We feel abandoned

The author’s home in Deir al-Balah, destroyed by an Israeli airstrike

Ghada Abed

An American friend asked me recently, “How do you feel, Ghada?”

I paused for a second and then told her I felt afraid, tired and sad.

I could write volumes about the fear that grips us every night, the constant dread that engulfs our hearts.

In the middle of the night, I hear the sounds of children wailing from every direction. They are likely very aware of the imminent danger we face.

My niece Jinan, or Jojo, who is two and a half years old, started speaking some words recently. In addition to “mama” and “papa,” she has newly learned the word “qasef,” Arabic for shelling.

I could write volumes about the haunting sounds of an airstrike descending upon you. Then, the feeling of relief and gratitude to God that it struck somewhere else instead.

I think I’ve figured out how to tell if an airstrike will hit you or not. Everyone in Gaza says that if the plane hovers above you, and you can hear it descending, then it will not fire a missile at you.

The airstrike that is aiming for you has no sound.

I could write volumes about the weight of grief, about the struggle to remember to whom I should offer condolences.

A classmate of mine in graduate school lost 15 members of her family in a single Israeli attack. Another friend is mourning the loss of her sister, a talented poet.

One recent afternoon, I received the devastating news that yet another Palestinian journalist had lost his life: Muntasir Sawwaf. He is the brother of my friend, filmmaker Mohammed Sawwaf.

We extend our condolences to our friends whose loved ones have been killed by Israel, but we also find ourselves waiting and wondering when and if the Western media and leaders will acknowledge our right to live another day.

Sometimes, I can scarcely feel my own heart beating.

Indiscriminate destruction

I could write volumes about the moments when a family member gets injured. There is so much chaos, especially since the hospitals are too overwhelmed to treat injuries.

But I feel such gratitude that the injuries are not critical.

I could write volumes about the tanks and their relentless shelling. It’s a sheer miracle to survive such indiscriminate destruction.

My house has been attacked three times with artillery shelling. When we left home, we were prioritizing our safety.

I could write volumes about the shrapnel that broke through our doors and that didn’t hit me or tear me apart. It was when an airstrike hit a nearby police station.

The earth shook under me.

Shrapnel sliced through my neighbor, and he had to have his leg amputated.

What kinds of weapons does Israel use? Following an airstrike, one should anticipate the flying shrapnel.

When the escalation began, I was frustrated that I couldn’t take direct action beyond sharing news updates on Instagram and Facebook. Meanwhile, I receive messages from concerned friends, checking in on my wellbeing and offering assistance.

I appreciate their support, but what I truly long for is an end to this madness.

Everyone who has lost their homes, their loved ones asks: “Where is the world? Where are the world leaders? Where are the Arab leaders?”

We feel abandoned, with no one standing by our side. The world has failed us in our darkest hour.

For more than 60 excruciating days, we have been forced to bear witness to the tragic loss of life, counting each precious soul that has been taken away. And yet, despite the mounting tragedy, nothing seems to have changed.

Entire families are being annihilated, leaving us questioning whether we are to have any hope for the future.

This predictable pattern of Arab leaders and UN envoys issuing condemnatory statements without taking decisive action is what allows the Israeli occupation to persist in its crimes and to expand those crimes’ scope with impunity.

It is evident that there is no effective deterrence, even though Arab nations could tap into their strengths and shift the power dynamics in the region.

Ghada Abed is a journalist based in Gaza.