By Hadil Louz
The constant fear of loss is truly unbearable. Since the 7th of October, my life, along with my family's lives in Gaza, has been turned upside down, and there seems to be no prospect of a ceasefire in sight.
My entire immediate and extended family resides in Gaza, with the majority living in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
They were compelled to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip in response to Israel's evacuation orders. However, no place in Gaza is safe.
I have been in exile for five years, pursuing my master's degree and currently working towards my PhD. Due to the travel restrictions and the blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007, I haven't had the opportunity to visit Gaza since I arrived in the UK in 2018.
During my time in the UK, I've experienced three Israeli aggressions from a considerable distance from my family.
One occurred on the 21st of May 2021, another on the 9th of May 2023, and the most recent, which started on the 7th of October 2023, is the most violent and brutal of all.
I survived three wars while I was in Gaza, but I never imagined that being away from my family would be even more distressing and traumatising than being with them under bombardment, facing the same fate.
Each war left me in a state of fear, but this one has left me immersed in a profound sense of indignation, anger, anguish, pain, sorrow, and shock.
It is unlike any previous escalation, and no Palestinian will ever be the same after enduring this dreadful and indiscriminate aggression.
This particular war aims to force displacement, resembling a new Nakba (Catastrophe), as Israeli officials suggest leaving Gaza and relocating to the Sinai Peninsula.
The first Nakba occurred in 1948, and since then, many Palestinians have never been able to return.
This war also seeks to carry out deliberate genocidal attacks, brutal murders of children, dispossession, dehumanization of our people, and a malicious campaign of disinformation.
Media campaigns of propaganda and misinformation, including those in the UK, have left me feeling profoundly worried.
Many Palestinians like me feel unsafe with the growing censorship and suppression of freedom of speech and the skewed narrative.
The majority of UK media headlines, whether displayed in metros, streets, train stations, or online, overwhelmingly focus on the Israeli narrative, with barely any recognition of Palestinian losses and their unimaginable suffering.
It's as if the UK media unwittingly legitimizes the genocide of my people.
Even though the massacres perpetrated against Palestinians in Gaza are broadcast live on television, the UK media persist in presenting a one-sided narrative in their coverage with inadequate language.
The indiscriminate attacks by Israelis should also be highlighted, and our perspectives, needs, and testimonies should be given the attention they deserve.
Since the 7th of October, most UK’s top politicians have emphasized their one-sided stance with Israel, adopting the slogan "We Stand with Israel" as the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak's unwavering position.
During his visit to Israel, he expressed grief, solidarity, and unconditional support without any condemnation of the unparalleled brutality, indiscriminate attacks, and the relentless struggle endured by my people in Gaza as a consequence of this war.
Notably, he did not even instruct the UN representatives of the UK to call for a ceasefire, a critical step needed to save lives and halt the violence.
Tragically, more than seven thousand Palestinians, including three thousand children, have lost their lives. Sunak persists in asserting that this is Israel's 'right to defend itself,' brushing aside the breaches of International Law that Israel is accused of committing during this conflict, which have disproportionately affected innocent civilians.
While at times he 'urges' Israel to adhere to international law in its responses, thousands of massacres, wiping out entire families in Gaza, continue unabated.
Adding to the complexity, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, on the 10th of October 2023, wrote a letter to the Chief Constables of England and Wales, expecting the police to employ "the full force of the law" against displays of support for ‘Hamas’ but it actually implies any support for Palestine.
This includes raising the Palestinian flag, which is viewed as a form of "harassment" to the Jewish community, as well as protest chants calling for the liberation of Palestine.
Furthermore, Braverman's approach appears to be one-sided, primarily providing reassurance and solidarity to the Jewish community in London while disregarding the Palestinian diasporic community, who are also an integral part of the UK.
This has created a sense of inequity, where we feel treated as if we are less deserving of basic human dignity and rights.
For instance, a friend of mine who recently arrived in the UK from Palestine via Jordan, on a flight carrying Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli passengers, noticed a sign at the airport offering mental health support exclusively for Israeli individuals, overlooking the immense pain and suffering experienced by Palestinians.
What is unfolding in Gaza transcends the word 'catastrophic.' A friend of mine who lives in Gaza recently tweeted: "The term 'catastrophic' no longer conveys the reality in Gaza. Tons of explosives rain down on us day and night. We have endured every form of loss imaginable.
Families wiped out
The sky of our city is no longer recognizable, its land now gray, tainted with the blood of those who have perished. Silence prevails, shock is etched on every face. Every word spoken might be our last, and each call brings a fresh farewell."
Her poignant description encapsulates the grim reality on the ground. I've heard countless harrowing narratives from people living there, and my own family has suffered the loss of five members, including my cousin's wife and four children. Friends, including those residing in the UK, have lost their entire families.
Those of us in the diaspora fervently call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to end this ceaseless cycle of violence. We have already lost too many loved ones, and we cannot bear any further losses.
Moreover, our cherished childhood memories are being eroded, as the very essence of the region undergoes a profound transformation due to relentless shelling, destroying fundamental infrastructure and vital educational, cultural, and medical institutions.
This is why I, along with other Palestinians from Gaza, urgently advocate for a ceasefire.
Palestinian youths in the diaspora have issued a statement, urging the international community and the free people of the world to take swift action in support of an immediate ceasefire, the urgent restoration of water, food, fuel, medical supplies, and humanitarian aid, as well as the facilitation of safe passage for casualties and critically-ill individuals in dire need of medical treatment.
Additionally, for Palestinians in the UK, I personally need to feel safe, and for our suffering to be acknowledged, our history to be correctly narrated, and our trauma to be addressed. Why should our status as Palestinians diminish our entitlement to reassurance and dignity?
Being Palestinian should not deter us from expressing our opinions, sharing our pain, or demonstrating solidarity with our people through various means, whether that be raising the Palestinian flag or wearing clothing with Palestinian symbolism.
The author, Hadil Louz, is a Palestinian PhD Student in the UK.
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT Afrika.