Even in death, Gazans speak out

Gaza 10

Despite the atrocities carried out by the Israeli occupation in Gaza and the mayhem that has been created, Palestinians even in death, swore to resist and relent against an ungodly power spurned by revenge and blind hate.

Israeli warplanes have turned the lives of Palestinians upside down, internal refugees in their homeland despite the fact they are already under siege and occupation.

Some of these people sought refuge in Al Aqsa University in Khan Younis but with black markings on the walls.

Center for displaced persons

Al Aqsa University has been turned into a center for the displaced.

Thousands of people from all over the strip came here in search of a safe place because of nowhere to go, chased by guns from the air.

The Israelis, and their warplanes got to hear of the congregation and started to bomb the place and thus it became a haven no more. The displaced are supposed to keep moving according to the Israeli wrapped mentality.

The bombs became so deep, the University’s sewers were destroyed and the filthy water surfaced on the ground, as if telling the people “you have to live our way or else”.

People have spoken of the terrible stench, not to mention of the incredible health risks such heinous bombings cause. People say they have already come here with family members who are in a bad state of heath.

Talk of the situation of Al Aqsa University has been going viral on the social media but it is only one example of the sufferings of civilians who in this Israeli war, have had to move in search of safe places. They are ordered to by leaflets dropped from the air followed by big guns and hefty bombs.

Thousands initially came to the university because it was seen as relatively safe. Indeed, initially they came here because they were told the university had large spaces with water and electricity but no more.

Israel’s war has so far displaced 1.9 million Palestinians out of a total Gaza population of 2.2 million with at least 60 percent of housing units destroyed. The population is now being concentrated in the south of the strip. But even here, there is no respite with cities like Rafah and camps like Nuseirat being bombed all the time.

‘I am not a number’

Al Aqsa University was a major part of Khan Younis and society graduating 1000s of people in different areas such as the natural sciences, marketing, media studies and IT who have been killed by Israel bombings.

And then there are the names. This war is ending the lives of many of the professional cadres in Gazan society, and incidentally, many of them graduated from Al Aqsa University which was fully established as a higher institution in 2000 and before that was a college and a teachers’ training college in 1955.

The names include Ayoub Abu Lebda, a marketing professional from the Al Aqsa University. He was killed together with his family – wife and children – brothers and sisters and parents in an Israeli strike on the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

And then there is Nesma Abu Shaira, a visual artist and a lecturer at the Al Aqsa University, killed by an Israeli strike on Gaza city. She loved her work at the Department of Fine Art and Graphic Design and was very proud of her students.

And then there is Saleem Al-Naffar, a well-known Palestinian poet, who was killed by an Israeli strike on Gaza. The list of deaths of professionals is endless. Pen America states this poet advocated peaceful resistance and the Palestinian struggle for survival. There were no guns in the words, nor tanks!

Very eerie is the story of Yafa Haider Abu Baraka, a 24-year-old journalism and communications graduate also from the Al Aqsa University. Her story is so poignant because she wrote about the inevitability of her death whilst alive in the city of Khan Younis that started to experience daily Israeli bombardments, come December, 2023.

She wrote on the X platform: “My name is Yaffa…and what I am afraid of most is noting my name among the dead targeted by the occupation as a number that increases each day and is difficult to count and they will say ‘a youth was martyred among others in a Zionist targeting of a residential area’ but “I am not a number, I am 24 years old and have friends and experience much pain….Yafa is a martyr killed by the occupation…”

The aim of the Israeli bombing on Gaza has been to kill the national identity of Palestinian in their workplaces and at their homes but they may not succeed because of the existential nature of the fight against occupation and colonialism.

Palestinians are alive, breathing people who long experienced Israeli onslaughts, admittedly not as vehement as this time round. But in all honesty, Gaza has always been a shooting practice range for the Israeli military. 

Halima Abdul Karim Al-Kahlout was a well-known Palestinian artist on the Gazan cultural scene. She was 28 when she was targeted with her family in Gaza city and over the years have held many art exhibitions having also graduated from Al Aqsa University. 

As a full-time employee of the Ministry of Culture in Gaza, she sought to direct and inspire young artists who had a tendency to paint and become part of the cultural scene in the enclave.

Those killed are just a few of the professional men and women who have been murdered over the past three months of the war on Gaza. The aim has been to decimate Palestinian society with their bombardment from the air. But they are not succeeding despite the murder of 100 journalists deliberately made to muzzle the word.

Marwan Asmar is a writer based in Amman, Jordan

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