My Colleague – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – April 2024

9 April 2024

My Colleague

There are very few vehicles working in Gaza as taxis. To get around there are some buses, a few cars, and many trucks carrying people from place to place.

I had to go to West Rafah to conduct some interviews with new candidates for the counselling work at the projects that I manage at the MAAN Development Center. There are two other colleagues who must be with me as the recruitment committee. They should be arriving from West Khan Younis, only 10km from Rafah.

From Rafah town to West Rafah (7 km) it took me an hour and a half to arrive, half of the way walking, as there was almost no transportation. The candidates, who are mostly displaced in Rafah, had arrived. We were supposed to start at 9:30, but none of my colleagues had arrived, and it is now 10:30 and still no one has arrived, and I couldn’t reach any of them over the mobile. I called the executive manager of MAAN to consult him on the situation, and he said we can’t run the interviews without a committee of 3 people. He is right. I am a manager, but there is also a technical person (a counsellor supervisor) and an HR representative. So, we had to postpone the interviews for another day. I apologised to the candidates. It was not easy, they had made great efforts to arrive. I spent some time with them assuring them that they did not lose their chance to be recruited.

At 10:50, one of my colleagues arrived. She is a program manager, responsible for several projects and with many staff under her supervision. She looks very tired. She started to apologise, explaining how it was almost impossible to find a taxi and how she had to walk for an hour and a half until arriving here. Suddenly, while talking, she started crying, she cried hard. I held her hand, trying to calm her down. She continued crying and talking:

“It is too much! I can’t handle it anymore! I leave my little children crying every day, it is too much! Look at my hands!” 

Her hands had burns all over them. 

“I had to prepare the bread and the food on a fire, which I am not used to doing. I don’t know how to do it properly! My husband is helping. It is enough, we are not used to it! He carries water from 1 km distance, we had to leave our children with my mother-in-law. But she is sick, she can’t take care of them. l am tired, I need a break!

There is no internet at our place. I come here 3 days a week and each time I find hundreds of emails that I must answer! My staff are complaining, they don’t find time to rest, they told me that they reach home and sleep like donkeys! It is too much!”

She kept talking and crying, and I started to have tears in my eyes holding her hand.

She sat on the chair, took few minutes to control herself. I gave her some tissues.

She looked at me and said, “Thanks.”

I tried to hide my tears and left.

What remains for us? What remains of us? – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – March 2024

What Remains for Us? What Remains of Us?

29 March 2024


Bones covered with skin and some cheap, dirty clothes, faces unshaved for weeks, involuntary slow-motion walking, heads down, dirty hands and faces, childrens’ shoeless feet. Despair is obvious, it is so clear and thick, it fills the air, anyone can feel it, smell it, touch it. Despair moving around, controlling the atmosphere. As if I become a living creature by shouting aloud, I prevail. No place for anything but me, despair.


What remains for us? A brutal, savage, murderous occupation army over a doomed land.


Broken men, defeated women, destroyed children. No past, no future, but the present, the current moment, survival, if possible, but for sure not life.


Are these the people of Gaza? Am I the man I used to be? Did I live? For 55 years? Did I spend good and bad times like any human being? Did I fall in love? Did I go to the beach and spend leisure time there? Did I have a glass of good wine with some beloved friends? Did I become a father and feel all those waves of emotion? Did I feel the tranquility of having my own home after 30 years of hard work? Did I travel and meet new people and enjoy new places?


I know I did. I was in Belgium last May, and in Sweden and Jordan. I know that I had a great time with new and old friends. I know that I was so happy to meet with my friend Jonathan after 11 years without meeting each other. I know that I had great fun climbing a mountain.


But why don’t I feel anything? Why does the memory come flatly, without feelings? Even the sad memories recalled without feelings? What happened to me? Which part of me was stolen? I feel heavy, very heavy, moving heavy, breathing heavy. Carrying a very heavy heart. It hurts inside my chest.


What remains of me? The leftover of a human being. What remains of us? Some bones covered by skin and maybe some blood in the veins. No soul. No life. Just alive until further notice.

In Rafah – MESSAGES FROM GAZA NOW – October 2023 – February 2024

In Rafah

2am, sitting on my mattress unable to sleep, thinking of what is coming and all the threats to invade Rafah. The last few days, the bombing and the shelling on Rafah by the Israeli army increased.

