“My neighbours are dead, and we’re too afraid to cook – are families in Gaza being left to die?”
More than a week after relocating his family south, an Islamic Relief worker* in Gaza finds the search for water, food and electricity increasingly challenging, and their environment, increasingly dangerous.
It was after midnight when a huge blast shook the flat where we’ve been staying since we fled our home. Some picture frames fell off the wall and broke and the front door blew wide open. All the children in the house woke up, terrified. I thought something had fallen on the roof of our building. I could hear the neighbours screaming and calling each other’s names as a huge cloud of dust started filling the air.
I went outside to find that our neighbours’ house had been hit by an airstrike. There was a crater about 6 meters deep. Dozens of people had been in that house, including women and children. Ambulances and firefighters rushed to our street. The neighbours kept telling them that there were people under the rubble, but the firefighters struggled as the house is in a narrow alley that cars can’t fit through.
The medics managed to rescue some injured people. But in Gaza today, medics have to make agonising choices about who to treat – it is just not possible to help everyone who needs it. If your chances of survival are low, you are not treated. Allah will help.
I used to hear sounds of children playing at the neighbours’ house. There were lots of them there. Now, it will be silent.
All night long I kept hearing people trying to pull bodies from the rubble. Only this morning, a woman’s body was recovered. This family’s story was cut short last night. Its members were added to the rising death toll. More sorrow and more pain, more bloodshed. And this will not be the end of it.
1 hour of electricity, now gone
After the airstrike, everybody got back to focusing on meeting their daily needs – searching for water and electricity to charge phones. It felt to me like the dead had already been forgotten, but keeping ourselves alive is the top priority.
We’ve been depending on 1 hour’s electricity each day from a generator in the street, but its owner told us there won’t be any electricity today: “The airstrikes destroyed the cables,” he said. I asked if he could reconnect them, but he said the power company could not fix the line. “I am just a small vendor who can’t do anything,” he replied.
That was hard on us. Without our hour of electricity, we will not be able to pump water to the tanks on our roof to use for cleaning and washing. It means we will not be able to charge our phones. The charge we have left needs to last as long as possible. It will be hard on us because, having learned to live with 1 hour of electricity, we’ll now have to adapt to even less.
We’ve started feeling like we can’t survive this anymore. We are tired, we’ve already had enough. My mum tried calling the generator owner one more time, begging him to do anything he could to get it up and running again. He apologised, there was nothing he could do. We spent a tough night sleeping through despair.
Weighing our options
The next morning, I used what little petrol was in my car to drive to my sister’s house. She has solar panels, and I was able to charge our phones.
When I arrived back, I learned that most of the bakeries had stopped working now because they do not have fuel to run their ovens. Another blow that made us feel lost and hopeless. What are we going to do?
My mum suggested that we make a fire to bake some bread we call saj, which is similar to naan. But we are afraid that fire and smoke could be dangerous while drones and airplanes are flying overhead all the time, so we rejected the idea for now, but there might come a time when it’s worth the risk.
Today we made tea and baked biscuits to dip in it for breakfast. We do not know what will happen tomorrow. We hear news that fuel will be allowed into Gaza, but then we hear that was just a rumour.
The open passage for humanitarian supply is nowhere near enough, allowing only 15 to 20 trucks of supplies a day, while the needs in Gaza require more than 400 trucks per day.
I am feeling exhausted and am desperate to see the end of this. We are being left to die here in Gaza, it is a prison. People are being hit from the air, land and sea and left to starve while the world is just watching.
I see my friends from all over the world marching for the people of Gaza and I feel overwhelmed and happy. I feel like we have friends in the world who support us and advocate against the killing of civilians. I hope governments will hear their chants so that efforts towards establishing a ceasefire can be made.
Because in the meantime, my dear readers, please know that every breath is becoming more difficult for us here who cannot meet even our basic needs. I am able to write these words now, but I might not be able to in the future.
Please remember me and my story because it might be brought to an abrupt end, just like that of my neighbours.
Please help Islamic Relief to 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.
Editor’s note: This blog was submitted amid a fast-changing situation on the ground, which has since continued to deteriorate. This information was correct as of the afternoon of Monday 23 October.