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Memoirs from Gaza: Four stories, four cats – Simsom, Snowy, Silver, and Rummana

Memoirs from Gaza: Four stories, four cats – Simsom, Snowy, Silver, and Rummana

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إقرأ باللغة العربية:

يوميات من غزة (28)... أربع قصص عن أربع قطط، سمسم، سنوي، سيلفر، ورمانة


A beautiful cat with unique lines on its fur hides under one of the ambulances at the Mohammed Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital. Let's call her Simsom ('Sesame' in Arabic). She moves with extreme caution and even greater fear for her small chance to nab any crumbs of food left by the paramedics standing nearby. She tries not to get too close to anyone, fleeing immediately when someone approaches. She balances on one back leg while the other dangles in the air, semi-amputated, seemingly a useless appendage.

Simsom rarely moves from her hiding spot under the ambulance, unless she finds crumbs of food left by the group of nearby paramedics. This cat lost her leg in a bombing on Rafah city, and now, just like so many others, she must learn to limp and survive.

Simsom came here after her leg was injured in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah. She most probably arrived with a full leg, bleeding and in pain. This cat, who used to jump over house walls on all fours, is now fearful and cautious, terrified of emerging from under the car to find new shrapnel that could take what's left of her, terrified that the ambulance will disappear, leaving her to search for a new shelter from the bombing.


As for Gaza’s luckiest cat, it's Snowy. He got lost after his owner Yamen was killed by an Israeli missile. He began to search for a new shelter. But to Snowy, all the shelters were the same, and so he went back to his now-bombed home where he stood atop the debris for a while, meowing and trying to find his owner’s scent. To this day, Yamen remains buried beneath the rubble. Snowy searched for a long time in vain. He slept on top of the rubble until someone came looking for him. For a cat to be the subject of a search party during the war is very strange, just as it is strange for me to write this story while new, more complex and terrifying stories emerge daily in this war of death and hunger.

Snowy, the silky white cat covered in ash and rubble, returned to her now-destroyed home, in order to find her owner, Yamen, who had been killed in the bombing of his house. Snowy meowed and searched for days, to no avail. His surviving family searched for Snowy amidst the rubble and found him there. They left Gaza, and took Snowy with them. It can be said that Snowy is the luckiest cat in Gaza.

The family found Snowy asleep on the rubble, a silky white cat covered in ash, his coat becoming darker with every explosion around him. They took him, cleaned him, and waited a bit before arranging for him to leave the city: the city where his owner died, where he almost lost his life, too. Snowy left for a safer place, a neighboring country, and Yamen left for the sky, while the rest of us, and all the other cats of Gaza, stayed behind, under the growing shadow of death.


Rummana (Arabic for 'Pomegranate') is Mahmoud's dearest companion. She lived every moment of the war alongside the 19-year-old. Initially, they were displaced to Shadia Abu Ghazala School, and sought shelter in the same classroom as Mahmoud and his family. When the Al-Faluja area became a dangerous military zone, and the occupation demanded that the displaced leave the schools they were sheltering in, Mahmoud put Rummana in a bag and took her to a school in Zarqa. Anytime he would buy himself food, he did so for her too, whether meat or canned tuna. When the canned food ran out, he would share his meal with her.

Minutes before the temporary ceasefire went into effect, the occupation, as per usual, unleashed its madness, indiscriminately shelling the city and killing anything in its path. Mahmoud and his family were forced to flee the school, and amidst the horror, forgot Rummana. The next day, Mahmoud disappeared. His family, unable to find him, were worried. But finally, they saw him return, Rummana in hand. She had been sleeping on the family’s mattress back at the school, waiting for them.

Rummana was displaced with Mahmoud to a shelter in Zarqa. It was bombed, forcing the family to quickly flee. In the chaos of the moment, they forgot the cat behind. Mahmoud returned the next day and found Rummana sleeping on his mattress, waiting for him.

The ceasefire didn't last long and soon a new chapter of displacement began. Mahmoud and his family left for the Holy Family School, the harshest leg of their journey to safety, one marred with bloodshed. On December 3, 2023, the family tried to leave the school, to escape the shelling and bullets all around them. Mahmoud led his sister, her daughters, their neighbors and of course, Rummana, to their shelter’s exit. At the school gate, they were killed by a drone missile, tank shells and live bullet rounds. Mahmoud’s sister was injured, and her neighbor lost half her leg. Rummana died with Mahmoud that day, held in his arms.


As for me, I apologize deeply to Silver for leaving him behind.

I made the decision to leave Silver behind when I fled Gaza; I had no choice. My family told me that he has now become an exceptional street cat, running around, scavenging for food, just like the rest of us.

He was my favorite cat, a Himalayan Blue, with white fur, a black nose, gray ears, and a gray tail. He always sat on my left shoulder, and would sleep by my head or next to me. I often feared he might die without me noticing, but in the end, I left him in the North with my little brother, and left the strip, afraid of the siege and the death engulfing this city.

I left him like the rest of the cats that were left alone. I had no choice. Silver is growing now. I recently heard from my family that he has become an exceptional street cat, running around and fighting to find food, just like the rest of us. We all struggle to secure our survival, even if our survival is just one bite that allows us to keep standing on our own two feet. Everyday, we try to stand on our feet, but so far, we keep falling.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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