I am living these days inside a plastic tent in Rafah, beside the border of Egypt and the Sinai Desert. I am living a very strange life, as I sleep in the day, and stay awake all the night—to guard my wife, my son and my two small daughters from the attacks of wild dogs, to thwart raining leakage inside the tent, and to alert my family from any nearby shooting, shelling, or sudden advance of Israeli tanks.
Night in winter is a curse: winter night is too long, too cold, and too depressing. I have no light inside the tent to read a book, no electricity to listen to the radio, no internet to see news or social media. All I can do in the 13 hours of night is cry on the ruins of my memories and sink into nostalgia.
Weather these days is coldly cruel, it is raining heavily, and storms are hitting our tent with no mercy. The main pillar of the tent has broken many times, it’s a poor piece of a stick and cannot withstand wind pressure. After each break I repair the pillar, silently, without saying a word, and without any raging reaction.
I cannot blame the pillar, cannot get angry with it, because I am broken and collapsed the same way. I lost everything in the ongoing war. Life in my eyes became nonsense. I lost my only brother, my brother in law, my closest friend, my cousin, my neighbors, too many people whom I love, and the house of mine in Deir al Balah which has been bombarded.
I am no better than the pillar, we are equal and the same, both broken. I have decided to befriend him, and I whisper to him in my gloomy nights.
I whisper to him about the burial of my brothers. This war left not one single blank square meter in all of Gaza’s cemeteries, and so I wandered many hours with the dead bodies of my brothers searching for a grave, but alas I could not find any place for them. Finally I found a narrow second-hand grave: we buried the two dead bodies in it, and they were crammed in and pressed together like sardines in a can.
I whisper about the famine in northern Gaza strip, as Israeli tanks are blocking every road so that no food supplies can reach people of the north. They are really starving, eating the fodder of animals, grass of the orchards, and the flesh of cats.
On the way of my evacuation to Rafah I met a man who was carrying a little newborn infant weighing maybe 3 kilograms or 6 pounds. She was a girl four days old, looking like a rugby ball: both of her legs were taken off by shrapnel of an artillery shell. I asked the father about her, and he told me, “She is well, and she takes in a lot of milk!,,
We have a harsh water crisis. Drinkable water is so rare that people are collecting raining drops into their bottles and pots. Most of the water that reaches us is dirty and polluted, and it is causing epidemics of disease among thousands of children. The most recent estimates show that more than 8,000 children in Gaza are afflicted with hepatitis.
For more than three months, we eat only one meal per day, and most of it is junk food free from any nutritional value. Countries claiming to help us are in reality throwing us their garbage: we are obliged to consume their expired canned beans and beef because we have no other choices.
Almost all of Gaza’s children are suffering from anemia. Newborn babies cannot have their regular vaccines. Cancer patients are deprived of their chemical or radioactive treatment. Shelves of pharmacies are totally empty. Hospitals of Gaza are performing surgery without anesthetic, and patients are screaming from pain.
The smells of blood and death are diffused everywhere. Thousands of dead bodies are not yet retrieved: they are dissolving beneath mountains of blasted rubble. Other bodies lie abandoned in open wild areas. Israeli tanks are hindering their better treatment, and our dead people are becoming meals for crows and dogs.
The Israeli army has bombarded us with insane amount of explosives: the impact of this equals 4 times the Hiroshima bomb. This causes and will continue to cause us a real environmental disaster: Israeli missiles are injecting their poisons into our soil and underground water. Thousands of tons of fatal chemicals have been injected deeply under our feet. They will rise up again and invade our bodies through the vegetables we eat and the water we drink. No doubt, in the future this will lead to rates of cancer even higher than what we faced in the prison of Gaza before this war began last October.
On the way to Rafah, I volunteered to carry a 93-year-old woman on my shoulders. Her mouth was very close to my ear, and she whispered to me, “Son, I lived through the Nakba of 1948, and that was a small episode compared to what is happening now. This is the real Nakba, not the one I remember in 1948,,.
To the pillar of our pitiful tent, I am whispering the same fact. What is happening now has never happened in the history of the Palestinian people. This is more bitter than all our previous catastrophes of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1982, and more—for now we cannot imagine more than a single day at a time, let alone what people in normal life call the future. In addition to blaming Israel and its savage army over this genocide, I will blame our corrupted Palestinian leaders, and those militias who conducted proxy wars for the sake of others beyond our borders.
Muhammad is currently trying to raise funds to rebuild his home, for himself and his children. Please consider making a donation through the link below