There was love in the time of genocide


That is the extent of what they have ever said about unimaginable horrors they endured and continue to endure.
In the months or weeks since one of the world’s most powerful militaries targeted their lives, they had yet to visit, much less verbalise the minutiae of this genocide.
As they venture beyond the outlines of their stories, their eyes darken and sometimes they begin to shiver.
They went one at a time, on the logic that if Israel fired on them, they would not all die.
Everyone screamed and cried, “even the men”, Nina said.
“It broke my heart to see the strong men of our family cowering in fear like that.”Eventually, soldiers entered.
They separated the men from the women and children, stripping the former to nothing but their boxers in the dead of winter.
The women and children were crammed into a small storage room, the men split into two classrooms.
As Hamad walked away, she went back inside to gather clothes for him and for her uncles sitting naked in the cold.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

During a recent visit to southern Gaza, I spent weeks gathering accounts from women who had been admitted to hospitals, all of them seeking treatment for what they described as “war wounds.”. But since there is only one army on one side, it isn’t a war. There is only one side that has a fully equipped military.

Their frail bodies were ripped, shattered, burned, and these victims were mothers, wives, and infants. Their deeper wounds are hidden until they divulge details about the previous five months of their lives.

First, they give the general overview: their homes were bombed, they had to be rescued from the debris, they suffered serious injuries, family members lost their lives, and everything was awful. Their statements regarding the unspeakable horrors they have experienced and still endured are limited to that.

However, I look for more information. Just a few moments ago, what were you doing? What did you smell? Was it light or dark outside? What did you see or hear for the first time?

I push them to focus on the molecular details of every detail, including the weight of something, the warm liquid running down the back, the twisted finger that is visible but not felt, the moment of realization, the ringing in the ears, the strange thoughts, the things that move and the things that cannot, the expectation of death and the hope that it comes quickly, and the longing for life.

They hadn’t even been to the location of the genocide, much less spoken about its specifics, in the months or weeks since one of the most potent armies in the world took aim at them. Their eyes darken, and occasionally they start to shiver, as they venture beyond the edges of their stories. They are startled by the smallest unexpected sound.

Though tears may fall and pool, very few people let themselves cry. Scars in their brains are rarely allowed to pass through the gates. It’s not because of some extraordinary power. In complete contrast. It’s as though they haven’t fully realized the depth of what they have gone through and will go through. They seem numbed.


After holding her six-year-old son’s lifeless body in the dark and unintentionally pressing her fingers into his brain, a young mother named Jamila (not her real name) broke down in tears for the first time. She is among those who gave in to the memory and wept.

It was not a missile that had targeted their family, but tank fire. They were unable to flee as they ran from one side of their apartment to the other when a drone, possibly equipped with heat-sensitive sensors, hovered outside their building.

With a final blow that went through the boy and hurt his father, she was certain that someone behind a screen was playing with them. After that, everything fell silent. As she put it, “it seemed like they had come only to kill my beloved son,” the tank fire extinguished.

That time, she didn’t cry. Really, she didn’t say anything. In spite of my husband’s warnings to cry, I refrained from doing so. I have no idea why,” she remarked.

Nour, her three-year-old daughter, was shot in the arms by an Israeli soldier two weeks after they had fled from place to place, breaking both of her small legs as they cowered in fear inside a hospital they thought would be safe.

Upon meeting baby Nour, I noticed that she had metal bars protruding from her small shins and a lengthy scar extending down her right calf, marking the location where the bullet had left her body. She and her mother Jamila were permitted to stay for a few more days until they were able to find a tent someplace, even though the doctors had discharged her a few days earlier.

The most Jamila’s husband can manage, given his injuries, is to get the meager food and water that they need for the day while living in a tent with a group of men. When I was there, he came to see me once, having managed to save up 10 shekels, or about $3, for a small gift for his daughter and transportation.

