Messages from Gaza Now October 2023 – Think of a Title if You Can

Hossam Madhoun in Gaza

Think of a title if you can

Hossam in Gaza

October 28th 2023  8:30 am, 

We woke up realising that the cellular mobiles are without signal. We usually call Salma in Lebanon first thing in the morning. She will get very worried if we don’t call her. I decided to go to the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency aka UNWRA Primary Health Care Unit in the middle of Nuseirat Camp market. There I can find internet to contact her via WhatsApp.

Walking with my laptop bag on my back, 2:25 km from home to the clinic. 

Destruction on both sides of the street. Every day I go to the market using this road and every day new homes are destroyed or damaged; many of these homes were bombed over the residents, many bodies brought out, many corpses still under the rubble. More than 2000 people are missing including 830 children; they are all under rubble, there’s no machinery to remove the rubble.  After 15 minutes walking, there was a donkey pulling a wooden cart and a man sitting riding, I asked if I could join him, he welcomed me. I thought to myself I will take a photo riding the donkey. I did. I thought maybe I should take some photos of the street. I did.  Then I took a selfie. I looked at my photo. I look good. Maybe I need a haircut, but I look good. Despite everything and anything, I look good. I felt good. I thought to myself, hey, I am still alive, my family as well. I will not give up. The market as usual full of people, but obviously not full of life, I ignored this idea, I am alive. 

Arriving at the clinic, no internet, no phones, no mobiles, the Israelis cut them all. My God, my daughter?!!! She will know from the news that we can’t, she can’t reach us. ’My heart is with you my baby, I think of you, I wish my thoughts of you will reach you, and assure you that we love you and we are still alive.’ A sole daughter overseas has no one in the world but her parents. Salma. 

I left my laptop at the clinic to be charged and went back to the market; goods are getting less in the market, what you can find today you may not find tomorrow, prices are getting higher and higher. I have with me a list of purchases I should make, some items I could not find any more: candles, lentils, and bread flower. Each store I ask they say don’t bother searching, there aren’t any, no goods of any kind entering Gaza for 21 days. I bought more quantities of rice and cooking oil, cans of beans and cans of meat for my dog, Buddy.

Went to the bank, I mean the cash machine, banks are not operating since October 7th. The machine is closed. Still have some cash at home, it will cover our needs for a few days more, I will try the cash machine another day. 

I wasn’t far from my colleague’s home where I’d left the bread flour a few days ago. I continued walking, arrived and his uncle, who is an old friend, was there, sitting outside; he’d taken refuge at his brother’s home after his apartment was destroyed, when they bombed the building where he lives in Gaza.

It was a pleasant surprise to see him safe and sound with all of his family. They left one day before the bombing of the building, he said

‘Do you know what happened to Nael?’ He asked

‘No, what?’ 

‘On the 18th, he was still at home, when very heavy bombing took place in his neighbourhood. They decided to leave although it was dark. They jumped into the car with nothing, drove until Al Shifa Hospital to take temporary shelter till daylight.  As they arrived, they realized that his older son was not there. His 23 year old son wasn’t in the car, he was left behind. They got hysterical; no way to go back, an absolute suicide. They start calling the son, the mobile was ringing, but no answer. Dark and bad thoughts filled their heads, the mother fainted, the father started to call everyone to say ‘I lost my son, I forgot my son at home’. Several friends, including me, kept calling. The mobile was ringing but no answer.  This is a very bad sign. It means something happened to him. Hours seemed like an age until daylight. The father drove back home, the home was still standing, he entered the home calling loudly the name of his son. Finally he heard his son answering with a very weak voice: ‘I am here’. He moved toward the voice. His son was rounding his body, making himself as small as possible, under the stairs leading to the second floor. His mobile was 2 meters away from him. He was in shock, such complete fear that he could not crawl to get the mobile and answer. With no words, he took his son, left and drove to Al Shifa hospital, got the rest of the family and drove to Rafah’.

I had my hair cut in the evening.