“Light and forget” in Gaza | Israel’s war in Gaza

Earlier this month, Israeli occupation forces withdrew from my hometown of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, presumably in preparation for an attack on nearby Rafah. Now, the civilian who won the life-or-death lottery is on his way back to Khan Younis with his dreams broken. It is a pilgrimage (hajj in Arabic), but it is a pilgrimage of sorrow, not of faith.

Danger still lurks around every corner, but cousin Ikram and her husband Awad travel north of Khan Younis to participate in the hajj and check on the safety of Awad’s brother Mohammad and his family. I felt compelled to venture into a certain Al-Kalala neighborhood.

What they discovered was beyond comprehension. Muhammad, his wife Manar, and their seven children (Khalid, Qusay, Hadiya, Saeed, Ahmad, Ibrahim, and Abed, all under the age of 15) were brutally killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home. Their homes were in ruins, bodies lay decomposed, and stray dogs and cats tried to gnaw them. Ikram and Awad dug a shallow grave and buried it.

This was the second time Ikram and Awad had to bury a nephew or niece. In October, Awad had to look after the bodies of his other brother Ibrahim’s children Tasneem, Yasmin, Mahmoud and Ilyas, along with their mother Nancy. Killed by Israeli artillery fire.

This time the pain was unbearable. When Ikram returned home, he was overcome with grief and suddenly lost his eyesight. The causes of this tragic suffering remain unknown and we are all perplexed and devastated.

Meanwhile, in the western part of Khan Yunis, now a ghost town, some of her husband’s family have embarked on a similar ordeal. Their destination was the ruins of their home, not far from the ruins of Al Amal Hospital.

An entire city block was destroyed, including the three-story building where my brother-in-law and more than 70 other people lived. Young members of the family took photos and videos and salvaged what little remained of their former lives. They then returned to al-Mawasi. Once a vibrant hub of life on the coast of Khan Younis, it has now been transformed into a tent camp, a wasteland of despair, where I have been sheltering for the past four months.

Back in their tents, they shared photos and clips of the ruins of their homes with their parents and siblings. For her sister-in-law Nima, the news and images from her home were unbearable. She continued to cry while looking at her images. Nima was found unresponsive the next morning.

Her family rushed her to the nearest hospital, Al Amal (ironically meaning “Hope”), but they could find neither hospital nor hope. One of the heroic doctors who remained there declared her dead. She couldn’t bear the pain. Nima suffered a stroke as she became overwhelmed with grief and despair.

A photo of Nima’s destroyed home in Khan Younis before her stroke. [Courtesy of Ghada Ageel]

Nima’s husband, Suleiman, and their children struggled to make funeral arrangements, wash the body the right way, find materials for the coffin, and reach Nima’s eldest daughter, Rabab, who had taken refuge in Rafah.

As they wept and mourned, Israeli bombs continued to fall on residential areas in Rafah, Nuseyrat refugee camp, Deir al-Bara, Maghazi refugee camp, and Beit Hanun, killing and wounding hundreds. In Rafah’s Ibna refugee camp, Iman of the Abu al-Hanoud family was killed by a bomb. Her mother is Ibtisam. her husband, Mohammed; and their four young children: Tareen, Alma, Lana, and Callum.

During this intense shelling, Suleiman decided not to inform Rabab, fearing for the safety of Rabab and his children. They buried Nima without her. The choice was shocking, but the risk of reciprocating to Rafa was too high. Drone attacks, artillery shelling, and ship shelling were relentless.

On the day Nima was buried, Israeli forces shelled the market in Magazi camp, killing 11 people, including women and children.

This was not the first time a family member had died so prematurely due to immeasurable pain. In 1967, when the harsh realities of Israeli military occupation became clear, Suleiman’s father Abdullah suffered a stroke.

Having lost my home in the Nakba in 1948, the terror unleashed by the Israeli army on the Palestinian population of Gaza in 1967 was even more shocking. But in the end, what proved too much to bear was when Israeli soldiers kidnapped her then 16-year-old son, Suleiman.

Abdullah, who knew nothing about Suleiman’s fate and could not accept the idea of ​​losing him, collapsed in grief and a stroke destroyed his body, leaving him paralyzed. He endured seven years of misery in the Khan Yunis camp until his death the week after Suleiman returned to Gaza.

Suleiman was grateful that his wife Nima did not suffer from prolonged pain like her father, and thanked Allah and asked his children to recite Surah al-Fatiha for her.

Nima is just one of more than 10,000 Palestinian women who have died in the war so far. She was an excellent host and a wonderful cook, and she dreamed of one day making a pilgrimage to Mecca, and she methodically saved up all the shekels she had left for her trip.

Nima’s death not only extinguished her dreams, but also her essence, the warmth and generosity that defined the essence of Palestine. She left behind a void filled only with pain and loss in her heart.

Like my children, I started wondering who and what would be there the next time I visited Gaza.

Missiles from Israeli-made Hermes drones can penetrate Gaza’s unobstructed airspace and destroy lives in seconds. So-called “fire-and-forget” missiles can hit targets more than 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) away in the air, so no one on the ground knows they’re coming. Civilians doing their jobs are killed instantly, with no one to protect them.

Not a single Jordanian, British, French or American fighter jet was deployed to protect the 50 women killed by Israel every day for the past 200 days. But while everyone scrambled to protect Israel from Iranian drones, and it took eight hours to reach the territory, many didn’t even make it that far. The only way to delay an Iranian attack would have been to transport weapons through the desert on camels.

But now the world’s attention has shifted to Iran. Israel has been made the victim again. No one talks about the right of self-defense of Palestinian civilians living in the midst of genocide and crimes against humanity.

“Fire and forget” in Gaza appears to be a global policy.

But my steadfast cry is that the world must never forget. Good people around the world are working to ensure that those responsible for these crimes and those who provided the weapons are brought to justice and haunted by the specter of justice for the rest of their days.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of NDMT.

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