It was silent and quiet since early evening when the silence was broken by air strikes, intensified air strikes on Rafah City, heavy shooting and shelling. How many people died and injured? How many houses destroyed by these strikes? I don’t know. I will know tomorrow from the news, if I’m not one of the dead.

I don’t know what is happening. Did they start the invasion of Rafah? Despite all the warnings of all the world, despite the possibility of committing new, grave massacres? I don’t know. All that I know is that I am terrified, disabled, and have no choice.

The bombing, the shooting and the air strikes continue while I am writing these words.

When I opened the laptop half and hour ago I was planning to write something else. I wanted to tell you about something I heard a child ask his father.

The child said:

  • Dad, what if we stop eating so we get smaller and smaller until we become small enough to get into my mother’s belly and then you take her out of Gaza and she gives birth to us in a safe place where there is no bombing? Is this possible? 

We were 5 men there. We heard the child, we were astonished. Not one of us said anything.

The bombing, the air strikes and the heavy shooting continue and I will stop now so I can send you this episode, just in case…

Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – Butterfly Effect

Butterfly effect

I was lucky yesterday; I secured a sack of 25kg of bread flour (5 times the original price). It is enough for 2 weeks for the 18 people at home. I even expect to have, hopefully, half a cylinder of cooking gas, 6kg, also could be good for 10 days (also triple the original price).

Wood for fire is rare. Gaza Strip is so small and the agricultural area very limited; no woods or jungles. People have started to cut living trees to get wood for fire although fresh trees are wet and do not burn and do not make fire. Yet, people are desperate so they do whatever they can to survive. Poor Gaza. No trees will remain. Olive trees are slaughtered, trees in the streets are all shaved. Who can blame people who have no alternatives?  Desperate situations are always driving people to desperate measures.

Going back home from the market on a wooden cart pulled by a poor, weak donkey, I saw a small, white butterfly flying side by side with the donkey for more than 5 minutes. It was so lovely to see something of beauty in the middle of this darkness. It made me smile until I remembered reading that in some cultures, the white butterfly is a sign of death coming. Personally I do not believe in such superstitions, but to be honest, the idea did not leave my head.

At night more than 500 human beings killed in Gaza, from north to south. The majority were children and women.

Writing this piece, around me intense bombing and shelling did not stop at all. Hundreds of people are being killed at this time. Maybe me and my family will be among them, who knows? All those who were killed, more than 22,000 human beings who have been killed during the last 55 days, did not know that they were going to be killed in this brutal way.

Poor butterfly, I don’t blame you at all. You are beautiful. I know it is not you or your effect. I know that it is the Israeli Occupation Army who killed, mercilessly, all these people.

P.S. I like butterflies.

Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – Untold story from Olympus

Untold story from Olympus

While sitting bored on his throne at the top of Olympus, Zeus ran his fingers through his long beard, looking down at Earth. There were lights in many places on Earth, there was darkness in many places as well. But he noticed a spot of light shining more than any other place. It was not artificial light, it was not sunlight, nor moon or starlight. He looked closer. It is coming from there, from a tiny place on the Mediterranean, a place called Gaza.

He wonders, what is shining there? There should be darkness in that place so what is shining?

Lucifer was not far and he heard the wonderings of Zeus. He said in his deep, low voice – these are the children and women of Gaza. They always shine. How does the God of Gods not know that?!

Zeus, frustrated that he did not know, said: ‘I want some of them here. Whoever can bring some of them now will be rewarded’.

Lucifer said: ‘Only the Army of the Dead can bring you these children and women’.

Zeus was shaken, ‘ No! Not this army! They are brutal. They are gruesome, fierce, horrifying, inexorable, merciless, hideous.’

Lucifer: ‘This is the only army that can make your wish come true’.

Other Gods: ‘Please, no, not this army. Not the Army of the Dead. Take any other army. Send the Amazons, they are good and strong. Send the Trojan army or send any one of us and we will bring you them. Send Mars, Neptune or Hera. Send Hercules or Ajax but not this army.’

Zeus, as usual, acts as he always acts. He acts selfishly. His will is an order, his dreams must come true, his wish must be met.

