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Only in Gaza: Why You Can’t Tell These People Are Hearing Explosions

Only in Gaza, for example, does one wake up to find, as Anas Hamra did on July 17, that “our office building was hit by airstrike in the first floor”—and then add, “thank god our office [is] on the 3rd floor. Not that huge damage.

So as the attack on the strip continued this week, Gazans showed their determination not to give in to fear by going about their business—despite knowing that each hour might be their last. Teenage boys swept shrapnel from local playing fields and began new games while drones and bombers made passes overhead. Shoppers searched for ingredients to iftar meals, laborers and businesspeople cleared rubble from in front of their workshops and offices—and our photographer scoured the streets of Gaza City for these portraits of life unwilling to yield to fear.

The result is a tribute to their determination to live, even in the face of assault. Though you can’t see it, the man baking Syrian-style bread, the woman buying a bunch of the grapes for which Gaza is famous, and the children playing marbles and hopscotch are all within earshot of heavy bombing.

We won’t remain the prisoners of fear,” one of the kids playing hopscotch declared. Their resilience was echoed by a baker in Shatte’ Camp, who smiled when he saw the camera and said, “we will keep living.”

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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