, she says that when she was establishing their home with her husband, she never thought of the possibility of its destruction. All she was thinking about was to live, work and start a new life in Gaza, which many of her men and women are thinking of leaving.
“This time, my fear increased because I felt a fierce war (the fourth war) that hit the soul of every one of us. This time I was afraid for my home and because I felt that I could become a mother.
And because their house has become uninhabitable, the couple currently resides in a room in the house of the husband’s family in the same building.
“But they announced a ceasefire on Friday night at 2 (dawn) and I heard the loudspeakers of mosques and people cheering in the streets. I felt that I was defeated in front of my clamor with life, I have nothing. Devoid of all the meanings of safety and housing, and I continued to cry as if I was a river,” says Bisan.
‘The explosion of life’
During our conversation on the day of the truce announcement, Bisan apologized for a few minutes to receive guests from family and neighbors who came to console the loss of their home, and to offer them coffee.
It seems that the people of Gaza quickly resumed their lives despite all that loss, but Bisan says that “going out to the street is a tragedy and returning to life is a greater tragedy, in every street of demolition, destruction and a funeral. Everything reminds you that this city was on the verge of death, but the strange thing is the explosion of life in all parts.” The city, the restaurants are full, the markets, the children are in the entertainment venues. “
Bisan also – who has not yet recovered from her shock and has not yet been able to sleep normally or eat well – says that she is surprised by her strength; On the third day of the accident, she found herself trying to extract what could be used from under the rubble and thinking about how the place could be rebuilt.
She also returned to work with her husband on Sunday; The problem is that her work with an international humanitarian aid organization does not distract her from what happened, but on the contrary, every story reminds her of her home.
“Returning to work is a stressful thing, especially since I have to meet the affected and displaced and see myself and my story in every family in front of me. Everyone tries to tell stories because storytelling is stronger by giving us back to re-consider our existence and by letting us tell that we are still there.”
“I was required to return to hold in order to strengthen and support my husband, because he also needed me, we went back to our work, everyone was exhausted. But the fatigue varied between someone who survived by trying to recover and return to adjust again, but whoever lost or was injured or lost remains a bleeding wound. Direct”.