A few kilometers away from the continuous Israeli heavy shelling in the
northeastern Gaza Strip on Saturday, April 1, in the heart of Gaza
City, several local Palestinians were enjoying a day out under the
Spring’s warm sun, within the one-kilometer square municipal park of
Gaza City.

Joyful, happy and almost careless, the park visitors voiced their reactions to the shelling, amidst the flowers, the green trees, the water taps, as well as the birds’ songs – but with the constant sound of shelling in the background.

Ysmin, 20 years old, a female college student and student teacher, from the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Maghazi, says, “We should keep living our normal lives – what we are hearing right now, the Israeli shelling, has become a daily occurrence.”

Ysmin’s pupils,  Neda’ and Aya, who sat with her under a park’s tree, expressed their joy to be enjoying their day out in the sun, saying they have become adapted to the daily Israeli attacks and adding that “life should continue”.

Mohammad Barakat, 27 and his cousin Naim Barakat, 30, weavers, from the southern Gaza City neighborhood of Sheikh Redwan, were sitting in a wooded area in the park, talking quietly and eating peanuts.

Both of these young men said, “We want to live, we do not have to always worry about what the Israelis are doing, this is life in here, we should not give them –the Israelis–  the chance to kill even our humanity”.

“ Life should keep going, and that’s why we are here, despite the ongoing shelling, just to be able to enjoy our lives”.

Ahmad, 20 and his fiancee Heba, 19, from the Alremal quarter of Gaza City,  were sitting a few meters away from Mohammad and Naim, in a similar woody area, talking quietly to each other and enjoying their time, like the others in the park.

The young couple said happily, “We should enjoy our time together, we are about to get married, we have to try to keep to our normal lives as much as possible, otherwise, we will lose such happy moments of our life.  Israeli daily aggression cannot stop us from enjoying our lives”, they both said.

Walking through the park is one of the local residents’ pastimes, and on a normal spring day you would see dozens of men and women walking peacefully through the park.  On this particular lovely spring day, there were still some people walking on the path.  One of these was Ahmad, a Sheikhredwan resident and an administration student of the Al-Azhar university of Gaza.

Ahmad, wearing headphones and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, said in a colloquial Palestinian dialect, “Ana Garfan — I am so bored”, and added that he came to the park to break the monotony of having to constantly stay inside.

“ If we keep sad, just worrying and listening to the Israeli shelling, we won’t live our lives as usual.  Instead, we should just enjoy our time as best we can”, Ahmad believes.

Under another big tree, a 64-year old local woman from the Salah Eldin Street, east of Gaza City, along with her 35-year old daughter-in-law, were sitting, enjoying the sunny Spring day.

The woman, Mrs. Debs, said, “We came out here today just for the sake of the children, who are used to hearing Israeli bombing constantly, for the past six years.  I mean, they have to enjoy their childhood”.

Her daughter-in-law, Afkar, 35, said that she and her mother in law came here to the park for the sake of her five-year old child, Mo’emen, whose kindergarten was having a picnic in the park.

In a small corner of the park, close to the children’s swings, a few children were running behind each other, enjoying their childhood.  Ahmad Marzouq, 8, who seemed the oldest of them, said while eating a cookie, “ I am happy to be here in the park, I want to play and have fun, I am not scared of the Israeli bombs”.  As the child spoke, as if to punctuate his sentence, an Israeli bomb exploded in the distance, and Ahmad, so used to the bombing, hardly even jumped at the sound.