UNDP provided tens set up for Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, are seen in Khan Younis on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Ashraf Amra)

I know you are watching the horrifying news about the continuous bombing of Gaza. Every day the people experience new kinds of bombs, with new sounds, new kinds of devastation, new elements of terror. “But the irony,” my friend Neveen told me today on the phone from Gaza, “is how scared I was by a photo that some friends shared with me.” It was a picture of the tents that have been set up in the Gazan city of Khan Younis.

“Are we back to the beginning, 75 years ago?” she asked, and I could hear the devastation in her voice. “I don’t want to live in a tent. I don’t want my children to live in a tent. I’m not going to leave my house, no matter what will happen. These tents are haram for us as Palestinians. At the same time, they motivate us to stay in our homes, even if we thought for a minute we needed to leave to survive.”

It’s not easy to catch up with everything that’s happening in Gaza because events are moving so rapidly—the people who are killed day by day, hour by hour; the houses, hospitals, mosques, churches, and schools that are bombed. My friend Eyad told me, “Every day we say it is the worst day, but then the next day is even worse.” He is the father of three daughters, living with 100 people in a tiny building, trying to survive in Shati Refugee Camp, in the northern area of Gaza, which Israel demanded be evacuated.

For the people surviving in the Gaza Strip, their lives can be turned upside down in seconds. It all depends on the Israeli occupation planes and warships and tanks and drones. Even the people who fled their homes, seeking a more secure area, are bombed. We saw that at the Al Ahli Hospital and the Roman Orthodox Church and the UNRWA schools.

These two parents are already refugees. Their families were uprooted 75 years ago from their villages, which are not far from the border of Gaza. They don’t want to repeat this. They say that the only way they want to leave their houses in Gaza is to return home to their villages, not to live in tents.

Our duty is to take a stand and to fight to stop the genocidal attack on Gaza. And to expand our solidarity with the people of Gaza.

I hope I will be able to talk with my friends again. They are trying to survive on their luck and their collective spirit.