Tuesday, February 20, 2024
HomenewsMiddle East Roundup: ‘Where our love grew’ – love and loss in...

Middle East Roundup: ‘Where our love grew’ – love and loss in Gaza

Waves of bombs pound Gaza as the Israeli offensive approaches two weeks and the region teeters on a knife’s edge. Here’s the Middle East this week:

Love and loss in a time of war

A hospital is not where most romances begin but about 80 years ago, love blossomed in the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in the Gaza Strip.

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Hammam Farah’s grandparents met there and 40 years later, he himself was born there, in a hospital that had been a gathering place for the community, dating back to 1882. In its large courtyard, children played, there were community dinners and it had a tennis court, ping-pong tables and a church.

Now, the hospital has been emptied after an explosion that killed at least 500 people. Maimed bodies lay in heaps, the facility destroyed.

The massacre during the continuing Israeli bombardment of Gaza may be a turning point: Arab leaders cancelled a meeting with US President Joe Biden. Meanwhile, the rest of the region has been swept by angry protests, from Tunis to Tehran.

Still, Biden met with his counterpart, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who secured more backing and funding for the war. Biden also absolved Netanyahu of instigating the hospital bombing.

As the bombs rain down on Gaza, Israel has continued to block aid to the enclave, even bombing the Rafah crossing that borders Egypt.

Sabreen Abd Rabu, her husband and their three children were caught in one of the aerial attacks there.

“The ground shook, and we were suddenly enveloped in unconsciousness amid the swirling sand,” Sabreen said.

Thousands remain trapped as Israel sowed confusion and panic early in the week with an order for Gazans to evacuate to the south of the strip.

The order was haunting: an echo of the Nakba, Palestinians said, when in 1948 Israeli militias drove out entire families from their land.

Amid the bloodbath, Palestinians have tried to find small pockets of what little joy they can, with mothers in Gaza consoling their terrified children in the few ways available to them: through games, hugs and YouTube.

“This is the fifth war I’ve experienced as a mother and each time, I turn to YouTube and online articles to enhance my understanding of how to support my daughters during times of conflict,” said Rawan, a mother in her 30s.

In Gaza City, a man and his donkey trudge through bombed-out neighbourhoods, ensuring people don’t go thirsty under the Israeli siege that has cut off water and electricity.

Jameel al-Karoubi used to sell vegetables, but now he distributes water for free.

“As long as my people are in need,” he said, “I’ll be there.”

Briefly

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Quote of the Week

“We had some beautiful moments there, that’s where our love for each other grew.” | Ahmed Hijazi, a content creator and programme presenter from Gaza, speaking about his wife and the high-rises that have been levelled by Israeli bombs.

Source: Al Jazeera

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