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Life in Gaza - Horror Everywhere

Dropping aid from planes into Gaza as Israeli attacks continue © Anadolu via Getty Images

By Aya Al-Ghazzawi


I believe that notorious colonialist Winston Churchill said that British people are the only people who like to be told how bad things are. Well, to put it mildly, things are bad in Gaza—how does that make you feel?

Even if we don't always have food, we at least always have the news—and the news is overwhelmingly bleak. We consume this poisonous news like we breathe. 

Sometimes, we feel optimistic that Israel’s genocide against us is ending and the so-called negotiations will make some progress. However, we now mainly follow the news to find out whether our homes and neighbourhoods are still standing, for the latest information on food deliveries, or for any information that would ease our worn-out minds. 

A few days ago, I came across a headline that read, "Israeli machinery (tanks and bulldozers) arrived at Dola crossroads and near Al Nojoom wedding hall in Al Zaytoon neighbourhood". Instantly, my adrenaline went up, and yet again, my blockaded heart tried to break free from my body.

I was panicking about my maternal grandfather, two sweet aunties, kind uncles, their wives, children and grandchildren and everyone who refused to leave this part of our devastated Gaza and stayed steadfast in their homes. I frantically started calling their numbers. I tried all the numbers on my mobile but got no response.

My mom, who had not seen this news yet, asked me what was wrong. She almost lost her mind when I told her about the Israeli death machine approaching our relatives. She told me to keep calling them. I called one of my cousins ten or fifteen times when we had a signal. There was no answer. My mom was trying as well and then, finally some relief, when she got a reply.

My mom nervously asked "Hello, Ibtisam, how are you doing there? Tell me, what happened to your grandpa and the others?" 

My cousin, Ibtisam, passed the phone to one of my aunties, Hana, who witnessed everything. My auntie could not stop weeping, and we could not hear anything she was saying. Maybe that was enough for her to release these feelings and at least be heard - one voice amongst the thousands of shattered and exhausted people living from second to second.

She finally composed herself, and we hoped the signal would last to hear what she had to say. Hana said, "Yesterday in the evening, the Zionist army carpet-bombed all around us. It was massive and intensely terrifying. Then, at night, they used their bulldozers to pull down the eastern side of the house, destroying three bedrooms while we were still inside. We sat in the kitchen. They threw canisters, one of which broke the outside door wide open. Death felt close, and we kept whispering the Shahada". 

Hana continued, "Our hearts almost stopped beating out of fear. Maybe it was a defence so the invaders would not hear us. Imagine, they also ran over Riziq's bus, buried it in the ground, and pulled up the olive and lemon trees in the backyard. At about 10 a.m., dozens of tanks and four bulldozers were at our door. The occupation soldiers called on us through microphones to get out of the home. It felt like they did this with obedience but also a sense of delight and satisfaction - as if it's a right of passage passed on through the generations."

Now, Hana was more composed, even though clearly angry. She said her father (90), brother Abdelfattah (63), sister Salha (62) and herself (65) got out with a white flag they had prepared in advance and kept close to them. Salha had told an Israeli soldier that there were others upstairs and wanted to check on them. The soldiers immediately followed her and then ordered the women, many of whom had passed out in the stress and dread, with their babies to walk to the south of Gaza through Salah Al-Din Street. 

Her two brothers, Abdelaziz (70) and Riziq (54), and their male children were separated from the broader group of females. Hana said, "I remained in Al Saha area in Gaza with your father and brother, Fattah as the soldier pointed his gun at me and ordered me to keep going. We knew nothing about each other." My auntie Hana spat out the last lines of her testimony as if she was chewing on rotten meat. She was utterly exhausted.

The next day, we called Hana again. Amazingly, she had some rare good news amongst the all-pervasive devastation because my two uncles and most of their children were released. But Israeli forces separated them, and they were still recovering from the trauma of being shot at by the occupation soldiers as they walked south towards Rafah. Four escaped and reached my cousin's house, while three were still besieged until Israeli tanks retreated days later. They headed to my cousin's and met the others. They said there were about 270 people besieged in the same house. They all sought refuge from Israeli tanks. The next day, they checked on their multiple-story building encompassing 12 apartments. And to their shock, they found them- except for three- completely burned. They spent their whole lives building and furnishing their homes, and suddenly, they were gone.

Two of my cousins are still detained and have been disappeared by Israeli soldiers. We have no information about them, how they are, or if they are getting any medicine.

My grandpa has recently passed away due to malnutrition, dehydration, and lack of medicine. His heart could not bear all this harshness. He ached for his grandchildren and the family building. He left this world cursing Israeli hegemony and genocide.

So this is our news. It won't make the headlines in your country, but thank you for reading it. As Churchill also said, "If you're going through hell, keep going" - he knew a thing or two about putting people like us through hell, and that is precisely what we will do. We will keep going - against the war crimes, the apartheid, the occupation, the colonialism, and this genocide. That is our resistance.


About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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