the short story project

The Battle of Tel el-Hawa

Mohammed al-Habasha On:

The Battle of Tel el-Hawa by Asmaa al-Ghol

Ten years on from the 2008/2009 Gaza war – a war like an “academic year, with a slash between the two numbers” – two friends from the Tel el-Hawa neighbourhood meet and remember the terrors of the night of the invasion. Salam remained trapped in his home and endures the battle; Abu Ahmad had fled to safety.

During his night of terror, Salam, frozen in the darkness, has to listen to the pleas of a young fighter dying beneath his window. He explains to his friend the fallout from the war: “I’ve been living with the dead since that night. The whole of this city lives with the dead.” Yet the dead are both present and absent: Salam leaves his house in the morning and addresses that absence: “Ten years we’ve been neighbours, my friend […] and I’ve never once said good morning to you.”