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À Gaza, diary of a life under the bombs

Said Khatib Agence France-Presse The diary of a 70-year-old Gazan woman offers a rare foray into the daily lives of citizens who are still in the city from Gaza.

“I no longer like the night,” writes Zainab Al Ghonaimy from Gaza. Since the first days of the Israeli response to the Hamas attacks, the 70-year-old lady has documented in writing her daily life, where nights of terror follow one another and days where the sun cannot penetrate the thickness of the smoke emanating bombings. “Which makes us feel like these tough nights never end. »

In this constantly bombed city, where people write their names on their bodies so as not to die anonymously, citizens fight, every moment, “hunger, thirst and anxiety” — sometimes touching each other to convince herself that they are still alive – notes Zainab in her diary, which she sent to Devoir and which was broadcast on web platforms, thus offering a rare foray into the daily lives of Gazans.

“Before, I tenderly awaited the arrival [of the night]: in it, there was peace of soul and chatting with those we love,” she recorded on October 17. But now the darkness of the night is absolute and deep, without any trace of light except that of the illuminating bombs that Israeli planes drop to determine the target on which the lava from the bombs and missiles will be poured. overpressure. »

Each sunrise is synonymous with “the fleeting joy of still being alive”, after nights marked “by the terrifying roar of bombs and the shaking of our housing building”, she mentions, adding that she then hastens to write “words of comfort” to those who worry about her.

It is also to give news to her loved ones that the lawyer, who directs the Center for Research, Consultation and Legal Protection Related to Women, located in Gaza, began writing this diary, explains her daughter Farah Barqawi, who lives in New York. “At first, she sent her loved ones short text messages to say she was okay and still alive, but people asked her a lot of questions. Since the news in the media was not reporting what was happening on the ground and she is usually a very active person, now confined to her home, she figured she had to do something. »

Zainab's posts have therefore lengthened and her readership has grown. For several weeks, until the Internet connection was cut in Gaza about two weeks ago, Farah transmitted the “dispatches” written by her mother on her Instagram account, followed by a few thousand Internet users. These were also played on an Italian radio station, says Farah.

Open radio


In addition to delving into Zainab's daily life, this diary offers a window into her thoughts, where we feel the anxiety increasing as the days go by. Her radio remains open at all times, explains Zainab. One way she can reassure herself is by knowing which sectors are being targeted by the ongoing bombings. On October 25, after an anxious night, she wrote: “All night and this morning I kept wondering which of the missiles was coming closest, and, if it was coming closer, the building would it collapse on its side, meaning we could survive? Or would the building collapse onto the ground, and who knows where we would be? »

All night and this morning I kept wondering which of the missiles was coming closest, and, if it did, would the building collapse on its side, which would mean that we could survive? Or would the building collapse onto the ground, and who knows where we would be?

— Zainab Al Ghonaimy

On November 1, Zainab, who was holed up in Gaza with a friend and her family, mentioned that they only had water for two days before they had to resort to boiling water. salt water. “My friend and I are also starting to reduce our portions at meals, to prioritize children. » On November 5, she said she managed to get her hands on 7 kilograms of flour, paying three times the usual price. “We hope this will be enough for us until this crisis is over. »

On October 31, the women's rights activist said she didn't know how to tell one of her friends that 12 members of her family had been killed. “For four hours I struggled with my feelings of fear and worry about his reaction. How will I tell him this painful news, what will be my first words? » Further, she adds: “I cannot describe her pain and sorrow that filled the air and the way her tears fell silently as she listened in disbelief to the news I told her. I held her in my arms and felt her heart tremble. »



While cemeteries “are no longer able to accommodate more dead people” and “we are no longer able to keep the counting the names of the completely decimated families”, Zainab's rage swells just as much. “We have reached the point where we thank God when the number of martyrs in a region is 10 instead of 20 or 40,” she is indignant.

At the same time, she denounces the international community, which is witnessing these massacres as a “spectator”: “Let the whole world know that we, the besieged of this great prison that is the Gaza Strip, no longer trust the international humanitarian law or any other fraudulent law of this world, and that we no longer trust the criminal Euro-American leaders. »

Since the Internet connection was cut in Gaza City, Zainab has not been able to send any new texts. She and the group she is with have tried twice to leave the city, but without success. His daughter Farah manages to talk to him on the phone almost every morning for about a minute. “That’s what keeps me going. »

Farah hopes her mother can soon start documenting her life under the bombs in Gaza again. “Images of death are broadcast everywhere, but no images of life, of what happens inside homes. My mother's dispatches speak to every human. »

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116