Dying alone or surviving alone are not options

A girls plays on a phone in hospital bed, her leg in plaster

Israel has collapsed Gaza’s health sector and only the most acute cases get treatment. Here, patients recover at al-Shifa hospital on 3 November.

Bashar Taleb APA images

It’s eleven, and my siblings and I are sitting in a circle discussing what we were doing before the aggression started.

The circle keeps narrowing as the sound of bombing intensifies.

Days are now short and nights are long. If we manage to sleep in the morning or catch a nap in the evening, we have made a good decision. Sleeping at night is a miracle.

I look at the faces around me. There are a couple of engineers, a couple of teachers and some doctors and medical students. All my siblings had big dreams and ambitions that, once they finished their degrees, they would live in peace among friends and familiar faces.

But Israel has destroyed our universities. Israel has killed our friends. Israel has killed our professors, doctors and teachers. Israel has killed our dreams.

For us, for Palestinians in Gaza, the future is unpredictable and unimaginable.

I sat to the side to write this piece. I would normally go to an empty room for the quiet. But I no longer stay in empty rooms. Dying alone or surviving alone are not options.

The only thing I hear is the sound of destruction and bombing. Every hour or so we are shaken when a missile strikes nearby.

Whenever we are able to access the Internet, I immediately message my parents. They are fortunate to be living out of Gaza. Yet not fortunate enough, because they have four daughters, two sons and three grandchildren all stuck here in one house.

“I purposely take extra classes to avoid the heart-breaking news,” my mother, a teacher, says to me.

My mother wants so badly to believe that Israel has “enough” humanity to not bomb indiscriminately, and I’m too weak to break it to her that Israel doesn’t care.

I was talking to her yesterday when a bomb landed on a house two buildings away from ours. I went to see what had happened and saw the bodies of two women. I burst into tears and had to end the call because I didn’t want my mother to worry.

When Israel cut the internet connection for two days in Gaza, we didn’t have time to inform our parents. During that time, Israel targeted a house near to us. We couldn’t stop thinking about how our family abroad was feeling, or how my father, who has high blood pressure, would react.

My father was the first to contact me when we regained connection.

Unusual ways

During this time of loss and grief, Israel piles on our misery by cutting power, water, food, medicine and fuel supplies. We don’t even have the privilege of mourning our loved ones because we have to think of unusual ways of surviving.

The men in the house wake up early to queue at the bakery for hours to get bread. They then go to fill containers with drinkable water, before they walk home so we can get the day started.

Many of those living in the western part of Gaza have evacuated to the south, a supposedly “safer” area, after the Israeli military ordered their evacuation. But I live in the south and I can assure readers that no place is safe in Gaza.

A friend of my brother who had evacuated asked my brother if he could use our bathroom. He had been to several mosques and public institutions but failed to find a clean bathroom.

There is no water to clean.

“I haven’t been to the bathroom in eight days,” he told my brother.

Abdulrahman, 9, is my sister’s oldest child. He is very smart and understands what is happening around him.

When the men in the house went to shave their heads because water was running short and haircuts are a privilege, they wanted to take him with them. He refused to go.

“Israel bombed a bakery, they might bomb a barber shop,” he reasoned.

We couldn’t convince him and he still hasn’t shaved to this very day.

One night, we woke up to the sounds of nearby heavy bombing.

We all rushed to the windows to see where it had struck. My sister Samar, however, couldn’t get out of bed.

She was very fatigued, barely half-conscious and felt pain when touched on the stomach. My brother, who is a medical student, had several diagnoses. Some were simple. Others had to be handled more seriously.

He wanted to rush her to the hospital, but who are we to fill a hospital bed when hospitals are already overwhelmed with burn patients and martyrs?

We also discovered that my niece Maha, 7, got sick the day Israel bombed the house near to us.

We were too busy locating where the missile had landed to notice at first. Then I saw that she was crying on the ground and grabbing her knees. She had seen the martyrs on the street in front of our house.

Maha had a fever and her legs were hurting.

But, as with Samar, we had no possibility of taking Maha to be seen in any hospital. Gaza’s health sector has collapsed.

Israel has collapsed Gaza’s health sector.

Hend Ghazi Alfarra is an English literature student at IUG in Gaza, a freelancer, and a writer.