Back from Market – Messages from Gaza Now – December 2023

Back from market

My sister in Deir Al Balah called me last night begging for some blankets. She has only one for her and her mother-in-law. She sleeps in a classroom of one of the schools nearby the sea, her three sons sleeping in a plastic tent in the front yard of the school also have only one blanket between the three of them. I don’t have much either. Luckily I bought 2 good, heavy blankets two months ago in preparation for the cold days of winter. Abeer told me that there are 3 extra blankets her family do not use and can give out. Old, not heavy, but we can give them out.

In the morning we went out. Abeer to Al Awda Hospital and I to Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al Balah. I messaged my sister to meet me there so I can also see my brother and his family who took refuge in the empty hospital courtyard like thousands of other people.

I arrived there around 9.20, walking halfway, a ride on a donkey cart for 1km and finally a taxi for the rest of the distance.

The tent of my brother and his family is 2m square. No mattresses, some cheap blankets, some pieces or cardboard below the blankets. The 2m space includes all their belongings beside the 2 sleeping spaces. They are 5 people. The sleeping space is divided between them by time. 2 people sleep at a time and then they change over. No mattress, a blanket on the floor and a  blanket on their bodies. This is all that they have. Helplessness is a deathly feeling. My sister had not yet arrived. I could not stay. I told them to take one of the three blankets and to give two to my sister and left. Left fast, feeling ashamed that I do have a good blanket, that I have a roof over my head, I have a mattress below my body. No place for more people at my parents-in-law’s house, they host me, my mother, my wife, my wife’s sister and her husband and children, two of her female cousins and their children, and, of course, her family; her parents and her sisters.

No internet in Nuseriat for three days, difficult mobile communications, almost zero. There was not much to do at Al Awda Hospital, it was a short day of work.

We passed by the market, me and my wife, Abeer. We purchased some vegetables and some medicine for flu. It was a rainy day. It did not stop. Light rain and heavy rain. We could only find a ride with a donkey cart which has no roof, of course. The donkey’s speed is no faster than a man’s speed, pulling this heavy weight of passengers with their groceries, the distance of 2.5km from the market to home takes at least half an hour. After ten minutes of slow walking, it started raining, light at first, then heavy rain, very heavy, the raindrops hurt. Nothing we could do. We kept sitting on the cart, not talking, not a word, until we arrived, wet, completely wet to the bone. We went in, took off our clothes, dried our bodies and put on new, warm, clean clothes. We emptied our laptop bags. There was water in them. My laptop screen swallowed some water, I’m so worried that it will be corrupted. I hope not. 

I went to my mattress, pulled the heavy, soft blanket over my body and thought about my brother’s family, my sister’s family and the thousands of families who are there, outside, in plastic tents that don’t prevent water coming in, don’t prevent wind, don’t prevent cold. There are thousands of families who don’t even have such a tent in Deir Al Balah, in Khan Younis, in Rafah, in Gaza City, in Jabaliya, in Beit Lahia, in Zaytoun, in Shujaiya, in Mawasi. I don’t feel guilty but I feel very bad, very helpless, very weak. I feel I am nothing.