Palestinian Diarist Says The War Has Taken Everything From Her; After Fleeing To Doha, She Feels Happy To Have Survived

Toshiyuki Fukushima / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Maria Keshawi speaks in Doha on May 31.

DOHA — “I feel happy. I can survive,” Palestinian girl Maria Keshawi said, nearly seven months after she wrote in her journal, “I ask myself every day if I will survive until the next day.”

The 16-year-old high school student, who in November sent The Yomiuri Shimbun her journal of suffering amid the ongoing fighting in Gaza, gave an interview to the newspaper in late May.

Maria left Gaza in March of this year. She is currently living as a refugee in Doha, Qatar, about 1,800 kilometers to the southeast.

On Oct. 13 of last year, six days after the fighting began, Maria’s family of five, who lived in Gaza City, left their home after being told by the Israeli military to evacuate immediately.

They then moved from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip to Deir al-Balah in the central part of the Strip, then back to Khan Younis, and finally to Rafah in the southernmost part of the Strip.

They had to move from one place to another because the military kept bombing the places they evacuated to or surrounding the cities and preparing to invade.

Stringer/The Yomiuri Shimbun
Maria, 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 Nov. 5.

On Oct. 21, her brother was seriously wounded when he was hit in the head by a bomb fragment in Khan Younis. The family had been displaced for five months, and they were totally exhausted.

The family decided to flee Gaza, so they paid an exorbitant fee of $5,000 (about ¥800,000) each to an Egyptian contractor and crossed into Egypt through the Rafah checkpoint on March 12 of this year.

Maria remembers Gaza before the war as “heaven,” where she spent peaceful days with family and friends. During the war, however, her home was destroyed and she lost two friends.

While Maria feels very fortunate to be in Doha, she feels crushed when she hears news out of Gaza.

There is no telling when the fighting will end or when she will be able to return to her hometown.

“This war [has taken] everything from me,” she said, with anger in her eyes.