Written by: Sameeh Muhsin – Palestinian writer and poet

It seems as though Palestinians are deemed superfluous by the Western world, which still harbours a colonial mentality. At best, we are treated as though we have not yet reached maturity. This mindset remains unmoved by the ongoing aggression on the Gaza Strip, which is carried out with the world watching and with the explicit involvement of the most powerful imperialist power in modern history. This attitude is exemplified by the Israeli occupation government's discussions of the day after while continuing its brutal aggression on Gaza.

While I will approach the topic from a non-political standpoint, it is worth noting that many Arab ruling regimes have, to some extent, aligned with these proposals instead of utilising their resources to halt the aggression. Their actions, which have not matched their stated intentions, raise suspicions that their aim is to dismantle resistance movement(s) in Gaza and undermine the Palestinian cause, aligning with the desires of the occupation government and its allies.

"If you don't die from the bombing, you will die from hunger," journalist Ismail Al-Ghoul's haunting words from the northern Gaza Strip on the 123rd day of the aggression, reflect a grim reality. Despite the International Court of Justice's ruling, issued over two weeks ago, demanding unrestricted humanitarian aid access to Gaza, the Israeli occupying forces’ restrictions remain unchanged. This means that the “Defense Minister Yoav Galant's declaration in October 2023, "no water, no food, no fuel" for Gaza, still holds true today.

What is unfolding in Gaza transcends mere poverty; it is a harrowing tale of hunger and famine. In a recent exchange with a friend who is a university professor in Gaza, he shared an observation: "I encountered a group of university academics, and it was hard to recognize them. Some had features that were hard to describe. Can you think of a more powerful image to show how they are suffering?

As a result of this brutal aggression, the economy of Gaza has come to a standstill. The siege and restrictions on humanitarian aid have led to images of famine becoming more pronounced. Prices of scarce goods have skyrocketed, with no intervention from law enforcement to curb profiteering. By the end of the third month of the aggression, some vegetables were still available, but they are now rare. Repairing the damage to agricultural lands, irrigation sources and other components of this sector to restart operations immediately seems daunting. Even if trade returns to normal, will people have the means to buy basic necessities to survive?

Homes reduced to rubble, with their roofs and walls gone. Nature appears to play a role in this aggression, highlighting the suffering in Rafah. The painful scenes from the city paint the harshest and clearest picture of the displacement and suffering experienced by the people in the southern Gaza Strip. I had planned two visits to Gaza, the first after the 2012 war and the second after the 2014 war. During both visits, I witnessed the devastation wrought upon homes. Even years later, the memory of a man in Shujaiya sitting under the roof of his destroyed house, remains etched in my mind. He vowed to rebuild, even more beautifully. I also remember the sight of water seeping into temporary shelters, a stark reminder of the destruction inflicted upon Gaza's homes in past wars and the ongoing aggression.

The displaced are longing to return to their former homes. A home is more than just a shelter; it embodies the essence of life with its joys and sorrows. It holds cherished memories, from pictures on walls to children's toys, books and school bags. It is filled with warmth, safety, beds, blankets, personal libraries and balconies adorned with flowers. It is the neighbours, the streets, the local grocery stores. This was life as it once was. How can it ever be restored to what it was?

Empty school seats symbolise the devastating toll of the genocidal war, now in its fifth month. According to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Ramallah, about 4,851 students and 239 teachers and administrators have been martyred in Gaza. Additionally, 620,000 students have been deprived of education. In past wars, we would see a student's picture placed on their desk to signify their martyrdom and absence. However, in this ongoing aggression, students returning after it is over will find their peers and teachers missing. The planes that took their lives left no trace behind, and if these students were to look for their classmates' pictures, they would find nothing. They might not even find their schools as they were left on October fifth.

The graves are left without names. They departed without farewells, their resting places unknown to us. The prime minister of the occupying government, Benjamin Netanyahu, justified the aggression on Gaza using religious references as a form of encouragement. In one speech, Netanyahu told the Israeli occupying forces: "Remember what Amalek did to you," in reference to the warring Amalekites tribe, mentioned in several books of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, to justify their attacks on Gaza. Isn't this a clear incitement to commit genocide, despite the occupation government's attempts to deny it while the world witnesses every detail? Images of mass graves in and around hospital and on sidewalks, of corpses being eaten by dogs, have been seen worldwide. Thousands of martyrs are buried under rubble, their remains untraceable.

As we wake from the shock and horror, we must check our bodies for surviving organs, our souls for their presence and our loved ones for their survival. Then, we must check on our families, friends and neighbours. If we are certain that they are gone, can we exhume the mass graves, identify them based on their remaining features, bury them with the dignity befitting the dead and place tombstones on their graves?!

We have our concerns, and they have theirs. After this massacre ends, leaders and politicians will focus on their gains, while war profiteers count their profits from our suffering. Contractors will fill their coffers, not to to help the people of Gaza rebuild their homes that have become without roofs and walls, but to satisfy insatiable greed, while the actual victims are left with countless concerns.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's views and not necessarily the Association's or donor's opinion.