Left Gaza but Gaza did not leave me – Messages from Gaza Now – October 2023 – April 2024

23 April 2024

Left Gaza but Gaza Did Not Leave Me 

Since the war against Gaza started, many WhatsApp groups have been created and I was added to several; the group of the 28 neighbours in our building, the neighbourhood  group with hundreds of members, the Rafah crossing group with thousands of members, the Gaza people in Egypt group with thousands of members, and the Egyptians for Gaza group with thousands of members.

These groups are good for communicating common information, but they are also channels for very bad, very stressful information, as well. 

In the building group there were neighbours who decided to stay in Gaza City and not leave on the 13th of October, staying until they were forced to leave in late March. The only good information was that they were still alive; the rest of the information was something like, “the nearby buildings have been destroyed,” “a flat on the sixth flour is on fire due to a shelling from the Israeli army,” “the Israeli army is shooting at the building from all sides, we are in the basement for safety, all windows of the building blasted due to the explosion of the nearby home,” “we can’t find any food anymore,” and, “the Israeli army forced men to go out naked and then forced all the neighbours to leave to go south via the sea road. Before they did that, they entered the building and blasted all the closed doors. The building with 28 flats is now open with no one to protect it from thieves and looters.” 

At the neighbourhood group, all the news is bad. It is a record of who was killed and which home, or building was destroyed. I could not stay in this group for long, and I left it. 

Several Rafah crossing groups have information about the lists of passengers leaving Gaza to Egypt, updated daily. There is the list of the Hala Company (300 – 500 people) each one of whom paid $5000 to leave Gaza, a list of people coordinated by the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry (100 – 150 persons) each of whom paid $8000, and a list of patients and injured (70 – 100 persons) who paid nothing.  

In addition, there is information or questions from the members of the groups like: 

  • My name and my children’s names are on the Hala list but not my husband’s, what can we do?
  • I entered the Egyptian border, but they sent me back with no reason, what shall I do?
  • Is there any way cheaper than Hala to cross to Egypt?
  • My father is very sick, his name is on the patients list, but they won’t allow me to accompany him, what shall I do? 
  • How do you register at Hala Company?
  • How much will they charge for my mother, father and 3 children under the age of 18?

Then the groups of Gaza people in Egypt and Egyptians welcoming Gaza people:

  • How do I register my children in schools?
  • We left Gaza but we have no income to live, help us please!
  • Can one get a visa from an embassy if one doesn’t have an Egyptian residency? 
  • I am a teacher of English and looking for a job.
  • Where do we get a stamp for our passports to make our stay in Egypt legal? 
  • List of Egyptian doctors providing free services to Gazans.
  • Why are you here in our country, you are a coward, go back to Gaza!
  • I am looking for a chef from Gaza to work at my new restaurant, it will be a restaurant with Palestinian recipes.
  • News from Gaza, bombing in Rafah, bombing in Nuseirat, bombing in Bureij camp…

Bombing in Bureij camp! Abeer received a message from her sister asking to call back urgently. Abeer called: 

“What’s up? How is mom, how is dad, how is everyone?”

“Rami was killed yesterday; we learned of it from his family today!”

Rami was the fiancé of Reham, the youngest sister of Abeer. In late September 2023, he and his family asked for him to be married with Reham. My parents-in-law asked them for some time to think. But before they could give a final answer, the war started. In January, Rami and his family asked again, saying that the war is not going to end soon unfortunately, and we really would like to have them married, what do you think?

My father-in-law said, “OK, we agree, Reham agrees to be engaged, and the marriage will be after the war.”

It was good enough for Rami, he is able at least to come and visit and sit with his fiancée. The boy is in love, he comes two or three times a week, and each time he brings with him a nice gift for Reham or the family. 

Rami was visiting his home in Bureij camp, it was partially destroyed during the Bureij invasion in late November ‘23. He was trying to fix things in order to prepare the home for his future wife, his future life. 

Death did not give him a chance to continue, in fact the Israeli army did not give him the chance to dream, he was bombed inside his house.