Fear, loneliness – Messages from Gaza Now – December 2023

Fear, loneliness

Since the start of this brutal massacre and killing of the Gazan people, I was always afraid. The kind of fear that you think you control by caring for your family, by keeping busy, securing their needs, by following up on the work of my colleagues, the counsellors and social workers at the shelters, by writing my diaries and sharing them with friends around the world. The kind of fear that you keep in and ignore, although all reasons for fear and panic are there – the random bombing, shelling, shooting, destruction, the number of people killed and injured reaching more than 27,000 killed and more than 54,000 injured. Yet I keep it deep inside.

Since yesterday my feelings are different. My fear is different. Since the Israeli army ordered people in Bureij Camp and part of Nuseirat Camp, where I am displaced, to leave, I don’t feel the same. I could have been killed before, at any minute, by any of these bombardments, yet now I feel it coming towards me and my family.

There are only three of my friends from Gaza City displaced to Bureij and Nuseirat. Th three of them are in the areas ordered to evacuate and leave. Yesterday I tried to reach them by mobile. Did not work. I walked to one of them. He was not there. It was too late to walk to the others – one in Bureij and the other in Nuseirat near Bureij, the Salahaldeen Road separating them. Bureij, east of Salahaldeen, borders Israel, and Nuseirat is west of it.

Today I went to Al Awda Hospital. The first message was from my friend and colleague, Mohammed:

Dear Hossam, 

I am preparing to leave with my family for Rafah. I am now busy searching for materials to build a tent there in Rafah. I don’t know when we will communicate or meet again. I hope soon.

Stay safe until then,


I don’t know why after reading this message, the feeling of fear came up to the surface and overrode my ability to tolerate it. 

I could not stay. I thought about going to Bureij to check on my friend Eyad. Bombing and heavy targeting started last night. I rejected the idea, I felt like a coward.

Then I thought about Maher. He is in Nuseirat. I will go. I walked 2km, arrived to find there are no cars in front of his home. It’s a building of 3 floors. Up to yesterday it was hosting more than 80 people. Maher’s brother, the home owner, was there, taking things from the house and loading them into a mini-bus. Mattresses, blankets, bead flour, suitcases, bags…

  • What’s up? I said
  • We’re leaving.
  • Where’s Maher?
  • He left yesterday with his family, they all left, myself and my wife are the last.
  • Where to?
  • Rafah. We’ve a brother living there, Maher and his family went there Myself and my wife will go to my daughter’s home in Zawayda.

There was nothing to be said. The man was busy and rushing to load his stuff.

I said: ‘Goodbye, be safe.’

Walking back to Al Awda Hospital, holding my mobile the whole way and trying to call Eyad. I tried more than 50 times and all the calls failed.

Suddenly I stopped. I feel something is wrong. I feel dizzy, unable to walk properly. The fear invades me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I don’t feel well. I continue walking. Arrived at the hospital, went to the office. I started to collect my stuff; the laptop, the mobile charger, the small battery that I use to light some led lights. I finished and got ready to leave. Then I sat down again. I don’t want to go home with these feelings, in this condition. I must control myself.

Arriving home, talking to Abeer about what we shall do.

She has a sister in Rafah, a widow with 5 girls living not far from Alnajjar Hospital, living in a very small house of two rooms with a small living room. Shall we go there? Shall we send some of us so if something happens here we can move more easily and lighter? We are around 22 people. Maybe her mother and sister and her sister’s family can go tomorrow and then we can figure out what to do next.

We do not decide yet. We are still discussing the options when her brother, his wife and 3 children arrive with their luggage. They were in Nuseirat, not far form the area ordered to evacuate. So he is seeking refuge at his father’s home. Fair enough.

What next? We finished our talk without deciding anything. No safe place in Gaza Strip. People moving from place to place seeking non-existent safety. I am one of them. There is a storm outside, the wind is screaming, heavy rain and the cold is reaching my bones while the bombing is continuing and this time not far at all.

I am afraid. I feel so lonely.