*Merrimea, the wild herb that makes tea so delicious. The better merrimea is grown in the more hilly occupied West Bank. But some sprigs can be found in Gaza.
Everything is juxtaposed in Gaza. There’s no following a single train of thought, there’s no normality except in expecting anything to happen ['anything' along the lines of Israeli attacks, power outages, further deterioration of life thanks to the Israeli-waged massacre and the Israeli-led siege on Gaza. Not 'anything' along the lines of open borders or hopeful news.] at any moment.
Was it a drone or a generator last night? Sure it was a drone, no surprise there. They continue to survey and pollute Gaza’s skies. The other night it was a generator, someone making due during a power cut.
At H and F’s tonight, we lounge after a simple iftaar meal. F is in her last months of pregnancy, dealing with the kicking and discomfort of it and at the same time confronting her dread: "They’ve been flying overhead all day. I have a bad feeling," she said of the F-16, once again flying low and loud.
B, just in her mid-teens, knows enough about routine Israeli attacks.
"They do something every Ramadan. They create a problem, or martyr more Palestinians. They want us to be miserable," she said. Indeed, denying West Bank Palestinians the right to enter Jerusalem and pray at Al Aqsa mosque does seem particularly cruel and intentional.
H, although still suffering from the loss of his mother, martyred on the first day of the Israeli massacre of Gaza (killed by IOF bombing while she walked on the street), says "we don’t let them make us miserable. They want it, but we move on."
He is generally saying the truth. His pain is evident, but he, as so many here, is determined to keep living, despite the losses.
We move on to more physical pains. We’re both ill, although he’s worse off. I have a minor sore throat; he’s got the flu.
He recommends Guava leaves: "boil these, like you would for tea. You can add sugar if you want. Guava leaves are good for the throat and lungs," he says as I cough.
Taxiing from the north back to Gaza city today, we see that Omar Mukthar street has suddenly blossomed new street-side vendors running the length from Saha market westwards. The taxi run from Saha to Sheyjaiee is later shut down, the road becoming a pedestrian street only as 'Eid approaches.
With still more days of Ramadan left, people are beginning to prepare for 'Eid celebrations.
Normally a joyful time, with present to children and many celebrating what has been a hard month of fasting (others lamenting the end of what they feel is a month of extreme closeness to Allah), 'Eid celebrations will be absent and painful for the vast majority who can’t afford the treats, new clothes and gifts to children.
With all this in mind, and with still more invitations to friends and strangers’ homes, I’m suppose I’m also not alone in eying those circling F-16s. Although they are not new since the January 18th 'ceasefire’, when they resurface for longer periods like in recent days, people get edgy.
But then, as H said, and a taxi driver later re-iterated, "we aren’t afraid to die. We’ve lived with the constant threat of death by Israeli shooting or bombing for all our lives. There’s no point in fearing it."
This sentiment, felt so strongly during the 23 days of attacks 8 months ago, is a constant fixture of life here, when at the beach, on the sea, farming, in the kitchen, sleeping, playing with children…
The chant at today’s demonstration on eastern Beit Hanoun land went: "our soul and blood, we sacrifice for dear Palestine."
These words are not uttered lightly.
But shouldn’t it be otherwise? Shouldn’t one not always have to consider imminent death?