The Gaza Strip has endured seemingly endless tragedy. As Israel wages its war to root out Hamas in the aftermath of the latter’s Oct. 7 massacre, which killed 1,400 in Israel, at least 3,700 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed. A blast at Al-Ahli hospital where many Gazans had sought refuge resulted in the loss of as many as hundreds of lives.
But for all the attention being paid to Gaza in the last two weeks, it remains difficult to hear the voices of Palestinians living there. Israeli authorities have cut off fuel and electricity to the enclave, making it difficult for residents to keep their devices charged, let alone reach the outside world.
While many international journalists are based in Israel, there is a very limited foreign media presence in Gaza. What reporting does come out of the Strip is largely from Gaza-based Palestinian reporters such as Noor Harazeen, who are simultaneously covering and living the story.
“I try to be as professional as possible, just so no one can say that because I am a Palestinian journalist, I am taking the Palestinian side, and spreading lies,” she says. “I try as much as I can to hold my tears back, but in some cases, I can’t do that.”
The picture is a grim one. To live in Gaza today means not only facing airstrikes, thousands of which have been carried out on Gaza over the past 13 days, but also the threat of malnutrition and inability to access medical care, as Gaza hospitals reach a breaking point.
“The health system had 2,500 beds when the war started, and now it has 12,500 wounded,” says Ghassan Abu-Sittah, a British Palestinian doctor currently working in Gaza. He notes that the health system was already “on its knees” as a result of a 16-year blockade, enforced by Israel and Egypt, that has severely curtailed the movement of goods and people in and out of the Strip, half of whose 2 million residents are children.
Despite the Israeli military’s order late on Oct. 12 for the 1.1 million Palestinians residing in northern Gaza to flee south—a mass evacuation that the United Nations dubbed “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences—there are no safe havens in Gaza. As hundreds of thousands have fled to southern cities such as Khan Younis and Rafah, Israeli airstrikes have followed.
That all of this is happening in full sight of the world makes many Palestinians in Gaza feel alone—even betrayed.
“If you tell any Palestinian ‘Tell your story now,’ even myself, they will say, ‘Just shut up, no one cares,’” says Ghada Ageel, a visiting Professor at the University of Alberta in Canada, whose extended family remains in Gaza. “We have been sending the stories. The problem is not with the story. The problem is with Western media and Western politicians that opted to remain silent.”
Still, many Palestinians are keen to share their experiences—if not to save their lives, then to at least to prove that they mattered.
“I hope that we’ll stay alive, not because I want life, but because I want to tell our stories, the stories of our people,” says 21-year-old Tala Herzallah, a student in Gaza.