My name is Rana. I have lived in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip all twenty-one years of my life. What is happening in Gaza is not fiction but a bitter reality, which we lack the means to defend ourselves against. In the last few days, an unusually powerful storm has flooded many areas, displacing hundreds of residents from their homes. Children are without shelter from the cold and rain. Entire neighborhoods are sinking.
My family and I spent four days in darkness in below freezing weather: no electricity, no water, and no heat. I was so cold, I couldn‘t leave my bed and the small comfort it and my blankets provided. The cold felt like it penetrated my bones. Yet, I am lucky. I witnessed many people as they became homeless, their children desperate for food and warmth.
Friends called to tell me about the flooding and freezing in their areas. I felt bad, unable to help.
Power lines are down and our streets are filled with raw sewage. Greenhouses have been destroyed, affecting farmers and reducing the already minimal food supply we Gazans are forced to survive on.
Making conditions worse, Israel opened two dams, releasing a torrent of water that inundated many homes. As their houses sank, some of my neighbors nearly drowned. Fortunately, rescue workers came to their aid.
All of this was not enough for Israel. Its soldiers have been shooting at civilians in the village of Khuza’a, to the east of my city. Unarmed residents, women and children, attempting to flee the flooded town, were driven back for fear of being shot.
Israel’s action, assisted by the world’s silence, increases our suffering. Where is the international law we hear so many people talk about but never implement? Where is the community that talks about justice and humanitarian support? If my people are prevented from obtaining the basic requirements of life at least we should speak up and raise our voices.
Another storm is expected to hit my vulnerable homeland next week, bringing with it more suffering and more homelessness. When will the world wake up and treat us like human beings? When the World will stand on our side ?
Rana Alshami, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip