The defiance of Gaza’s armed struggle bombards the senses in the city streets.
Shrieks of outgoing rockets from downtown launch pads receive an encore of whistling youths, honking horns and celebratory calls of “God is Great” from mosque loudspeakers.
Martial songs blare “Strike Tel Aviv!” from one of the few cars daring to chance the roads.
But fatalism rather than triumphalism defines Gazans’ reaction to the Israeli air assault that began on Wednesday, and a feeling that no matter how deep the pain, their experience is not without precedent and will not soon end.
A man was executed in the street this week accused of spying for Israel. Hamas has warned that price-gougers trying to exploit the coming shortages of food and medicine will be dealt with harshly. Hardship is neither new nor shocking.
Gaza has seen it all before. The last Gaza war, a lopsided three-week-long Israeli air blitz and ground invasion in 2008-2009, left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians. Israel lost 13 killed.
Whole city districts were flattened by giant Israeli army bulldozers clearing a firebase for invasion troops and tanks. Factories were destroyed, concrete houses were pancaked, with their dismal owners cooking over campfires in the ruins.
In such situations, the need for food and shelter is paramount, and Gaza’s Islamist Hamas authorities know it.