Snapshots of calamity

A man pushes a woman in a wheelchair with a group of people on foot behind them

Palestinians in northern Gaza have been forced to flee south on foot.

STR APA images

Earlier this year, Jameela lost her grandson in a tragic accident. Then, on 9 October, her oldest son was killed by the Israeli military. On 25 October, her daughter was injured, and her house became uninhabitable.

On 7 November, Jameela lost her home along with her second son. Jameela’s husband has been arrested by the Israeli authorities while attending to his sick third son in Al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem.

In a matter of weeks, in other words, Jameela lost two of her sons, her house, her daughter’s house, and her husband got arrested for God knows how long. And this is just one story of many Jameelas. Every Palestinian woman is destined to live the suffering of Jameela because of international silence about Israeli war crimes.

Jameela’s house is next door to mine. My brother was an eyewitness, almost a martyr, to the bombing of her house. Dismembered body parts were flying around, unrecognizable. People lying in the streets were killed by missile fragments.


Waleed lives in the Beach Camp in Gaza, which has become a battlefield. White phosphorus bombs have fallen like rain, accompanied by the nonstop sound of bombs exploding and the smell of gunpowder.

The four-story building next to them was leveled to the ground. They lost their livelihood and the family business they had worked so hard for. They lost access to electricity, water, bread, and any means of survival.

For all these reasons, Waleed and his family was forced to leave their home and head south on foot on 6 November. They reached Wadi Gaza, where tanks had closed the streets, and soldiers were checking IDs. Those who had lost their IDs were sent back to die.

As Waleed crossed the checkpoint, tanks and machine guns were pointed at the people. He saw a woman have a stroke and fall in the road. She had been holding a baby. Her husband checked her pulse only to find that she had died. He proceeded to take the baby and continued to walk, leaving her lifeless body on the ground among a dozen more bodies.

The family kept walking. Thousands were walking the same route. They carried a white cloth. Waleed said he had never felt so humiliated and ashamed. They walked 10 kilometers, their feet covered in bruises.

Waleed’s grandmother went missing along the way. They went back to look for her and found her resting in a chicken coop, tired and exhausted from walking. There were corpses strewn on the road, their flesh being eaten by birds. No one could honor the dead by burying them.

It is a memory that Waleed cannot erase from his mind.

Waleed’s uncle stayed in Gaza to guard the house, and he is not the only one to do so. Many men in Gaza decided to stay and guard their properties while sending women and children to the south. They do not want a repeat of the Nakba, to spend the rest of their lives with keys to their homes around their necks, unable to return.


My mother’s colleague, Osama, came from the north to Rafah to live in the destroyed house of his in-laws. The in-laws had all been killed in the house when it was bombed. He has tried to replace the destroyed walls with curtains. He lives there now.

Sahar Qeshta is a writer in Gaza.