Gaza City – Last night, things were quiet for a few hours.
The constant air attacks seemed to pause and we felt a cautious relief.
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We thought perhaps a short ceasefire had been reached, but we didn’t have any internet, so we couldn’t confirm.
A little later, a cousin managed to catch an internet signal and shouted happily: “Al-Qassam has released a mother and her children!”
That raised our hopes, too. If Hamas’s armed wing had released a hostage and her children to the Israelis, maybe this goodwill gesture would bring about at least a pause in the relentless attacks.
We all rushed to him, huddling around his mobile to see the news ourselves.
Connectivity was still bad, so someone dusted off an old radio and fiddled with its dials until we got some reception, but even the radio station didn’t seem to have much news beyond the hostage release.
The mothers uttered sighs of relief and sent up quick prayers that the war might end soon or that a ceasefire would be reached.
With a little more hope and energy in us after this news, we, the mothers, started getting the kids ready for bed.
We set up the mattresses on the floor, making sure to drag them well away from the windows so shattering glass wouldn’t hurt our babies if a bomb landed close enough to blow them out. Better safe than sorry.
After the kids fell asleep, we sat a little way away from them, chatting. I think in the back of our minds we were wondering if this calm was a ceasefire or the calm before the storm.
“I don’t like it,” said my sister-in-law about the “tense calm” around us.
I didn’t say anything, still trying I tried to connect to the internet to see what was going on out there.
“Let’s have a coffee,” my sister-in-law said suddenly, probably trying to break the tension, and got up to go into the kitchen.
I followed her in and stood with her as the coffee bubbled. As she poured it into two cups, I rummaged in my bag for some biscuits to share.
We had only had a sip or two when a massive explosion hit, then a second, then the third.
“It’s back,” my sister-in-law said, practically tossing her coffee cup on the table next to mine as we rushed to check on our kids.
She seemed resigned, frustrated, scared.
The house was shaking so hard, it was actually difficult to keep walking towards where the kids were sleeping.
The thought of all of them being blown out and filling the house with shards of glass was too much, so I told my husband to take all the windows down.
We spent the next few hours in complete darkness as the booming seemed to grow louder by the second. With no internet, we didn’t know where the bombs were landing.
I think the internet and power outages were fairly widespread because, even when we caught a bit of internet, there were no updates to be had on messaging groups, no news, no updates.
Eventually, we found out that the bombing was on three civilian neighbourhoods in northwest Gaza: al-Karama, al-Maqosi and al-Mukhabarat.
But for the rest of the night and well into the morning today, the bombing was nonstop.
It was so violent and intense, that I often thought it was on our house. I jumped up more than once to run towards where my infant son was sleeping, ready to grab him and run.
They say no news is good news, but for the people of Gaza under war, no news can spell the end.
Source: Al Jazeera