Fifth of January 2009 was the day when I experienced what is like to reach the edge of fear. When you feel that your natural instinct and your adrenaline are pushing you to do something to save your life. All the 22 days of the war, I did not feel such fear as the one I felt on the January the fifth.
The incident started when the area close to the building I used to live in was bombarded. It was almost 6 pm-7pm (usually when the heavy strikes used to begin). Few moments after a nearby air strike, we heard another explosion felt like being hit by brick on your head, and sounds windows shattered.
Couple of seconds after, we received a phone call…it was my friend. She was like:”Lina, are you ok?! Your building was hit!” in a very surprised tone I answered:”NO, it was not! ” then she told me that it in the radio they said that the building you live in was hit.
The explosion was very loud, but one couldn’t expect that it is in the same building you are. After I hung up with my friend, the tenants of upper floors were all downstairs, and I heard voices confirming that the eleventh floor of the building was hit by a rocket (knock of the roof kind of a rocket). Then the f16s jets were flying on a very low range indicating that further attacks on our building are eminent.
While all the families evacuated (went to the underground basement), my family stayed at home. We collected our important documents. During that chaos, I was living unspeakable, tense seizures of fear. I rushed to my room and changed my clothes preparing myself to whatever was going to happen. I was afraid of another attack that would bring down the whole building, and I was also afraid of waiting for that to happen.
Finally, my dad decided that we should join our neighbors. We went down to the basement. It was full of children, women and men. Everybody was afraid, yet everybody was trying to hide it, too. Some of adults were praying, others were joking, and the children were trying to sleep and others were playing cards.
For a second I forgot all what was happening that night, and I felt save again. But this temporary distraction that made me safe soon was replaced by despicable shock as the Israeli jets launched more than 20 rockets on Al Saraya police compounds a in a matter of seconds. Everyone living in Gaza city felt that their house was the target. All of us-the then underground tenant-thought “that’s it”, “the building is gone!” Then, we were told that it was Al Saraya not our building, but this did not mean to feel relieved that the danger is over.
At 12 am, we started to feel that waiting for the unknown in the basement was kind of pointless. We decided to go back home, and if anything went wrong, we’d hope we’d be able to “transport” ourselves back to the basement. I remember that night I “slept” wearing my shoes and scarf. The next day, I couldn’t move my legs. I was very shocked and scared like never before in my whole life.
10 years of instability, yet that day I undermined all the fear I felt, and I experienced another kind that I hope no one ever tries.
My family and I were not damaged physically during the war. We did not lose family, friends, or properties (Alhamdolilah) like other people did. Yet, this incident gave me a brief, yet significant insight of those who experienced this kind of terror. And I still believe their terror surely exceeded mine. At least, my family survived, I survived and my home remained intact (even our windows :D).
On the 6th of January 2009, I wrote this massage on Facebook:
“A shrapnel hit the 11th floor in our building,Alhamdolilah no one got hurt. The hit was SO loud and scary. And followed by several very close hits, so all the tenants of our building including us went to the basement of the building.
Pray for our safety,”