Morocco's Gazan students helplessly watch in horror as Israel continues its genocidal war against their families
Israel's ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip is casting its shadow over Palestinian students who are continuing their university studies in Morocco, as they are left to helplessly watch the mass extermination being carried out against their people in Gaza.
Consumed by panic and anxiety, these students spend their days and nights waiting for a call or text from family members to give them a few moments of peace of mind and reassure them that they are still alive.
Fatima Amsha (23) came to Morocco in 2019. She is studying for a Master's in Legislation and the Work of Constitutional Institutions at Mohammed V University in Rabat.
She says to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition that she has not been able to function normally or focus on the studies she left Gaza for, in the light of the tragedy being suffered by her family, neighbours and friends due to the "Zionist war machine" which doesn't distinguish in its killing, or take any steps to spare children and civilians.
"What is taking place in Gaza is a catastrophe and we feel a powerlessness it is difficult to describe"
"As Palestinian students, we are living in constant anxiety — our morale and mental state are in a bad condition because we are constantly worrying over the fate of our families, and having contact with them cut off for long periods. What is taking place in Gaza is a catastrophe and we feel a powerlessness that is difficult to describe," she says.
This wasn't the first time Fatima had felt worried for the lives of family and friends, as she has lived through Israel's previous wars in the Gaza Strip. However, this time is different because she is not there with them.
She says: "I have lost many of my friends and neighbours, and my friend saw her mother, sister and brother killed when the Israeli army bombed their home. She spent a week in intensive care after the force of the explosion threw her from the window to outside the house, and she recovered. But she wishes she had been martyred with her family."
The most difficult moment Fatima experienced during the current Israeli assault was when she learnt that her family home had been bombed.
"I suffered a lot during these hours, as it was hard to get any information on what had happened to them. The next day I managed to get hold of them and find out they were OK," she reveals.
"What is happening in Gaza right now is ethnic cleansing and a genocide against the Palestinian people, and the perpetuation of constant violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, which Western states are always going on about."
Mu'min Samour is studying towards his PhD at Hassan II Mohammedia University. He says: "Members of the Palestinian community abroad are having huge difficulties contacting their families in the Gaza Strip due to the occupation cutting off the electricity and internet in the Strip.
"This is affecting especially students who are completing their studies abroad in Arab or Western states. Gaza is suffering from a horrific humanitarian situation due to the long-term blockade imposed on the Strip since 2007, and the massacres which started on 7 October ."
He adds: "It is impossible to overstate the level of suffering in Gaza, and the scenes we are witnessing daily will remain imprinted in our memories, hearts and consciences. The martyrs are with Allah now, and we are the dead.
"The international community must act to stop the extermination being carried out against Palestinian citizens, find radical solutions to provide security and stability in the Gaza Strip, improve the living conditions of the inhabitants, and hold the Zionist entity accountable before the International Criminal Court for the crimes being committed against the civilians."
Another Gazan PhD research student in Morocco, Odai Musa, says: "Just communicating via text message with a member of my family reassures me that they are still alive — this has become a daily obsession.
"Since the start of the war on Gaza, I've only spoken to my family twice, and each time, I bid them farewell. The news coming from there is usually news of the death of a relative or a friend or one of your neighbours or acquaintances. After over 50 days since the start of this genocide, we have to ask — how many Palestinians must be killed for this world to stand up to this brutal occupation and its black hatred? When will we be able to rest assured that our families are safe?"
For Palestinian student Hamdan Mohammed Odeh: "Communication [with family] for students far from their families is like a basic meal they need daily during their time outside [Gaza] — and the loss of contact means losing the main pillar of life."
He explains: "I watch the channels showing the scale of the destruction and killing, and I call repeatedly in hopes of being able to find out some news that will temporarily heal my longing for my family, but there are so many obstacles to communication. When I manage to make contact, the news I hear makes me feel more weighed down, as many of my neighbours and children in my camp have become martyrs. The estrangement of any student [from their family] is painful, but the estrangement felt by Palestinian students is even more painful."
Palestinian Salim Abu Ajwa is studying for a Master's degree in Law in Morocco. He says: "Over 80 members of my family fled from the al-Rimal neighbourhood in the centre of Gaza City, south to Khan Younis.
"The biggest achievement for the overseas student today is the ability to contact his family to check on them in light of the Gaza Strip having lost practically all of life's most essentials."