Blog post

Packing for exile

We are preparing for our forced emigration from Gaza to the Sinai Desert, or for our death. One or the other.

Abdallah al-Jazzar21 December 2023

Packing for exile

It has been 62 days trying to cope with the war situation. I feel betrayed every time I lose a relative of mine — and so far, 32 members of the Aljazarr family have been killed. I feel that the world does not cares about us and that my turn is near.

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, more than 1 million Palestinians were forced to flee their homes in Khan Yunis and travel further south to Rafah. Seeing everyone on the streets trying to leave made me cry.

The Israel Occupation Forces have divided us into “blocks,” so it’s easier for them to move us around “for safety” while they bomb us. My block number is 25. I feel that this is nonsense and we will certainly end up in the Sinai Desert. They will force all of us Gazans off our land until we all reach Rafah, where it will be easy for them to force us all into exile.

My entire family agreed to prepare for this step, but then my Uncle Ziad’s house was targeted. He and his immediate family, except his child Khamies, were murdered. So one part of our extended family will not be with us in the Sinai.

My family has moved in with my remaining uncles’ families in one place in Rafah, so when the time comes that we must move to the Sinai, we can move together. We are 12 of us in my father’s family, and 30 of us altogether living in the same place.

I decided to prepare myself and my family for the Sinai and told them, “If we don’t emigrate, we will be done for in Gaza.”

My dad replied, “I’m afraid we will all be murdered before we are reach the Sinai.”

On Thursday, Dec. 7, I woke up in the morning and found nothing to eat for breakfast except one piece of bread. Then I looked about for a tent I could take to the desert. I couldn’t find anything except a child’s play tent. Of course, it’s not big enough for adults, but it will be the perfect shelter for the children to rest in under the noonday sun when we are traveling.


At the same time, my brother Ali tried to secure some medicine, just in case we would need it in the Sinai.

Meanwhile, I registered at an UNRWA school. That way, if Israel demands that all the people at the school move on to the Sinai, at least our names would be on the list and the world would know where we have been and where we have been sent.

My family’s registration number is 11.

I have set aside to bring one bottle of ethanol, which we can use as fuel for cooking, to feed the children of the family while we are on our journey.

I am also buying everyone in the family a backpack into which we will put heavy clothes, plus one box of food, a kilo of flour, a bottle of water, their ID documents, some money, and medicine they might need.

Not every bag is ready yet. I can’t afford to buy all of them, since the supermarkets are empty and my pockets are as well. However, I’m trying to do what I can.

In my backpack, I have put all of our important documents, like certificates of graduation and ownership papers and photographs of a small house in eastern Rafah I had built on some land I rented from my cousin. I had hoped to be married there, but it has been bombed.

My brother Nour, however, has not yet packed his backpack. He says he prefers to die in dignity here rather than having to repeat what happened in 1948—in the Nakba.

 This story was first published by We Are Not Numbers, on December 8th 2023.  It was written by Abdallah al-Jazzar, as a personal narrative from under the relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israel.