‘There is no place in Gaza that has not been bombed and where people have not been killed.’
The impending ground invasion by Israeli forces into northern Gaza and its warning to residents to leave for southern Gaza has seen an exodus of Palestinians as they flee for their lives with their babies in their arms. One of them is Noor Harazeen, a 33-year-old journalist.
Even as her life hangs by a thread, she bravely and calmly recounts her harrowing journey through a voice recording on WhatsApp to Shobha John.
One can hear people talking agitatedly in the background and mobiles ringing.
“I lived in central Gaza City with my husband, two children and parents. Now I have evacuated to southern Gaza with my family, but my parents have refused to leave the home and are still in northern Gaza. We are apart now.
“The last 11 days were really horrible, horrific, catastrophic, not only because we are in Gaza, but because it is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in its history. I have never witnessed this.
“There is no water here. The last I had water was yesterday and since then, nothing. We are trying our best to find water, but no markets have water. Also, in hospitals, schools and mosques, which have water tanks and are shelters, there is no water. So to get water, we have to search in different cities.
“Markets are running with basic food like rice, macaroni, tomatoes, sugar, salt, flour… I sometimes eat sandwiches with cheese, canned meat, in fact, whatever I can find in the shops.”
“I am moving constantly — from northern Gaza, to central Gaza to southern Gaza…different places in southern Gaza. I am not staying in one place. We are taking shelter, but there is no place safe in Gaza, be it hospitals, schools, mosques, residential buildings, streets.
“My five-year-old twins, Sarah and Bassam, don’t fully understand what is going on. They understand there is a war going on, but don’t understand the details. They are scared all the time and don’t go to any room or the bathroom without me. But they are coping.
“My neighbourhood and every neighbourhood I stayed in has been bombed. There is no place in Gaza that has not been bombed and where people have not been killed. Some areas in Gaza have been totally erased.
“Palestinians are helping each other in whatever way they can. They help carry things, put bandages on the wounded. But the situation is very hard for everyone.
“My state of mind? I am shocked. I am living one of the worst psychological shocks of my life. I have seen a lot… I have seen a war, I have seen escalations, I have seen people killed, I have seen destruction. But I have never witnessed anything like this before.”
“The world did not help the people of Gaza. Both the borders are closed. There is no humanitarian aid that has entered Gaza Strip. Even the media, and foreign countries especially, have been covering only the Israeli side of the story. This has hurt us. This makes us feel sad. We feel like we are left alone. But we feel good when we see people on social media standing by the Palestinians.
“As to whether Hamas’ action in Israel is right or not, I am not in a position to say. The reason is that the Palestinians see Hamas as their military. Why is it ok for other militaries in the world to defend themselves, but not Hamas? There are so many questions. It is complicated.”
“The fact is that you are talking about years and years of Israeli attacks on Gaza. This time, even we, the Palestinians, were shocked by the Hamas attacks. We never ever expected this because we mostly woke up to surprise attacks by Israel, not by Hamas. So this time is different.
“I don’t have any future plans. I am in a State where I will be killed any time soon. My only prayer is to get out of this alive and then think about what I will do in future.”
- Israel-Gaza: Battles For The Promised Land
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com
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