I Dream of Peace

I woke up on Saturday morning to the persistent ringing of my phone. But it wasn’t an alarm. It was a call from my dad, with the news that a war had broken out in my parent’s home country. Again.

I am used to these calls; in fact, they have become routine. Mom gives me a hug, and Dad lays a hand on my shoulder, eyes cloudy as they tell me about Hamas, about Gaza, about the West Bank. I ask about my family, and they tell me everyone is safe. They leave, and I lock myself in my room, scrolling through news articles, biting my nails as the death toll rises, eyes tracing the numbers and names crawling along the screen, and then… the pictures and videos come. The screams of grieving Palestinian parents and terrified Israeli children bore into my ears until the screen becomes blurry with tears, and I look away. I go on with my day while my cousins are cowering in bomb shelters, while Gazans don’t have a shelter to go to.

But this time was different. This time, Hamas — a Palestinian terrorist organization — entered Israel by land, air, and sea, and started killing civilians. Horrifying footage showed armed men patrolling the streets, descending from gliders with guns drawn as Israelis waited with bated breath, calmed children, and closed blinds. According to the New York Times, upwards of 3,000 rockets were launched across the Gaza-Israel border. And while the Iron Dome, Israel’s defense system, could deflect most of the rockets, the Israeli Defense Forces could not stop the hundreds of Hamas terrorists beheading civilians, terrorizing villages, and holding 199 Israelis — including children and elderly — hostage. One father, Thomas Hand, whose eight-year-old daughter, Emily, had been reported missing, screamed in relief when she was reported dead. He told “CNN”: “That is the best news of the possibilities that I knew… Death was a blessing”. 

This was not just another conflict. I would know. My parents were born in Israel and left their family behind for college in America. But they took with them a piece of Israel, a thick rope looped around their hearts, connecting them to the little country in the Middle East. Connecting me. Ever since I could understand the concept of war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been nestled deep in my heart. At first, I tried to escape from it, covering my ears and cowering under the covers at its very mention. But in August of 2022, I could no longer cower under the covers; that sweltering summer, the conflict came to me in the form of a missile and a flash of red in the blue sky. Then, I could only squirm with my cousins out of the pool like fishes, run past the mango tree and into the bomb shelter, shivering as our parents joined us with warm towels and warmer hugs. Then there was the dull cry of the alarm sounding through the shopping mall, and, like clockwork, we dropped our bags and walked calmly to the shelter, checking the news, comforting each other. But my siren-filled summer does not compare to Hamas’ recent attack. As, according to the “New York Times,” the lives lost in Israel exceeded 1,400, and more than 2,800 innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza were killed by Israel’s retaliation, I can’t help but feel torn. Israel is vowing this will be the last conflict; Iscaac Herzog, the Israeli President, said in a statement that the country would do “whatever it takes.” They are getting ready to eradicate Hamas once and for all, so I will no longer wake up to news of violence. But at what price? 1.1 million Palestinians have been forced to evacuate, and the flow of food and fuel into Gaza has stopped. The New York Times reports that hundreds of children are lying dead in the rubble from Israeli airstrikes. Thousands more are injured, and hospitals don’t have the resources to support them. As the airstrikes aim for Hamas targets all over Gaza, Palestinian families pack and unpack their bags with every Israeli warning, searching for a safe space. Just as Jewish and Israeli communities are grieving, thousands of Palestinians are mourning what is the most deadly act of retaliation in decades; The New York Times says, Israel is “pummeling Gaza with a ferocity not seen in past conflicts.” 

This could be the end. I have some hope. I hope that, with time, the million Palestinians evacuating Gaza will return to their homes under the protection of the Palestinian Authority, supplied with food, water, electricity, and security. I hope that destructive Israeli settlers will finally return to Israel and face consequences. I hope bomb shelters will no longer be necessary in every Israeli home. I hope Palestinian families will not live in fear of Israel’s retaliation. I hope Hamas’ captives will arrive home safely. Although the dead on both sides can never be resurrected, I hope Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza will someday heal.

I woke up on Saturday to the persistent ringing of my phone, and I fall asleep tonight to the face of Abdallah Hasaneenask as he evacuated for his life from war-torn Gaza, the story of Emily Hand who was murdered at the hand of the Hamas, and the thousands more sufferers ringing in my ears. I dream of peace.