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Palestinian Voices

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Partners for Palestine is fortunate to have members with trusted contacts in the West Bank and Gaza who can provide first-hand information about the ongoing violence. We will be featuring them here. Today's post is from Enas Culhane, who has joined our board and has

family in the West Bank as well as friends in Gaza. Thanks to Enas for sharing this powerful story.

Reflections between sorrow and grief

by Enas Culhane

I am writing to you and cannot feel my physical body much. I cannot comprehend the level of pain and heartbreak I am feeling at the moment. I am filled with grief and sorrow.

I am not completely shocked that most of the world's leadership – with political, military, and financial power - is standing with the oppressor. I am shocked at the level of corruption that is overriding humanity. All who are profiting from war are protecting their own self-interest and investment. Even free speech to support Palestinians is being punished, here in this western "democracy."

I am a Palestinian from the West Bank who lives in the USA, and I have lived through three wars against Gaza and the Second Intifada in the military-occupied West Bank. In fact, I was born in the year of the First Intifada. This time, it feels different. I am far away from home, and the pain is in many ways similar and different. I feel death, and I am mourning and grieving the loss of innocent children and families whose only involvement is trying to live and survive to raise their children.

I wake up every day to check my phone and ensure my family is still okay and our friend Nour in Gaza and her family are still alive. Yesterday, I was incredibly worried and heard nothing from Nour, so I called my mother, who lives in the West Bank, and she said that they had received a call from Nour. My mother, full of sadness, described how Nour was actually comforting her and telling her that they are still alive. “Just pray for us,” Nour said, as she was packing her stuff to evacuate again from the flat they were renting after a series of rented flats were demolished by Israeli missiles. Nour and her family (30 members, the majority of them children) were moving from one flat to another, renting it for between 500-700 shekels to serve as a shelter until it is bombed, then they look to rent another one.

On the phone Nour was panicking, and her voice was scratched and filled with fear as she rushed to pick up her important items to evacuate. Nour told my mother that this is what they have been doing since the beginning of the bombing on Gaza after they lost their home, which was destroyed by an Israeli missile. It happened on Wednesday, October 11, at 8 in the morning after Nour and her family received an alert that they had only five minutes to evacuate a building of five stories in which her family and other extended family members shared different floors. Nour and her family had their suitcases prepared with their important documents and valuables and some clothes to start this journey of "hide and seek."

The most horrifying news I heard from my mother was that when Nour was delayed five minutes from going to the working pharmacy in the center of Gaza, the exact pharmacy Nour wanted to go to was bombarded. Nour told my mother if it weren't for the conversation between her and my brother, she would not have been delayed five minutes - the time she needed to save her life. Many people who were inside it at that moment were killed. Nour went to the pharmacy later after the bombardment stopped, as people rushed to help whoever survived it. What was most horrifying to me was when Nour told my mother that she stepped by mistake on an arm that was blown off the body of a woman during the airstrike ... Nour said to my mother it appeared to be the arm of a woman she recognized. This time, Nour was spared, and so far, she and her family are still alive; we were able to check on them today after a communication blackout in the Gaza Strip was removed.

Every morning, I wake up to check my phone and see if there is any message from Nour to know that she is still alive. I go to bed terrified that I may wake up to horrifying news about her and her family. Although I am left speechless about most of the horror and what families are dealing with in Gaza, I realize we have no greater power than our stories to share with the rest of the world. We have to keep telling and sharing them until justice prevails and all people around the world enjoy true freedom and realize the deep meaning of being simply human.

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