They kill us twice

It is my first time to see my city, Gaza, raided heartlessly while I’m not there. For seven days consecutively— with roaring bombs by Israeli warplanes, tanks, drones, and warships – they stormed my people, leaving more than 200 killed and over 1,300 injuries. 

It is unfathomable that all this military hardware is being used against one of the densest and poorest cities in the world, with no shelters, and a lack of electricity, food, and medical supplies during a deadly pandemic. Gaza is also a city that has been under siege for more than thirteen years, and therefore is vulnerable to such intensive military intrusions. The destruction cannot always be retraced, and is coming from all terrains; land, sea, and air. Gaza is being brutally cornered and isolated so Israel can commit a murderous cold-blooded extermination of Palestinians. The silence coming from international actors and the global community, supported by biased media coverage, is complicit in this ongoing destruction of Gaza. 

For the last week, I have been recalling every small detail, every memory of the Israeli military attack in 2014; every bomb that fell right in our neighborhood in northern Gaza. Every time the missiles hit, we were terrified, thinking we would be the next victim. That war took me to the depths of my anger, fear, confusion, frustration and grief. That war made me a poet.

Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district following massive Israeli bombardment on May 16, 2021. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City’s Rimal residential district following massive Israeli bombardment on May 16, 2021. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

In 2014, I remember listening to the radio as everyone else did; hearing how everywhere in Gaza was unsafe, everyone was a target to the Israeli missiles. I imagine that the situation is the same today; merely hours of electricity a day, and shortages of water and food. But now, there is also Covid-19. 

I can still recall the faces of every victim, every scream of every mother, or lover, or father, or son or daughter.  The memories are etched into my mind so deep that I could never forget, and as a result can never forgive the atrocity inflicted on an innocent population.  I feel like I want to snatch my heart from my chest, so I can stop grieving, or let go of the memories that engulf me slowly every night.

What did my people do to face such cruelty and inhumanity, with international impunity?

While it feels familiar, this time, this military intrusion is also different. I am on the outside of Gaza, I am not in the war but following the war. And somehow it feels harder to witness the destruction from afar, my hands tied and feeling worthless while witnessing the bodies of my people blown up into pieces, houses and properties that held lives and families destroyed into rubble with residents inside. It feels heavier to witness from afar. Seven days ago, Kids slept with a joy for Eid that never came. A baby will be the only survivor of his family in Al-Shati camp in western Gaza. What did my people do to face such cruelty and inhumanity, with international impunity?

I spend my days following the news online; my heart bleeding, breaking, with every attack on every child, woman, and man of Gaza. My heart aches for the death of joy in the hearts of my people, the joy of Eid which was stolen by F16’s and boat-guns of Israel and its allies. 

The Israeli military intrusion targeted the most vital roads in Gaza, roads that held all my memories. I feel broken while I watch my memories burn along with the soul of Gaza. They robbed Gaza of hope and joy with the smoke of their atrocious crimes. Towers crumble like in movies, a city once green turned grey and weathered. A sky once blue turned dark and bleak. 

Gaza is unlivable now, even after the massacre ends; Gaza will change forever: how do we keep building only to be destroyed again? This time, where will we find the hope to move on and rebuild. How do you rebuild when all that is left is destruction? 

Palestinians inspect their house, after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on May 16, 2021. (Photo: Abed Deeb/APA Images)
Palestinians inspect their house, after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on May 16, 2021. (Photo: Abed Deeb/APA Images)

Gazans will change too, I speak to my friends and family, and they have prepared to find a way to leave if they survive. They have prepared bags of passports, essential papers, and personal things to flee at any moment. They only get five minutes to survive death in Gaza, imagine giving someone, anywhere in the world five minutes to survive their life, the whole world turns a blind eye to my city, I’m worn-out, terrified, and terrorized.

They kill us twice, inside Gaza, and they kill us outside Gaza – when we die worrying about our families there. 

As I write this, they have cut electricity to the city, and I stay sleepless, calling my family with no answer from anyone. They are offline, and the news is reporting 30 consecutive airstrikes on north Gaza. This is a massacre, on innocent civilians. They kill us twice, inside Gaza, and they kill us outside Gaza – when we die worrying about our families there. 

As a journalist, I feel I have to keep the world updated with what is happening in Gaza or Sheikh Jarrah — but at the same time I am broken and exhausted. I am feeling helpless and hopeless.

My nephews are experiencing wars for the first time. I do not know how they are handling this right now, I worry about them. Why do they have to inherit this life as Palestinians? A life of brutality and shortages in electricity and water and food, alone. 

The media does not provide a lifeline. The international media is biased to Israeli propaganda. We are always reprimanded for our resistance to Israeli intrusion and violence. The conversation begins with us defending our right to exist and resist rather than shedding light on the context of occupation, colonization, and sheer brutality of Israel towards Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Palestinians living within 1948 borders.  

We need the world to speak up, and stand up for justice.  We Palestinians get killed twice; once in our homeland, and another time outside of our homeland. 


Mohammed Moussa
Mohammed Moussa is a poet, freelance journalist, founder of Gaza Poets Society, and the host of Gaza Guy Podcast.

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