It shall pass, I keep hoping. It shall pass, I keep saying. Sometimes I mean it. Sometimes I don’t. And as Gaza keeps gasping for life, we struggle for it to pass, we have no choice but to fight back and to tell her stories. For Palestine. – Dr. Refaat Alareer
Renowned Palestinian poet, writer, and activist Dr. Refaat Alareer was a 44-year-old academic who never stopped writing. He became one of the many voices from Gaza amid the ongoing war on the beseiged territory that has killed over 15,000 people so far. He was killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike on Thursday, but his words will live on.
Dr Alareer taught literature and Creative Writing at the Islamic University of Gaza and was the founder of We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit group in Gaza formed after Israel's 2014 attack.
Its goal was to mentor a new generation of Palestinian writers and thinkers and help them advance the Palestinian cause through their writing.
“The majority of young people [in Gaza] you see today on social media writing in English are his students,” Aljamal said on The Electronic Intifada livestream last month. “So he trained an army of writers and bloggers to write and to tell the story.”
Dr Alareer authored and edited several books including Gaza Writes Back: Short stories from young Writers in Gaza-Palestine, Gaza Unsilenced and Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire.
The 44-year-old academic never stopped writing, especially during the war and used his social media platforms to show the world the harsh reality of war-torn Gaza
Through his popular Twitter account, “Refaat in Gaza,” Dr. Alareer condemned the ongoing atrocities committed against his people by Israeli forces, as well as called out US on enabling the war.
On November 1, Dr. Alareer shared a poem on his social media, titled ‘If I must die’, almost as if foretelling his imminent passing.
The poem read:
If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale
Dr Alareer died in his sister’s home along with his brother, sister and four of her children. He is survived by his wife Nusayba and their children.