Introduction

I am a mother and wife who lived through four months in Khan Yunis and Rafah during the ongoing genocide. This is not a journey you would want to explore or hear about; it is purely miserable. To me, it does not even sound like my own story. I used to sympathize and cry over such stories in documentaries, but to my disbelief, I am now writing my own.


For some context, my dear reader, I need to take you back in time, forty years before the war. I was born in Mecca to a couple of expats from Khan Yunis. My dad was a banker, and my mother was a typical housewife. I spent my first 12 years in Saudi Arabia, and during summers, we would journey to Gaza to visit our family. In 1994, when the Palestinian Authority came to Gaza, my dad decided it was time for us to return as well.


At first, I did not like it, but slowly I learned to love my homeland despite all its flaws. I finished high school and attended university, where my love of languages led me to the French department. Being a big fan of reading, I developed a passion for writing. My French writing professor encouraged me to continue, giving me the honour of holding the highest score in a writing task in the history of Al-Aqsa University’s French department, 19/20.


I got married in my second year and had my son, Adel, the year I graduated. I chose to be a stay-at-home mother, and after five years, I welcomed my second son, Yamen. I was just an ordinary woman with a beautiful family and a comfortable house in the center of Khan Yunis city. I spent my days taking care of my loved ones and myself, practicing swimming and yoga, learning languages online, and making friends worldwide.


My husband is a renowned surgeon at Nasser Hospital, and my two sons are the pride of the family, excelling in their schools. Despite how Gaza is often depicted in the news, my life was relatively good. We had everything we needed except for political stability and the occasional escalations, which we had learned to navigate and continue our lives around.


But then the last war happened, abruptly and unlike any previous conflicts, it disrupted our plans and lives without warning. During escalations, being married to a doctor is not a privilege; you’re on your own. I had to endure the bombings, evacuations, and horrors, taking care of my sons and myself while my husband worked 24-hour shifts. We spent our days praying for his safe return.

On the fourth day of the war, Tuesday, October 10th, we had our last day in our house. A phone call came, warning that our neighbour’s house would be bombed. As an experienced Gazan, I had prepared bags for quick exits: one with our essential documents and the other with clothes and personal belongings. The boys and I ran into the street, and another neighbour took us in temporarily. I cannot describe how it felt. I imagined our house would be destroyed since it was right next to the threatened one. Distraught, I tried to figure out the safest course of action. My eldest son and I decided to go back and get the car out of the garage. He had just received his driver’s license two weeks earlier, and this was the first time I saw him drive. He drove me and his little brother, along with our two bags, to his grandmother’s.


Since then, we have been displaced multiple times. Our house, which had withstood the wars of 2012, 2014, and 2021, was rendered uninhabitable. And so begins my diaspora story. I write to you, dear readers, from Cairo, after we managed to flee Rafah just before it was about to be invaded.