My struggle as a ‘displaced’ Gaza mother as Israel bombs my people

The writer hears a massive explosion in Deir el-Balah as people rush to buy food and essential items.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinians look for survivors in buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Deir el-Balah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, October 17, 2023 [Hassan Eslaiah/Deir el-Balah]

Deir el-Balah, Gaza Strip — Life during this ongoing war is unpredictable and challenging. Every time I sit down to write this diary, I am interrupted by air raids, news of someone we know losing their life, reports of bombings near our location, or the daily struggle of securing water and an internet connection.

Yesterday, I ventured out for the first time since our displacement on Friday to Deir el-Balah to assess the situation and gather information on the conditions of those displaced to the south.

I was aware of the inherent risks, given the constant air raids. Both my husband and my brother accompanied me, using the opportunity to buy groceries for our family.

As we prepared to leave, many thoughts raced through my mind. I couldn’t shake the idea that one of us should stay with our children in case something happened to the other, to ensure their safety.

“Are you ready, Maram?” my husband called out as he waited for me. We began our journey on foot, as it seemed like the safer option and there was minimal traffic on the roads.

Turning onto the next street, a massive explosion shook the area, filling me with fear. The worries I had before leaving the house came rushing back, and our family immediately called us, urging us to return.

We paused to watch the billowing smoke after the air raid. The street was crowded with people rushing to pick up essentials, but the atmosphere was far from normal. Tension hung in the air as people hurried to finish their errands.

We continued until we reached a market where people were buying essential groceries. The cashier was swarmed with customers and some shelves were already empty. The supermarket owner was diligently taking notes on his stock.

As a journalist, it’s challenging to talk to people in such circumstances. Everyone was in a hurry – men, women, children. The owner was willing to provide some information about the market, but for the customers, particularly the women, it was more difficult.

I noticed a woman entering the market with her children and thought she might offer valuable insights in an interview. I approached, asking her, “Are you displaced, or are you originally from Deir el-Balah?” She replied with a sad smile, “Displaced,” and we shook hands, sharing our common experience.

Throughout my journey, I encountered many people with similar stories. Some were hesitant to share, while others used the opportunity to express their thoughts and emotions. People were doing their best to continue with their lives, buying food to survive.

At one point, I saw people filling up with water at a nearby mosque. I tried to engage them in conversation, but they were too preoccupied to spare a moment to talk. I, too, was torn between my journalistic role and the need to collect water for my own family.

Later, my husband asked if I was ready to return home. His question reminded me that we are all in the same dire situation, regardless of our professions. Whether doctors, journalists, paramedics, or NGO workers, we are all under attack.

A few hours after returning home and while finalising my piece about the current challenges faced by those displaced to the south, devastating news broke about the bombing of al-Ahli Arab hospital, with the death toll surpassing 400.

The news left us in deep shock, our hearts pounding with disbelief. I closed my laptop, leaving the text unfinished.

The overwhelming grief I felt when I heard the news made me realise how unbearable this situation had become for people, and words cannot adequately express the immense pain gripping this coastal enclave.

Wiping away my tears and holding my children close, I sought refuge in my sleeping area. As the kids drifted off to sleep, my thoughts remained with those lost in the hospital, “Where will sleep come from?”

Source: Al Jazeera