Beyond Statistics: Gaza’s Human Stories

The horrors of violence reached my family this week, when my brother received a phone call to inform him that Israeli soldiers had killed his best friend. This murder is part of the aftershock throughout the West Bank as a result of Israel's war on Gaza.
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an image of a concrete barrier that stands alone at the told of a hill overlooking sandy hills and a gloomy sky. The text overlay reads "Beyond Statistics: Gaza's Human Stories"

On the evening of 8 October 2023, at 9:19 pm, my family and I gathered together in a state of profound distress, our eyes fixed on the heart-wrenching events unfolding across our sad homeland. In the midst of this really hard news, my 18-year-old brother, Ameer, received a phone call that would forever alter the course of his life.

Ameer’s phone rang, and on the other end was one of his friends bearing the unbearable news. Mohammed Zghier, one of Ameer’s dearest companions, had been shot in the chest by a soldier while walking to a shop near his home. When Ameer heard this shocking revelation, I witnessed the shock and despair in his eyes. It was a look that pierced my heart and left me with no doubt that, from that night onward, Ameer would never be the same.

In a frantic haste, he rushed to the hospital, fully aware that his best friend was lost to him forever. It was there, on that fateful day, that I watched Ameer crumble under the weight of grief and pain. All I could offer was a consoling embrace, for words were futile in the face of such profound loss.

Mohammed was one of many Palestinian martyrs who fell victim to the horrors of this ongoing occupation. The news and newspapers may readily display statistics, but I wish to emphasize that we are not merely numbers or casualties to be tallied. Each of these individuals had their own lives, stories, and dreams, all cruelly extinguished.

I aim to shed light on the stories, emotions, and scenarios that don’t fit within the confines of statistics. I’m sharing my personal stories and feelings and the stories shared by Gazan individuals on social media. It is a reality that is difficult to comprehend unless one has lived through it.

In the midst of this war, every household in Palestine bears the weight of deeply troubling experiences and untold stories that often escape the headlines. It’s unimaginable how, when I can peacefully retire to bed alone in a tranquil setting, my fellow Gazans are unable to rest, huddled together in a single room, so that if they are struck, they perish together. They leave their windows open, a precaution in case a nearby building comes under attack and the pressure waves wreak havoc in their homes.

I never anticipated that a simple Instagram reel would leave me feeling so disheartened about my own situation. How can I enjoy watching comedy reels when my compatriots are denied the opportunity to share their experiences with the world? All I can do, at the very least, is to stay informed by reading every post and update I come across about their plight and penning this article.

As I walked to work this morning, the sound of bulldozers near my home stirred memories of the machinery that would soon clear away the remnants of buildings, dreams, and the last vestiges of hope left behind by the war.

One of the narratives I encountered online depicted a young girl from Gaza recounting her morning, where she awoke with the residue of bombings coating her face and body. Her eyes stung, and her bed carried the scent of gunpowder and soil.

Can you imagine the disappointment of children eagerly preparing for a new school week, only to discover that their schools, along with their bags, have been taken from them?

We can never truly understand the terror they experience when witnessing bodies soar through the skies due to the force of bombings. They walk amidst the remains of children, unrecognizable and disintegrated. The stench of decay emanates from the bodies buried beneath the rubble, and dogs feed on the remains of their loved ones.

In Gaza, there’s the incessant sound of rockets, and sleep is a luxury rationed in mere hours. Even in slumber, nightmares haunt their dreams, filled with visions of bombs or harm befalling their family and friends.

No electricity, no water, no internet, and a dwindling food supply have reduced Gaza to a state of dire need. Hospitals are on the brink of darkness, and survival is threatened not only by rocket attacks but by the lack of electricity and sustenance.

As families share their meals together, they are unaware of the well-being of loved ones separated by siege, cut off from communication with the outside world.

It’s a tragedy beyond words when you can’t bid farewell to a cherished individual, their body fragmented into pieces. Israeli rockets often hinder the work of paramedics, with many losing their lives while trying to save others. Surviving the initial attack does not guarantee safety, as the next may lie just around the corner.

One family went from celebrating a wedding night, rejoicing and dancing together, to a dark, cramped room filled with tears as bombs rained down. They joined thousands of others huddled in UN schools, believing them to be a safer haven, yet even these sanctuaries were not spared from destruction.

This is but a brief glimpse into a single day in the lives of Gaza’s people. No amount of writing could fully encapsulate the extent of their suffering. My fervent hope is for the protection and well-being of all Palestinians, free from the shackles of violence, restrictions, humiliation, and insult.

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