Death, pain and devastation are all there is in the Gaza Strip today. Everyone has their story of loss and grief as the death toll of Israel’s incessant attacks rises by the hour.
It is the same for Ahmed Alnaouq, a man who is grieving the death of 21 family members killed by some of the thousands of bombs that Israel has rained down on the besieged Palestinian enclave since 7 October. Alnaouq is a Palestinian journalist based in London, miles away from his loved ones, but everything he does today is for Gaza and the millions trapped there under the shadow of death.
He is the co-founder of We Are Not Numbers, a storytelling project dedicated to human stories about Palestinians in Gaza. He uses his substantial social media clout to shed light on the atrocities being committed by Israel, and to tell the world about those who are falling prey to them.
In the early hours of 22 October, Israel bombed the Alnaouq family home in Gaza, killing 21 members of the family, including Ahmed’s father, two brothers, three sisters and 14 nieces and nephews.
“In normal days, the people who live in my house are my father, my two brothers, and the family of my older brother,” Alnaouq told Anadolu in a video interview. “But during this war, my sisters, who are married and live in different areas, decided to move to my home because they thought it is one of the safest areas and they maybe could survive the war there.”
The reality of the Gaza Strip, however, is that there is not a single building safe from Israeli bombs.
“It was 4 or 5 am when they were targeted. And I was sleeping then, but I woke up suddenly, panicked for some reason in my sleep,” he explained. “I woke up and heard the news from a friend who lives there. He told me that my house was bombed and my family were killed.”
His two other sisters were not at home on the day of the attack, but he has lost contact with one of them because of the power and communication cuts.
What Alnaouq, 29, has gone through is something that he – like any other human – simply can’t put into words. “It’s a feeling like no other. My heart was broken. It was very, very, very difficult, and it is very difficult to describe it right now.”
Israel didn’t say why it bombed my home
However, Alnaouq, who has previously lost two other family members to Israeli violence, knows that he is not alone in feeling this pain. “My family is just one of another 900 families who were targeted and killed. All of them were killed. Israel doesn’t have a justification to bomb any house and they don’t have any reason. It didn’t say why it bombed my home. And we are used to hearing from the Israelis that they are targeting areas where militants are. But I know my family, I know my people. We don’t have any militant in my home and there is no military activity even around the area where my father and my brothers lived.”
He believes that Israel targets civilians because it wants to inflict damage on the Palestinian people and it doesn’t need any justification to kill Palestinians. “They want to kill as many Palestinians as possible in order to intimidate others to leave the Gaza Strip and move to Sinai. This is a plan that they are putting in motion to displace the Palestinians and kick them out of the Gaza Strip, the same way that it happened in the Nakba in 1948.”
As far as Alnaouq is concerned, Western media “is and has been complicit in war crimes against the Palestinian people for a long, long time.” He is convinced that Israel could not have carried out these massacres “without cover and a green light” from the Western media. “They have provided Israelis with the right environment to commit as many massacres as possible against the Palestinians. And they always cover and give justification for the Israelis when they commit these massacres against the Palestinian people.”
This has happened not only since 7 October; the issue didn’t start then. It has been happening, he told me, ever since the creation of Israel in 1948, since the Nakba of the Palestinian people. “The media has been spreading a lot of misinformation, a lot of lies about what’s actually going on in Gaza, because Israel cares a lot about how it is viewed by people in the West.”
If Western journalists were doing their job professionally, with impartiality, the Israelis would dare to massacre the Palestinians, he said.
“They always exclude very important information that would make a huge difference for the audience. But they intentionally or sometimes unintentionally provide false information and lie about Palestinians.”
Alnaouq, however, still gives credit to citizens of Western nations for their support to Palestinians, pointing to the massive protests regularly being staged in countries like the US and UK. “They are pro-peace and they want a ceasefire. Unfortunately, the governments do not understand the will of their people and they do not listen to what their people actually want.”
Nevertheless, he believes that if the protests continue, politicians will be forced to listen to the people. “Their governments will have to do something to satisfy their people because these people are very angry.”
Alnaouq pointed out that this is not the first time that Israel has wrought such devastation on Palestinians or Gaza, but he believes it is now bent on causing “damage that we haven’t seen before.”
More than 10,000 people killed in just a month is an unprecedented level of casualties, he pointed out, and yet Israel claims that it is still in the early stages of its war which might continue for a year until Hamas is eliminated.
“And of course, I disagree with Israel. It is not there to eradicate Hamas. It is after all of the Palestinian people. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have seen this much damage to civilian infrastructure and so many civilians killed.” For Israel, everything right now is about revenge.
“I think the Israeli army and Israeli regime are racist. They are inherently racist and this is what they said. They said that now they are dealing with ‘human animals’. They see us as ‘human animals’.” That’s what Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called the Palestinians.
If the international community does not intervene, said Alnaouq, there will be more “massacres” and “genocide” in the coming days. “I am not optimistic, to be honest. I wish I could tell you I am optimistic and that there could be a ceasefire.” But he can’t.