Messages from Gaza Now October/November 2023 – Shouq’s message

Message from Shouq Alnajjar in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip

Note:  Shouq is working with Az Theatre and Theatre for Everybody on the next phase of our collaboration – AUGUST 9th PROJECT – engaging with young talent in Gaza to create a new production reflecting the concerns of young people and old! The title is the date the Al Mishal Cultural Centre was destroyed by aerial bombardment in 2018. Jonathan Chadwick is Director of Az Theatre in London.

Dear Jonathan, 

I apologize again for missing your calls. I wrote something, I will share it with you now. 

I don’t know where to start. We have been stuck in this nightmare for 26 days now.

Around three weeks ago, the airstrikes devastated our neighbourhood in Gaza city, and like many others, we had to flee, leaving our house. My husband and I started our married life a year ago in that house which now lies in ruins. We could only take essential documents, leaving behind the memories and meaningful gifts that made our house a home. It was heartbreaking to leave everything behind just like that. But shedding tears over this loss seems small compared to the lives that have been taken; families being wiped out; children losing their lives or becoming orphans.

We’re currently in Khan Younis, staying at my family’s place and sharing a space with over 150 relatives and friends, including at least 30 kids. 

Words fail to describe the situation. Daily life is a struggle for essentials, with no running water, electricity, or access to clean water. Local bakeries and stores are overwhelmed, struggling to keep up with the demand for bread and other food supplies.

We are witnessing the unimaginable. Our hearts are broken, souls hurting, and we’re drained, tired, stressed, and frustrated. We barely get any sleep. We’re living in constant fear, and survival feels uncertain. Drones in the air buzzing non-stop like a constant reminder of the danger.

Bombings and airstrikes happen from time to time everywhere. The nights are the scariest and longest as the bombs rain over Gaza continuously. We don’t know when our turn is but we expect to get bombed any minute.

Every bombing sends shivers down our spines, especially the kids who don’t understand why their world has turned into a nightmare. Mums feel helpless, powerless, trying to comfort their little ones. But kids can see the terror in their mothers’ eyes

Around 1.4 million people fled their homes; half of them staying at shelter spaces like UNRWA schools and hospitals, with no access to food, running water, drinking water, medicine, or warm clothes.

No-one and nowhere is safe.. 

Places that were once a safe haven and a sanctuary for those in need, as recognized by international laws, such as hospitals, schools, mosques and churches are constantly threatened and bombed by the Israeli occupation

How many lives need to be lost for the world to stop and hold Israel responsible for its crimes across decades?!

For those that say they can’t believe this is happening in 2023, I would like to say, do not be surprised because the Israeli occupation has been getting away with breaking endless international laws, committing crimes against humanity and countless massacres. 

The suffering of Palestinians extends far beyond the current crisis, reaching back over 75 years of occupation and apartheid. Gaza, in particular, is a stark reminder of this ongoing injustice. The world’s silence on the massacres and genocide happening in Gaza and Palestine is a heartbreaking reminder that, in the eyes of many, the lives lost in Palestine are somehow less significant.

This barbaric Israeli attack is tearing apart our lives, turning my beloved Gaza into ruins and leaving scars that will last a lifetime. Our beloved Gaza is bleeding, and we’re screaming for the world to hear our cries…