Israel murders daughter and grandson of Refaat Alareer

Israel on Friday murdered the daughter, grandson and son-in-law of Refaat Alareer, the beloved writer, poet and educator who was assassinated by Israel in December.

The airstrike on a building in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City killed Shymaa Refaat Alareer, her husband Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Siyam and their 3-month-old son Abd al-Rahman.

They had been sheltering in the building of Global Communities, an international relief charity formerly known as CHF, in Gaza City, according to Abdallah Abd al-Aziz Siyam, Muhammad’s brother.

In a voice message heard by The Electronic Intifada, Abdallah al-Siyam said members of his family had moved to the CHF building months ago, after their neighborhood was destroyed.

A few days ago everyone except for Muhammad, Shymaa and their baby had left the building, Abdallah said.

At around 11 am on Friday morning, Abdallah spoke to Muhammad by phone and said he was on his way to the CHF building to see him.

Moments later, Abdallah, who said he works for Global Communities, received a call that the building had been bombed. He ran to the location and found his brother, Shymaa and their baby son dead. According to Abdallah, they were the only people at the building when it was attacked.

Abdallah said that no one thought the CHF building would be bombed without warning, given that it was the headquarters of an international aid agency. The Electronic Intifada has reached out to Global Communities and this article will be updated with any new information.

Funeral prayers were held for the family after their bodies were brought to al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City:

His inspiration

The killing of Refaat’s daughter Shymaa and the grandson he never had a chance to meet is being received with renewed outrage and grief from Refaat’s close friends, former students and people around the world who have been touched by Refaat’s life and work.

“I am out of words, tears and ways to comprehend this endless loss, this pain, this criminal annihilation of our people,” wrote Jehad Abusalim, one close friend of Refaat.

Ahmed Nehad, another close friend and colleague, noted that Refaat’s now world-famous poem “If I Must Die” was written to Shymaa.

“She’s the one that was told to tell his story, to sell his things, and to not lose hope,” Nehad wrote.

In an interview with Al Jazeera some years ago, Refaat described how Shymaa – then just 5 years old – inspired him to start telling stories during Israel’s first major war on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.

“During the first war on Gaza, the most painful thing was the horror the children went through,” Refaat said.

“Dad, who created the Jews?” Refaat recalled Shymaa asking him – Palestinians in Gaza commonly refer to Israelis as Jews since in their context Israel describes itself as a Jewish state and purports to represent and act in the name of Jews everywhere.

“I could not answer her question,” Refaat recalled. “But I realized that the war made Shymaa think there is a loving and merciful God … and another cruel God who created these Israeli soldiers, these killing machines, who terrorize us, destroy and turn our lives into a living hell.”

“I had to find a way to distract my kids from war and bombs by telling them stories,” Refaat recalled.

A message to her father

Following news of her killing, Palestinian media circulated a message Shymaa had posted shortly after the birth of her son, addressed to her martyred father.

“I have beautiful news for you, and I wish I could tell you while you were in front of me, handing you your first grandchild. Did you know that you have become a grandfather?” Shymaa wrote.

“Yes, father, this is your grandson. He is a month old. This is your grandson Abd al-Rahman, who I always imagined you holding. But I never imagined I would lose you so early, even before you saw him.”

Shymaa was a talented calligrapher who cherished her father’s memory and what he meant to people all over the world.

“She was an artist in her own right. A person worthy of remembering in her own right,” wrote X user Fatima Said. “May you be reunited with your father in Firdaws [paradise] Shymaa.

“Dr. Refaat always spoke to us about his immense love for his daughter,” Razan Abu Salem, one of Refaat’s former students, writes in a tribute for The Electronic Intifada.

“Shymaa is now joining her dad in heaven – not by choice but because Israel has killed her. Through this terrible crime, there are now fewer members of Dr. Refaat’s family left to tell his story,” Razan says.

“But those of us still alive will continue to remember and honor Dr. Refaat and lament his loss.”

And now we must tell Shymaa’s story as well.




I am 70 years old. I have never, in my life, read anything as repulsive as this story.


This is heartbreaking and unbearable in so many ways. I am sad, shocked and outraged. What the people of Palestine are enduring is beyond words. Thank you Dr Refaat Alareer for your precious gifts to the world so brutally taken from a planet that needs your light and hope .

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