PREPARATIONS for the Remembrance Day are advancing very well. It was October 7, 2023 when Hamas soldiers erupted in the kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip, leaving more than 1000 innocent victims behind. Israel retaliated, and for months left tens of thousands of innocents dead.

Today, Nafissa and Nahum are busy with the preparations for the October 7 memorial. Nafissa lost her daughter and husband in a blind air strike by the IDF on their shelter in early 2024. Nahum lost his mother, burned alive at her home by Hamas soldiers. “There was a life and another Nafissa before October 7, and a new life and new Nafissa after the grief and the tears,” says Nafissa with a little smile, while Nahum stares at her, fully understanding her grief. “My mother was an angel. She had compassion for Gazawis, she was the last person on earth to deserve her fate,” said Nahum, describing this day that changed the face of the Middle East.

Nafissa and Nahum are co-chairs of the October 7 memorial, implemented in the Erez border crossing after the peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians came into force.

The National: Palestinian workers enter Israel after crossing from Gaza on the Israeli side of Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip in March 2022 (Oded Balilty/AP)

In a few weeks, the whole world will commute to attend the Remembrance Day. Nafissa’s family, her son, his wife and their children live in Jenin, now only a two-hour drive thanks to the “Shuhada highway” or the “martyrs highway” built by the Palestinian authority and partly financed by the International Fund for Peace – 200 kilometres with no checkpoints, as the highway crosses the 4200 square km that definitely belongs to Palestinians in the West Bank, and that constitutes the core of the new state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. A country internationally recognised, in peace with its neighbours, enjoying great prosperity.

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Back to Gaza, we still can feel this hatred. The genocide, as qualified by the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, has left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands injured. Yasser, our taxi driver, is now 61. He was 51 in the “damned year”, as he grumbles. “Can you imagine living every second with the fear of death, not being able to sleep, to eat or to have rest? I am still now waking up by night with this fear.”

After a journey of a few minutes, here’s Yasser speaking Hebrew with a large smile to the Israeli border control officer. Yasser drops us in the checkpoint from Palestine to Israel, where thousands cross everyday, not without strict control. Esther, a human rights activist from Nahal Oz, waits for us. Nahal Oz was one of the main targets of Hamas on October 7, 2023. Esther was woken up by 5000 rockets launched by Hamas at dawn. She managed to hide until being saved by Tsahal soldiers: “I was hiding and crying, and deep into my heart I will always be partly hiding and crying, this day will somehow never end for me.”

Esther preferred to stay in Nahal Oz, despite all the trauma. “It’s our home, our land, we are saying that since thousands of years, we are here at home, and whatever the flaws of this home, it is our home.” Esther will never forgive Hamas, “a bunch of radical terrorists lying to the whole world”, but despite everything, she values the importance of peace. “I have grandchildren, I don’t want them to experience these feelings, this hate, that has settled my heart forever, and also most importantly, no more wars for them, it is unbelievable and I want this peace settlement to last,” insists Esther before adding: “At least, no more rockets.”

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Two weeks later, the day has come. It is October 7, 2033, and the whole planet gathers in Erez crossing. Israeli and Palestinian officials greet the world’s heads of state, journalists, activists, businessmen, philanthropists, artists ... an event that makes the headlines. Nafissa, Nahum, Esther and Yasser are stretched among the crowd.

Do you think it is a Hamas victory, as Hamas launched the October 7 attacks that led to this peace? “No, no, please don’t say that,” says Esther. Yasser smiles while staring at her, and Nafissa and Nahum think of the best answer. “Hamas launched these bloody attacks on us, and Israeli’s government replied by even bloodier retaliation, so none of them can be seen as peacemakers,” insists Nahum.

“Exactly,” shouts the crowd.

“It is the counter reaction, the refusal of more blood, more hatred, more sorrow, and the courage to effectively do it that matters – Hamas, Netanyahu and his cronies belong to the past, and even if many on both sides are still supporting them, today’s gathering shows how strong has become the peace camp,” summarises Nafissa. “Peace is a process, isn’t it?”

This is political fiction by Hafid Boutaleb, a journalist specialising in international relations and the climate