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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

How Many More Massacres Must We Palestinians Endure Here in Gaza?

We want to live. As we mourn the lives lost, we think about how much worse it has to get before the world finally says enough is enough.

In the aftermath of the attack -- Image via X

By Haya Ismail in Gaza, Common Dreams

Al Nuseirat refugee camp is in the middle of the Gaza Strip, where Mediterranean waves brush up against one of our urban centers of life. Even before the Israeli invasion forced many to shelter there, causing Al Nuseirat to expand to a breaking point, the camp was already crowded with people just trying to survive. It is a camp full of children, who wander the open-air markets in the morning looking for food and trying to create a semblance of joy through play against the backdrop of rubble.

But in the blink of an eye, Israel turned Al Nuseirat refugee camp into another living hell for its young civilian population. The dreadful roaring sounds of raining missiles and bullets reached far outside of the camp, signaling yet another air raid. This one, we would soon learn, was targeting the perimeter of Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al Balah. Could the hospital withstand another influx of injured people fighting for their lives? Would the ambulances even be able to reach them?

The doctors working at Shuhada al-Aqsa—intimately aware of the Al Shifa hospital massacre—were terrified that history could repeat itself in one of the last functioning medical centers in the Gaza Strip. Just like at Al Shifa, Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital had become a refuge for not only patients, but also for the many who had found shelter there, tents pitched in the hospital yard. The hospital grounds were crowded with people, including journalists—they emptied out in seconds just as Israel was about to bomb one of the tents. It was one of the last "safe" places in Gaza.

We Palestinians don't stop asking ourselves where to go next, and we are running out of options.

Central Gaza has endured relentless airstrikes, ground bombardment, and naval assaults—countless civilians lost in the streets because they didn't know where to go in the so-called "safe zone." They had evacuated to camps like Al Nuseirat after Israel started targeting Rafah, the previous "safe zone." However tired, sick, and angry we are, we still go from one "safe zone" to the next and back again—because we want to be safe and we want our families to be safe.

We want to live.

Some Israeli forces entered Al Nuseirat camp under the disguise of a U.S. aid truck, after the U.S. built a humanitarian pier to provide basic aid to Gaza. It is hard enough to know that the U.S. is supporting Israel's military attacks against us by sending them funds and weapons. And it is harder still to see "humanitarian" infrastructure used to enact massacres in which the U.S. is complicit. In this way, even the international health sector is sustaining and profiting from the genocide in Gaza.

It adds insult to injury that influential governments are trying to frame this operation—this massacre against a refugee camp—as a "rescue mission." Murdering more than 270 displaced and innocent people living in unthinkable conditions can never justify a rescue mission. Such could have been achieved instead by accepting ceasefire resolutions linked to reasonable demands.

We often wonder: how many more people will be murdered before Israel feels it has defeated us enough to feel victorious? The Israeli attack on Al Nuseirat happened in an instant, killing some 270 people and injuring at least 700 more in about an hour. The local market was instantly turned into a graveyard with bodies and body parts strewn across the pavement. They were murdered in cold blood.

Mohammed Jehad, a civil engineer working for UNRWA, was servicing the displacement shelters when the attack occurred. "It suddenly got dark under the sun of broad daylight," he recalled. "I saw nothing but blood on the ground after tens of missiles were dropped over the space of a kilometer and buildings were smashed to the ground over the heads of the families living inside."

When the tanks started approaching, the people of Al Nuseirat ran in opposite directions, staying low to the ground in an attempt to escape the Apache and quadcopters that hovered overhead. But they soon realized that they were encircled by Israeli forces. Mohammed was among those trapped in the area. "I was moving away from the tanks, but then two missiles dropped in the middle of the street," he explained, adding, "people fell dead and injured all around me. It was the worst thing I have ever experienced and I still can't believe I am alive."

The forces finally retreated, leaving nothing but carnage in their wake. And the people of Al Nuseirat loaded their injured and dead loved ones onto donkey carts, bound for Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital. Here in Gaza, we are all broken and we are all martyrs to be. As we mourn the lives lost, we think about how much worse it has to get before the world finally says enough is enough. How many more people must die? How many more children have to lose their mothers, fathers, and body parts? How many more hospitals need to be turned into killing fields?

How many more massacres must we endure?

Haya Ismail is a young Palestinian writer and English literature student in Gaza. Throughout her lifetime she has been involved in many programs, clubs, courses, and initiatives. She is an Access program alumni who hopes to grow her writing skills into a career. Haya and her family have been displaced several times in Israel's current round of attacks on the Gaza Strip, which have also destroyed her university. She is determined to continue writing to add to the voice of her beloved Palestine and its people.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


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