‘My Promise to Gaza’: Eyewitness Report of a Palestinian Musician

Fares Anbar is Gaza-based musician. (Photo: via Anbar TW Page)

By Fares Anbar  

I promise you that, if I am not martyred, my bandmates and I will continue to dedicate my music to every citizen of Gaza for the rest of my life.

I have visited many beautiful places during my life as a musician, becoming profoundly attached to some of them. Other people would love to visit these places and end up spending their lives there. But despite their beauty and this attachment, I returned to Gaza four times from places of exile and eventually decided to stay.

You may wonder why I made this decision, in spite of those close to me opposing it due to the dangers of living under the occupation. Having no freedom of movement is a real obstacle to being in a band, with ideas of having a future as musical artists. And of course, this war is another obstacle.

So why return? Because I am a Palestinian and, in the first place, made the decision to emigrate against my will.

I do not wish to remain a refugee for the rest of my life, even if it means remaining in Gaza, the place of my birth and upbringing, for the whole of it. For years, I shared my music in Gaza with all sectors of society, young and old, because these listeners gave me sincere love and appreciation. I love the people of Palestine, their sincerity, brotherhood, and authenticity.

I love this city, its soil, its sea, its air, its food. It represents the most beautiful artistic haven after touring abroad with my bandmates. Gaza is beautiful in every way but today we feel like the walking dead. We who survive still die because those martyred have gone to a better place, away from the brutality and injustice of this world.

The people of Gaza love life more than the occupation fears death. Gaza has tremendous talents and abilities in many fields, but after so much disappointment, pain, and wounds, the situation has driven the people to favor martyrdom over life, as the only way to preserve their dignity, pride and strength. Our slogan, evident in our heritage and songs, is: “We’d rather face the striking daggers than the rule of the scoundrel over us” (from the song Yama Mweil il-Hawa).

But I promise you that, if I am not martyred, my bandmates and I will continue to dedicate my music to every citizen of Gaza for the rest of my life. I have not and will not forget all the moments of displacement, including witnessing the sight if al-Shifa hospital.

Seeing what people have been feels like a painful nightmare from which you will wake up. But unfortunately, this is reality and I was forced to bear the harshness of these scenes and see people covered in the color of blood and ashes: a martyr left with half of his body or parts of it in bags, a young girl with a disfigured face and body… The tears and screams failed to truly express the cruelty of the scene.

As for the recent displacements to southern Gaza, its impact was felt in the harshest and most difficult ways in the heart of the people. The occupation knows too well that killing and destruction will not affect us, but knows that displacing people from their land is more difficult for the Palestinian than death.

The road to the south was as if it had no end. Children and women were lying dead on the ground, with no one able to move or bury them, because if you turned or stopped, your fate and those with you would be tank shells.

I feel that I was lucky that I decided to stay in Gaza during my last visit. By God, what a strong people we are. We have been given the strength and patience to bear a burden that humanity is incapable of bearing. I thank God for the blessing that I am a Gazan.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Fares Anbar is a Gaza-based percussionist and musician with Sol Band. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out