Israel's destroying our beloved Gaza before our eyes

Gaza: We don’t know how, but I know we will rise again
4 min read

Noor Swirki

26 October, 2023
From Gaza: Noor Swirki recounts the very difficult journey her and her family have taken in a desperate attempt to survive as Israeli airstrikes continue across Gaza.
Over 7000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel's recent bombardment of Gaza. [GETTY]

Early on the morning of 7 October, I was laying in my bed, watching as my 13-year-old daughter was getting ready for school--putting on her school uniform, making a sandwich, strapping on her backpack.

''I'm leaving Mama,'' she said.

Suddenly the sound of hundreds of explosions filled our home in the Remal neighbourhood of Gaza City. We were terrified. The entire Gaza Strip probably woke up at that moment. It was like rain from hell. I looked at the clock. It was 6:25, the exact moment when our life turned upside down.

We thought it was Israeli airstrikes, but it was the Hamas attack. Within hours, the response came from Israel. We spent the next three days under fire as our neighbourhood was brutally pounded by airstrikes. I kept looking at my two children and crying like a crazy woman, imagining I was about to lose them. We had no choice but to flee our beloved home, which we built with tears and blood, as we say. We have been on the move ever since.

I want the world to understand that we are civilians. We are not militants. We are not carrying guns. I have limited access to the internet, and my phone comes in and out of connectivity, but I know that many throughout the world are calling for a ceasefire. It is the least we can ask for. We need the inhuman blockade to end. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to flow without hindrance. We are here without the basic essentials of life. We are staring at death all around us.

With my two children, we went from our home to a shelter in the Al Nasser neighbourhood of Gaza City but we knew it wasn't safe in the city where I was born, raised, educated, married and became a mother.

On Friday 13 October, the Israeli occupation forces told the entire population of northern Gaza to evacuate to the south. We fled to Khan Younis, arriving at 9 am to a shelter in an UNRWA training centre. We were among the first of thousands of people who would crowd the centre. There was nothing for us. No power, very little water, a lack of food, and little medicine.

I collapsed and I cried as I have never cried before. We spent two days there. People were sleeping on the floor. Only some of us had blankets. We had very limited access to toilets. On the morning of the second day, I said to a woman, ''If we don't die of fire, we will die of disease.''

We then moved with a friend to a building that was sheltering about 200 people, the majority women and children. It was better than the UNRWA shelter but not by much. We are still here.


We eat twice a day – a breakfast and a late lunch. We reserve half a piece of bread and a half a litre of water for each meal. We clean our bodies with wet sheets and soap every two to three days. Some of the children here are beginning to show signs of what looks like skin disease. The only power comes from solar chargers, which allows us to keep up with the news. But there is no good news to follow.

Every morning I count my family members. I lost two of my cousins in two separate airstrikes. One of them was a mother, who was killed with two of her children. I was broken when I learned that a friend, a co-worker of mine, had been killed early in the fighting. It took me three days to learn the news because of a lack of internet.

Our lives are filled with the sounds of bombing and shelling and airstrikes. Our beloved Gaza is being destroyed before our eyes. We don’t know how long it will take or how we will do it, but I know that we will rise again.

Noor Swirki is an activist and journalist in the Gaza Strip.


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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.