Corpses are a common sight in Gaza

Palestinians walk over the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City on 9 October 2023. (Naaman Omar / APA Images)

Almost half a year, and the war on Gaza rages.

I am still in northern Gaza, in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City. I don’t know how I’ve survived this long and kept even the slightest semblance of sanity, especially after witnessing unforgivable massacres committed by Israel.

There is simply no regard for us as human beings.

Every morning, I wake to the grumble of hunger in my stomach. It’s the daily reminder that I am alive and that a new day of struggle has begun.

Nothing has been the same since 7 October. Israel reduced much of al-Rimal to rubble in the early months of its war on Gaza, but my family stayed in our home.

Daily necessities – electricity, meals, water – are now luxuries. There is not a night where I go to bed and don’t hear the warplanes hovering above.

Each day I drag a 500-liter barrel one kilometer to get water and then back home again.

The water is unfiltered and contaminated. But we have to drink something.

We use the same water to bathe, to flush the toilets.

Sewage spills out from pipes next to our house. The smell is terrible, but I have to say that I am used to it by now.

I count my blessings every day that I am alive, that I have a roof over my head. Just in front of our home is a school where those whose homes have been destroyed by Israel must now take shelter.

During the seven-day truce at the end of November, I told myself it would be “a little break.”

On the first day of the truce, l walked around our town to see what was left. I had anticipated destroyed buildings and crushed cars.

l didn’t realize I would be seeing dead bodies along the roads.

Seeing corpses is now commonplace. Sometimes they are covered with dirty sheets, and other times they are uncovered and decomposing.

I felt numb. Seeing so many humans killed, their bodies exposed and rotting – life lost all meaning to me in that moment.

Nothing mattered anymore.

I couldn’t even feel sad about the destroyed buildings – my university, my friends’ homes. I didn’t realize how much worse it would get after the truce.

Nothing is the same

Israel kills people trying to access flour and canned goods.

There’s a market at the end of my street. To get there, I can take two roads.

The first road, which is the street where I live, is covered in gigantic holes from Israeli bombs. It’s impossible to go this way.

The second road used to be wide and empty. But in February, Israel bombed a 10-story building, and the rubble now blocks the street.

It is believed that 40 people are still under the rubble.

We tried to find a way around the rubble, through open lots. But there was a problem here, too.

Empty lots are no longer empty. They are now full of graves of martyrs.

We have no other option but to walk this way to the mostly empty market. We walk between the graves carefully.

I haven’t seen meat, fruit or vegetables for more than four months. I’ve even forgotten how bread tastes.

Now, we make a different kind of “bread” from animal food.

Getting aid is deadly

Aid trucks come every other day to Gaza with flour and other goods that might save us from starvation. Yet it’s not enough for the thousands of us who are in northern Gaza.

And now we are afraid to even approach the trucks lest Israel open fire on us.

My uncle Hani went to the aid trucks one day to get food for us. He was killed by occupation soldiers trying to get flour from one of the trucks.

He was left on the ground, dead, for hours before we could get his body.

My uncle was like a father to me. We buried him next to my grandfather.

That night, I cried a lot. I started to feel dizzy and my legs were weak. I hadn’t eaten in 48 hours.

I couldn’t bring myself to eat what little was available.

I sat on the ground, helpless.

Ahmad Sbaih lives in al-Rimal, Gaza City.