A month of Israel's siege on Gaza: more than 10,000 dead and an unprecedented trail of destruction | International
“Every day is harder than the last. “Everything is a battle, even getting the most basic things,” Rania, a 51-year-old woman employed by a human rights organization, says from Gaza through voice messages. That is why she does not fully understand that, one month and more than 10,000 deaths later as a result of Israel's attacks, the international community is not capable of stopping the Israeli offensive. “I say before everyone, before the entire universe, that this is a shame. You have failed us! And you have failed yourselves if you consider yourselves human beings, because this should not happen, you should not allow it,” she says with a broken voice. The destruction caused in Gaza in a month of operations, particularly since the ground invasion of October 27, is unparalleled with previous offensives, both in fatalities and injuries and in destroyed buildings.
In 2014, during the 51 days of Operation Protective Edge – which until then had been the worst military offensive since Israel left Gaza in 2005 – left 2,205 Palestinians dead, of them 538 minors, according to United Nations data. The figures – a fifth of the deaths now registered in just one month – pale in comparison to the current balance. With that reality in mind, Rania assures that these weeks, despite having lived in Gaza for 22 years, have helped her to begin to lose hope in the international community and international justice: “I know that they can do something and they are not doing. This is, quite simply, a crime against humanity.” This indignation at feeling abandoned is shared with other testimonies collected by EL PAÍS.
Some, like Refaa Alareer, a 44-year-old professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, one of those that has been bombed, and father of four daughters and two sons, answers questions from Gaza City with thumps echoing over the phone. “A friend, desperate, gives her children energy drinks for lack of water; Many people are falling ill from consuming contaminated water.” Solar panels, he explains, are what keep them connected to the world. Computers, phones or the ability to publish on social networks depend on them. “They are sending Gaza back a hundred years,” he describes, pointing to the international community, left and right, as “complicit” in the “extermination” carried out by Israel, which claims to have already surrounded the city and the Strip divided into two parts. .
Calls to protect the civilian population of the Palestinian enclave remain unheeded by Israel after 31 days of military operation by land, sea and air in response to the Hamas attack that left more than 1,400 dead and more than 240 hostages in its hands. “This is like starring in a horror movie, which you would never have imagined, and being grateful as a gift that you are still alive every day,” Saeb Alzard, 27, a resident of Gaza City, describes in his messages. His father died after his house was bombed on Friday, October 13. He now resides with relatives.
Every morning, Alzard says, they have different “missions and challenges” ahead of them, such as obtaining water, food and electricity supply. Sometimes, they take it from neighbors who have wells, other times they go to look for it in warehouses and, although it is “rare”, there are times when the authorities distribute it. The basis of the diet is “bread with something else” and there are days when they cook with firewood or receive food from charitable organizations. “And we still have some money left if we find something to buy,” details Alzard, who already told EL PAÍS about the massacre at the Al Ahli hospital on October 17.
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“Starving people in the 21st century? Israel is killing us with the complicity of not only the West, but also the Arab countries. "They want us Palestinians to be silent, without demanding our freedom," Refaa Alareer is outraged, calling the humanitarian aid that enters from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing a "joke." The professor's family has about a week's worth of cans left, she estimates. “We are eating and drinking about a quarter of what usual. I haven't showered in ten days. As for food, you can still buy tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers and that's it on the street, but there are fewer and fewer vendors since the tanks arrived here,” she says, referring to the land invasion undertaken on October 27. Rania affirms that in Rafah, the southern town next to the border where she lives after leaving the capital, vegetables are what is still most accessible, but that there is no meat or chicken “in conditions” that can provide them with some protein.
Communicating with Gazans is not easy. Rania's messages, which she prefers for security reasons not to give her last name or the name of the NGO for which she works, appear on the screen 24 hours after the special envoy of EL PAÍS sent her the questions. In between, the night from Saturday to Sunday, described as one of the worst of the month by the professor at the Islamic University. “The worst are the nights, hell. We live in a nightmare, in an unprecedented horror. Last night, Israel cut communications and started bombing like never before,” he details. “Those who suffer the most are the children and, as a father, I am desperate because I cannot protect them. If I can't even protect myself…” he laments, comparing the destruction of Gaza to that of World War II.
