By Ola Attallah – Gaza City
It was very early in the morning, but Samir was already working hard to remove the rubble from outside his clothes store in Gaza.
But for his surprise, minutes after opening the store, he had the first customer of the day show up.
"Gaza, reeling under destruction and pain, is still alive," Samir told IslamOnline.net.
Across the coastal enclave, devastated by 22 days of massive Israeli air, land and sea bombing, people are quickly picking up what’s left of their lives.
Just like Samir, Hamed came out with his wooden carriage laden with fresh vegetables and fruits, not expecting to find buyers.
In just one hour, everything was sold.
People, imprisoned for three weeks inside their own homes by the Israeli bombing, were thirsty and hungry for life.
A few meters away, kids were out in force playing football amid the rubbles of their homes and schools.
"Come on, let’s play," Marawan, a 10-year-old, told his friends.
"The warplanes are gone."
"We will go back to school soon, mum just told me," one of his friends said with a spark of happiness in his eyes.
The Education Ministry in the Gaza said classes in schools and universities would resume next Saturday.
Partially destroyed schools will hold classes in morning and night shifts to accommodate for the lack of space.
Eighty percent of Gaza schools were destroyed in the Israel’s bombardment, which killed 1,300 people, half of them women and children, and wounded thousands.
Across Gaza, people are determined to rebuild their shattered homeland.
"Gaza will return beautiful once again," said a civil servant, helping move heaps of debris from al-Galaa street in Gaza City.
"The Israeli strikes have stopped and now we have to clear the trail of destruction cause by the occupation forces," he explained.
"Nothing will stop us now," the man said in a voice full of resolve.
Policemen are back on the streets of the Gaza Strip to ensure law and order.
The Hamas-led government announced that all ministries would resume work by next week.
Although the buildings of all ministries were targeted by Israel, employees would be housed in temporary buildings for now.
Israel has destroyed nearly 20,000 homes, 48 government offices, 31 police stations and 30 mosques.
But for Amer, a government employee, the scale of devastation will never break the will of survival Gazans.
"Even if we ended up living in shelters," he told IOL. "The Israeli war machine will never kill our hopes in a better future."
Abu Sameh, whose home was flatted to the ground by Israeli warplanes, is equally defiant.
"Israel destroyed our homes, burned our lands and massacred our people, but it will never break our spirits," he said.
"Gaza will rise from the rubble. We will not go down. We shall prevail."
– Ola Attallah is a correspondent for IslamOnline in Gaza. (Originally published in IslamOnline.net)