Though ‘there is no guarantee of life in Gaza,’ stranded Palestinians in India longing for home

Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

As the Israel continue to bombard the Palestinian residents of the Gaza strip, ahead of Eid celebrations since Monday. Here’s what it’s like for Palestinians to stay distant from home.

“Sitting by the sea in Gaza, eating Humus and falafel with friends, listening to patriotic music – Al – Taghreba al- Falastenya (Palestinian Alienation), are amongst my best memories of home”, says Ali Abushbak a Palestinian national residing in India.

Abushbak hails from the Northern part of the Gaza strip and moved India to pursue his Ph.D. at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Every time he plans a trip home, his transportation arrangements braces through a twenty-eight-hour risky journey from India to Egypt’s Sinai troubled checkpoint, due to fear from extremist terrorist groups. The Palestinians were forced to travel through Egypt and Jordan, since Israel had destroyed their only airport, in the Gaza strip during the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada (2000).

The last he visited home was in the year 2018, and a lot has changed since then.

Many of his friends were injured during the Great March of Return protest (2018-2019) and one of his neighbors was killed by Israeli snipers, and his friend was severely wounded during the protest. This was a movement, where Palestinians marched and protested along the Gaza strip border, on weekly Fridays, their demand was for the right to return their ancestral homes and end Israel’s territorial siege.

“Now ahead of Eid celebrations as the countries are uniting to celebrate the Muslim festivity. I am stuck here in India, reminiscing good old times with family , still a sense of helplessness prevails, every time I read the news; my family is under constant threat of Israelis random-operated airstrikes, ” Abushbak told Maktoob

According to the UN ( United Nations Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Palestinian armed groups as of October 21, Israeli authorities illegally demolished 568 Palestinian homes in West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 759 Palestinians. On November 3, Israeli authorities illegally razed the homes of most of the Palestinian Khirbet Humash, in Jordan Valley, displacing 73 people, 41 of them children.

He feels , his biggest regret so far is not being able to be with his family during these difficult times. As he was all set to prepare for his M.Phil. His mother had to unexpectedly undergo surgery, as he scrolls through the family pictures. There is a sense of emotional longing that can be felt, as he speaks about his mother.

There is a sense of hollowness, as he spends his nights thinking about his family and closed ones back in Gaza, who is exposed to Israeli airstrikes, bombardments, and now the vaccine apartheid against Palestinians. Like countless other Palestinian children, Abushbak was barely a year old, when his father was martyred in 1993 by Israeli forces and had to bear the brunt of occupation.

According to a report by 2021 OCHA (United Nations Office for Coordination Of Humanitarian affairs), the current escalation risks worsening an already poorly humanitarian situation, precisely in Gaza, where the struggling health sector is burdened by the COVID- 19 pandemic. On May 10, Israeli rockets fired killed 10 Palestinian children, with dozens injured.

Wadia Al Shawa is another research scholar from Gaza. He currently pursues a doctorate in Economics among India’s most prestigious universities.

“Every day I prepare myself for the fact, my family can die anytime by Israeli strikes”, says Shawa

“I feel miserable about the situation at home, today a pregnant woman, yesterday nine school going children, were killed. There is no guarantee of life in Gaza; it feels we are a part of a dead conscience society,” he told Maktoob.

As per a report in media bias fact check, the mainstream US and western media outlets are biased with the Palestinian resistance In Sheikh Jarrrah, several western media outlets are whitewashing Israeli colonialism , several newspapers announced “ clashes” between Israel-Palestine’, it’s a problematic media language used to mislead the resistance.

“The powerful nations and self-proclaimed defenders of justice are keeping silent, and this enables Israel perpetrations of injustices and cruelties inflicted on The Palestinians. Mostly all the media outlets are mouthpieces of government, showcasing a biased narrative, they can never do justice to Palestine’’, he says.

According to a recent report in UNRWA, repeatedly condemns the killing of Palestinian children, and shows concerns about the impact of Israeli military escalation on Palestinian children. It stated Israel must be held accountable for breaching its obligations.

Amidst the raging war, Ali and Wadia are however praying for peace and stability for their homeland, they are longing to go back home once the pandemic is over.

Despite the Israeli ‘occupational attempts to ethnic cleansing, Ali and Wadia hope for a better tomorrow, and dream of a colonial free Palestine.