MESSAGES FROM GAZA NOW – December 2023/January 2024 – Agony


Today I went to Sawarha to see my wife Abeer and bring her some food and hygiene items which became very difficult to secure in Sawarha. I left home at 8.30 am.

In Rafah, the crowds are unbelievable. Moving, walking 100 metres takes at least 10 minutes. A city of 200,000 inhabitants with very weak infrastructure, received 1 million people. (I will late about Rafah at another time).

Looking for a taxi to Sawarha. The normal cost of one is $1.5. The first taxi asked for $150. I left him for another one, arguing the price, finally there was no-one cheaper than $65 with the condition that he would take other passengers on the way. I have no choice. We start moving. 30 minutes to get out of the city toward Khan Younis but not really reaching Khan Younis as there is the Israeli invasion there. Before reaching Khan Younis City, the driver rook roads that I never knew about, until we reached the coast road. 

Tents everywhere, people everywhere, street sellers of food items received from humanitarian aid are everywhere, making the road busy and crowded. The car on many occasions moved at the speed of a man walking.  We reached Deir Al Balah, then Zawaida, then Sawarha. A distance of less than 3km took more than 1hour and 20 minutes. A long line of cars, trucks, donkey carts, all types of vehicles are full of people, mattresses, stuff, cooking gas cylinders, jerrycans for water, bread flour, vehicles full to bursting, stuff tied with ropes, all are moving to the south, evacuated from Nuseirat. The image is like Judgement Day. People look very tired, very desperate, very unclean. Men are unshaven, young children crying everywhere, very afraid. You could feel the fear. You could touch the fear. They are going to Rafah, not knowing what they are going to do there. Everybody knows that Rafah is completely full; not only the houses, buildings or the public institutions but the streets, the parks, the side roads are completely full with tents and people. They are escaping from the bombing and the military invasion. They are running for their lives but have no idea where and what could happen to them. 

Some volunteers were trying to help facilitate the traffic but it was an almost impossible mission. Some cars stopped due to engine problems; no side roads to push them into out of the line of traffic. The road also passes by shelter-schools on the sea road which makes it more difficult; hundreds of street sellers in front of the schools, thousands of people move in and out, blocking the road. I am worried about being late. I must be back at 1pm otherwise my mother will worry.

From Rafah to Sawarha normally takes 20 minutes even with a normal traffic jam. Arrived at 11.30. Sawarha was quiet. It is 2.5km from the centre of Nuseirat, but the invasion continues. The Israeli army started the invasion in a small part of Nuseirat 2 weeks ago. Now they’ve almost invaded the whole camp, leaving behind them huge destruction and hundreds of people killed. Bombing, shelling, heavy shooting. 

I agreed with the taxi driver to take me to Sawarha and bring me back to Rafah, so I met Abeer for less than 10 minutes. Checked on her and the family, everyone is still alive but no-one is ok.

Buddy, my dog, was so happy to see me. I was so happy to see him too. He kept jumping on me and running around. I don’t want to leave. iIwant to stay with my wife and my dog. I want to go back home. I want to settle down, to lay down on my bed or sit on my balcony with my wife, my daughter and my dog as we used to to every evening, having some coffee. I need some rest and tranquility. Nothing more.

I discussed with Abeer the plan of their arrival to Rafah. Her parents completely refuse to leave until they see all the people in the area leaving. Abeer is unable to leave them alone, I don’t know what to do. What a complex situation. Trying to convince them is not helping. I understand that they are tired of moving and being displaced. They are too old for more agony. It is their only way to show that they are giving up. Time is running out. It will take me at least another 2 hours back to Rafah, to my mother. I left the stuff at the front door and left with the agreement of Abeer to communicate further on the mobile. 

The journey back to Rafah was the same, the same crowd, the same sad people, the same traffic of displaced people in cars and vehicles full of their basic needs, full of hundreds of street sellers of food aid items, full of agony.