Abu Hamza – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – January 2024

Abu Hamza

Like every evening, some people gather in the side yard of Abu Khaled’s home. The fire is lit, the tea pot on the fire, men come, men go until 8 or 9pm, until the last guest leaves.

Abu Hamza was one of the guests this evening. A 55 year old man, tall, big, with a beard. I entered while they were talking. Abu Hamza was telling them what happened to him last night in Khan Younis.

He has a 3 storey home near the Mawasi area in Khan Younis not far from the sea. The area that the Israeli army kept telling people to go to and considered a safe area. 

Abu Hamza speaking:

“It was a hell of a night. Bombing, shelling, striking, heavy shooting did not stop for a single minute, very near to our home.


We are about 70 people. Several families gathered together after many of us were displaced                                from Gaza and the middle area. The oldest of us is over 80 years old and the youngest is 3 months. Boys, girls, men, women, all ages. 

Out of fear, we gathered in two rooms on the second floor. Suddenly, around 2am, we heard a huge noise. Crash. A bulldozer broke through the wall of the house on the first floor. Heavy shooting inside our home from more than an hour. We don’t know how this hour passed.

After an hour, we heard movement inside the house. Many people are invading the house, climbing the stairs, the doors of the rooms where we hide are broken by a group of Israeli soldiers. Shouting in a strange language, the soldiers started to push us downstairs. Children scream, women cry, men pray and soldiers kept shouting and pushing us downstairs and out of the house. In the street there were several tanks and armoured vehicles. They separated us; the women and children on one side, the men on the other. A soldier speaking Arabic, addressed us shouting all the time:

  • Take off your clothes. All your clothes.

Another 2 soldiers beside him were shouting around us and in the air. We started taking our clothes off except for our underwear. He kept shouting:

  • Everything, take off everything.

Some soldiers started beating us randomly with their feet and guns. 

  • Lie down! Lie down!

He kept shouting,

  • Face down! Everyone lie face down! Hands behind your backs! Hands behind your backs!

Our faces to the ground and the screaming, the crying of our women and children, is passing through our ears like knives cutting our hearts.

They left us for around an hour in this position. Then they start to retreat. We could not see; it was one of the darkest nights, no moon, no stars and of course no light. As they left, the one who spoke Arabic kept shouting:

  • Go to Rafah! Don’t stay! You will die if you stay! Go to Rafah!

And this is what we did. We came to Rafah. 

It was 4am, the very slightest light of dawn when we entered our home. We entered through the front door, we ignored the big hole in the wall they had made, we considered there to still be a wall there. We gathered whatever we could; mattresses, blankets. personal things and we moved to Rafah.

We arrived at 6.30am. Now we are in several different houses, temporarily separated. Full houses that can only receive us for a few hours. We need to rent some flats. At least two.”

Abu Khaled was, as usual, doing what he knows best, trying to help, calling people he knew to see if they had empty flats for rent. It became late. They did not find a place today, maybe tomorrow.

Abu Khaled said:

  • Abu Hamza, please bring all the women and children here to my home for tonight. I think the men can manage. I wish I had enough place for all of you, but you know that the house is already full of displaced people. We can receive the women and children here until you can manage.

And this is what happened. All 30 women with their children came and spent the night at Abu Khaled’s home. Don’t ask how they managed without mattresses or blankets or even enough space to absorb them. They managed.