My family have lost everything

Israel has caused massive destruction to Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. 

Mohammed Alaswad APA images

Getting news about my family has been extremely difficult.

Although I grew up in Gaza, I now live abroad.

The home where I had spent so much of my childhood was destroyed by Israel in October. My family had been able to evacuate beforehand.

With the communications network in Gaza badly damaged, I have not been able to keep in touch with them. So I have relied on my close friend Shaima – who can use the internet via an eSIM card – to provide me with news.

Much of the news has been distressing.

During November, my family were all injured when the house next to the one they were staying was bombed. The bombing occurred at the same time that Israel carried out a massacre in the nearby al-Fakhoura school.

I have not been able to get full details of their injuries.

As far as I know, the injuries are not considered serious.

The situation has been even worse for one of my uncles. Israel destroyed his home in Jabaliya refugee camp, killing one of his sons and two of his grandchildren.

After that horrible attack, my uncle took refuge with the surviving members of his family in al-Yemen al-Saeed hospital. My immediate family and my grandmother are with them.

It is an arduous challenge to live in such circumstances. My family have lost everything.

My mother is a psychologist and is used to treating patients with trauma. Now she is traumatized herself.

My father is an artist with a deep love of nature. My three brothers have qualifications in IT, medicine and agriculture between them.

They now find themselves in a situation that defies the imagination.

Real-life horrors

My friend Shaima told me about her own harrowing experience.

On 13 November, she and her extended family left northern Gaza and began a journey southwards. Most of their journey was undertaken on foot, with the family carrying all the bags they had packed.

After a long walk, the family reached a checkpoint set up by the Israeli military. It had numerous cameras.

Using phones was forbidden.

The family showed their green ID cards to the soldiers surrounding the checkpoint.

They heard one soldier, who spoke fluent Arabic, order a man to undress.

A short while later, Shaima saw that about half of her family had been stopped by Israeli soldiers.

“They took my brother-in-law and my cousin for an interrogation,” she said. “So we waited for them. We could see tanks approaching at the same time. I was truly terrified.”

According to Shaima, at least one member of each family was taken away for interrogation. “After a while, we noticed that snipers had aimed their weapons at us, meaning they could shoot us at any time,” she said.

Shaima described scenes of extreme cruelty toward men, women and children.

They were like scenes from a horror movie. Yet such scenes are really unfolding in Gaza.

The real-life horrors are being carried out because Israel enjoys practical and diplomatic support from some of the world’s most powerful governments and institutions, notably the United States and the European Union.

The author – who requested anonymity – grew up in Gaza and now lives abroad.