The world needs to wake up and realize what life is like for people in Gaza.
My name is Huda Kishawi, a 16-year-old Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip. While the constant shelling of Gaza has calmed down despite the end of a ceasefire, I am writing to let the world imagine the plight of Gazans.
I have witnessed three wars so far, but this is the worst conflict I have ever experienced. Since June, my brother and I have waited in Gaza City for the Egyptian border to open, in order to travel and follow our parents who had left the territory in that same month. I didn’t expect a war to be just around the corner.
Over the first couple of days, we heard loud explosions that quickly escalated, with heavy airstrikes taking place in different parts of the territory. The situation continued to worsen and it was clear that a new war on Gaza had begun. The death toll soon rose and continues to take the lives of innocent civilians; it currently stands at over 2,035 Palestinians.
From the onset, we heard news of entire families being wiped out by Israeli shelling. Images of innocent children who were sleeping or playing when they were targeted surely brought tears to those watching international news. Indeed, it is a very difficult moment when you witness a father wanting to say farewell to his sons, but instead their bodies are just a pile of ash; or when you see a mother holding her dead daughter and collecting her body parts after a missile obliterates their home; or when you see children covering their ears so they can’t hear the constant sound of bombs exploding. That’s the situation of people living in the open air prison of Gaza.
It is also a horrific moment when the shelling gets closer and you don’t know if you have to evacuate your home. Will you be able to take everything with you? Or will you have to leave all your past behind and only be left with memories, should a missile turn your bedroom into broken bricks? In these moments, it is impossible to imagine what will happen next. When the attacks escalated at the height of hostilities, people asked themselves: Where can we go? What can we do? Will our lives end in the next few minutes? It has been so difficult to answer these simple questions.
Nowhere To Go
It is true the Israeli military had warned some people to evacuate, but the problem was, where do you go? The fear is that the place you are evacuating to might be the next target. That’s why a lot people sought shelter in UN schools, but even those were hit by Israel. Simply put, Palestinians had nowhere to run and hide. Thousands of houses that were full of happiness and memories were completely or partially demolished. If neighboring countries such as Egypt don’t stand by our side, who will help us overcome this crisis?
It is a very difficult moment when you witness a father wanting to say farewell to his sons, but instead their bodies are just a pile of ash; or when you see a mother holding her dead daughter and collecting her body parts after a missile obliterates their home; or when you see children covering their ears so they can’t hear the constant sound of bombs exploding. That’s the situation of people living in the open air prison of Gaza.
Our only crossing point to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel was closed by Egyptian authorities for almost two months, which prevented thousands of desperate people from fleeing Gaza. We just want the border crossing to stay open to allow Palestinians to evacuate under these difficult conditions, and to allow injured people to get the medical help they need. Just think of those dozens of people killed because of the lack of medical supplies. Does this not push you to support your fellow humans in Gaza?
Before the recent ceasefire, people braced themselves for more massacres, similar to what happened in the Shujayea neighborhood, in Rafah and Khan Younis. But the problems in Gaza took on another dimension when Israel bombed the only power station that provides the territory with electricity. Don’t you think this level of suffering is more than enough? Don’t you think the people of Gaza have the right to live like every other person on earth?
It is probably impossible for most people to imagine the exact feelings of Palestinians living under constant attack. We are tired of this harsh lifestyle we have to endure. If we don’t die from missiles or fear controlling us, we might die from thirst as water has been running out. Our lives have stopped. Hospitals are chaotic and running out of supplies; it has gotten to the point where even beds are scarce. In fact, everything has been scarce since Gaza’s door was locked in 2007.
Despite all this, many people around the world support Israel and accuse us of being “terrorists.” If you are still convinced it is Israel’s right to defend itself from atrocities by targeting mosques, hospitals, UN schools, demolishing houses filled with civilians and decimating Gaza’s infrastructure — and you don’t believe it has violated international law — I am not going to explain the plight of Palestinians anymore. My only wish is to stay alive and return to a peaceful life. The world needs to wake up and realize what life is like for people in Gaza.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.