The repeating Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza are beyond my own comprehension. For at least 10 of the last 40 days, missiles have rained down on the most densely populated refugee camp in all of Gaza.
And it is not just the days; it is also the nights. The bombing is done in the dark, when the power is off and the only light is from the fires that burn. It is done when the internet is cut, when the journalists are shot dead, to hide their crimes, the burning of children.
I have a long history and strong connection to the people in this camp. My friends, former coworkers, patients, and people I have known for decades through my work as a doctor at Gaza’s Al-Awda hospital are living in this camp. There are the children who grew up coming to the library I founded in Jabalia, who are now young men and women, who have their own children, their own families. There are my beautiful neighbors and friends and patients, who are not my relatives but are my family. They are generation after generation of refugee families living in one of the most crowded places on earth.
After the latest massacre, I cannot reach any of them.
I see these same families in the video sent to me of my neighbors pulling children from the rubble. I see them in my memories as we lived and struggled under dual occupations, and Israeli bombings and apartheid. I hear what it sounds like in the aftermath when women and children, the overwhelming majority of those living in, injured, and killed in Jabalia, scream and mourn in anguish and wake up to do it again. I can taste the chemicals, the poisons that linger in the air for hours and days after these indiscriminate explosions. I can smell the acrid odor of white phosphorus, used by Israel in Gaza and caked on the walls of burning buildings and bodies. I can feel the collective hunger: for food and for justice and for all of it to stop.
But now I am in Cairo and it is so difficult and distressing to hear more terrible news each day, news of my loved ones killed by this criminal occupation, by these crimes of war bragged about by Israeli officials who say that there will be no buildings left in Gaza, that we will be a “city of tents.”
I had always been home in Gaza during previous Israeli bombings that so often use U.S. planes and U.S. missiles, gifted and given as “aid.” Such “help” is the opposite of the aid I am buying now. The food, medicine, and more, even toys for children who have lost so, so much. The Middle East Children’s Alliance is raising money so we can buy these supplies to deliver to children and families in Gaza as soon as we can.
I am so very sad. But it is not only sadness that I feel. It is also rage.
How do I feed a child that will not eat because of fear? How do you give a toy to a child who will not play, who searches the skies for what they know will come?
I am enraged at Israel’s constant, ruthless bombardment, killing thousands of people from newborn babies to grandfathers. What is happening now in Gaza is genocide.Those who are not killed by Israeli bombs are dying slowly from the lack of medicine, food, and water.
I mourn more of my beloveds, both family and friends, every day and I ask myself who is next. Last week it was one of my dear friends killed in Jabalia. We were friends for over 35 years, since we worked together during the first intifada in 1987.
Before that, it was my own family. My own brother speaks in the video about our own family members that were killed a few weeks ago.
This is our story and it is the tragedy of every family in Gaza. More than one out of every two hundred Palestinians in Gaza has been killed in the last 40 days.
I have always signed my letters to supporters and friends from around the world with these words, “From Gaza with Love.” But today I’m writing with a rage that no mother should know, a rage of desperation and disbelief about what is being allowed to happen. I still feel love for everyone in Palestine, and people who have stood in support and solidarity of our shared struggle. But please, take action. And then do more.
We must stop this genocide.