The destruction of Gaza’s Titanic

People walk in front of the husks of destroyed buildings

Khan Younis, like all of Gaza, is being leveled to the ground in Israel’s genocidal assault.

Mohammed Talatene DPA via ZUMA Press

Last year, life seemed like a beautiful journey to be filled with cherished memories and meaningful friendships.

Baraa is my closest friend. Last year, on the stroke of midnight, as 24 February became 25 February, my birthday, she sent me a video and a happy birthday message.

She had put together a compilation of family members, friends and teachers, all sending their best wishes. It was really touching.

Once I got up, I did what I usually do on my birthday.

I spent time with Baraa, whom I met for coffee in the morning.

We joked. We joked about our dreams, our aspirations, our hopes, our lives.

We joked about our situation.

“I am convincing my mother to let me study for a master’s in Qatar,” Baraa said, stone-faced.

“Well I am going to take my master’s in Ramallah at Birzeit University,” I replied.

We laughed. We both knew that to leave Gaza was all but impossible due to Israel’s tight control over who comes and goes.

After coffee, we went to lectures.

We were both about to finish our undergraduate degrees in English. And our other friends welcomed me with gifts of books, the kinds of gifts I always prefer.

Like any group of friends, we had our disagreements about where to go for lunch, but we ultimately decided to spend the day at Capital Mall in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, enjoying a hot cup of coffee with a very unique aroma from Mazaj before eating.

And the day carried on in this vein. My oldest sister Lubna called me and told me not to come home after my lectures, but to meet her and our other sisters Jannah and Saja at the Titanic Restaurant.

Located on the 17th floor of al-Farra Tower, the tallest residential building in Khan Younis, the Titanic offered a stunning view of our city and the neighboring cities.

The evening was spent with relatives and friends. They dressed me in a Christmas fez and the waiters brought out a cake with candles.

My sister Lubna was planning to film a video and they sang for me. The camera failed to record anything.

Make it stop

Looking back, it might have been a portent.

Maybe the camera refused to record memories that would soon be unrepeatable.

Maybe the Titanic was doomed to go under.


What I know is that this year, there was no birthday celebration.

There is no university to go to. Israel’s genocidal military machine destroyed it.

There is no Capital Mall. Israel’s indiscriminate bombing leveled it.

There is no Titanic Restaurant or al-Farra Tower. Israel’s unhinged military reduced it to rubble.

Many of my friends have been killed. I don’t know exactly how many, because it is almost impossible to stay in touch with anyone.

This year, I didn’t write down any goals or plans for the new year or joke about them with Baraa. I had no motivation to begin a new year while my city, my family and my people are being subjected to genocide.

Every second, I either lose a loved one or a dream.

We’re breathing corpses, barely eating.

My friends had no way of wishing me a happy birthday.

My only wish? Make it stop.


Donya Ahmad Abu Sitta lives in Gaza.