A young medical student speaks out about life in the besieged Strip, the persistence of Israeli attacks, and the need for real solidarity.
Flames are seen after an Israeli air strike strikes in Gaza City, Gaza, on June 15, 2021. (Photo by Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Amal Haddad, The Nation, JULY 6, 2021
In mid-May, as the Israeli military pummeled the Gaza Strip with shattering force, a medical student in the southern city of Rafah sent a plea to a friend, who shared it with another friend, who shared it with The Nation. The students name was Noor Alshaer, and she was desperate to to speak up—“for our voices to be heard, for our story to be out,” as she wrote.
“I have lived through three heinous wars only to live up to the fourth that already feels worse than all the previous three piled up together,” she continued. “Safety is not option in the strip, and it hurts me so much reading the news on the Western media, seeing how the stories are all one-sided.”
In June, I finally had the chance to speak with Alshaer from her home in Gaza. Though she has lived in the coastal Strip since birth, her family is originally from Bir al-Saba, an ethnically cleansed Palestinian town conquered by Israel in 1948 through aerial bombardment. (Over 70 percent of Palestinians living in Gaza are refugees from other parts of Palestine.)
For two brief years, Alshaer studied neuroscience at Washington and Lee University in Virginia but she had to return home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Israel did not allow Alshaer to leave the Strip to return to school—Palestinians must apply for a permit to leave Gaza, and are rejected more often than not—so she enrolled in medical school in Gaza.
It was as a medical student as well as a civilian that Alshaer experienced the 11 days of Israel’s latest bombing siege. During that time, Israeli precision-guided airstrikes killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, while over 72,000 Gazans were made homeless; 13 Israelis, including two children were killed. While Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, the violence faced by Palestinians has not ceased—in the West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel, or of course in Gaza. There, in the besieged Strip, people are not only struggling with the aftermath of the onslaught, but also with ongoing bombing. Continue reading