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As the Israel-Hamas War continues, thousands of people have continued to pay the price with their lives and more. Since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, around 1300 Israelis have lost their lives and around 4,000 Palestinians have been killed. The recent attack on al-Ahli hospital, where at least 500 Palestinians had taken refuge, serves as evidence of the dangerous times that we are living in and the direction it is heading towards. As negotiations between diplomats and political leaders ensue, it becomes significant to commemorate the lives of those who once lived on these very lands whose landscape continue to be altered by the devastating conditions of war.
Israel-Hamas War: Who is Afaf Alnajjar?
Afaf Alnajjar is a 21-year-old Palestinian girl who was studying English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza in Gaza City. After Israel ordered the people in Gaza to move south, Alnajjar left for Khan Younis along with her family. She had just recently married, a week before the attack, and her engagement party was supposed to happen one day before they had to evacuate the hotel they were living in.
As she continues to narrate to Yasmeen Serhan, with food, fuel, and electricity supply being shut off by the Israeli government, the situation started to get worse as entire neighborhoods were wiped out by the airstrikes. The staff told them to go to the lower floors of the hotel in order to be safe, and around 350 people were crammed into one room as a result. On the same day that she evacuated with her family, around 70 people were killed in an airstrike that targeted the street from where they were evacuating. However, they somehow managed to reach the South “in one piece”.
She continued to say that car batteries are being used to charge their phones. As entire families, of not just 4-5 people, but 40-plus people continue to be wiped out, the situation in Gaza only gets more brutal with each passing day. She said “I have to sleep every single night with the thought that I might wake up under rubble if I ever wake up.
My mom has to sit my 11-year-old brother down and tell him how to deal with the situation if he finds himself under the rubble.” the situation is so dire that now she only dreams of “war and destruction” as she, along with her family, wait for their impending death, “It’s on pause until an airstrike comes and attacks us.” She reflects that even though the people of Gaza are receiving love and support from all across the world, it is the people in positions of power who can stop this and they aren’t doing anything.
Israel-Hamas War: Who is Keren Schem?
Keren Schem is a single mother with four children. Her second child, Mia Schem, who is 21 years old was taken hostage by the Hamas group as she was one of those who were a part of the Nova music festival. On a Saturday morning, at 7:17 a.m., she sent a text to one of the people at the party that said, “They are shooting us. Please come save us.”
Keren goes on to say that Mia is a very creative girl, who is like a mother to her youngest child and how much she misses her. “Mia was so, so special. She’s all my world. I want to tell Mia that she is the love of my life… I want to tell Mia, if she hears me: I will do everything I can”, she continues as she tells her story to Charlotte Alter.
An update was given on October 16 in which a video was released by Hamas. Mia could be seen saying to the camera that she is in Gaza and is getting treatment for her injuries and that she wishes to be returned to her home, “Everything is okay. I just ask that I be returned home as quickly as possible to my family.”
Who is Noor Harazeen?
Noor Harazeen is a 33-year-old Palestinian journalist who was one among the thousands of Palestinians who fled to the south as per the orders given by Israeli forces after the attack. She considers her journey of evacuation easier from others as she told TIME that she had money to take a taxi, while she saw others who had to travel on foot, with blankets and kids on their backs.
She says that after relocating to Shuhada’a Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah in southern Gaza, she has not been able to move as there are airstrikes everywhere. She says that the place they evacuated from to the place they have evacuated to, both were being hit by airstrikes and even though she tries to be professional, it is hard to not take sides, amidst such violence and killings. She relocated along with her husband and two children, who are both 5 years old.
Who was Shira Eylon?
Shira Eylon was a 23-year-old girl who was one of the attendees at Nova music festival and was killed during the Hamas’s attack on October 7. Shira’s sister, Adar Eylon, told Mathias Hammer that Shira was supposed to start a psychology degree two days back before the attack. She had just come back from India and was a vegan, who often volunteered at animal shelters.
Just before the attack, she messaged her family members that there had been bombing and “they are sending rockets over us”. One of her friends informed Shira’s family that she was running away from a terrorist behind her. He heard screaming but he did not know what happened afterwards as he was running away too. The Israeli forces later found her body after six days of her death in a forest. She was identified through her DNA sample afterward.
These are just very few stories that could travel and make it to media and other outlets. Many lived lives have already been lost to statistical figures, whose stories and experiences would never make it to others. One can only hope that the violence that wars and genocides bring with them can be stopped through political interventions, and not just stopped but stopped sooner as civilians continue to bear the brunt of the delay.