Deir el-Balah, Gaza – Welcome to Gaza, a place where every phone call bears the news of somebody being killed, every message conveys the destruction of a friend’s home, and each air strike sends tremors of fear through your heart.
In this land, “home” is no longer a sanctuary for living and relaxation; it’s a precarious existence, subject to sudden devastation without warning.
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The biggest hope one clings to is simply staying alive with their family, avoiding the heart-wrenching loss of a loved one or facing a collective demise.
Consider the families erased from the civil registry, obliterated together. At first glance, it seems like a catastrophe, but on closer examination, it resembles a tragic yet merciful conclusion under the relentless bombings.
No one is left to mourn. And in a way, some people envy those who found a peaceful end, escaping the ongoing madness of shelling and killing.
Scanning the news – on the rare occasions when there’s internet access – and witnessing the chaos surrounding aid trucks entering Gaza, one can’t help but find the world’s priorities bewildering.
Rather than focusing on efforts to stop the war, the emphasis seems to be on delivering aid.
What the people of Gaza need even more than food, water or other assistance is an end to the senseless violence, bloodshed and destruction. They cry out for the war to stop.
It is now day 18, and for three days, I’ve been unable to share these notes in my diary because of the lack of internet access. Yet, despite the passage of time, nothing changes significantly. Gaza remains trapped in the repetitive cycle of death and devastation that the world has grown accustomed to seeing.
Death after death
Yesterday, the heart-wrenching news arrived about the death of journalist Roshdi Sarraj, a dear friend. The shock of his loss was hard to accept. Thoughts lingered on his wife, Shorouq, another friend, and their one-year-old daughter, Dania.
The day before, my sisters and I awoke to even more devastating news: a friend’s family of nine had been killed. This family included the mother, Nibal, and her daughters: Saja, Doha, Sana, Mariyam, and Lana, along with her son, Mohammed. They perished after Israeli orders to leave Gaza sent them to their relatives’ home in Deir el-Balah. Only Noor, a married daughter in Qatar, survived this tragedy.
The news cycle’s constant churn offers little respite to process the anguish of losing loved ones and mourn them properly.
Noor’s tearful voice on the phone from Doha, pleading with us to take photos of her family who were already buried in silence, evoked the words of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish: “Death doesn’t hurt the dead, it only hurts the living.”