Sunday, 02 June 2024 12:46

'Gaza: This Bleeding Land', by John Wight

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'Gaza: This Bleeding Land', by John Wight

John Wight presents an extract from his new book, Gaza: This Bleeding Land, which tells the story of this prolonged tragedy through the eyes of two rival combatants. The novel is currently available from Amazon and all good bookstores and shops in the US and UK. It comes in hardcover, softcover, and eBook formats.

GAZA: THIS BLEEDING LAND

Death will overtake you wherever you may be, even in high towers

- Quran 4:78

I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both thou and thou and the seed may live.

- Deuteronomy 30:19

CHAPTER 1

Five days and four nights we've been waiting, and still they don't come. Instead they attack us from the air like cowards, pouring their hatred down on the heads of our villages and towns, killing our children. God be praised, is there nothing we can do except wait? It feels as if we are fighting a giant machine instead of men. The Zionists own the skies, the sea, even the air we breathe it seems.

But, then, we have our sacred cause of freedom which gives us courage and, inshallah, we shall be victorious.

Hamza beside me has finally stopped talking. And even if it's only while we eat our dates and bread and drink our tea, it is a welcome respite from his constant chattering. Hamza, like Mustafa, is young and inexperienced. This is their first experience of combat and I recognise in their bravado an attempt to conceal their fear. They keep telling me how excited they are to be given the honour of fighting the enemy, of how happy they are to have been selected for martyrdom. I have heard such talk before. There is no shame in being afraid to die. There is only shame in allowing your fear to conquer you. We will have to watch Hamza in case, like Mustafa, he does something rash and get us all martyred before we get a chance to confront the Zionists.

Even so, we mustn't be impatient with them. We were all like Hamza and Mustafa at one time, interested only in fighting without thinking. Too many of us have sacrificed their lives too cheaply as a result. Things have improved now that many of us have received training from our Lebanese and Iranian brothers. The discipline it has brought to our ranks gives me confidence.

Every day the Zionists bring more tanks and guns up to the edge of Gaza. When will they enter? When will we get the chance to make them pay for oppressing and killing our people; stealing and

occupying our land? Five days spent listening to the explosions of their bombs and missiles, the roar of their jets over our heads is enough. Our commander doesn't think it will be long now. They cannot attack us from the air forever. Sooner or later they will have to come and fight like men. And when they do then we will see.

Before we left the assembly point our dear imam told us that all the jets, helicopters, tanks and missiles in the world cannot crush the human spirit when it is placed in the service of a just cause, he said. As long as God is on our side we shall prevail. Many of us have been martyred, yes, and many more will be martyred before the day of victory comes. But what is death to a Palestinian? We are a people for whom death remains as close as the next breath. Ever since the Zionists invaded our land it has been this way.

No, the death of one Palestinian is of little consequence when compared to the life of Palestine. This is what our oppressor with their Western clothes, cafes, bars and decadent lives could never understand. They are happy to kill for their luxuries and comforts, but less willing to die for them. Else why fear us like they do? Else why attack us from the air and cower inside the protection of tanks and bulldozers? Why?

But better not to think of them now. Soon enough they will come. Then I will think of them. Then and not before.

Why are we still waiting, freezing our asses off in this shithole?

Sergeant Weiss has just told us the assault's been delayed again. The sappers found more mines on the approach, he says, and we have to wait for them to be neutralised before we can start. More bullshit. Who planned this fucking operation anyway? Some clown in Tel Aviv, no doubt.

Rabbi Solomon came to our position earlier and exhorted us to remember the many periods in history when the Jews faced extinction. He described this operation as another fight for our survival. I agree. It's about time we taught those terrorist dogs a lesson. For too long they've been firing rockets at our towns and people in the south. And for too long we've stood back and done nothing serious to stop them. But soon — soon those fucking savages will pay a price they will never forget.

I can't lie though — I've never experienced combat and despite myself, I'm nervous. Ben, next to me, thinks it'll be a piece of cake. Nothing more than a mopping up operation after the airforce gets done bombing the shit out of them. I hope he's right. I hope that all we have to do when we go in is count bodies and bodyparts.

Crazy to think that just two weeks ago I was in Haifa on vacation, drinking cold beers on the beach. Before leaving to report for duty, Rachel told me my old man had called to pass on his love. When she told me I shrugged it off, more concerned over him managing to get my number than anything else. I wish now I'd taken the opportunity to try and patch things up with him. We haven't spoken since Rachel and I moved to Israel three years ago. I wonder how things are back in Brooklyn? I bet nothing's changed in the old neighbourhood. Nothing much, anyway.

It's just gone nine. Simon will be tucked up in bed sleeping. Poor little guy had a cold last time I saw him. Hopefully by now it's gone and he's back to himself again. Only nine months old yet the way he's grown you'd think he was three. I love going round to Rachel's to see him. Soon as this shit is over I'm going to focus on meeting someone new and having more kids. I'd like to have three more. Yes, three more sounds about right.

Anyway, shit, I'm freezing my fucking ass off here. How long? How long before we get going and get this fucking thing over with?

Come on.

Read 102 times Last modified on Sunday, 02 June 2024 16:35
John Wight

John Wight writes for the Morning Star.

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