Cries for help

People in Gaza desperately need food and medicine. 

Bashar Taleb APA images

As I scrolled through social media websites, the usual stream of photos, videos and updates took a somber turn. My feeds were now filled with pleas from people desperately seeking help.

One especially heart-wrenching post caught my eye. In it, a woman briefly described the terrible ordeal of her sister’s family in north Gaza.

The woman wrote about how the family was taken from its home by the Israeli military. Ola, the woman’s sister, was told to leave for the southern city of Khan Younis on her own.

The woman appealed for information about the family.

In another post, a different woman wrote about how her sister’s family were trapped by Israeli tanks in the north. She pleaded for help from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Many appeals for help had been posted before the all-too-brief truce in late November. But their number has increased since Israel restarted its bombardment after the truce.

I cannot think of any reason for the increase other than the fact Israel has widened its war.

No medicine

One hugely distressing post described how 80 people were trapped under the rubble of the building where they had lived in the Shujaiya area of Gaza City.

These cries for help shook me to the core. I knew that I could not do anything except share and reshare them.

There are thousands of people buried under buildings that Israel has destroyed in Gaza. It is simply too dangerous for civil defense workers to retrieve their bodies.

Some of the appeals seek details about the whereabouts of named individuals. One focused on a boy with autism who had been missing for nearly three weeks when I saw the post about him.

In other posts, families begged for food, medicine and shelter. Ordinary people are going through a nightmare and reaching out to the world using the only means available – social media.

One parent noted that their 10-year-old daughter has familial Mediterranean fever – a condition which can be painful for children.

The parent is in Rafah, southern Gaza, and has been unable to obtain the medicine which the girl needs. In the post, the parent asked if any pharmacists or doctors knew where it might be available.

“It is crucial that the girl does not have to discontinue her medication,” the post read.

Sharing these messages does not feel sufficient.

We urgently need assistance from major international organizations. Most of all, we need the war to stop.

Ghada Abed is a journalist based in Gaza.