Solidarity is key to surviving in Gaza

When he previously joined The Electronic Intifada livestream in November, award-winning UK-based novelist Ahmed Masoud told us that his family faced a terrible dilemma: whether or not to leave their home in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

He feared especially for his mother, an elder beset with mobility and other health issues.

The situation since the so-called humanitarian pause in November – the weeklong truce during which Israel and the Palestinian resistance exchanged captives – has only gotten worse, Ahmed told us last week.

“It’s been incredibly difficult,” he says. His mother and several of his siblings did leave Jabaliya and headed south, while other family members remained behind.

You can watch all of Ahmed’s most recent appearance in the video above.

Cold and hunger

“I heard that she’s now in a tent, somewhere in open land, in al-Mawasi area, which is by the beach, a tent made out of plastic, incredibly cold, doesn’t have enough blankets,” Ahmed says of his mother’s situation now. “My sister messaged and said that she was crying a lot, and it just broke my heart.”

Family members who stayed behind in Jabaliya continue to face danger from Israeli bombing, shelling and quadcopters – hovering drones equipped with guns that fire on people seemingly at random.

And on top of that, people are struggling with winter cold amid a continued blackout, hunger and limited access to clean water and healthcare.

Ahmed hears from relatives that a trickle of supplies is coming in from the south of Gaza, and they can still find a bit of food in the market – mostly canned goods like sardines – but at greatly inflated prices.

“The other problem is that people have run out of cash, so they can’t even get cash out of cash machines,” Ahmed says. “I can’t even send money to them right now,” he adds, as there are so few places to withdraw it.

Community solidarity

There remains solidarity, which is undoubtedly helping people survive.

“People are getting together in a sense of community,” Ahmed says. If someone finds a sack of flour, “they bake bread for the whole street.” Or if someone finds some canned goods, they “cook a big stew and distribute it.”

There is still access to some produce like potatoes and root vegetables on agricultural land near Jabaliya that has not yet been destroyed by the Israeli army.

“They are trying hard to make do with what they can at the moment,” Ahmed says.

As for healthcare, there is none available at all, according to Ahmed.

Faced with illness, “you don’t even go to hospital or a doctor or anything because they’re full, they’re crowded,” Ahmed explains. And those few hospitals that are not shut down are now perceived as too dangerous due to systematic Israeli attacks.

“So people try to avoid them naturally,” Ahmed says. “And I think that’s what they [Israel] wanted in the first place. So where before hospitals were kind of a safe haven, in a sense, now they’ve become dangerous spaces and places and people are trying to avoid them.”

Ahmed recently shared on social media a few photos and videos he received from family members in Gaza:

Dancing in the smoke

Although he lives in London, Ahmed continues to be a support for his family in Gaza – a role many Palestinians in the diaspora are trying to play for their loved ones in Gaza.

“I have family in the north, I have family in the middle, I have family in the south and they have no communication with each other,” Ahmed says. He spends much of his time trying to communicate with them separately and give them news about one another.

The stress takes a toll on Ahmed – again something he has in common with other Palestinians separated from family in Gaza – as he worries about them while also doing his full-time job in a country where not necessarily everyone has empathy for Palestinians.

“I feel like almost a piece of tissue thrown on a fire and it just kind of dances in the smoke a little bit, and at some point is gonna land on that fire and burn,” Ahmed says. “I haven’t fallen on the flames and burned yet, but I feel it’s getting closer and closer every day.”




Thank you for this. Listening to people who have family in Gaza is very important. Sometimes we think we know, but we really need to hear from them.

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