Middle EastNews

“Israel’s threat is not Hamas; it is our Palestinian identity” says Ahmed Saad, a young Palestinian man in Gaza

Our MENA news editor, Naoual Sahel recently spoke to Ahmed Saad, a Palestinian currently seeking refuge in the Rafah Border.

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Our MENA news editor, Naoual Sahel recently spoke to Ahmed Saad, a Palestinian currently seeking refuge in the Rafah Border.

Ahmed Saad, a 29-year-old accountant born and raised in Gaza, embodies the plight of many Gazans who navigate life amid perpetual fear and uncertainty. I recently spoke with him about his experiences and the challenges he and his community have faced in the Gaza Strip since Israel’s continuous bombings in October.

Question: How challenging is the situation in Gaza right now?

Ahmed: “The situation is dire. Movement is restricted due to the constant threat of sniper fire. Basic necessities like food, water, and even the freedom to use the bathroom are luxuries. Injuries often result in fatalities because reaching those in need is nearly impossible. The Israeli Army’s intrusion into homes, shootings, and taking hostages are common occurrences. Houses are bombed indiscriminately, leaving us in a perpetual state of danger.”

Q: Where are you now? Have you lost any family members recently?

Ahmed: “I’m at the Rafah border now with my family in the UNRWA warehouse, living in a tent. I reside with my mother and three sisters. Unfortunately, my dad, cousin, and his son have been among the tragic losses. Additionally, I’ve lost two friends, and the uncertainty surrounding other relatives due to severed connections adds to our distress.”

Q: What are the immediate needs or shortages in Gaza?

Ahmed: “We lack necessities such as food, clothing, blankets (especially for the cold weather), and proper tents with bathroom facilities. Women also face challenges obtaining sanitary pads. The overcrowding in Rafah, with over a million people, leads to unhygienic conditions that result in various illnesses.”

Q: Can you describe what your life was like before the bombings?

Ahmed: “My life before the bombings was relatively calm. People found happiness in their daily routines, working hard for themselves and their families. Gaza was evolving into a modern city, boasting shops, malls, beautiful buildings, restaurants, and cafes. The beach was a serene escape. I worked online from my home near the sea. After work, I’d tend to my family’s needs, socialise with friends, enjoy leisurely activities like video games, and eagerly anticipate our weekly family gatherings.”

Q: Why do you believe the two-state solution is not viable?

Ahmed: “The two-state solution faces challenges due to Israel’s ambitions to claim all of Palestine. Look at what’s happening in the West Bank where there’s no Hamas presence—yet Palestinians face similar issues. Palestinians are being killed, taken hostage, and displaced for settlements. Palestine can be a home for everyone under Palestinian control, as it was before 1948, ensuring the protection of everyone’s rights.”

Q: Could you shed light on why there are prisoners in occupied Palestine and what their supposed crimes are?

Ahmed: “Israel is the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East that imprisons children and people without legal motive. They are being put under administrative detention and have no access to lawyer. Their only crime is voicing their support for a free Palestine, or sometimes they are just being kidnapped on the streets and thrown to jails for talking back to the Israeli Occupation Forces. The case of Ahmed Manasra is extremely concerning given he was put into jail from the age of 15 after his friend was stabbed to death in the streets in front of him, He then solitary confinement, he then got diagnosed with severe mental health disorders. This is our reality, the mainstream media won’t show you.” 

Q: I noticed there’s a GoFundMe campaign for you. Could you share some details about it?

Ahmed: “Yes, indeed. A kind-hearted Palestinian American girl initiated a campaign to support me and my family in leaving Gaza. As residents of Gaza, we cannot open accounts or start fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe due to restrictions. So, she began the campaign on our behalf, and many generous individuals have donated. We’re incredibly grateful. However, the campaign has been placed under review by GoFundMe, citing concerns about potential ties to terrorism. They’ve requested our legal names and information on how I plan to leave Gaza. We promptly provided them with the necessary information, but we are currently awaiting their response. Unfortunately, we’re still unable to access the funds raised, and there’s a looming possibility that GoFundMe might close the campaign and refund the donations to the contributors. I hope they approve it because it’s my dream to take my family to a safe place now.”

Q: How is the UN helping you?

Ahmed: “The aid facilitated by the UN is channelled through Egypt to various organisations. People must register using their identification, and aid is distributed based on the number of family members. However, the support we receive from the UN represents only about 5% of what is truly needed. The assistance, while appreciated, falls significantly short of addressing the immense challenges and needs faced by families in Gaza.”

Q: As a Palestinian, what do you say to people that qualify Hamas as a terror organisation?

Ahmed: Before 1948, we welcomed Jews to our land and accepted them as family. But now, Zionists are bombing all of Gaza, killing babies, all of us and forcing us to be refugees in our land. As a Palestinian, having lived the terror of Israeli occupation, our people are only resisting the occupation by freeing the land.

Q: What do you say to people who refuse to call it genocide? 

Ahmed: “Gaza is getting bombed on a daily basis. Israel is bombing every part of the city. We have nowhere to go. They lied to us when they asked us to move to the other part of the city, and on our way, they started targeting us. As defined by the United Nations in 1948, my people are systematically and deliberately being targeted and killed based on our Palestinian identity. 

Not only is Israel attempting to destroy our bodies, but it is also harming our mental health. Palestinians are getting kidnapped from the streets or homes for voicing their support for a free Palestine and thrown into jails under administrative detention, meaning our people have no right to see a lawyer. Israel’s threat is not Hamas; it is our Palestinian identity.”

Q: How do you explain your inability to move to other parts of Palestine or even travel the world? 

Ahmed: “There’s a decade-long siege in Gaza now; since I was born, I cannot visit other parts of my country, as Israel doesn’t allow me to. Gaza is a big open prison; I feel like a prisoner who did no crime. For us Palestinians in Gaza, these restrictions have created a reality that feels akin to living in a confined space. We cannot freely move and access various opportunities or connect with relatives in other parts of our homeland. This situation has profoundly impacted our lives, leaving us feeling isolated and confined despite our desire for freedom of movement and the ability to access different parts of Palestine. I dream of a free Palestine and the day I can finally travel and discover the world I live in.”