“I Am Not a Number”... the Fears and Dreams of Gaza’s Grieving Youth

Friday 21 May 202107:04 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

"أنا مش رقم"… رسائل تحمل أحلام شباب غزّة المكلومة ومخاوفهم

My name is Rawan, and I’m 18 years old. I am studying dentistry, and I live in Gaza. To be honest, from the very first time I became aware of the world and realized that I was in Gaza and found out what life was like here, I realized that all my dreams were pointless. That is why I don’t have any dreams or ambitions anymore, and I don’t aspire to do or be anything other than wish for my family to be healthy and safe. After all that I have been through, it pains me that I will be reduced to a mere number. All I want is to live in safety and in peace. That’s it, I swear.”

This is just one of the hundreds of the touching humanitarian messages that have been posted by young men and women from the besieged Gaza Strip — which has been subjected to brutal Israeli bombardment for the second week in a row — via the hashtag, #I_am_not_a_number on various social media sites.

The moving messages carry a great deal of pain, feelings of oppression, and sometimes anger mixed with frustration — if not outright despair. They drive their point home through poignant phrases such as: “It is my right to live and for you to know me”, “Continue to remember our faces well”, and “At any given moment, I could be the next martyr.”

@itsFaresSA_

“MY NAME IS FARIS

I LIVE IN GAZA. DEATH IS EVERYWHERE AND ME BECOMING THE NEXT MARTYR IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BECAUSE OF THE BOMBING AND ATTACKS WE ARE OBJECTED TO FROM THE OCCUPATION.

MY LIFE IS WORTH MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER ADDED TO THE DEATH TOLL OF MARTYRS.

I AM NOT A NUMBER ADDED TO THE LIST, I AM A HUMAN, I AM A BODY.” #I_am_not_a_number

Fear, Pain, and Frustration

With the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) taking over authority in Gaza, the Strip has been under siege by Israel since 2007. This suffering is nothing new to the population of the two million Palestinians that have suffered through three wars so far.

“It is my right to live and for you to know me… At any given moment, I could be the next martyr”... Touching humanitarian messages from the young men and women of Gaza depicting their dreams, fears, and pains through #I_am_not_a_number

However, this latest Israeli bombardment continued raging its brutality, committing a great deal of massacres. Finding safety became near impossible there, with every inch of the Gaza Strip under threat of being bombed at any moment, especially with the targeting of schools, hospitals, homes, factories, roads, governmental departments, and even the headquarters of foreign media agencies.

All this suffering is clearly reflected in the messages of the Gazans. They show a streak of despair, frustration, pain, a sense of disappointment, and a veiled accusation of being viewed as nothing more than mere numbers — as if their killing had become regular news and the norm.

Gaza local Farah Ibrahim posted: “Hello, my name is Farah. I am from Gaza and I’m 18 years old. I am studying pharmacy and my dream was to complete my studies, prove myself, make my mark on the world, and help my people. But just because I live in Gaza, my life is under constant threat, and at any given moment, I could be the next martyr. Remember that we are human beings just like you. We love, we dream, and we have aspirations that we had hoped would come true... Do not forget us.”

Sahar Daghmoush frankly explained: “This is the truth. I am neither Batman nor Superman to be able to live through all this distortion and destruction. I am a human being with feelings and emotions. I get affected and frightened by any sound I may hear. I cannot be proud and obstinate, nor can I hide my feelings of fear, my love for life, or my great hatred for wars. I want to sleep in peace, live happily, or just leave the house like any other human being in the world. I am not an iron lady to be this patient and endure everything that has happened and continues to happen, and then kust consider it normal and ordinary!

Suffering is nothing new to Gazans, who’ve been living under siege and repeated Israeli bombing for years. Their messages showed a streak of despair, frustration, a sense of disappointment, and a refusal to be viewed as mere numbers, as if killing them had become the norm

She continued, “It is a truth that has wreaked havoc in my heart and mind, and struck me with panic, hysteria, and a fear of almost anything. Thus, I am no longer strong enough to carry on or  wait for what will happen next. I have had enough. By God, I have had enough. I am tired of running from one place to another and I do not want to die.”

Dreams of Potential Survivors

But a window of hope remains for some who voiced their dreams for a life after the bombardment, that is, if they survived. These dreams were divided between a personal aspect relating to travel, studying, work, as well as love and the like; and another collective aspect that comes in line with reconstructing the Gaza Strip or raising the Palestinian cause and exposing the crimes of the occupation.

@jamal_yaqeen

“I am Yakeen Jamal from Gaza. I am 18 years old. So young that I have not achieved anything of my dreams and aspirations. Remember me very well. I wish I could continue my studies abroad. I wish I could see the world, and sleep and wake up to the sound of birds (not bombs). I wish I can continue to plant hope and optimism within the hearts of people.

I wish I will one day bow down in thanks to God for realizing my dreams

I am worthy it and finally made it

#I_am_not_a_number

Iman Abu Rizk held on to hope for a better tomorrow when she said, “My name is Iman. I am 21 years old from Gaza. I study journalism and media. There is only one month left until I graduate. I still have a future and many dreams that I want to realize and enjoy.”

“After all that I have been through, it pains me that I will be reduced to a mere number. All I want is to live in safety and in peace. That’s it, I swear”... Young men and women of Gaza refuse death and oblivion

Then she added, “But the life of every Gazan is currently threatened, and at any moment, I could be the next martyr because of the bombardment that happens here by the damned occupation. Remember that we are human beings like the rest of the world. We love, we dream, and have ambitions and wishes that we had hoped would come true.”

In short, Iskandar Nasser pledged, “I am Iskandar, a lawyer from Gaza. I am 24 years old. If martyrdom is written down for me (in my fate), then I am no better than all those who have left us and will accept my fate. I fear my mother’s sadness more than I fear for myself. But if our Lord saves us and we survive past this war, I will dedicate myself to expose all the crimes and offences of the criminal occupation in every single way and by all means.”

While many from outside Gaza showed solidarity with the youth who posted their stories through the hashtag, some commentators lamented about how each fallen martyr “had a story, ambition, family, friends, memories, dreams, and wishes” that were never realized.

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