Sleepless – MESSAGES FROM GAZA NOW – October 2023 – February 2024


20 February 2024

In every culture there are old phrases, sayings, tales, and stories. My grandfather used to tell us that there are 3 who cannot sleep: the one who is hungry, the one who feels cold and the one who is afraid.

I am sitting on my mattress unable to sleep, not hungry, not cold, but afraid, afraid of the war, afraid of what might come after the war and what life would be in Gaza after the complete destruction of civil institutions, schools, universities, associations, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure. Afraid of the anarchy which we start to witness nowadays in the absence of any kind of authority.

But also thinking of those hundreds of thousands of families, who have the same fear as mine, but also feel cold in the tents, cold without proper clothes, cold without blankets. Those who are trying to sleep while they have eaten nothing; real starvation is happening in Gaza City and the north. People have finished eating the animal food and now they literally eat the grass. How can they sleep? Are they really able to sleep? I believe the saying of my grandfather.

Like every day, I was walking in the street, I mean the market where you find thousands of street sellers, when a young girl of around 9 years old stopped me and asked me to buy a bracelet from her, a bracelet made of cheap beads, a small bracelet for a young girl. She said, “It is only 4 Shekels, but I will give it for only 3.” Another girl, younger than the first one, also tried to sell me a bracelet, saying, “It is worth 3 Shekels, but I will accept 2 instead” And from nowhere, a boy, even younger appeared with another bracelet asking for 3 Shekels.

I don’t have a young child; my only daughter is 22 and she is not even here in Gaza. But who can send away such angels, their begging eyes could move a stone. Normally I refuse to buy from children because I know that some fathers are using their children, or they are exploited by an older child. But nowadays, I know that everyone is needy. 

I smiled at them and asked if they were sisters and brother, or relatives. They said, no. I wanted to believe them. I took the bracelets and gave them the price they asked for. I am sure I will find three little girls who would be happy to receive these bracelets.

I will try to sleep.