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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Israel Kills Daughter, Infant Grandson of Slain Palestinian Poet Refaat Alareer

"I have beautiful news for you. I wish I could tell you in person. Do you know you have just become a grandfather?" Shaima Alareer wrote to her slain father before she, her baby, and her husband were killed.

Refaat Alareer

By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

The daughter, infant grandson, and son-in-law of Refaat Alareer—the renowned Palestinian poet assassinated last year in an Israeli airstrike—were killed Friday in another Israel Defense Forces bombing, this one reportedly targeting a building hosting an international relief charity in Gaza City.

Shaima Alareer, her husband Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Siyam, and their 3-month-old son Abd al-Rahman were killed in the strike on a home where they were sheltering in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City, Anadolu Agency reported.

Siyam was an engineer. Alareer was an accomplished illustrator and the eldest daughter of Refaat Alareer—one of Palestine's most famous poets and professors—who was slain in a December 6 Israeli strike on Shejaiya that also killed his brother, sister, and her four children.

A month before his killing, Alareer posted his now-famous poem, "If I Must Die," on social media. The poem was written for Shaima.

"I want my children to plan, rather than worry about, their future, and to draw beaches or fields or blue skies and a sun in the corner, not warships, pillars of smoke, warplanes, and guns," Refaat Alareer explained a decade ago.

After giving birth, Shaima Alareer wrote to her slain father: "I have beautiful news for you. I wish I could tell you in person. Do you know you have just become a grandfather? Yes, dad. This is your first grandchild. He's more than a month old now. This is your grandchild Abdul Rahman whom I always imagined you would carry. I never imagined I'd lose you so soon before you got to meet him."

The Geneva-based Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor found that the strike that killed Refaat Alareer and his relatives was "apparently deliberate" and followed "weeks of death threats" that came after Alareer—co-founder of the Palestinian writers' group We Are Not Numbers—called the Hamas-led October 7 attacks on Israel "legitimate" and mocked uncorroborated reports that Hamas militants baked an Israeli infant in an oven.

Friday's strike came amid relentless Israel attacks on Gaza by air, land, and sea, including a bombing of the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza that killed at least 15 people on Saturday. Monday airstrikes targeting three homes killed at least 20 people including numerous children in the southern city of Rafah—where around 1.5 million Palestinians, most of them refugees forced from other parts of Gaza, are bracing for an expected full-scale Israeli invasion.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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