'Voice of Gaza' Refaat Alareer killed in Israel strike

'Voice of Gaza' Refaat Alareer killed in Israel strike
Refaat Alareer, an accomplished Palestinian academic, poet and activist, was deemed among the key voices in Gaza speaking out against Israel's brutal onslaught of the Strip.
3 min read
08 December, 2023
Tributed have poured in for Palestinian professor Rafaat Alareer, who was killed by an Israeli strike late on Thursday [YouTube screengrab]

Acclaimed Palestinian academic and writer Refaat Alareer was killed by an Israeli strike on Thursday in the Gaza Strip, his friends said.

Alareer was a professor of English literature and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza, a renowned poet, writer, translator, as well as an activist.

His Twitter account 'Refaat in Gaza' has nearly 95,000 followers has become an important and humorous source of information for Gaza.

Alrareer was killed alongside his sister and four children, the @Gaza_shaheed (martyr) account said on X.

He reportedly stayed at his sister's apartment after being threatened by Israeli intelligence that they knew his whereabouts and would strike the school he was seeking refuge at.

His killing was confirmed by the Al-Aqsa channel who said in a Telegram post: "Dr. Refaat Al-Areer [has been martyred], one of the prominent teaching staff in English literature at the Islamic University."

Tributes have poured in for the Palestinian professor following his killing, describing Alareer as an influential and mentor-like figure.

Palestinian author Jehad Abusalim said: "I’ve known Refaat Alareer since I was 17. He taught me my first English writing course. More than a teacher, he was a mentor, a friend and he truly cared about his students beyond the classroom."

"His life was challenging, marked by significant family losses. Yet he persevered, fought back and wrote back. One day, many of us, as Refaat’s students, will share parts of his story," Abusalem continued.

Described as a "fearless man", the Palestinian academic used social media to chronicle life under Israeli bombing in Gaza regularly. He also posted literary and poetry works. 

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Among Alareer's most famous words include: "I only have my pen, I'll throw it at the occupation soldiers if they invade, even if it's the last thing I do." 

Indian-Canadian poet Rupi Kaur, said: "Thank you Refaat for your humor & wit. Your words made me feel lighter. You said if you lived through this you'd teach other people's poetry to your students. Now it will be us teaching your poetry to the world."

Alareer had shared a humorous post on Twitter after Kaur spoke up for a ceasefire, penning a poem in Kaur's trademark style.

His last tweet on X was posted on Monday, in which he quote-tweeted a video of Vice President Kamala Harris stressing US support for Israel.

The post read: "The Democratic Party and Biden are responsible for the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel."

Alareer, a father of six, was also the founder of  the 'We Are Not Numbers' initiative, a project providing English-language writing workshops for young Palestinians in Gaza.

The scholar had obtained degrees from the Islamic University of Gaza and the University College of London, as well as a PhD from Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Alareer urged the people across the world to pressure politicians to end Israel's brutal onslaught and siege of the territory.

Israel began its indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza on 7 October, killing at least 17,487 Palestinians as of Friday.

Israeli strikes have targeted intellectuals, journalists and writers - like Alareer.

A vigil later on Friday will reportedly be held in Washington in his honour.