Here and there – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – June 2024

5 June 2024

Here and There, Between Cairo and Gaza

And here I am, sitting in a fancy cafeteria, in a fancy mall in Cairo, with a big delicious molten cake, a very good cup of coffee, and a full pack of cigarettes. Teasing my friend, Basel who is still in Gaza, with his last post on his FB page, which says: “I don’t remember when I smoked my last cigarette, I don’t know when I will smoke my next cigarette, but for sure I will not buy a one cigarette for 35 $US, simply because I can’t afford it!” 

“Here I am smoking cigarette after cigarette, one for me and one for you my friend. I can’t stop smoking. I consider one for you and one for me!” I said this to Basel, and he replied, “Death is around us at all times, yet I feel it is not my turn yet. I feel there is a long line before me. So, hopefully we will meet before it is my turn to die.”

My brother Sofian, who is still in Gaza City with his family, refused to leave. He is in real starvation with his wife and 5 children. Finally, I had indirect contact with him; a colleague of mine who is still in Gaza succeeded in reaching him. I asked my colleague to give him some money. My brother recorded a voice massage for me, which I received via my colleague’s WhatsApp. He said, “My beloved brother, we are still alive. My children and my wife send you their greetings and love, me too. I hope you are doing well with Abeer and Salma. Take care of yourself and your wife and daughter. Don’t worry for us. We love you. We are ok. Thank you for the money.”

My God, my brother, who is starving with his children, and who is under bombardment is ok!! And he is worried for me and wants me to take care of myself and my family!! 

Another friend sent me a photo of the road his tent is on. On one side there is a row of tents and on the other side a row of palm trees in a remote area in Deir Al Balah, in middle Gaza. He said, “This is the road to my tent. It is beautiful. There are no destroyed homes as there are in all other areas of the Gaza Strip.”

A journalist wrote on his FB page, “For whomever has lost a child: there is a dead body of a 6-year-old child at Al Aqsa hospital. He is wearing blue pajamas. Paramedics brought him to the hospital along with 60 other dead people.”   

Another friend said, “One of the most beautiful images is when you look out of your window in the early morning and see children with school uniforms and their school bags on their backs walking toward their schools. The girls with their hair braids and the boys racing to see who is faster. An image that gives you hope. Today, there is no window to look out from. You look out from the cave that is your cold tent, and what do you see? Boys and girls, not well-dressed, carrying jerry cans full of water or empty going to search for some water. Boys and girls of all ages, standing in a row at the last bakery operating in the town, hoping to get some bread after 2, 3 or even 5 hours of waiting. Or a line of people of all ages at the only toilet serving 5000 people, to take a leak or to do what nature asks them to do.” 

I am writing while it is very hot here in Cairo. Although there is an air conditioner, I don’t know why I don’t put it on! I am absolutely masochistic.

I am away from war. I am in Cairo, not in Gaza. I will keep writing.