Messages from Gaza Now October 2023- Friends

Hossam Madhoun in Gaza


I called a friend today.  He moved from Gaza City to Rafah with his family.  Rafah is the last place in the Gaza Strip before you get to the border with Egypt.

‘How are you?’

‘I am ok’

‘The family?’

‘We are all ok’.

‘Where are you?’

‘At a school in Tel Elsultan in Rafah’.

‘Why in a school?  I can find you an apartment.  A friend of mine in Rafah offered to receive me and my family there.  He will gladly receive you.’

‘No. No thanks, I am good here.’

‘What are you talking about?  I know how people in the schools are.’

‘Don’t worry.  I’m fine here.  Many friends have offered me apartments but I’m staying here in the school.’

‘OK, my friend, as you wish. Be safe’.

End of call.

What a stubborn man!  He refuses help.  One day his pride will kill him!

Wait.  Why judge him?  Thousands of homes were bombed without warning.  Maybe he was afraid to go to a home that he doesn’t know.  Maybe he believed it’s more safe in the shelter-school.

These schools were designated as shelters in an emergency by UNRWA and the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs office in coordination with the Israelis years ago after the 2014 war.  They should be protected.

Yet, in Khan Younis, three days ago a bombing took place at the gate of one of these shelter-schools and five people were killed, twenty two people injured. Five days ago another shelters-school in Maghazi Camp was bombed and three were killed.

Anyway, each person is trying to survive in the way they think is best for them.

I called another friend, Majed, who has also moved from North Gaza to Khan Younis to another shelter-school.

‘How are you?’

‘I am good!’

‘How is the situation in the school?’

‘I am no longer there.  I came back to my home in Gaza.’

‘What?! But it’s very dangerous.’

‘Whatever.  It’s much better than staying in that school.  4000 people in a very limited space, women and children are squeezed inside 22 rooms.  Men are on the ground in the front yard of the school, queues waiting to use the very dirty bathroom, no water, no food, no electricity, no light at night, no privacy, lots of tension, people fight and argue over anything.  I can’t tolerate this life.  Here I am at my home and I’m not going anywhere. If I survive, I survive.  If I die let it be with some dignity.’

I could say nothing but: 

‘Be well, my friend, stay safe, hope to see you soon’.

He was outraged when he was speaking, I can understand.

Another friend, Jaber, he went to Egypt two days before the war.  He couldn’t come back as the border with Egypt is closed.

His extended family moved from east Khan Younis to take refuge at his home in Gaza on the second day of the war.  A small apartment with 32 people: old mothers, women, young people and little children.

The third day there was a bombing of a home, on the other side of the 20 meter wide street from his home, while his family were inside.  The whole front of the house was completely destroyed. Like a miracle, not one of his family was dead or injured.  I am unable to realise or imagine what he would feel or think.  Can any of you?