An Account from the Genocide in Gaza: ‘What My Family is Going Through is Impossible’
November 23 2023
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As a Palestinian, I have experienced the impact of colonization on my life and my loved ones, not least now that my close family — including my parents and siblings who survived four previous cruel wars against Gaza — are living under this current intense and murderous bombardment.

Gaza is the world’s largest open-air prison, which is in effect a concentration camp where 2.3 million people have been targeted for ethnic cleansing through massacres and erasures and have now lived in a state of horror, panic, and sumud (steadfastness) for over one month. Palestinians in Gaza, who have been slowly dying from the lengthy brutal Israeli blockade in place since 2007 are now being killed by Israeli missiles and shelling. This genocide is a continuation of the 1948 Nakba that forcibly displaced Palestinians and ethnically cleansed the land of the Indigenous Palestinian people to sustain the Zionist settler project. This settler-colonial machine uses the most destructive weapons supplied by its Western allies to wage war on homes, hospitals, churches, universities, and UN schools where people have been sheltering.

As the world watches the horrific genocide unfolding on TV screens, my family members, like everyone else in Gaza, await their turn to be massacred. The Israeli bombs fell on people in their houses and on their shelters without warning. Entire residential neighborhoods were destroyed and turned into rubble. Palestinians have been portrayed as animals to justify this collective punishment. The Israeli Minister of Defense said they were dealing with ‘human animals’ and cut off access to electricity, food, and water in Gaza. Israel ordered one million Palestinians to evacuate from the north of Gaza within twenty-four hours, an order considered impossible by the UN. This mass displacement is a continuation of the 1948 Nakba with Palestinians repetitively forced to leave their homes. The south is supposedly safe, but it continues to be targeted. There is no safe place in Gaza.

My family left their home to stay in my sister’s house in the south in Khan Yunis. My mother, who had already lost members of her extended family in this war, wept over the phone, grieving the destruction of our home in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood, which was turned to rubble. Even though I was trying to soothe and calm my mother by saying, “Our home will be rebuilt again,” deep inside I felt that the destruction of our home as the obliteration of our intimate family memory and history. My parents are old and sick and cannot find their medicine amid this horror since hospitals are out of service due to Israel’s targeted bombardment, electricity and communication shutoffs, and a total siege that has prevented vital medicines and supplies from entering Gaza. My sister’s children are traumatized and wake up from their sleep screaming. We find solace in that my nieces have not yet resorted to writing the names of their children on their hands to be identified in case they are killed.

My grandmother’s house was damaged by the bombing. My uncle Mahmoud lives in this house and has a lung condition, he not only lives in dangerous conditions but no longer has enough oxygen tubes to survive. Israel targeted (and continues to target) hospitals and can barely treat the wounded, therefore there is no space for patients with chronic diseases or women that are giving birth, and there is a shortage of life-saving medications. Two of my uncles, Sami and Jihad, decided not to leave their houses in the northern part of Gaza not only because there is no place for them to go in the south but because they would rather remain steadfast; they are willing to die in their own homes because they are scared to be bombed on their way south. According to the Gaza media office, forty-six percent of the overall death toll occurred in the southern area, which Israeli forces claimed was safe. After my cousin’s husband’s house was destroyed, her husband’s parents escaped to the south where they were killed by Israeli airstrikes. She said that her house was destroyed by ships bombarding them from the sea. Other cousins’ homes were also destroyed.

Israel is using internationally banned phosphorous bombs in Gaza. My aunt Safa wondered what sort of bombs were being dropped on them because they could not breathe due to the smoke and had sore throats from inhaling chemical substances. My cousin Samer wrote, “with the sound of every Israeli bombing, we feel that these are the last moments of our lives, and minutes later we discover that they were the last moments of dear relatives, friends, and neighbors. Your mercy, Lord.” He posted on social media: “Dear World! Tell Biden that his green light for Israel was for killing children and women while sleeping! I'm sorry, my daughters, Rita and Karma, but there is no way to protect you and remove fear from your hearts.” His latest post was, “In the 2023 Fall of Gaza, humanity fell before the leaves.” He means that the world cannot stop this criminal madness.

The impact on my family has been transnational. My other cousin Mohamad, who studies and lives in Paris was very anxious about his family in Gaza. He took sick leave from university and came for a visit to be around us here in the UK. He posted, “I shit on humanity if it is not for all humans.” He also posted his conversation with his mom on Oct. 30:

'Mom, every night passes and I think it’s the worst of my life, then the next night comes and it’s even worse.'

Happy Halloween people, enjoy watching the blood.

A week later he posted again:

He had dreams.

My cousin is crying for her 14-year-old son Bashar who was killed while he was bringing some water for his family who were sheltering in the UN school after the destruction of their home. Rest in peace.

I am here in the UK with my small family. We are subjected to another level of trauma and panic as we find it difficult to cope or process this horror. I ask myself what is happening, is it a nightmare or reality? I find it difficult to respond to my friends when they ask are you okay? Is your family okay? I am not okay. Neither are my family or my children. This ongoing genocidal war in Gaza and what my family is going through is impossible and has made me sick both mentally and physically. I have been consumed by this hellscape that is as bad as it can possibly get for me in every single way. To witness my loved ones and my people living this horror is beyond my capacity to handle. I suffer from sleep deprivation and when managing to get some sleep I wake up running to my phone to make sure that my family is still alive. I then find a message from my mother praying for us and saying goodbye. The hardest days of my suffering were when I was no longer able to reach my family due to electricity cuts. This was devastating. I lost contact with my family and lost my mind as well. One of the worst moments was when we read in the news about a house being bombed in the middle of KhanYunis where my family now resides. I screamed and was about to faint thinking that my family had died. But then we found out that it was the house next to them. My sister messaged saying that she had been out to get some food when the bomb fell on her neighbor’s home.

I gathered my strength to write this piece and to take care of my family here in the UK and support my children who have been anxiously watching the TV and are on social media all the time. My daughter Tala could not continue with her internship in London and my son could not attend his college because of their extreme anxiety about what is happening to our people in Palestine. Instead, Kareem chose to volunteer for a restaurant that organized a charity day for Gaza (100 percent of profits were donated to help Palestinians in Gaza) and my daughter participated in several protests in London and produced some paintings on Gaza. Both donated to the victims of the war who are suffering Israeli bombardment without food, water, and electricity.

Painting by Ashjan's daughter, Tala. 
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