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destruction of buildings in gaza

Struggling on as one of Gaza’s walking dead is destroying my soul

An Islamic Relief worker* in Gaza finds little cause for cheer as a new year begins with no end in sight to the violence.

This is the first blog I’m sharing with you, my readers, in 2024. No one ever imagined that we in Gaza would start the new year under bombardment and siege, amid displacement and destroyed infrastructure. Everyone around the world has hopes and New Year’s resolutions, but for every Palestinian there is only 1 simple wish: stopping this brutal war through an immediate ceasefire. We are thankful to Allah for all He is giving.

We will keep going, that is what we Palestinians are good at. We will keep going forever, despite the size of our losses.

I do not know what else I can say through this blog, after so many months. I have started feeling forgotten and abandoned by the whole world. The killing and suffering of the Palestinians will continue and no one will talk about it.

I remember when the war in Ukraine began, I used to see the Ukrainian flag flying during football matches in all the big leagues in the world. I remember global support campaigns for Ukrainians all around the world and countries even opening their borders to those seeking asylum and refuge. Why is this not happening for us? Maybe the world doesn’t think Palestinians are as important?M aybe the world does not care about our lives, our rights, our existence.

I am ashamed of this world, ashamed of the lack of adherence to international human rights laws. I have learned that all these cliches only apply to select people. But when a powerless group of people demand their right to life, the world turns a deaf ear to them. Where there is support, I see demonstrations being obstructed all over the world. Not only demonstrations, but sometimes even social media posts in support of Palestine. Shame on you, world leaders.

You may wonder why I do not leave…

As the world continues not to care about us, we keep suffering day and night. We keep living in danger as more evacuation orders are issued. Now, almost every part of the enclave is under fire. We have been living in the middle of a non-stop battle. I can hear all kinds of bombing, shelling, gunfire, airstrikes, drones and artillery all day long. In the room where I’m staying, the shockwaves of nearby bombs keep shaking the windows. My mum keeps saying, “They are coming closer to us.” And I can’t stop myself from telling her that death is better than this miserable life we’re living.

You may wonder why I do not leave. It’s simply because there is no place to go. In Rafah, the city furthest south in the Gaza Strip, there are more than 1 million people living in extremely overcrowded conditions. They are living in tents made of nylon and wood. A single tent is around 1.5 square meters and costs around $1,000 (approx. £790). There is no groundsheet, this is the price to sleep on soil with nothing underneath you.

In this area there are no hygiene, sewage or water facilities. More than 1,000 people share 1 toilet, which is not connected to any water network. You have to bring your own water with you to flush it. Health officials have reported an outbreak of respiratory diseases, which may worsen as the winter weather gets colder. There are no streets, no food, no clean drinking water, nothing at all. Why should I leave my place for this if I’m ordered to do so? Why does the world accept that Palestinians are shuffled around like pawns on a chess board? We are not cattle for the Israeli army to push from 1 place to another.

Thoughts and fears flood my mind

This situation is exhausting. It is beyond the limits of what humans can endure. It is inhumane. Every morning, I just do not want to wake up even though I’m unable to sleep at night. My wife asks if sleeping on a sofa is making me uncomfortable, but our life has turned me into an insomniac. Every time I put my head on the pillow, my thoughts start running away with me, and it takes hours to fall asleep.
I think of my house – how are we going to rebuild it and where will we live? If we return, will we have food, electricity and water? What’s left in our city? Will we be able to find our loved ones again? How many of them will we have to mourn?

I think about the Israeli army coming to our door, killing us or taking us prisoner. I think about my mum’s house being hit by a bomb. They have done such things at every place they’ve reached so far and no one in the world has stopped them — why should it be any different when they reach us? How am I to sleep with all these fears storming through my brain?

Every day, when I wake up, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Is it over?” and the answer is always, “No, it is not”. I try to force myself to sleep again, I don’t want to be awake to face this reality. It is killing me and destroying my soul. It is a lifeless life. We are like the walking dead. Already dead, but not yet at rest. We hear the sounds of bombs, we run after food and water and we keep on walking towards death.
I am sure, dear readers, that you haven’t forgotten our cause. But please forgive my despair. I feel so alone. All Palestinians feel left alone. We are trying to survive against everything and everyone. All the world is complicit. And we are just here, wishing for a ceasefire.

Please help Islamic Relief support people in desperate need in Gaza: Donate to our Palestine Emergency Appeal now.

*This blog is anonymised to protect the safety and security of our colleague and others mentioned. Read the other blogs in this series here.

Editor’s note: This blog was submitted amid a fast-changing and deepening crisis. The information was correct as of Wednesday 3rd January 2024.

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