The bombing of Rafah had begun on Friday (Picture: Quds News Network on Telegram)

“The war on Rafah has begun,” Palestinian artist Laila Salah Kassab told Socialist Worker from her home in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, on Friday. 

She told Socialist Worker that the assault on the city by Israeli forces had started despite repeated assurances from the Zionist state that the area surrounding the city was safe. 

“There is bombing in many areas of Rafah. My children are afraid of bombing. I expect that we will die at any moment. 

“My children ask me about death a lot. They ask, ‘What is it?’ and ‘How does a person die?” 

“They also ask me how a person feels when a missile falls on their house. I have to say they don’t feel anything. It’s over in an instant. Then we wake up to find ourselves in heaven.” 

“Because of the circumstances imposed on us by this war. I am afraid of everything. I fear that the enemy will bomb us at any moment,” she explained. 

“I went through periods of depression to the point where I began to surrender to the idea of death. 

“On other days, I feel so strong that I don’t focus on what scares me. I focus on how to make my children feel better.” 

“But sometimes I fail. I feel especially afraid when I wake up at night to drink water. I become anxious, afraid, and shake a lot, and my heart beats violently. I go back to the same thought — that death might be better.” 

Israel stepped up its assault on Rafah this week, where upwards of a million displaced people from across Gaza are now sheltering. 

The Gaza Health Ministry said that more than 100 people had already been killed by Israeli air strikes on Rafah on Thursday night. 

Laila added that life in Rafah is almost unliveable. 

“The crossing is not always open to let aid in. Only 50 to 100 trucks enter when it is open, but 1,000 trucks would not be enough to cover the needs of the displaced here. 

“People are dying of cold and starvation. I work to serve the displaced with meals, bread and medicine. We also have been providing children with drinking water and blankets. 

“We have to bake bread from clay and straw in an oven. It’s the only thing we can use because there’s no gas or electricity. 

“Children come to us and tell us they haven’t eaten anything for three days.

“Our cause has become global”, Laila added. “Everyone knows about Palestine and the crimes that happen here. Everyone knows that we have lost our rights as human beings.” 

This reality shows the emptiness of calls from the US for “restraint”.

The US national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, said on Thursday that any assault on Rafah without due consideration of civilians would be a disaster and that “we would not support it”.

But the US is letting precisely such an attack take place.

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