“One Occupied Gazan Summer” is a three-part personal narrative by Mariam I. who explores her thoughts and retraces her steps during her most recent visit to the Gaza Strip. Read part two here and part three here.
Part one of three. As summer ends and fall begins, I find myself reflecting on the three months of summer I spent in Gaza this year. Though the sweet moments I miss most are the ones I spent laughing with my cousins deep into the night and getting lost with friends in neighborhoods we’d never before seen, the hardest moments to forget are the subtly brutal ways siege and occupation impacted our daily lives.
I remember two weeks in June of muted activity and total fear of non-emergency movement in the Gaza Strip. I had made my first set of plans with the girls from work; I was excited to finally have some kind of non-family-centered social life and to bond with a couple of girls my age. We were going to have lunch at a hotel in the Sudaniyyeh area of northern Gaza City.
I’d heard a lot about this place; it was fancy, extravagant, had a beautiful swimming pool, was impossible to afford for the overwhelming majority of Gazans, and hadn’t made any profit since it was built. I was a little too excited when I got dressed that morning. I remember hesitating before I decided to wear sandals to work. They are horribly too informal for a law student intern trying to make a good impression. But hey, I was going out with the girls. My boss would have to learn to deal with my sandaled feet.
I hopped out of my cheap, decrepit taxi and half-skipped to work. The girl who spearheaded the plans was the receptionist, Nour. As soon as I walked in, overly chipper and with a bounce in my step, I asked Nour if she was excited for our lunch date. She frowned and looked at me sympathetically as she explained that the Sudaniyyeh area, where the hotel was located, was totally off limits for our lunch plans. This area was known to be targeted during surges of Israeli attack, like the one we were experiencing. [Read more...]