Common Grounds

We’ve shown Gaza’s suffering for over 200 days. Don’t look away now

May 07, 2024

Source: + 972 Magazine


By Mohammed R. Mhawish

Published May 3, 2024


Palestinians have been the sole journalists persistently reporting from the ground in Gaza. Yet it feels that the world is losing interest in our stories.

We’ve shown Gaza’s suffering for over 200 days. Don’t look away now

Palestinians at the site of an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, April 18, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)


As Israel’s cruel war on Gaza surpasses 200 days, the toll it inflicts on the Palestinian people grows ever deeper. Both the land and population of the besieged Strip have been obliterated to a degree not seen since the Nakba of 1948. Famine and malnutrition have tightened their grip, leaving hundreds of thousands of families in the north and south desperate for food and medical aid as they attempt desperately to flee the bombing campaign that hasn’t ceased since October.


The losses that we’ve suffered — and are still counting — over the past seven months are immeasurable. They reflect not just homes and livelihoods, but also the dreams and aspirations of entire generations. And with Israeli military and government officials promising an imminent incursion into the overcrowded city of Rafah, which is now home to nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s population, further pain and suffering appear to be in store.


And yet, despite this dire situation, the world’s attention is turning away. The international community seems to be growing increasingly indifferent to our torment. It is painful to see how our identity has condemned us to disproportionate suffering and being treated as less than human by those beyond our borders.


Rather than offering hope, news of the fruitless ceasefire negotiations has become a form of psychological warfare. Every failed back-and-forth over the last seven months has only broken the spirits of the people of Gaza further. Diplomatic efforts have fallen short of meeting the urgent needs of the people, who demand nothing less than recognition of their basic humanity and dignity. The disappointing coverage by the international media, which often amplifies the voices of the oppressors rather than the oppressed, only adds to the sense of betrayal and complicity in the ongoing massacre of innocent lives.


Palestinians at the site of a mosque destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, near the Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, April 26, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)


As a journalist and writer from Gaza, I have spent the past months witnessing and documenting the unfolding tragedies of war. Through my reporting and interviews with residents from every part of Gaza, I have seen the harrowing toll that this prolonged bombardment has exacted on my people. Over seven agonizing months of bloodshed and despair, I have seen our quest for freedom and for an end to this madness tragically misrepresented in Western media coverage as “support for terror.” Our voices have been silenced, while every assault on our lives and bodies is cynically justified by Israeli leaders in the name of “security.”


For us Palestinian journalists, reporting on the war in Gaza isn’t just a job — it’s a national duty in the face of overwhelming odds. Continuing this endeavor is agonizingly difficult: faced with such overwhelming trauma and suffering, the priority for many journalists, myself included, has been to escape Gaza and simply survive. But when our cameras are shattered, there’s no one left to capture the brutal reality of Israel’s aggression against a vulnerable population. And when our voices are silenced, no one can hear our cries for help.


The Israeli government wants us to be voiceless. It continues to forbid foreign journalists from entering and reporting inside the Strip. And it has attempted to silence Palestinian journalists directly: the Israeli army repeatedly texted and called my phone in an attempt to coerce me to stop writing and to abandon my journalistic responsibilities. It was tempting to prioritize my safety, but I couldn’t ignore the oppressive conditions my people are facing. If Palestinian journalists were to stop doing our job, who would fill the void?


The mainstream media cannot, and will not, champion our struggle as we do. As long as their notion of “neutrality” reigns supreme, our suffering and dismissed humanity fall on deaf ears. In today’s context, neutrality equates to siding with the oppressor while witnessing the oppressed get killed on live broadcasts, their deaths unjustly rationalized under the flimsy pretext of the powerful’s right to “self-defense.”


Students protest at a pro-Palestine encampment at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, United States, April 30, 2024. (Heather Sharona Weiss/Activestills)


Yet it seems that doing everything we can to inform the world about our struggle has not been enough. For over 200 days, we have been unearthing mass graves scattered across Gaza. For over 200 days, we have been fleeing from the relentless onslaught of death, with nowhere truly safe to provide refuge. For over 200 days, newborns have come into this world under the ominous hum of warplanes overhead. And for over 200 days, women and children have borne the brunt of unimaginable suffering at the hands of the Israeli military.


Despite the never-ending crisis, and in spite of the world’s growing indifference, we cling to the hope that justice will prevail. We yearn for the recognition of our inherent humanity and right to live freely and equally. True solidarity must champion justice for all, refusing to prioritize one people’s rights over another’s. It is imperative that the world directs genuine attention to our cries of suffering on the ground, and brings an end to the agony and bloodshed.


What we need is no more talk, more negotiations, more hollow words and gestures. We need sustained grassroots action all over the world, as well as politicians and policymakers who are willing to confront the reality of Palestine’s genocide and to hold Israel and its enablers accountable for their atrocities. This enduring state of oppression has persisted throughout our existence, infringing upon every fundamental right to live in safety and freedom. It has been in effect not only for 200 days, but for 75 years, since the initial displacement and uprooting of Palestinians from cities, towns, and villages throughout our occupied homeland.


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