This storm Huda is truly the most terrifyingly noisy, bitterly cold and miserable storm imaginable.
Even in a house with fully-glazed windows shut, the wind whistles seemingly straight through them. Imagine how it is for the thousands of families with plastic (if it has not blown away), wood, rusty iron sheets for windows, or none at all – if I couldn’t sleep with four walls, a roof and theoretically intact windows then how could anyone with less? Imagine Gaza’s homeless’ night of bitter hopelessness…
The gusts were so strong I thought the windows were going to blow in. I could not decide whether to drag a mattress into the internal room away from the windows and risk my core body temperature dropping to a hypothermic level, or staying where I was huddled under a quilt and blanket, four layers of clothing and socks, with a coat on and a woollen shawl over my head, where at least I was maintaining an almost normal temperature. Imagine what it was like to be in the ruins of part-destroyed houses – maybe one or two walls, a bit of roof or nylon above your head if it hasn’t been ripped away by the wind – or even just a tent, which thousands of Gazans are forced to live in? With only the few clothes they were able to salvage from the dust and destruction of their homes?
Even with all my windows closed, the wind still forced the rain in, and it still lays in pools on the floor of two rooms. Even with internal doors closed and towels rolled and stuffed along the bottom to stop the draughts the towels literally flew across the floor halfway into the room. The wind even whistled between the joins in the wood of the doors. The internal room, even with all doors closed, was like a wind tunnel. Imagine a room with two walls…or none at all.
How can this family stay warm in this house in Beit Hanoun?
I took my chances and stayed in my bed – but I could not sleep – the noise was terrifying, the gusts battering against the glass, the rattling and tearing of the frames made any attempt at rest futile. Waiting for the windows to explode or the frames to be ripped from the walls was just like waiting for another Israeli missile during the last aggression – will THIS be the one that gets me? Imagine the families huddled together in the rubble, freezing, wind-battered, terrified, wondering which of them will not wake in the morning, which seems never to come…
Just like unified government. Just like reconstruction materials. Just like the lifting of the siege. Just like Palestinian rights. All promised but never delivered, like a day that never dawns.
Huda. Not just a storm, but an allegory.
The morning may now have broken, the winds died a little – but the bitter cold remains. And while the Palestinian Authority continues the tempest of its soft coup against Hamas, its collaboration with Israel and Egypt, and its apartheid policies against Gaza, there can be no thaw, no calm.
Like Huda, the PA is almost spent. The people who have survived will salvage what they can from the wreckage and work together to rebuild what it has destroyed. Only then can there be a sunny new day for Gaza – and Palestine.