We are seeing what a real genocide means in Gaza.
It means being murdered. We are living without basic necessities.
We are being killed for being the rightful owners of our land, defending our basic rights, struggling to survive.
We are under rubble for demanding that we – Palestinians – have the right to roam the land of our ancestors and pray at our holy sites.
We have tried to comfort nearly everyone we know, those who have lost members of their families, their loved ones, their homes, those who have lost their jobs.
Shouldn’t the world really be consoling us?
We have expressed the desire to have a nation with its own borders, to have a passport that would allow us to move freely without relying on other countries. Yet here we are – in the world’s largest open-air prison, with limited access to water, food and fuel.
I don’t wish this life on anyone.
I just want you to imagine it. Imagination doesn’t mean reality.
You wake up around dawn – if you are lucky enough to be still alive.
You start the journey searching for bread to eat and clean water to drink.
There is no bread to be found. And clean water is a luxury.
We drink contaminated water. We have no choice: we are desperate to quench our thirst.
The bakery is a lifeline for 20,000 people in a refugee camp.
Such lifelines are being cut off. When the Israelis identify the places that have flour, they bomb them.
As you search with a sense of urgency for food and clean water, you could be killed at any moment simply because you want to survive.
Never think that you are not going to be killed at certain moments.
During daylight – when there is bombing – you see death with your own eyes.
Gaza has the world’s longest nights.
At night-time you huddle in one room with your family. This room is far enough away from death, you think
You hear the bombs throughout the night but you don’t know where they have been dropped.
You are disconnected. No electricity. No internet.
You know nothing but fear.
When you are disconnected, the only news you manage to hear is about the people you know who have been martyred. Or injured.
In Gaza, everyone knows one another.
We are all overwhelmed.
We know what it means to live under attack and to carry on living after being pulled from under the rubble.
Can you imagine?
This has been life in Gaza for more than three weeks. This is the unvarnished reality.
There are thousands of martyrs. Tens of thousands of people have been injured.
This is catastrophic.
Hospitals in Gaza have collapsed.
No more space for the dead. The injured. And those who have been displaced.
We have superheroes in Gaza. They are doctors, paramedics and civil defense personnel.
Ezz Lulu is a fifth-year medical student and a volunteer at al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza City. Ezz hasn’t seen his family for a week.
“I have witnessed four aggressions against Gaza, but this one is different,” he said. “What I see is different. The injuries are unusual. They have severe burns up to the fourth degree. These burns are not mentioned in the medical books nor studied in the medical program.”
“I did not expect to encounter such burns in my life,” he said. “Yet Israel exceeds the expectations.”
A huge number of the martyrs are children.
Ezz has a message for the world’s leaders: “It is absurd that I feel the need to say this but we are human, just like you. Please stop the genocide.”
Nobody can predict when this war will end. But we do know that we will face another struggle when it ends.
At the moment, we cannot venture outside to see what has been destroyed and what is still standing.
We are imprisoned.
After this war, we will not be able to return to our lives.
We will have no houses to live in. No equipment to rebuild them.
No electricity. No crossing open to leave and re-enter Gaza.
No schools where children can be taught. The schools have been turned into shelters.
Children will be denied the right to education.
No universities. Many students and teachers have been killed or injured.
Nowhere to work. Unemployment is higher than ever before.
No streets to walk on. They have been carpetbombed by Israel.
No hospitals for the sick.
No medical care for cancer patients. Or pregnant women.
No places where we can gather with our remaining family and friends and feel safe.
Life was tough in Gaza before this war. What will it be like afterwards?
Let’s skip the question about life during the war. No words can describe it adequately.
We are grieving.
Yet we will not surrender.
Ghayda’a Hasan Owaidah is a writer in Gaza.