Palestinian Musheir El-Farra (Picture: Qasem El-Farra)

Musheir El-Farra is a Palestinian British citizen currently living in Sheffield. He escaped Gaza just last week. “I was born in Gaza. I was there for a holiday to visit family,” he told Socialist Worker. “After 7 October my son Qasem and I were trapped. My family home is in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.”

Musheir explained that the population here more than doubled after Israel forced people to move from the north—from 400,000 to 1.2 million. “People were living on the pavements,” he said. “We went for 21 days without electricity and 22 days without water in my house. Winter is coming soon, and I dread what that will mean for those forced to live on the streets.” 

Musheir added that Israel has continuously lied about people in the south being safe from its bombs. “There is much less coverage of the massacres in the south,” he said. “Israel bombed my neighbourhood, killing many of my neighbours. One day we pulled the bodies of three children out of the rubble. Another day we found the hand of a little girl.

“I felt ashamed that Britain’s government supported the bombing of these children. I felt ashamed that Rishi Sunak backs Israeli slaughter.” In total, 45 of Musheir’s relatives have been killed so far. “The way people feel on the ground in Gaza is that at any moment, they could be bombed and killed.

“They live in constant terror. Israeli bombs are systematically destroying everything that sustains life. Whether water tanks or generators, solar panels and bakeries—all are targets.” He added that many are worried they will be pushed into Egypt by the Israeli occupation. “The Nakba of 1948 is on everyone’s minds,” he said. “People are scared it’s happening again. 

Musheir thinks that Palestine’s only hope is resistance both inside and outside. “Palestinians have lost a lot of faith in other regimes stepping in and helping,” he said. “Before 7 October, I can confidently say that many Palestinians in Gaza had lost faith in Hamas. But now many admit what’s needed is all of the Palestinian resistance to unify.  

“They are united in support of anyone who fights against this brutality. They want the resistance to become one unit that can stop the massacres.” Musheir added, “I still hope that resistance will force the oppressors to withdraw. 

“How can you expect people not to fight back when you murder their children, throw them in prison and lay siege to where they live? There isn’t a single Kibbutz or Israeli settlement that isn’t built on the ruins of a Palestinian village. What’s happening now will breed radicalism for years to come.”

For Musheir, the “glimmer of hope” is the mass resistance around the world. “It’s still a very bleak situation. “But I do believe one thing—that all empires built on devastation and destruction will one day end. They have before, and they will again.”

British state didn’t care

Musheir and Qasem were not able to escape from Gaza to Britain for 30 days. “The British government didn’t push very hard to try and get us out,” Musheir explained. “From the way we were treated, I felt like we weren’t British enough for the government.

“The actual journey was badly coordinated by the embassy. We had to take a bus to Cairo, and the journey took three times longer than expected. We had no food on the journey, even though we were told there would be some.” Musheir said he left Gaza with “mixed feelings”. “We had to get out, but I also felt I had to stay behind.

“I had to keep watching, recording videos and reporting, because the mainstream media doesn’t show the reality of what’s happening. I also felt a lot of guilt that I could go while most people in Gaza remained trapped.”

Prisoners, hostages and deals

Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel would control “overall security responsibility” in Gaza for an “indefinite period”. Talks were underway this week between Israel and Hamas to secure an exchange of prisoners, and a brief ceasefire, Israeli media reported.

On Tuesday the leader of Hamas said they were close to reaching a “truce agreement” with Israel. The Israeli ambassador to the US said on Monday he was hopeful a deal will be reached “in the coming days”. Qatar state officials who have been mediating also said an agreement is within reach. 

But Netanyahu’s determination to look as if he has won a victory will be a formidable obstacle. A settlement requires Israel to let go the thousands of prisoners it has crammed into its jails before 7 October as well as afterwards. Hamas has suggested to Israel a truce for several days, the entry of fuel and food into Gaza, and the release of prisoners from Israeli prisons. 

In exchange it would release a number of Israeli prisoners held in the enclave. That’s the only equitable outcome—although a genuine one ought to include an end to attacks on hospitals, schools, residential areas and mosques at least.  But most of the Israeli government would see any major release of Palestinians as a sell-out.

On Monday Israeli MPs shouted at relatives of those captured by Hamas as the parliament debated a bill to impose the death penalty on convicted terrorists. Relatives told MPs to “stop talking about killing Arabs and start speaking about saving Jews”. Some MPs told families they were being exploited by Hamas.

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