My uncle was killed in an Israeli massacre

Ayed al-Ajrami 

My uncle Ayed al-Ajrami has been killed by Israel.

The attack did not only take his life.

His daughters were killed, too. And his grandchildren.

In total, 14 members of the extended al-Ajrami family were wiped out on Saturday 14 October.

Ayed – known as Abu Eyad – had left his home in northern Gaza for Deir al-Balah, a city in the center, along with his extended family. They had not been long in Deir al-Balah, when Israel attacked the building into which they had moved.

My uncle was considered a mukhtar – a family chief.

He was a co-founder of a construction company and – together with his sons – managed a shoe and bag brand. For much of his life, he undertook charitable work.

He was among the people in northern Gaza who received a phone call warning him to move over recent days. Israel also distributed leaflets with that warning.

In the phone call, a man who said he was from the Israeli army told my uncle that he had to move south for his safety.

“Tell your neighbors,” the man on the phone said. “Take your families.”

My uncle asked the man on the phone about Deir al-Balah.

“Yeah, that’s safe,” the man replied. “You can go there.”

And so my uncle did.

Then he and his family were massacred.

Growing up under siege

My cousin Lubna was 31 years old. She was in the prime of her life.

Her sister Aya was 23.

Aya did not have a chance to explore the world yet. When she was still a child, Israel imposed a total blockade on Gaza.

She grew up under siege.

Both Lubna and Aya were killed beside Ayed, their loving father. My uncle.

Lubna’s eldest daughter was 7 years old and named Sham.

Aya had a 2-year-old daughter named Nivin.

Both Sham and Nivin were killed, too.

My uncle’s other grandchildren included Zeina, 5, Ayed, 9 and Hala, 12.

They were killed. So were their dreams.

Some of my uncle’s grandnephews and grandnieces were killed, too: Amira, 4, Bahaa, 5, Malik, 7.

Let us not forget the adults who were killed either. They included Samira, 56. She was my uncle’s sister-in-law.

My uncle’s wife Jamila was also injured.

All of these people were civilians.

We must always remember that they were not just numbers.

They were human beings, who deserved life and happiness. The possibility of having their hopes realized.

Israel’s current assault on Gaza is its most lethal to date. The bombardment has affected my relatives in other ways.

Nabil, another uncle of mine, was injured when Israel attacked his home in northern Gaza. His sons, Ahmad and Bilal, and his grandchild Ibrahim were also wounded.

Ahmad lives in the French city of Toulouse with his wife and children.

He had planned to go to France on 10 October. Now, he has a damaged leg and cannot leave Gaza.

Like everyone else, the Palestinian people have a right to live in peace and security. When will the world insist that we are granted that right?

Tamer Ajrami is a student of political science living in Belgium.