The moment I passed the Rafah border, a bomb fell right in front of me with a crash. I was startled with its sound and the cloud of dust which rose to the sky, and was petrified. Meanwhile, the government official who welcomed me was rather calm and took my arm as he smiled and said “Welcome to Gaza.”
We got in a minibus which previously served as an ambulance. We set off to a city where time has stopped and its progress has been stopped by bombs. The buzz of drones flying above us, resembling that of a giant bee, and the sound of bombs coming from a distance accompanied us along the dirt road. This road, which served as a connection between the city and the world, has been bombed so many times that they gave up on paving it with asphalt. It was easier and more practical for them to fill the gap with soil when the bombs' explosions created large craters.
Gaza was waiting for Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and Arab ministers who would enter the city via this road while it was being bombarded. That occurred in 2012. They would draw the world's attention to the only city after World War II in which over a million Palestinians are living under siege. History rarely recorded the shame of such a siege to this extent.
This is our reality
I could not hide my confusion and sadness as we approached a square where horse and donkey carriages are used as public transit vehicles. It resembled a town square from a hundred years ago. This picture was drawn by Israel, which spent billions of dollars for satellite systems through the use of high-tech devices.
“This is our reality” said the Palestinian official, as he glanced around with sorrow. They were holding on to every single hand that reached them, in hopes of getting a chance to explain to the world the realities, tragedy and sorrow of Gaza. Hence, the reason why ministers would be visiting the city was of such significance to them.
Israel did not stop the bombardment, despite the 12 ministers who entered the city under the leadership of Davutoğlu. They continued to bomb the roads and sites where the ministers would be visiting. As the world was watching this live, nobody was able to stop Israel's impudent bombardment.
I recognized one thing in the streets, cafes and hospitals: Gaza was resisting, and did not give up despite everything. It resembled a living museum of a generation which existed and resisted through dying. There was another truth I recognized in people's eyes: the source of inspiration for that spectacular struggle for existence was Turkey. They kept on explaining how important then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoğlu were for them and their life struggle.
Turkey's transformation into a symbol of hope
Gaza was set to hear the news from Turkey because there was no other country which conveyed their struggle for existence in such a bold and sincere manner to the world. They were expressing this love with Turkish flags and posters of Erdoğan hanging throughout the streets. Hope was shaped as flesh and bones under the name of Turkey and landed a hand to them.
It was at that point when I realized Turkey was not only my homeland, but theirs, too. Erdoğan was not just our prime minister, but was theirs, too; and Davutoğlu was their foreign minister as well. I got the chance to experience this emotion and reality in person, while I was in Cairo, Aleppo and Jerusalem. In tens of Middle Eastern cities, I saw that thousands of people share a common fate and attach their future to a single person. Turkey was the safe haven of this common fate. The news, good tidings and a beacon of hope coming from there would enlighten the darkness of the Middle East.
The elections will not only be for Turkey, but for the Middle East as well
They're all waiting for the June 7 elections. Gaza the most. The election results will be coming from a country which united their fates a hundred years ago, where they attached their hopes and love deeply interests them.
Ancient cities of a civilization which have been devastated are curious about and are closely watching the results of the elections as it concerns their own fate. Turkey is not only our country anymore. AK Party is not only running in the elections in Turkey, but in the Middle East too.
This truth is an inescapable, historical responsibility entrusted to us. We must understand, recognize and do whatever is necessary to fulfill this responsibility.