Will spring ease our pain?

Gaza’s wounded are now being treated in tents. 

Bashar Taleb APA images

Autumn began in October.

In Gaza, the season unfolded unlike anywhere else in the world.

Rather than the usual falling of leaves, people fell in vast numbers. Children, women, men.

Alongside them fell all sense of meaning.

Everything that Palestinians had held dear for more than 70 years collapsed under the weight of relentless violence and destruction.

We had experienced a catastrophe – the Nakba – with the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces between 1948 and 1949. Never did we anticipate witnessing a second Nakba that would be combined with acts of genocide.

Our autumn was a time when the values and laws meant to safeguard civilians during times of war crumbled.

It was a time when the “international community” faded, unable to provide even the most basic levels of protection or to intervene so that lives, homes and livelihoods could be preserved.

It was an autumn in which the very essence of humanity seemed to wither away, overshadowed by the occupying forces’ cruel desire for revenge against everything Palestinian.

Every beautiful site was targeted for destruction. Nothing was spared.

Landmarks that stood for centuries, along with modern structures, were reduced to rubble. Trees were uprooted, stripping away the greenery that once decorated the landscape.

People were deprived of receiving medical care. Hospitals, meant to be places of healing, were besieged and targeted with missiles, robbing patients of vital treatment and exacerbating an already dire situation.

Poverty’s dark shadow

Approximately 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza were rendered homeless.

The displaced have been forced to seek shelter in cramped spaces and in makeshift tents. For many families, meeting even the most basic needs of their children became an impossible challenge amid the misery and destruction.

Parents find themselves unable to afford milk powder or formula for their infants, let alone basic food supplies for their children.

Poverty is rampant, casting a dark shadow over every aspect of life in Gaza.

The entire population has been affected by the ruthless onslaught, forced to rely on food aid from the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) and other humanitarian organizations just to survive.

Gaza was once vibrant. Now the specter of hunger looms large over every household.

Think for a moment about the patients in Gaza who require daily medical treatment. There are few places left for them to receive such treatment.

Hospitals have been left dysfunctional and inaccessible.

The blockade prevents the entry of essential medical supplies and fuel needed for hospitals to operate.

Many hospitals have been emptied of medical staff, forced to evacuate on the orders of Israel’s army.

Many medical workers have been killed or wounded. Others have been arrested and jailed.

My wife’s uncle died just a few days ago. He had a kidney complaint and required dialysis three times a week.

Under severe pressure, Gaza’s health ministry had been forced to reduce dialysis to twice a week. The consequences of the reduction have been devastating.

Countless numbers of people with conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure have also suffered gravely. Many have died.

The severe shortage in medical supplies has meant that amputations have been carried out without anesthesia.


Autumn marked a profound shift in how Gaza’s people saw the outside world. They became convinced that the world treated them differently to other human beings.

They felt abandoned by the “international community.” It failed to take the necessary steps to end the massacres.

Autumn brought the collapse of our homes.

My home in Gaza City was destroyed. So was my family’s home in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza.

So, too, were the homes of my brother, and many friends and neighbors.

It was an autumn when friends were murdered in their homes, buried beneath the rubble without the chance to say goodbye.

This autumn created vast distances between loved ones.

Families and friends were separated. Everyone was displaced to different areas.

Communication networks faltered, and the internet was cut off on several occasions, magnifying the sense of isolation and despair.

Throughout Gaza, humanitarian principles have been eroded. These principles emphasize the value of human life and the need for protection.

Palestinians now ask the question: If our homes are gone, who will restore our sense of life?

It was a harrowing autumn. Winter was even worse.

Spring is on its way now.

Will it renew our hope?

Will it ease our pain?

Khalil Abu Shammala is a human rights activist in Gaza.