Wednesday, November 8, 2023

#LateHumansofGaza: The lost lives of Egyptians in Gaza

On Monday, it was announced that Egypt managed to evacuate about 152 of its citizens from Gaza for the first time after 30 days since the start of the Israeli war.

The news came as videos began to resurface for Egyptians calling the Egyptian government to evacuate them as it helped foreign countries to evacuate their citizens through the Rafah border crossing.

Currently, there are extensive evacuation efforts underway, with over 7,000 citizens from more than 60 countries being evacuated from the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing. This operation is made possible thanks to Qatari mediation efforts.

According to some estimations, there are not less than 40,000 Egyptians alone in Gaza alone.

Some of them are Egyptians who married and lived in Gaza like for instance Mai Gamal.

Earlier on Friday, friends and colleagues of Egyptian feminist and researcher Mai Gamal announced that she was killed along with her Palestinian husband and all his family in an Israeli strike in Sheikh Radwan district.

May Gamal of Gaza victims
Late May Gamal 

The 1988-born moved to Gaza with her Palestinian husband in August 2021.

The “Tadwein” for Gender Studies NGO member continued to write about moving to the besieged strip. She also helped in launching the “Women under the Shelling” initiative dedicated to the women of Gaza and their needs under a war like no other.

She was a member of the Edraak Foundation for Development & Equality where she was the Director of the Support and Advocacy Unit and the founding researcher of the Observatory for Crimes of Violence against Women and Girls.

Mai Gamal is not the only Egyptian Citizen to be killed in the current Gaza war.

In the early days of October, when the war was still in its infancy, two Egyptian women tragically lost their lives in the initial wave of airstrikes. 69-years-old Hayat and 60-years-oldHayat, two women were sisters in their 60s. Hayat was married to a Palestinian man in Gaza’s Khan Younes and was residing there, while Howaida was living in Cairo’s Ain Shams.

Late Howadia in Gaza
Late Howadia in Gaza 

In a cruel twist, Howadia, an education instructor decided to visit her sister in Gaza to present her condolences for her brother-in-law’s death to end up buried with her and most of her direct family in Palestine. 

Late Hayat from Gaza victims
Late Hayat 

We are speaking about nine people killed including three children "Hayat's grandchildren" from the age of 12 to 4 years old. 

A bitter truth, Howaida was killed a day earlier her supposed return to Egypt.

There are also Palestinians who were naturalized as Egyptians because their mothers were Egyptians or their grandparents were Egyptians.

For instance in the case of Dr Noor El-Din Ibean.

Born in March 1996 to Hamed Ibean and Hiyam Mahmoud Gabril. Noor has three other brothers Wassem, Abdullah and Hamza as well as three sisters Huda, Hala and Heba.

His mother Hiyam Mahmoud Gabril who was born in 1961 to an Egyptian mother and a Palestinian Father got her Egyptian passport after a long wait according to her son Noor on 19 December 2021 along with her sister.

During then Noor expressed his wish that he and his siblings would get an Egyptian passport just like his mom and aunt. 

He and his brothers are not strangers to Egypt when you visit their social media accounts. They travelled to Egypt all the time and even cheered for the Egyptian National Team.

On 3 January 2023, Noor Ibean was granted Egyptian citizenship and he had an Egyptian birth certificate and Egyptian ID. He was so happy and even shared the Egyptian birth certificate despite he is living in Gaza.

Noor Ibean of Gaza victims
The Egyptian ID and birth certificate of late 
Dr Noor Ibean

Then the war came.

The Ibeans, including Noor and his pregnant wife, his brothers, two of his sisters, as well as his mother and her sister, were staying at his sister's in-laws' house in the Az-Zawayda town of Deir El-Balah governorate during the Israeli attack.

Nour Ibean and his wife Haneen Bassim

They were all killed on 25 October in another Israeli shelling. 

Many Egyptians may be shocked that one of those Palestinian little boys who broke their hearts in this war is half-Egyptian. If you are an Egyptian with access to Facebook then you must know “Youssef, the white handsome boy with curly hair.”

We knew Youssef when a video of his frantic mother searching for him along with his elder brother and his doctor father Mohamed Hamid Abu Moussa in a hospital after an airstrike in their area on 15 October.

“Did you see Youssef?” His mother kept asking the people “white handsome 7-years-old boy with curly hair !? did you see my sweet boy?”

His father, a doctor was anxious but trying to keep it serious without breaking down. They searched for him for several minutes till his dad found a photograph of his little boy but not alive.

يوسف شعره كيرلى ابيضانى
Late Youssef Abu Moussa after graduation from K.G 

Dr. Mohamed Abu Moussa then went to the morgue to find the body of his son Youssef with his elder cousin and other members of their family!!

The video went viral just like the photos of that “white handsome boy with curly hair” in Egypt where he became an icon of that war icon just like Mohamed El-Dora.

There was another shocking surprise to us, Youssef is half Egyptian from his mother’s side. His mother got Egyptian nationality from her Egyptian mother who married a Palestinian man.

Youssef’s grandmother is from Sharkia governorate which already has a very large Palestinian community that goes back to the Nakba.

Youssef is not alone.

I do not know the name of that 18-years-old girl but the scream of her dad who screams in an Egyptian accent asking the people to be shrouded beside her stood out.

Egypt is connected to Gaza in a way more than you think. In ancient Egypt, Gaza was Gazatu and the oldest building ever uncovered there was Tell es-Sakan, an ancient Egyptian fortress in the early bronze age.

In August 2022, late Egyptian activist Mai Gamal about her experience as an Egyptian who lived for the first time in a mini-war situation in besieged Gaza, and I will quote that paragraph from her Facebook post.

The harsh reality is that in Gaza, there are no shelters... There is only you and death. The truth that no one speaks of is that you cannot fight an enemy you do not see while they see you.

Gaza is being bombed, not fought for... It's as simple as that. No one here wants war. Israel has achieved what it wanted for a long time. Everyone wants to leave it behind and never look back. You cannot continue this battle. No one will come to your rescue. It's as simple as that.

This is what she said.

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