Palestinian women harvest olives in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, two days before Hamas’ attack on Israel

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Gaza, My Lost Home

There are no sides in this war. There is only mourning.

Yasmine Mohammed
October 11, 2023
Palestinian women harvest olives in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, two days before Hamas' attack on Israel

Yousef Masoud/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

This article is part of Hamas’ War on Israel.
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My father lived his whole life with the hope that there might be a peaceful two-state solution. He spent his last years making YouTube videos on the topic and telling anyone who would listen about his family’s olive groves in Gaza. I am actually kind of relieved that he left this earth before he had to watch Hamas slaughter his dream on video, for all the world to see. Hamas has ensured that there will be no more Palestine, and no more hope for an independent state.

People send flippant messages to me asking “are you pro-Israel or pro-Palestine,” as if we are all watching a football match. Are you wearing a blue jersey or red? I am wearing neither. I am in black. I am in mourning for the lost Israeli and Palestinian lives. I am in mourning for the Palestine that could have been. With a gorgeous waterfront overlooking the Mediterranean Sea that was recently made safe to swim in, with fertile soil that once sustained ancient olive groves. With land rich with resources for success.

It also had the funding. Generous governments, corporations, nonprofits, and individuals have been flooding the area with billions of dollars for decades. But instead of focusing on a potential tourist industry or building hospitals and schools and helping the Gazan people thrive on the land, the area was overrun by terrorists.

The world knows Hamas now as terrorists who have committed depraved atrocities that would even make ISIS blush. But the people of Gaza already knew them. They have been suffering in relative silence under these monsters for years. Anytime a Gazan dares to raise their voice in criticism, their throat is slit immediately, making it brutally obvious that it’s best to keep quiet. Even those who hated Hamas chanted their allegiance to them loudly, in fear of their lives and their family’s lives.

Fellow Islamic regimes like Iran and Afghanistan are reveling in the rivers of Israeli blood. They do not see Jewish people as humans. They see them as things that need to be eradicated, as per the Hadith by their Prophet Muhammad which instructs them that Muslims must kill Jews until not one Jew is standing. Even the rocks and the trees will work with the Muslims against Jews, Muhammad teaches, calling out, “Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me! Come kill him!” 

Even in Egypt, a supposedly more progressive Muslim majority country, a police officer took it upon himself to murder two Israeli tourists who were visiting ancient ruins in Alexandria. He killed their guide too, who was probably trying to protect them. The tourist industry has been relatively nonexistent in Egypt due first to the revolution and then the pandemic. Now the country is suffering greatly under soaring inflation that is threatening lives daily. And yet, killing Jews was more important.

I am in black. I am in mourning for the lost Israeli and Palestinian lives. I am in mourning for the Palestine that could have been.

I never shared my father’s optimism. I never could imagine the two states living side by side. The past 75 years have been delaying the inevitable. These two Abrahamic faiths hate each other, and the only way there could have ever been hope is if both groups progressed beyond their ancient books. But both sides did the opposite. Israel has been pulled further and further into the Orthodox right wing and Gaza has become more and more extremist, electing terrorists who follow a literal interpretation of the ancient scriptures. There could have been hope 70 years ago, when Israel was being founded by secular hippies and terrorists had not yet overrun Gaza, but the writing has been on the wall for a long time now, and the mercury has been rising for decades.

Almost all of my father’s family is scattered across the globe, like most Palestinians. There are second and third generations being born in the diaspora with no connection to the land anymore. This is not new for the Middle East: Jewish people with roots in every country from Algeria to Yemen have been all but eradicated from their homelands; Egypt has very few people remaining from the hundreds of thousands who once thrived there. Hopefully a few Gazans will remain in Gaza. Maybe someday they’ll be able to live on their homeland without fear.

I have never been to Gaza, and my children have never been to Gaza. Maybe my grandchildren might go one day and read a plaque on some ancient monument that describes how this used to be the land of a people who called themselves Palestinians. They had a rich culture. Delicious food. Beautiful, bright clothing. Now they do not have a homeland anymore because they chose violence over peace. Despite the abundance of olive branches in Gaza, they chose to extend a knife instead.

A human rights campaigner, Yasmine Mohammed, advocates for the rights of women living within Muslim majority countries, as well as those who struggle under religious fundamentalism anywhere. She is the author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam and the President of the nonprofit organization Free Hearts Free Minds.