Palestinian Girl Wonders If She Will Be Alive Tomorrow; Shares Fear, Anger Amid Continued Bombings

Stringer / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Maria Keshawi, far right, reads a picture book to her younger relatives by the light from a mobile phone in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on Sunday.

JERUSALEM — “I ask myself every day if I will survive until the next day.”

So wrote 15-year-old Palestinian Maria Keshawi in an account of her suffering amid ongoing airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

The high school girl is currently sheltering in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. There is no running water nor electricity and she has lost weight, as she can eat only one meal a day.

Maria replied in English to questions asked by The Yomiuri Shimbun. She sent her account to the newspaper from her mobile phone on several occasions, whenever the phone was connected.

According to Maria, she evacuated from her home in Gaza City after the Israeli army invaded, and went south to a shelter in Khan Younis on Oct. 13. Later her family moved to Deir al-Balah, where they were sharing a two-bedroom apartment with three other families.

Maria could only eat cold food because there was no electricity nor stove to cook warm meals like pasta or soup.

Stringer / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Maria Keshawi, second from left, eats her single meal for the day on Monday at a shelter in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

Her family’s single meal on Monday consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions sandwiched in a piece of round flat bread, which they got after standing in line for five hours.

Because there is no running water nor electricity, Maria cannot take a shower. She occasionally rinses herself off with water from a plastic bottle. Water used to clean people’s hands and dishes is saved and used to flush the toilet.

“This is the most difficult period in my life,” Maria wrote. “I never imagined in my life that I would leave my home, my belongings, my things, my school and my friends.”

Living as an evacuee amid continued bombing, she cannot go to school. She wrote that at least one of her friends suffered head injuries when her house was bombed.

“I don’t know if I lost any of my friends. I cannot communicate with any of them because the mobile signal is weak and the internet is cut off in some areas,” Maria wrote. “It saddens me that children of the world currently go to their schools and having a good life, but we the children of Gaza live in shelters with no food, or water, or, electricity, or hospitals, or schools.”

Bombs fall near the apartment where they have taken refuge, and they live in fear.

Maria reads picture books to her younger relatives under the light of her smartphone so they won’t be frightened by the sound of bombs.

“There is no place safe for us … I can’t believe the world is allowing that. This is unjust,” she wrote. “I hope the war will soon end because we became so tired of not knowing if we will be alive or dead when and if it ends.”

When the war ends, Maria wrote, the first thing she will do is to check on her family and friends to see if they survived, and then “start collecting the pieces of whatever [is] left of my past life. I will try to be strong and start again.”

Maria’s dream is to study journalism at university and become a journalist to tell the world about the devastation in Gaza, she said.