Three weeks later, not only is there no sign that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to accept a ceasefire, even a temporary one, but the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen, according to the testimonies collected. “I have seen a lot, I have seen a lot before this, but this is not normal and it leads me to think that this does not happen to punish us, no. It is to drive us out of Gaza and turn Gaza into scorched earth. Nothing will be able to be the same again,” Rania emphasizes.
Added to this is the impact on mental health. “The worst goes through our minds permanently, especially when there is no connection. We have family everywhere. We are in a permanent state of concern for those who are in other parts of Gaza. The only satisfaction is that sometimes you can call them and see that they are still alive. And if we lose that, it will be very hard,” describes Rania, through tears, who lost her home in the Al Soudaniya district, northwest of Gaza City, before forcibly settling in Rafah. Even in that area, considered the safest, Rania describes how “traumatized” the children are. “We can't even move a chair on the floor, because panic breaks out in their eyes. Any noise, any sound…” she adds while some of those cries can be heard in the background.
The woman, according to her story, lives with 23 other relatives in an apartment of less than 100 square meters. “We have neither privacy nor dignity.” People of all ages “huddle” together. Also older. There are chronically ill patients without access to their treatments or medicines for their heart, diabetes or blood pressure. Rania also warns that temperatures are dropping and they are increasingly exposed to colds and infections and do not have cough syrup, antibiotics or antipyretics. Furthermore, some of the relatives, before being able to reach Rafah, experienced the bombing of the Al Nuseirat market, a refugee camp located in the middle of the Strip. “They witnessed indescribable scenes, parts of people… it cannot be described, it cannot be described,” she emphasizes.
“We are not at war with the people of Gaza,” the Israeli army repeated again this Monday through its social network account X (formerly Twitter) while showing a video recorded from the air of citizens walking through what they claim It is an evacuation route to a safe area. They are thus trying to shake off the accusations of doing nothing, despite the means at their disposal, so that the death toll has skyrocketed beyond 10,000, of which more than 4,000 are children, according to health sources in Gaza. where Hamas rules.
Israel is resorting to “psychological warfare” and “ethnic cleansing” so that the inhabitants of Gaza end up settled in the Egyptian desert of Sinai, says Haidar Eid, professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Al Aqsa University, through notes voice. “What we live today is the continuation of the Nakba, when the apartheid"Adds Eid, who has also made several trips through the Strip since leaving his home in the Rimal neighborhood of the capital, before ending up in Rafah. “Israel wants us to leave the north towards a safe area, south of the Gaza Valley, but they also continue the attacks here,” he laments.
Among the testimonies collected, several resort to comparing the current war with the Nakba, the forced displacement that Israel forced of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in order to found its State in 1948. “We are experiencing a second Nakba. They are making our lives impossible and Gaza an uninhabitable place. This is not a normal aggression or comparable to what happened in the last two decades,” says Rania, referring to previous peaks of violence in Gaza, such as in 2014 and 2009. Professor Alareer, a fan of the Barcelona Football Club, expresses himself in similar terms. who can barely follow the results and news of the League. “Look at Barça!” He says in the middle of a testimony full of horrors and lamentations.
“I feel fear of losing one of my loved ones, the fear of not knowing what the future will hold for us. Everyone is wondering what is going to happen. None of us know. How can we carry this on our consciences?” says Rania. “We are living with relatives. Our life is much easier and more comfortable than most,” she thanks. Further north, in the besieged city, everything is more complicated, as Saeb Alzard relates: “We often wake up during the night to the sound of bombs. Sometimes we all end up together in the middle of the playground trying to calm the children before going back to bed. But we ended up sleeping something. So, when we wake up and see the morning, we take a deep breath and thank God that we are still alive.”
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