Gaza: “Each Day Seems Darker Than the Last”
A Palestinian journalist describes trying to report amid the danger and chaos of the war.
The clock read 6:20 am when the first rockets from Gaza began their ascent into the sky. The jarring explosions that followed left me in a state of shock, uncertain about the world unraveling around me. Clutching my phone, I fumbled for answers and stumbled upon news that sent shivers down my spine.
“Mentally and physically exhausted, I find myself grappling with the unending fear of losing my family or my home while reporting on this unfolding catastrophe.”
The headlines spoke of Palestinian fighters infiltrating Israeli settlements, and in that moment, I knew that a new wave of violence was descending upon the Gaza Strip. It's a sobering truth that often gets lost in the chaos: Palestinians, too, seek to defend their lives, homes, and families from years of violence and aggression, and yet, the world would soon frame them as initiators of yet another battle with Israel.
With the opening salvos, we were thrust into an abyss of nonstop explosions. The second day of the war dawned, and the scarcity of water and electricity became a painful reality. The challenges mounted, and with each passing moment it became evident that this time was different, that the ordeal we faced was far from ordinary.
The airstrikes encircled my house, and there was no way to anticipate where the bombs would strike next. It was then that I decided to report from Al Shifa hospital, an overburdened sanctuary of hope. Space for journalists was scarce, and the absence of internet crippled our ability to report the unfolding tragedy.
News outlets relentlessly called, desperate for coverage, but I had no press jacket or helmet. Our options for transportation and safe mobilisation were virtually non-existent, trapped amid the turmoil.
The days crept on, and each one seemed darker than the last. Our connection to the outside world diminished with the fading of the internet, and misinformation ran rampant. Yet we were powerless to debunk it, as we couldn't reach the targeted areas without reliable information or connectivity.
Beyond the internet, the telecommunications infrastructure itself suffered when Israeli forces targeted the main office of Paltel, leaving us further isolated from the world.
Standing amidst the chaos at Al Shifa hospital, my heart pounded with terror at the thought of a family member being in an ambulance or injured. The constant fear of my house being bombed, reduced to rubble, or, as was the fate of so many homes across the strip, flattened into the ground, became an inescapable reality.
Being a female in this tumultuous field presented unique challenges. Only two other women worked alongside me, among hundreds of thousands of people displaced by conflict, making our mission all the more daunting. In a region where everyday life is defined by conflict, basic comforts become unattainable luxuries.
“Our connection to the outside world diminished with the fading of the internet.”
For five days, I couldn't access a bathroom or change my underwear. I wore the same socks for more than three days, as life in Gaza became a relentless cycle of survival. Our makeshift workspace was devoid of tables, leaving us to sit on the cold cement floor, using our laps as desks.
The situation in Gaza is nothing short of devastating. Both mentally and physically exhausted, I find myself grappling with the unending fear of losing my family or my home while reporting on this unfolding catastrophe. I bear a heavy responsibility, as I report in English, a language in short supply within Gaza, to communicate the stark reality of the situation to the world.
My dream is simple: to see my family safe and to witness the end of this never-ending nightmare. It is a plea for the restoration of peace, for a world in which individuals are no longer forced to navigate the perils of conflict, but instead can embrace a future free from fear and violence.
Hind Khoudary is a Palestinian journalist living in Gaza and a member of the Marie Colvin Journalists Network.