Slaughter on our street

The horrific scene one day after Israel’s 24 December massacre in Maghazi refugee camp. 

Omar Ashtawy APA images

Our world has been transformed into a nightmare.

On 24 December, Israel carried out a massacre on our street in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza.

The tension was palpable on 24 December.

Israel’s bombardment was continuous. The mundane act of preparing a modest dinner – a little bread, cheese and tomatoes – was an ordeal.

Our street soon became a theater of brutality.

The heavy kitchen door fell on my arm.

Plates smashed in our home.

Tears flowed. There was a desperate cry – echoing around the house – for people to seek shelter downstairs.

The night unfolded as a symphony of anguish. Ambulances wailed in the distance and neighbors pleaded for salvation.

We could not sleep as random bombardments continued. Each explosion was a reminder of life’s fragility.

We huddled together, seeking safety in the fact we had gone into a different room. But the ominous glow of missiles painted our windows with crimson hues.

As dawn broke, the grim reality of our surroundings was revealed.

We could see not only shattered buildings but a number of dead bodies. There was a sense of helplessness about the terrible scene.

Bitter reality

Once familiar places were unrecognizable.

Our family had to confront the bitter reality. If we didn’t move out, the risk we would become casualties in this horrific war would increase.

“Don’t cry, sweetie,” my dad whispered as we packed up some essentials.

We went to our aunt’s overcrowded home, which is also in Maghazi.

There, we spoke about what to do.

One of my uncles noted that heading toward Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, would be dangerous. Living in a tent would be tough.

“Leaving home doesn’t seem smart,” he said.

We had hoped that our aunt’s home would be safer. Yet the shelling intensified in that area.

My extended family are now scattered in different places.

Keeping in touch with them is extremely different.

It is distressing when we don’t have news about relatives. Our hearts are aching more and more.

Eman Alhaj Ali is a journalist, translator and writer based in Gaza.