Zeus with his loud voice, holding high his lightning rod to spread fear among the other Gods, said:

‘Silence. No comment. No-one speak. Let it be. Send the Army of the Dead. Get me some children and some women from that Gaza. My desire is a demand and my demands are orders. Send the Army of the Dead now.’

All the Gods looked angrily at Lucifer. They wanted to kill him. But he is protected by the God of Gods.

Lucifer said: ‘Lord, you know that the Army of the Dead has demands too’.

Zeus: ‘What demands?’

Lucifer: ‘No-one should ask or question the means they will use to get you the children and women and no-one can ask them to stop until they stop. Do you swear to do this’

Zeus: ‘This is an Oath of Zeus, the God of all Gods.’

The Army of Dead was waiting with anxiety and joy, waiting for Lucifer to give them the good news. He was not late, he arrived with the happy news.

Lucifer said in his deep voice: ‘Go, my friends, put the Palestinian to the sword. You are free, with no questioning, don’t stop until you quench your thirst with their blood.

The Army of the Dead did not wait until he finished his speech. They launched their heavy hammers, their swords and spheres, their daggers and knives into the bodies of the Palestinian children and women.

Palestinian men were there, helpless, unable to do anything but to weep in pain and sorrow. Just like Prometheus in his chains.

Hundreds and hundreds of children and women ascended to the Throne Hall of Zeus. Group after group.

Zeus looks at them. They are not shining anymore, they have lost their beauty, they are not as he saw them from the top of Olympus. They are arriving in pieces, some are beheaded, some are without arms or legs, some are cut in half. Zeus starts to get frustrated, this is not what he wanted.

The Gods said with one voice: ‘Yes, this is what you wanted’.

Zeus: I asked for some, for a few children and women. Some means three to four, ten but not tens, not hundreds, not thousands.

All the Gods: ‘You get what you ask for.’

Zeus: Why do they slaughter their men? Why do they destroy their homes? Why do they cut their trees down? Why do they burn their fields? Why do they kill their cattle? Why do they deprive them of food and water? Why?

All the Gods: ‘You get what you ask for.’

He called for Lucifer but Lucifer had disappeared. Lucifer hid among the Army of the Dead. Zeus became angry. He shouted ‘Enough.’ But his loud voice was covered by the screams of the Palestinians and the roars of the Army of the Dead. Children and women continued ascending with no light, with no shine, ascending dead. The Throne Hall started to be filled with their bodies. The huge hall which could contain all the Gods, half-Gods, their wives and children and even their servants became full. Completely full up to the ceiling with piles of bodies. Thousands of Palestinian children, thousands of Palestinian women and thousands of Palestinian men.

Zeus on his throne astonished, speechless, unable to break his oath. And while all the Gods were watching him sadly, helplessly, they saw something they had never seen before, they saw Zeus with tears in his eyes. Tears of regret. Tears of sorrow, tears of weakness. The God of all Gods is crying for this blood shed and yet the Army of the Dead continue putting the sword into the soft flesh of Palestinian children and women.

Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – Survival Recipe

Survival Recipe

How can one survive war in a very small place, where bombing, shelling, bombardment, striking, shooting is everywhere? Where there is no way to predict the next strike, especially when civilians are the main target?

How to find a safe place?

How to secure food and water when there is no food or water allowed in?

How to get health treatment when you get sick while hospitals are targeted and no medical supplies are allowed in?

How to provide safety and comfort for your children when you can’t even have it for yourself?

How to find shelter when homes, houses, buildings are deliberately hit?

How to keep warm when there is no electricity to put on a heater, or no winter clothes available in the market, or when you have no money to buy them even if some are available?

How to cook your food when cooking gas is not allowed in?

How to escape? To leave the city which becomes a battlefield and is locked and closed and there is no way out but to your grave, if you can find a grave and find someone to put you in it?

The answer is: I DON’T KNOW.

Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – Annoying words

Annoying words

The most annoying words I hear are coming from journalists and politicians and official representatives of UN Agencies and political analysts when they describe things in Gaza.

Words such as ‘difficult’.

For example:

When the Shifa Hospital was surrounded by the Israeli army and bombed after depriving it from water, electricity, oxygen, food,

when injured people in the ICU are dying one after another,

when new born babies in the incubators are dying one after another,

when sick people suffocated because there is no oxygen,

when corpses are rotting in the sun and no-one can bury them or move them, 

a clever representative of the WHO, or a smart journalist broadcasting the situation say: ‘It is a difficult situation at Shifa Hospital’.

