In an attempt to grasp the immense variety of meanings encompassed between the frontiers of the camp, I headed yesterday towards Jabaliya, or the Camp. In fact, I am not living so far from the camp, almost five kilometers to the west, but as I wandered through the market streets, I could tell how different the camp and its people, particularly those in the market, are from other refugees…
Jabaliya was the first place I resided in when my family came to live in Gaza, the original place where they lived most of their lives. That was when my father was laid off and had to come back to live at Home. I remained a Jabaliya refugee for almost five years. It was the first and most beautiful years I spent in Palestine. Sweet years.
“All people in the camp are the same,”
Probably, but this makes them special so long as you view them as people o f the camp, where once you say ‘the camp’, you are automatically connected to your bitter history. You recall the Nakba and sigh as if those are the Palestinians of 1948, and others are but immigrants or they are not as refugees as the people living in the camp.
There are diverse camps in Gaza, all similar to each other: Jabaliya Camp, The Beach Camp, al-Brej Camp, al-Nuseirat and others. He who is not genuinely a Gazan and not well-informed about this place will definitely have hard times trying make the least distinctions between these camps.
I jotted down my notes and tried my best to keep as many details as I could from trickling away. But it was as if I were trying to ‘keep water in my cupped hands’… Indeed, I told my friend how complex and intricately beautiful and saddening the camp is.
We bought some almonds and ate them as we crossed the streets. Almonds are costly, and so we bought a small amount of them, perhaps no more than a handful.
Next time when I visit the camp, I will make sure I will have enough money to buy much more almonds.
Mohammed Rabah Suliman