Searching for a penny’s worth of hope amidst genocide in Gaza | The Israeli war on Gaza

In October 1973 – 40 years before the events of October 7, 2023 – war broke out in the Middle East. The Egyptian army launched Operation Badr, crossing the Suez Canal and seizing the Bar Lev Line, a fortified berm on the eastern bank of the canal.

Palestinian refugees feel hope that their land will be liberated soon and that they will return to their homes from which Israel expelled them. This did not happen. Instead, after the war ended, Arab leaders sued for peace with Israel.

A few months later, Palestinian satirist Emil Habibi published his novel The Secret Life of Said: The Pessimist, an allegorical critique of Palestinian reality. The novel tells the story of Saeed, a Palestinian who lost his village in the Nakba of 1948. Amidst the misery of dispossession and occupation, he wanders the world with his head bowed for fear of finding a shekel on the street to cheer him up. .

I wake up every day trapped in a happy world. Mass death continues in Gaza. However, I have to look for a penny on the ground, as a sign of better things to come. Could the ICJ ruling of January 26 be so?

On December 13, the Al-Satar Al-Sharqi area, east of the cities of Khan Yunis, was subjected to a ground invasion by the Israeli army. The four children of my cousin Alaa, who works as a teacher in a United Nations school, and her ex-husband Musa, were caught in the middle.

During the attack, Israeli soldiers expelled the children from their home and arrested Musa and all the teenage boys and men in the area. Musa’s mother, who witnessed this brutality, tried to call Alaa, but the soldiers took the phone. Since then, Alaa has not heard from her children: eight-year-old Yamin, six-year-old twins Kenan and Orchid, and three-year-old Karmi. Are they sick, imprisoned, starving – or worse?

Alaa’s desperate attempts over the past 45 days to find her children through organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Palestine Red Crescent Society have been met with the usual cold rejection by the Israeli army. She reached out to journalists, local media, and social media sites, and now she is turning to anyone who will listen, as she walks the streets of Rafah, which has turned into a detention camp for more than a million people, searching for her children.

Her voice is a relentless cry of despair in the darkness. Every passing hour engraves another year in her soul as she fights the waves of pain, barely stopping to eat or sleep. Like all residents of Gaza, I became a living ghost.

The International Court of Justice ruling did not provide any relief to Alaa. The Israeli army still refuses to provide any information about the whereabouts of her children.

The court declared on January 26 that “the State of Israel… must immediately cease any acts and measures that violate these obligations, including acts or measures that would kill or continue to kill Palestinians.”

Israel denies its involvement in such actions. However, on January 29, Israeli tanks opened fire in Gaza City on a car full of civilians who were trying to flee to safety.

Fearing for their lives, they contacted the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, demanding salvation. Layan Hamada, 15, was speaking on the phone with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society when the tanks opened fire again. Screaming can be heard in the recording of the call, then silence.

Only six-year-old Hind Rajab, Layan’s cousin, survived. She talked to her mother Three hours laterShe told her that her uncle, aunt, and four cousins ​​had all been killed and that she herself had been injured.

A picture of Hind Rajab graduating from school (Photo by Ghada Aqeel)
Six-year-old Hind Rajab has been missing since January 29 when the Israeli army opened fire on the car she was traveling in, killing her relatives in Gaza City. (Courtesy of Ghada Aqeel)

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society crew began searching for her, but communications were cut off. More than a week later, Hind’s fate and the fate of the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s rescue team are still unknown. Her mother lives in hope that she will come out alive. She asks the same questions Alaa asks: Is Hind sick, injured, hungry, imprisoned – or worse?

All over Gaza, people are suffering from hunger. The besieged Al-Nasser Medical Complex and Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis are now being bombed. Supplies of food, medicine, oxygen tanks, water and essentials for staff, patients and thousands of displaced people have run out. Even more worrying is that news reports indicate that the army is storming these hospitals and forcing people to leave.

In Gaza, the air is full of sadness. Every heartbeat is a testament to resilience in the face of unimaginable loss.

And in Washington, the air is full of betrayal. Palestinians believe that every statement and every action issued by the US government is a testimony to brutality, cowardice, and failure to uphold basic human values.

Following the International Court of Justice’s decision to authorize Israel to cease genocidal activities and to order provisional measures, including issuing orders to the Israeli authorities, as the occupying power, to ensure the delivery of basic services and basic humanitarian assistance to civilians, nothing has changed. The genocide in Gaza continues.

I find myself walking like Said, bowing my head and hoping to find a penny’s worth of hope.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.

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