What????? Difficult!!!

Sir, when you have an argument with your wife you come and say it was difficult. When you don’t find milk for your morning coffee you say it is a difficult situation. When you look for a taxi to get to work on time and don’t find one, then it is difficult. When you try to convince your son to stay with the baby-sitter and he is stubborn and does not listen you can say it is difficult.

What is happening at Shifa Hospital is not difficult. It is a massacre. It is a crime against humanity. It is terror in its worst form.

Screw difficult.

Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – Fire Belt

Fire belt

When the Israeli Occupation Army hit, strike and destroy a row of 20-30 buildings, which would include hundreds of apartments, homes and houses, stores and markets, a journalist appearing with his bullet proof vest and helmet or a political analyst with a tie round his neck, describe the action by saying that the Israeli army created a fire belt in Yarmouk Street.

What? ‘fire belt’???!!!

It is homes, it is belongings, it is shelters, it is the warm places, it is the comfort after a long day’s work, it is memories, it is all that people have, it is their beds and sofas, it is their TVs and kitchens, it is their favourite cups and plates. In every corner of these hundreds of houses they have memories, everything they have they chose themselves, over years and years of working hard to save money and buy it, in order to use it, and enjoy it. It is the beds of their children, it is the blanket they chose because they liked its colour, it is their photos on the walls and where they plan their children’s futures. It is their past and their planned future.

Screw ‘fire belt’.


Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – Queuing for Cooking Gaza

Queuing for Cooking Gas

I left the market and headed toward Salahaddin Street. There was no transport in the market between the thousands of people and the crowds. I walked in the direction of Khan Younis to meet my colleagues to prepare a report on their work providing psychological support to children in the schools where they had sought refuge.  There were a few old, battered cars working on cooking gas or cooking oil mixed with petrol. A choking smell came out of them.  No alternative.  The prices were a joke. No stable prices but no price was less than three times normal.  And if you complain, there is a ready answer.  The gas has been cut. Cooking oil costs three times its normal price, like everything else.  Everything sold in the market costs at least three or four times the normal price. In a cart in which four people fit, the driver will stuff 5 or 6 passengers.  You have no right to complain. That’s what’s available. Shall I take it, or shall I leave it? You arrive with your muscles aching with the pressure on them from the journey.

The road from Nuseirat to Khan Younis, Salahaddin Street, remains in tact.  It hasn’t yet been destroyed. On both sides of the street, from time to time, you see demolished buildings, houses, factories, bakeries or a bank, all bombed and destroyed. Some of the rubble from the destroyed buildings is scattered on the road.  Cars avoid it easily because the road is wide.  

On the horizon you see a long line.  As the car gets closer you can make out that they are cooking gas cylinders weighing 12 kilograms and next to each cylinder stands its owner.  The queue stretches for more than a kilometre till it reaches the filling station on Salahaddin Road. Hundreds of those queuing will not get their turn for days.

Messages from Gaza Now – November/December 2023 – There are hundreds of beggars

There are hundreds of beggars

There are hundreds of beggars, of all ages, boys and girls, women and men. They cling to those they think may be able to spare a bit of money. They ask for money insistently. Hunger drives them. Hunger is humiliating. People are hungry. Before the war 48% of the population was unemployed. Now life has stopped completely, and no-one is working. The businesses, factories, shops, cafés, restaurants are all closed. Even the 40,000 employees who receive their wages from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah have not been paid.  Israel cut the budget of the Palestinian Authority by the amount used to pay civilian employees in Gaza.

Israel is strangling us by any means.  They turned off our water, electricity, communications, stopped the cash and the money from the Palestinian Authority which is meant to be sent by Israel through their crossings and not kept by them.

Survival is what drives the people of Gaza – like animals in the jungle, and as in the jungle, there are the weak and there are the strong, the one who lives with the tribe and the one who lives alone.

With hunger and pride and need, terrifying things start to appear: robberies, shops robbed night and day. A gang appears in a shop shouting and screaming in a savage way and start taking whatever comes into their hands, ransacking as they flee. 

When a house comes under bombardment, people are terrified, hoping they don’t die under the rubble. Someone will sneak in between and steal whatever he can.