‘While we were all asleep here in Aotearoa, my aunty and cousins were killed in their home in Gaza.’ A letter from a young Palestinian New Zealander.
‘“On the 14th of October, we here in Gaza are under attack by Israel. And America supports the bombing of civilian homes, killing many innocent children and women. They claim to be fighting Hamas, but what is really being committed here is massacres against people.
On the 15th of October, I hope my message reaches all over the world and the world should stand with us. We appeal to the international and human rights communities. Enough silence.”
This human was begging for mercy and was begging for recognition. This human was Huda, my beloved aunty, writing from her home in Gaza. During the night on Wednesday 25 October, while we were all asleep here in New Zealand, my Aunty Huda and her four children were killed. Three internationally banned missiles were dropped on her house in the blink of an eye. We failed them. New Zealand failed them.
I never thought it would happen. They were peacefully living in their home. Huda means guidance, she was 40 years old. Raghad, which means happiness, was 15 years old. Malak, which means angel, was 13 years old. Issam, which means defended, was 11 years old. And Maryam, which means Virgin Mary, was just seven.
More than 10,000 missiles have been dropped on every corner of Gaza since October 7 and over 15,000 people have been killed. Thousands more have been displaced and injured, with no electricity and medical supplies. Innocent citizens are fleeing to the hospitals for safety and now the hospitals are being targeted. Innocent citizens fled south of Gaza Strip, and now they are being targeted too.
Gaza is still suffering from major communication blackouts. I have struggled to get in touch with the rest of my family – my grandma, my uncles, my aunties, my cousins. It seems that Israel intends to commit more criminal acts without the world knowing about it. Journalists have been cut off too, and I fear that something terrible will happen, again, and nobody will be able to communicate it, again.
But why should you in New Zealand care about something happening 16,128km away? Why should you care about genocide, the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group? Why should you care about ethnic cleansing, the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another?
We should care for humanity’s sake. There are so many Palestinians living here in New Zealand right now. We are your pharmacists, your doctors, your teachers, your engineers. We are all one whānau here, because that is what New Zealand is about. I am your whānau, and my whānau back home is suffering. Don’t be scared to be on the right side of history, don’t be scared to stand up for your values and for humanity.
So, for humanity’s sake, what can you do to help? You can educate your friends through social media by sharing and talking about what is happening, this is how they will learn. Encourage your friends towards justice. Be the voice of the Palestinians that are going unheard. Follow social media pages like Eyes.on.palestine, Let’stalkpalestine, MiddleEastEye, Landpalestine and PSNA.
We are strong. The Palestinian voice is strong. Despite all of the world leaders’ cowardice, the Palestinian voice will continue to grow and will never ever die.
We would show Aunty Huda photos of all the people that came to the protests here in New Zealand. We told her “look how many stand with you”. She said “that’s very nice, people stand but governments don’t.” Chris Hipkins and the Labour Party have finally joined the call for a ceasefire, but I am disappointed that it took a peaceful country over 45 days and 11,000 people to be murdered to simply do the bare minimum. And even then, it’s not the government.
A ceasefire is a step towards a solution, but not the solution itself. As long as there is oppression and injustice, there is no peace. The world must demand that lsrael withdraw from Palestine, give justice and freedom to Palestine, return the stolen land and homes, rebuild the damage, and only then we can talk about peace. New Zealand leaders need to re-evaluate their own humanity and save us from being on the wrong side of history.
Weeks after the loss of Aunty Huda and her angels, the killing, fear and displacement of Palestinians continues on land, air and sea. I say shame, shame, shame – we failed them. This is not a war. Mass starvation is not a war. Bombing hospitals is not a war. Wiping out entire neighbourhoods and families is not a war. This is mass murder. In the words of Huda herself: enough silence.