• 05 Mar, 2024

My father's radio, my mother's faith - and then in a moment of darkness and pain. This is the life under attack by Israel


GAZA CITY - The unthinkable happened this morning. My father kept the radio close, hoping the news bulletins would bring some relief, like news of a ceasefire. Mom was trying to calm down after a long, sleepless night at our house in central Gaza City.

"Hopefully today will be a little quieter than last night, or at least a little different," he said. That morning (December 7) I joined my 65-year-old father, Rafiq, who was listening to the news, and called a news station in Doha to say that I had survived the heavy bombing that night.

None of us knew what was in store for us. It happened in milliseconds. In an instant, the bright morning sun disappeared, the whole world went dark, and their two-year-old son Rafik, his wife Asma, his father, his mother Nadia, and his younger sister Fatma were immersed in the world the darkness Dust, smoke, and fire suffocation. Everything seemed to disappear.

All I knew was the pain in my body, and later I realized the weight of the ceiling was pressing down on me and my family. I was embarrassed and called out the names of my family members one by one. I didn't see any of them, so I cried and prayed that one of them would answer me. None of this happened.

This picture taken from the Israeli border with the northern Gaza Strip shows Israeli soldiers viewing Gaza City on January 1, 2024 [Menahem Kahana/AFP]
This picture taken from the Israeli border with the northern Gaza Strip shows
Israeli soldiers viewing Gaza City on January 1, 2024 [Menahem Kahana/AFP]aption


After some time I passed out. total confusion

A few hours later, I heard a voice for the first time.

"And he's alive!" I shout out loud. He said, "I'm breathing!" It was. I didn't care. All I could think about was knowing my family was safe. "Everything is fine. Don't worry." The stranger assured me, trying to stop the bleeding from my broken hands and fingers.

"Please don't try to move and keep your head up." He told me, examining my body for other injuries. All I felt was complete confusion. I couldn't understand what was going on. I didn't understand who these people were or how we got hit by an air raid that no one had heard of.

I didn't know where my family was and I couldn't think about what had happened. I remember the explanation. Two hours have passed since the house was bombed. Meanwhile, we were under the rubble and our neighbors were trying to break through the cement walls of our house to get to us.

As I slowly began to understand what had happened, the pain in my stomach seemed to get worse. We were all injured in the air raid. I remember my son Rafik screaming and his face covered in blood and dust as strangers tried to clean him up.

I don't know how we survived the bombing, with a two-story building collapsing on top of us and glass and metal falling. It still seems like a miracle. But even if this airstrike doesn't kill us, it destroys something inside us. It destroyed any trace of normal life and continued existence. In an instant, He sowed the seeds of soul wounds that we carry with us every day for the rest of our lives.

a week of constant pain

Our neighbors cleaned our wounds, bandaged them, and immediately provided first aid. But now there was nothing that could ease the pain that afflicted our bodies. No one was under the illusion that access to healthcare would be easy.

The explosion caused major damage to hospitals and medical facilities. Due to the lack of proper medical facilities, many of the injured later died of infections. If you go anywhere in northern Gaza, you risk being targeted or shot by Israeli snipers. However, despite orders from the Israel Defense Forces to leave, the area is still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians, all of whom face this threat every day.

For six days in our ruined house, we desperately dreamed of finding painkillers or at least something to help us sleep.

There was nothing. We were told we were lucky to survive the blast. That may be true, but it offers little comfort when the pain from an injury is so indescribable at night that it keeps you from sleeping or robs you of comfort. Infections are a constant concern.

At the first sign of contamination, the wound should be cleaned immediately with hot water, a hot liquid that burns the healthy skin around the wound. Rafik had a hard time understanding that we weren't going to burn him. But even though the pain of boiling water was worse than any infectious disease, he accepted it.

No need to think of alternatives.

run away from fear

After a week, we started to notice some improvement in our health. Meanwhile, the bombing continued.

Around noon on December 14, our neighborhood came under heavy air and artillery bombardment. It was surprising and seemed completely random. Our neighbors were dying by the minute. Many more people were injured.

If the Israeli army comes in after the bombing, there are people, including my family, who will run for their lives. I can only describe that moment as pure fear.

People injured or injured in the blast were left behind. To stop and help is to die.

The pain of my wounds returned as I walked the streets through the fearful crowds. The wife, holding her terrified son, suggested they take refuge in one of the schools of the United Nations Refugee Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), relatively far from the bombing.

There we joined thousands of people who all said they left a scene of death and carnage. Now we have little to live on beyond the bare necessities. There is no food or medicine. There are not enough mattresses and blankets to protect against the bitter cold of the night. Clean drinking water is a luxury.

People have nothing to drink except dirty water, which increases the risk of bacterial infections and gastrointestinal diseases. Children, and pregnant women, young and old face the same daily struggle to survive.

Life in this school awaits death. We have nothing to lose. I have lost friends, loved ones, colleagues, teachers and doctors. Everything, everything I had is gone.

The war is over now, but it will take years to regain what we lost. We never know when we'll have a place to call home again.