The first 72 hour ceasefire in Gaza felt like the time after a heavy down pour, when the sun starts to peep out between the grey clouds and the sky slowly becomes brighter, bluer, and the air fresher. As the pictures flashed on the TV screen, my mind caught on one.
A crowd, of small children, maybe more than a hundred of them running out to play on a long row of swings in a still-standing playground. There was such joy on their faces. The joy of the innocent, able to play at last, out in the open. The joy in their small faces spelled freedom, hope, a new day, all in all – Peace. This playground where they must have spent a few short-lived hours of enjoyment tampered with their parents watchfulness and anxiety, ready to pull them into shelter at the first shrieking sound of an airborne missile.
The rain of fire had stopped for that day, and I was disappointed, perhaps as much as those children when it started again after a brief lull. They were probably more than disappointed, they were heart-broken. While the VIPs bargain for peace, what do the children do? What do the people do? There is nothing to do but wring their hands in anxiety, wondering where the next meal will come from, where to go?. When, will the shops open, if they have not been turned to rubble? The busy market place became a deserted open space in the middle of the square, with broken stalls and wrecked awnings falling into bomb-blasted craters.
When will the shriek of missiles, drone of air-strikes and blasting of bombs stop? I can imagine the little ones huddled with their parents with their hands over their ears. Fear translating to tears, as the earth shakes.
Now, a few months after, with a shaky peace still being negotiated, what does the future hold? Some have left to find safety, some can’t afford to leave, and still others won’t leave their devastated land.
Will the children ever come out to play again, without fear, in the playgrounds of the Holy Land?