Another day reporting from the war – Mondoweiss


Every day when I wake up, it takes me several minutes of looking at myself, of touching my body, and of my feet feeling the floor underneath, to make sure that I’m still breathing.

Only the luckiest get to wake up with their bodies still intact.

These days, simply surviving requires a miracle. And even if you survive today, it doesn’t mean you’ll be so lucky tomorrow. Every day past is another miracle summoned, and even if you come out of it with your body physically in one piece, your soul isn’t. Everyone in Gaza is now walking the streets with their souls crushed.

The war strips us of everything that makes us human; we aren’t able to mourn our dead, and we can’t say goodbye to them. People are killed and buried in mass graves far from their loved ones. Authorities have been forced to dig huge ditches for the slain — killed together, buried together. Hundreds of them are entombed together without identification, the brutal nature of their deaths leaving them disfigured beyond recognition. For many, little remains of them but pieces of flesh that are collected in a white shroud and buried with the rest.

Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent Tareq Hajjaj writing a report by candlelight during the blackout in Gaza. (Photo: Tareq Hajjaj)
Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent Tareq Hajjaj writing a report during the blackout in Gaza. (Photo: Tareq Hajjaj)

Every day feels like the next, unending and weighing heavily on the heart. Sometimes, I feel that the end times might look better. To start your day every day by hearing that 500 to 600 people were killed is not normal. What’s even worse is to hear their stories.

To report on the death of a person or the demolition of a home has now become old-fashioned. Today, we’re dealing in bulk: mass killings, leveled neighborhoods, a few hundred people massacred in a mosque or a school or a church. Nowhere is sacred enough to be off-limits.

As of the time of this writing, Israel has completely destroyed or damaged over 206 schools, 20 mosques, one church, and half of all homes in the Gaza Strip. And it isn’t even over. Israel is conducting itself like a rabid animal, all brawn and no brain.

My day usually starts with trying to call the rest of my family. No family got the chance to evacuate and shelter together. Everyone took their spouse and kids and went to a different place.

As the cell phone network has collapsed in the Gaza Strip, it’s hard to connect with people on the first attempt. To reach someone, I usually need to try over ten times. Every time I call, and it fails, I suspect the worst, that they were killed. When I finally reach them, it does not matter how they are or how they’re doing; there is no answer to such questions. We only make sure that everyone is still alive.

Then, the daily struggle for basic needs starts. Because there is no power, there is no fridge, and it’s hard to keep food, but it’s also hard to get it from the outside. But we have no other choice. The first thing we need to get is bread. Right now, it takes over six hours to get bread as the line for the bakeries could take an entire day to wait in. Cooking is not any easier. My family still has some gas for cooking, but very soon it will be gone. When that happens we will start burning wood and plastic to cook, like many other families.

Somedays, I can’t leave our home due to the massive bombing around us. Other days, when the bombing is intensive in Gaza City, I can move about Khan Younis.

Today, I was able to visit Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the main hospital in the city, and I was shocked by what I saw. It’s not a hospital anymore; it’s a place for all people, sick and well. People have taken to the hospital as a shelter. In the yard, people are making tents and settling in, and hundreds of people gather next to a power point to charge their phones. The corridors are full of people who are living there, while the injured are lying on the ground without another place to go.

The hospital is not clean, it smells bad, the ground is filthy, and it looks as if it is just a matter of time before disease starts to spread. The scenes in the hospital were painful to witness as people are stuck in these conditions with no other option to keep themselves safe.

When I entered a patient’s room, I was shocked more. What I saw were not normal wounds; they looked like they had survived a real hell. Their faces are black due to the burns to their faces, and it was hard for them to move their eyes or lips to speak. The people I met seemed as if they were still living in the moment they were bombed inside their houses. As I walked through the hospitals, it was rare to find young men among the injured; most of the injuries were kids, young girls, and women.

It was just another sign to me that this is Israel’s war against poor people and civilians in Gaza, and these are the causalities that are expected. I really wished that those powerful countries who are coming to Israel to show their solidarity would also come to Gaza. Not to offer empty words of condolence but only to witness the deeds of the country that they support so wholeheartedly.

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