Israel views us as subhuman

Rafah is filled with makeshift tents. 

Abed Rahim Khatib DPA via ZUMA Press

Walking through the streets of Rafah, it is evident that my neighbors are suffering immensely.

Every conversation is a quiet cry for comfort, an attempt to hold onto pieces of our lives.

The Gaza Strip has never felt as cramped or unlivable as it does now. Streets here in Rafah – Gaza’s southernmost city – are filled with makeshift tents.

We constantly stumble over one another as we walk.

After approximately 180 days of war, people have become somewhat desensitized.

Death is a daily occurrence.

Families can be wiped out entirely – or almost entirely. Anyone who remains alive will have to search for a new place to live and keep on looking for food after burying their loved ones.

The death toll is so high that we have been numbed.

Tears have dried.

Instead, we exist in a perpetual state of survival. Every moment is consumed by the urgent need to persevere during the ceaseless onslaught.

Muhammad Qeshta was a distant relative of mine. He was a kind neighbor with five grandchildren.

For nearly a decade, he was a diligent employee of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).

He was working at an UNRWA warehouse – distributing aid – when it was attacked by Israel a few weeks ago.

Fragments from missiles pierced Muhammad’s left eye, right shoulder and chest.

Muhammad died from his injuries within a week of the attack.

Horrific update

I’ve previously written about Waleed.

In November, he and other members of his family were forced to leave their home in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp. They endured a harrowing journey southwards.

There is a horrific update to his story.

Waleed’s uncle remained in Beach camp. Israel deprived him of food for many weeks and then bombed his home without warning.

Trapped beneath the rubble, Waleed’s uncle could not be rescued. The Israeli military refused to allow ambulances into the area.

As a result, he died.

Waleed is now mourning his uncle.

Waleed is convinced that the man could have been saved if Israel had not blocked first responders from reaching him.

One of our neighbors had mental health issues and needed medication.

The medication was no longer available because of the harsh blockade enforced by the Israeli military.

Predictably, the man’s mental health deteriorated. He became increasingly aggressive toward his wife and children.

The man’s family locked him up to try and prevent him hurting himself and others.

Yet the man managed to escape. He climbed onto the roof of his house, threw himself off and died.

Israel is pursuing chaos.

Near the beginning of this genocidal war, the Israeli government declared that the people of Gaza were “human animals.” Now it is treating us as if we are cockroaches.

Israel regards us as subhuman.

Sahar Qeshta is a writer in Gaza.