Since the bloom of October 2023, the world has not been the same. As the buzzing and tortuous noises continue to echo the lands and skies of Gaza, the heart of every Muslim, and human beings with conscience have been weeping with its own sense of guilt and helplessness. Amidst the chaos, a few among us have been blessed and brave enough to take the step and travel all the way to Gaza to provide their assistance. Dr. Hina Syed was one among them from the Dar-us-Salaam community.

On the 19th of May, Dr. Hina shared her experiences of assisting in a hospital in Gaza for ten days with the Dar-us-Salaam community. One thing can be told with certainty, there is more to what is happening in Gaza than what meets our eyes. The real life experiences, and the extent of catastrophe caused by the Israeli occupation is far worse than the images we see on social media.

Entering Gaza

As soon as Dr. Hina crossed the Rafah border, they knew that they were in a war zone. The scene rolled out with destroyed buildings, and rubbles upon rubbles. During her stay in Gaza, she saw many of the buildings being torn down along with people in and near it. The Israeli occupation would bomb a building, and wait till the survivors would visit the location. Once they got there, the occupiers would shoot them. One of the survivors mentioned that he played dead under the rubbles to survive.

Surviving in Gaza

In Gaza, hospitals are not a place one goes to get ‘treated’, rather it has become a place where one comes with utter desperation to survive with any trace of life left in their body. The hospitals are scarcely equipped, and terribly understaffed that there are simply no resources to treat the patients the way they should be treated.

Dr.Hina recounted that they don’t have IV poles, so they just lay the bottles on top of the injured person. Gaza’s healthcare system faces a heart-wrenching reality. For those critically injured by gunfire or bomb blasts, amputation is often the only option due to a lack of resources. Compounding this tragedy, there’s a severe shortage of anesthesia and strong painkillers, leaving patients to endure unimaginable suffering. This in turn leads to great amounts of phantom pain.

One would wonder if surviving such immense pain and catastrophe would leave the people of Gaza suffering from severe PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). However, in Gaza, there is no PTSD. There is no space for trauma to become a thing of the past for it to be called Post-traumatic Disorder. Everyday is a new scene of trauma, and everyday is merely about finding means to survive.

The Torturous Ways of the Israeli Occupation

We have seen thousands of videos coming out of Gaza showing the brutal ways of the Israeli occupation. Blowing off body parts, tying up the civilians and killing them and so much more. In reality, there is much more to the brutality. Dr. Hina described that she kept hearing a constant sound throughout the day and night. She played the sound during her speech and asked the audience to guess what it could be. Most of the audience replied that this was the sound of a bomb. But that was not the case. In reality, it was the sound of a sonic-boom the Israeli occupation produces to keep the Palestinians in fear. The actual bombs that cause so much havoc cannot be heard due to the speed of sound when launched. The locals mentioned that as long as one hears the buzzing sound, they are safe. But when there is a pin-drop silence, then the real bombs are coming. Apart from the sonic-boom sounds, the constant drone sounds are another way to keep the Palestinians in constant fear. These sounds could be heard when she played clips from one of the young Doctors who addressed Dar-us-Salaam.

The Mark and Dignity of a Believer

Dr. Hina prayed taraweeh during her stay. The Imam who led the prayer was a grade above a Huffadh, he was among those who were required to recite the entire Qur’an from their memory, from Fajr till Dhuhr. In Gaza, everyone memorizes the Qur’an. The question is never about if someone is memorizing the Qur’an, it would always be about how much one has memorized.

To spread awareness, Dr. Hina wanted to record the happenings in Gaza and the hospital. The locals requested her not to take any pictures or videos on many instances to preserve the dignity of the martyrs. They were just like us, with dreams and high aspirations, but they were killed in the most brutal manner. These martyrs are children and women, doctors, engineers, lawyers, scholars, and huffadh. The Palestinians don’t want their dire circumstances to be highlighted to preserve their dignity. However, when Dr. Hina left, she asked the Palestinians what she should do to help them, and they collectively requested her to share the story and the voices of Gaza. Her address to the Dar-us-Salaam community is one of her many efforts to fulfill the promise she made to them.

What Can We Do as a Community?

This week, at Dar-us-Salaam, we will be having a clothes drive in our school to be donated to Gaza. Apart from that, what truly helps according to Dr. Hina, and other activists on ground are the following:
– Donate to organizations that are on the ground like Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, IRUSA, and Al-Ihsan
– Participate in peaceful protests
– Share and continue to be a voice for Palestine on socials and in your community
– Reach out to US representatives, contact them and tell them to ceasefire

During the event, Dr. Hina answered questions from the audience, and had a live session with a Palestinian in Gaza who runs an orphanage. He shared the horrific realities of what’s happening. Throughout the event, there was not a dry eye in the room. This ummah is like one body, and if one of the parts is hurting, we all hurt together.

May Allah hear our prayers, and bring the Israeli occupation’s brutality to an end. May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings. May Allah accept our martyrs. Until it all ends, let us keep speaking up and continue to make du’aa to the One who is All-Hearing and the Most Merciful.