In Gaza, showing even the slightest amount of physical intimacy between lovers is considered a private matter. However, in a hospital, where forty patients and their caregivers share a single room with rows of beds pushed end to end and barely enough room for walking between them, there is no privacy.

After not seeing or speaking with her husband for more than a month (her phone was destroyed during the bombing), Jamila was ecstatic to have spent an hour with him. She did, however, later tell me that she would have preferred to give him a hug and possibly a cheek kiss. “He is going through so much pain,” she remarked, bearing the weight of the entire country’s suffering on her meager shoulders.

You, Nina.

Nina (not her real name) exudes an infectious generosity and a beguiling smile. She can’t wait to tell me how she prevented Israeli soldiers from capturing her husband.

The Israeli bombing near their home intensified while she had only been married for a few months. The recordings from some of those nights that have surfaced online are unthinkable. Thunder and earthquakes, demons descending from above and below, and an army of dragons destroying everything in their path, shattering glass, shaking their buildings, and frightening both young and old.

The decision to leave was made by Nina’s husband, Hamad (who goes by Hamad), as well as a number of his relatives, including his parents, uncles, aunts, spouses, and kids. Collectively, they numbered roughly seventy-five people, who were hopping from town to town in search of a safe haven where they could stay for longer than a few days at a time.

Nina found out that her family’s house had been bombed a week after she left. Eighty members of her family—her father, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, nieces, and nephews—were killed in that one instant at the touch of a button by a twentysomething-year-old Israeli.

Fortunately, it turned out that her mother had survived, despite what she had been initially told. After suffering severe injuries, Nina took care of her in the hospital, where she was cherished. I met this remarkable young woman in this way.

After a while, Nina, her husband, and the others arrived at a makeshift stop in Gaza City, from where they proceeded through fence walls to a shelter. On the grounds that they wouldn’t all perish if Israel opened fire on them, they proceeded one by one. It was better to lose one than 75 all at once.

After almost half of them had made it, a sniper did in fact shoot one of them, dividing the group until they plucked up the courage to run for it once more, one by one. The parents divided the kids among themselves. A partially murdered family is preferable to none at all. Similar to “Sophie’s Choice,” these were the decisions they had to make.

Tanks soon surrounded their makeshift shelter. A “quadcopter,” a brand-new terror device from Israel, shot gunfire into the rooms above their heads. According to Nina, “even the men” cried out and screamed. “Seeing the strong men in our family cowering in fear like that broke my heart. “.

After a while, soldiers emerged. “Eighty percent of them,” she remarked. In the dead of winter, they stripped the men of everything but their boxers and separated them from the women and children. A tiny storage room housed the women and children, while two classrooms were occupied by the men. After hearing the cries of their brothers, fathers, and spouses as they were beaten and tortured in the other rooms for three nights and four days, the women were finally given the order to “go south” by the soldiers in broken Arabic.

Nina was the only woman who did not comply. “I had lost interest in it. As much as I was prepared to pass away, I wouldn’t abandon my spouse. She cried out for Hamad as she dashed into the rooms housing the men. No one was brave enough to answer. Soldiers were dragging her away as it got dark. They appeared to be amused by her hysteria as she fought them. “Insane,” they dubbed her.

In the second room, she saw her husband wearing red boxers, so she hurried over to him, undid his blindfold, gave him a hug and a kiss, and made a vow to die with him if necessary. She would swear at the soldiers and then implore them to free her husband. They finally cut the plastic ties and released him.

Still, she wasn’t done. She went back inside to get clothes for him and her uncles who were sitting outside in the cold in their underwear as Hamad left. It would take weeks for them to be released. There would be executions for some of those men.

It worked out between her and Hamad. They discovered his leg was broken, the plastic ties had cut his wrists, and the Star of David was on his back when they had finally reached a safe place.

Nina had heard her husband screaming during the course of the preceding days as a soldier carved a Jewish symbol into his back with a knife.

These are the author’s personal opinions, which may or may not align with Al Jazeera’s editorial position.

Leave a Reply

scroll to top