Palestine will not die

Al-Rimal, a neighborhood in the heart of Gaza City, has been repeatedly targeted by Israel over recent days. 

Atia Darwish APA images

I have been forced to leave my home in al-Rimal, a neighborhood of Gaza City.

In recent days, I have been close enough to Israeli airstrikes and artillery bombardments to experience a profound sense of terror. This is followed by sorrow and grief for the lives lost.

To see Palestinians living in such dire conditions, and to see our homes reduced to rubble, has left a permanent mark on my soul.

What will never be erased from my memory is the feeling of insecurity and the helplessness of not being able to assist those who are suffering.

Yet, even at this bleak moment, as Israel amasses its apartheid forces against us with the help of the United States, we are still obliged to seek peace, justice and freedom.

For over 16 years, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to a suffocating blockade, resulting in severe shortages of food, medicine and clean water. Though this collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza has been ongoing, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, stated amid the latest Israeli attack that “we are imposing a complete siege on [Gaza]. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel – everything is closed.”

“We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly,” he said.

This language is distressing, abhorrent, and it embodies the racism of the Israeli occupation.

It also inflicts this harsh reality upon us: All families suffer, and will continue to suffer, under this siege.

We see it clearly in Israel’s assault on Gaza’s healthcare system. Israel has targeted ambulances and medical facilities, jeopardizing the treatment of the sick and injured.

The fundamental right to healthcare has been violated by Israel with impunity.

Lopsided coverage

Who will report on this?

Israel is not allowing foreign journalists into Gaza to cover the war, as it knows that it is committing horrors here.

All the media outlets that have been denied entry to Gaza should share this information with their audiences. They should spell out how they are not able to fully and properly report on the situation in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israel has squired journalists around southern Israel to encourage them to report on what it wants them to see.

Western media persist in their lopsided coverage in favor of Israel. And why?

Is it because we are not white? Are we a less important community?

Western media outlets portray Israel as the victim and Palestinians as terrorists.

The media have so obscured reality that they cannot even report accurately on why Palestinians are fighting Israel. They justify Israeli war crimes against Palestinians as self-defense, yet they ignore that the Israeli occupation has continued for 75 years.

The media inaccurately give the impression that we are fighting Israel because we have something against Jews. This is not true.

We would fight any colonial power subjugating us, just as Black South Africans did under apartheid.

These truths are repeatedly obscured, and as communication networks in Gaza shut down, Palestinian voices will only be further silenced.

How, then, will we share our stories?

“Will we die?”

Since Israel’s latest attack began, I have seen my 3-year-old cousin and his family forced to leave their home in Gaza due to the threat of Israeli forces demolishing it right over their heads.

This child covered his ears with his tiny hands, repeating these words in a hushed tone, “Missile. We will die. The sound is loud.”

I was reduced to tears. I embraced him and assured him that we would be okay.

Then, fearful, he asked me, “Will we die?”

This question struck me like a lightning bolt.

I responded with confidence and hope: “We, as Palestinians, will not die.”

In that moment I saw the strength and determination of children to confront adversity, even in the face of such hardship, even though they should not ever be asked to do so.

Gaza’s children have borne the brunt of this latest attack, and those who survive will have to live in its aftermath.

Schools and playgrounds are targets. Young minds will be scarred by the trauma of war.

We are battered year in and year out, yet we are told we are at fault.

I have seen a 5-year-old boy from our neighborhood collapse as he cried and screamed.

I approached the father, and he told me that his son Samir had seen the Israeli rockets dropping nearby.

Since then, Samir had been erupting into tears and repeating, “I don’t want to die.”

Call for justice

This is what the occupation, siege and Israeli violence have done to us and to our children. And so it goes from one generation to the next, because the United States favors Israeli apartheid and Palestinian dispossession over a just political solution.

And the current US president has shown his willingness to abet our dispossession, support Israeli aggression and Israel’s inherently racist state ideology Zionism.

In June 1986, Joe Biden, then a US senator for Delaware, stated, “It’s about time we stop … apologizing for our support for Israel. There’s no apology to be made. None. … Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.”

Additionally, in March 2016, Biden stated, “Were I a Jew, I would be a Zionist.” He then noted, with a smirk, that his father informed him he didn’t need to be Jewish to be a Zionist.

Yet, in the heart of this conflict, amid the dehumanizing language, the people of Gaza hold on to their resilience and hope.

Currently, we are suffering from a severe shortage of food, and drinking water is in short supply.

Our available food supplies, and even our reserves, are running low. As for the Israeli government’s attempt to expel Palestinians to Egypt, I believe it is Israel’s intention to empty the Palestinian homeland.

Our struggle for freedom persists.

Mohammed Abu Shamala grew up in Khan Younis refugee camp, Gaza. His family is from Beit Daras, where villagers were displaced by Zionist forces in 1948.