Aisha Hussein is not a real person; she is a composite. To underscore the dire situation in the midst of the destruction and bombing of Gaza, the occupation, sense of imprisonment and the unbelievable insecurity of daily life, Gazans have been living with, I have interspersed some imaginary diary entries of Aisha with some real diary excerpts by Anne Frank. I’ve taken real, indisputable facts of the last few weeks of Israeli genocide in Gaza to paint a picture of what a 13-year-old Palestinian girl of today might note in her diary. Just in case you are doubting any of these facts, I’ve included some hyperlinks. I’ve also interspersed some quotations from Anne Frank’s diary. See if you can spot them.
There’s 2.3 million of us. Here in Gaza. For my whole life it hasn’t been good here – but it’s home. Now it’s worse. Both of my parents are alive. And all four of us kids. But around us everyone is not so lucky. What did we all do wrong? Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old school girl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.
More than 250,000 of us are piling into 92 UN schools, clinics, and hospitals because of what Israel has done in the last week. Eleven staff, including teachers, were killed and thirty students. At the UN schools, we’re supposed to be safe. It’s off limits for bombing, but it isn’t.
At least four UNWRA schools in Gaza have been hit by missiles. Kids die because their parents have nowhere to go but to stay in the classrooms – we think it will be safe there. Thousands of us crowd in. But there’s no water, never mind food or medicine. And the bombs keep coming.
I thought of being a doctor – but now I worry we won’t even get to the age to study at the university.
My grandmother was only five when she was forced out of Lydda to Gaza in 1948. We call it the Nakba. She doesn’t even remember what life was like in the old days. But she lives across town now here in Gaza City. With no electricity, no phones, no internet – forget that. She doesn’t have a smart phone, just a flip phone. We couldn’t reach her for days. My dad was scared for my mom to go see how she was. Missiles rained down every few minutes. Destroying everything. We are on the main floor now. It used to be the lobby; we were on the second floor. But where is my grandmother, and how is she? She’s old. Women should be respected … Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn’t women have their share? Soldiers and war heroes are honored and commemorated… martyrs are revered, but how many people look upon women too as soldiers?
I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.
Today my aunt in Al Shifa hospital gave birth to my baby cousin Tarek. It was amazing she survived since the Israelis shot missiles at the hospital. I heard that 12,000 Palestinians were holed up in the hospital, since everything around it was destroyed. I wonder if I’ll ever get to meet Tarek? Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Lights and internet back on. A neighbour of my grandmother called. She’s OK but shaken up. My older brother went next door for bread; the bakery was open for a while. He came back with a package of cookies. Lemon cream between two wafers. My dad was pissed. But it’s all there was.
What do we do all day? We wait. I don’t know why. Sometimes we wait till my older brother can safely go and get our phones charged next door. Sometimes we wait for the internet and electricity to go on. Sometimes we wait for news. I’m scared all the time. I don’t want my mother to leave my sight even for a minute. Nightmares – even my brothers get them. They sit up screaming and shaking.
The Israelis say that Palestinians in Gaza all support Hamas. Well yes, older people voted for them. But so what? In Gaza, we don’t support murder and the killing of civilians. It’s been nearly a month since my school was hit by a missile and destroyed – thousands were taking shelter in the school that had five classrooms, a courtyard, and a couple of toilet buildings. That school was built by the UN – what right has Israel got to destroy it?
My parents told me the Israelis called it “mowing the grass,” but there are no lawns in Gaza. The Israelis have destroyed almost every town in northern Gaza. It had nothing to do with grass. I remember that for three days in Aug. 2022, Israel destroyed parts of Gaza and killed 31 Palestinians. That was called mowing the grass.
What do we eat? Well, lately, we got a little food aid through the UN. It was only one flatbread per person, plus four litres of water every day. We had jam so we had it with jam. My parents had some tinned goods left, so we ate tinned cheese, instant noodles, and potato chips. We haven’t seen meat in a month – or fresh food. Israel allows almost no trucks with food or water to enter. I’m always hungry, tired, and my mother says cranky.
We need to get what we can to my grandmother… she’s too old to bring her here to be with us. Her neighbour just got one kg of bread to feed 20 people in his family.
Somebody said a human needs 50 to 100 litres of water a day – but we use about three litres each per day – for everything. Today Israel bombed a water reservoir nearby and a public water tank. The man at the store (next door) said people are drinking polluted salty water. We stand in queues for hours just to buy water, as long as my parents have the money.
I heard my parents say that more than 4,100 children have died in this war that isn’t a war at all. We don’t have helicopter gunships, or guns, or drones or anything. We have no army. Will we die next?
I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too.
Lucky my Aunt got baby Tarek out of Al-Shifa Hospital. Today Israeli drones are striking dead anyone who walks through the courtyard. Sharpshooters are shooting patients through the windows. And, of course, there are no incubators working for newborns who need it. The hospital head doctor refused to accept 400 L of fuel for the generator because the hospital needs 10,000 L every day. The doctor said if our porters go out to get the fuel, they’ll be killed by Israeli soldiers. For 400 L, it isn’t worth it. •