46 minutes – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – June 2024

9 June 2024

46 Minutes 

How to avoid watching the news? There is no way. It is Saturday, and we are at home, the TV is on Al Jazeera. They are showing a huge bombing, targeting Deir Al Balah, nearby the Al Aqsa hospital. The reporter is at the scene trying to explain what is happening, while around him people are running everywhere! Cars, ambulances, donkey carts arrive carrying dozens of dead and injured people, children, men, women, all ages! Blood fills the screen. Fear fills the screen, and the reporter doesn’t know what is happening. “Why are people suddenly running everywhere?” he asks. Someone approaches him, saying: “The Israeli army are calling to evacuate the hospital, they want to bomb a nearby tent!” The man said this and kept running. Messages come from Basel and other friends on WhatsApp. They are burning the middle area, the bombing is everywhere, Deir Al Balah, Maghazi, Bureij and Nuseirat!

The news becomes clearer; a huge military bombardment at Nuseirat, in the market, and the nearby Al Awda hospital, with dozens of dead. No one is able to reach them to evacuate them, no means of transportation to move them. Hell is in Nuseirat.

Abeer is watching the TV and also watching groups of activists on FB, who share videos and news. Suddenly she screams! “My brother! Oh God, my brother! This is him. I know my brother!” She showed me a fast video of some killed and injured people, among them the dead body of a young man with a beard. She kept screaming, “My brother! Why? Why? We have nothing to do with this dirty war. Why my brother?” The man on the ground really looked like her brother, but I said, “No, it is not him.” I kept arguing with Abeer that it was not him; “Everybody has a beard in Gaza, everyone in Gaza looks alike, they all have beards. They don’t have time to shave. They don’t have water to wash. They barely find water to drink. They all look alike!”

“No, I know my brother. I know his jeans!”

“For God’s sake, look at the people. They are all in miserable shape with beards and old jeans!”

I will call! I began calling Abeer’s brother, sisters, father, the wife of Abeer’s brother. 46 minutes trying to reach someone, without success! And meantime, the news continues. 40 killed in an operation in Nuseirat. I keep trying to call, and the number of dead is increasing, 82 killed. Salma was sitting there unable to move or to talk. She was crying with silent tears. Her body shakes, and a stream of tears rolls down her cheeks. Abeer keeps screaming and calling God, with all the names possible, to protect her family. 46 minutes and the number goes up: 130 killed, more than 150 injured, complete city blocks destroyed.

“My brother is in the market,” Abeer screamed, “They target the market, Oh God, why? Why?”

Whatever I say, whatever I do, cannot help Abeer to calm down.

46 minutes trying to call until finally, my brother-in-law answers! “Mohammed, how are you? How is the family, how is everybody?”

I bombarded him with questions, he was panting because he was running as we spoke. “We are ok, we are all alive. I brought my wife, and my daughters out, and moved them to a school!”

– “What about Abeer’s brother?”

– “He is ok.”

– “Are you sure!?”

– “Yes, I met him, he went home to check on his family.”

Abeer did not believe him. “Please don’t lie to me, please tell me what happened to my brother! Please!” Mohammed kept assuring her that he is ok

– “Can you reach him, please I need to hear his voice!”

– “I will do, give me some time.”

I said, Ok, I will call you in 30 minutes.

Abeer stopped screaming, but kept crying, crying from fear and anger, crying from panic and helplessness. 

Salma suddenly said, “I don’t feel my cheeks, I can’t feel my face!” I panicked. I did not know what to do! Salma was still crying silently, with tears. Abeer asked me to bring some ice and put it in a handkerchief for Salma to put on her face. I did that.

The toll increased to 210 dead and 400 injured. 

I called my brother-in-law. Finally, Abeer’s brother is there, she talked to him crying, thanking God and asking him to take care.

I could not stand what was happening anymore. I hugged my wife and hugged my daughter Salma and went to turn off the TV.

My brother and his family are also in Nuseirat, and I could not reach them, I don’t know if they are alive or….

I later learned that my brother and family are alive and uninjured.