Today, my prison is my cellphone

Children are being attacked with alarming regularity by Israeli forces in Gaza. 

Abed Rahim Khatib DPA via ZUMA Press

Today, my prison is my cellphone

Trapped under the rubble of photos and videos

Of Palestinian children trapped under the rubble.

Of teenage boys who look like my brother

Carrying dead teenage boys who look like my brother.

What you call defense

Is the destruction of generations

Of land older than time

Of fruit of zeitoun, of Arabic coffee

Land that births holy life

Even as the world tells them


I’m starving

Or rather, I’m not eating

Because no matter what or how much I eat

My body still feels empty.

“Look! Look what we can do to you,”

Shouts the state.

“Look! Look how we can reduce your life to nothing,”

Whisper the media.

They can’t obliterate me with bombs so they try

to obliterate me into silence.

Look at you, terrorist

Says the man on television.

I was 9 years old

And afraid

I turn off the TV

I begin typing into Google, “Are Palestinians terrorists?”

The phrase auto populates before I finish.


They say, in between dropping white phosphorous bombs

That light up the darkness of an unlit Gaza.

No electricity, no internet, no food, no water, no leaving,

no staying.

Who controls the Gaza Strip? Hamas?

I wonder what terrorism looks like to








Who do they see on TV?

Bombarding them with bombs and justifications

You tell us we are paying for our sins.

Did you intend to pay for yours?

I think about the first time I ever saw mass

desecration of human life on television.

It was a movie about the Holocaust.

I never forgot it. I vowed to myself that I

Would never



Be a person who said nothing.

Did nothing.

I could not believe the stories of those who

Kept Jewish children alive in cupboards

Preserving life alongside preserved jams

And teacups

That were allowed to rattle

More so than a child.

I think about African ancestors,

Who, after building an entire country

Built underground railroads to freedom

Since they could not walk it above.

I think about how indigenous peoples in America

Diluted to less than 1 percent

Through the wicked poison of colonialism

Continue to protect the land

Continue to teach life.

While I write this, I get a text from my dad:

“Israel is now using the most extensive bombing

they’ve ever used in/outside of Gaza City.

Continuous heavy bombing. There will be hundreds

and thousands of Palestinian deaths that come from this.”

“CNN is filming it live,” he adds.

There is no time to feel small

A small child in Gaza is killed at the equivalent

Of once every 10 minutes.

One for the time it takes to make my breakfast in the morning.

Two for my shower

Three for my run

Thousands in my sleep.

Leila M. Aruri is a student of midwifery and family nurse practice at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.