In a crisis that affects everyone, everyone's got something to say.
In the Middle East, thousands of young people are turning to social media to record their experiences and reflect on the conflict using hashtags such as #Gazaunderfire, #Gaza, #Israel, and #Israelunderfire — all of which have been trending on Facebook and Twitter since Israel sent ground forces into the Gaza strip earlier this month.
Fusion reached out to some of the people who are sharing their experiences on social media to get the backstory behind their recent posts. Here's a snapshot of the extraordinary circumstances lived by ordinary people in Israel and Gaza.
@Belalmd12: "This was a particularly distressing moment. Gaza is a small place, and an explosion anywhere in the city will be heard everywhere. It takes 3-4 missiles or bombs to flatten a house, 1 or 2 small size 'warning missiles,' and 1 or 2 heavy duty bombs.
"During this hour explosions never stopped, but the most stressing part was when one opens the local radio and they report several bombings, however they are in other different cities.
"That's when you realize that there must have been so much going on that no one is able to be up to speed with events, and that was an hour at which 8 houses were flattened all at once."
facebook.com/Jennifer.rigdon: "Driving to work is something people do all over the world. That's all I was doing when Hamas decided it was a good time to fire a barrage of rockets at the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. So, the radio was on, and I was relieved that traffic was moving smoothly. Then the voice on the radio interrupted the music to announce rocket attacks. It happens so many times that I was barely listening. 'Red alert in Tel Aviv, Ra'anana, Herzliya'… 'Ohhhhh that's me,' I realized suddenly. Then I heard the siren outside. 'Ok, ok, ok,' I said to myself, 'stay calm and think, be mindful of the other cars.'
"My main concern was stopping safely. I was anxious, but years of experience with these events have taught me how to breathe to keep calm. Of course, when I was stopped I decided to record. It's a very common response here, something we just do.
"After I turned the camera off I sighed deeply, the adrenaline rush faded, and I started to feel full of emotion. I felt like I might burst into tears from it all…the intense excitement and fear followed by relief and gratefulness for Iron Dome. Then I saw a guy walking towards me to go back to his car. He smiled. I gave him the thumbs up to let him know I was ok and with that I felt a sense of satisfaction.
"We are all ok.
"When it was all over, I finished the drive to the office and upon arrival my colleagues and I shared our siren stories, laughing at and with each other for our individual reactions. The rest of the day went on as if nothing was abnormal at all.
"We are all ok."
@Chloesehati: "First is the siren.
"I'm on the streets of Tel Aviv alone after my internship. The Tel Aviv University dorms are close by, but I don't know this area.The siren is a mysterious interruption because it could be anything; yet despite what it could be, it tells me to get out, to stop, to a safe place, a shelter… find something. The siren is defending me.
"Second is the awareness. I say, 'Okay, there’s a rocket overhead… somewhere.' I say 'Okay, don't panic.' I follow the nearest herd to the nearest bomb shelter because I don't know this part of the city. I want to push away the feeling that I’m a sheep, but being a sheep feels like the safest thing to be right now. I make it under ground in 30 seconds.I know I have to hold onto my calmness, and I know that panicking is the stupidest thing I could do. Panicking solves nothing. But I'm not scared.
"Everyone is staring at a phone. I join them. Social media is being stormed, my friends and family are being informed, safety procedures being performed… A young girl is holding onto her mother's leg. She gives her a cookie, a sweet distraction, but the girl understands that something is happening nonetheless. She can feel it, and she’s looking down, blankly and mechanically working on her treat.
"It's stuffy, and the stuffiness is maximized by the humidity sitting right outside. The guy next to me smells like BO because his run was interrupted. There's a bunch of junk everywhere, so maybe this place is used for storage? Dust is settling in my nostrils. I look around to guess what people were doing before they got here. A woman walks in buttoning up her jeans — she was in the restroom, maybe? A teenager in a suit, eyes fixed on his computer, is in his own bubble – why did he bring work with him? I try to seem invisible because I'm not with my friends. I hope my phone doesn't die in the next few minutes so I can keep avoiding eye contact with everyone.
"And then I hear a boom. Two booms, there's the third. One more, a loud one.
"They echo in the bomb shelter, and they shake the room a little bit, rattle our brains. Everyone looks up as if the ceiling will open and reveal the puffs of smoke in the sky. I thank the Iron Dome in silence. Almost ten minutes pass. People leave. Outside, it's like nothing happened. Humidity, sun, shopping, beach… and I wonder what we would do without this immediate shift back to regularity.
"I wonder how much of this war sits within social media feeds and biased news reports.
"I wonder where I’ll be when the siren goes off tomorrow."
@Afnansharawi: "After I heard the news on what happened to Al-Aqsa hospital, I was calling my cousin who works there to make sure that he's fine. While I was doing that, I heard multiple sounds that I recognized them coming from the Israeli tanks. I looked out from the window and saw smoke covering the place. They were firing constantly and randomly since last night, but this time they were closer. I’ve barely got a sleep last night because of these sounds and today it seems that I won't get any sleep.
"After hearing such sounds, my family and I have all gathered in one room in order to die together so no one can be left.
"It is indescribable how we feel and how we look at each other. We try to smile at each other to bury our feelings of fear.We comfort ourselves by saying that we will see each other once again in afterlife.
"We don't have any connection with any political party; we're purely civilians.
"Our streets are only filled with the smell of gunpowder and our skies are filled with smoke and dust. There's no place to escape to; all of the borders are closed.
"All what we think of is to get prepared for the next attack, because the next attack may be us."