Defend Truth


If only I was Superman, I would intercept the shells before they kill the children of Gaza


Dr Haidar Eid is an associate professor in the Department of English Literature at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza and completed his PhD at the University of Johannesburg. X/Twitter handle: @haidareid

On Laylat-al-Qadr – the Night of Destiny – my prayer was: ‘Oh God, make me be Superman during these massacres. I ask for nothing else, oh merciful God.’

I am standing on the ruins of a house in Gaza City, peering at the horizon.

Most probably, the body of a martyr lies under the rubble. The body of someone who could not respond to an Israeli “warning”.

Such “warnings” consist of several artillery shells, missiles from a reconnaissance drone, followed by another missile from an F-16, a warplane made in the United States. A gift to the Palestinian people from a superpower.

Israel used to call some warnings a “knock on the roof” – firing at a home to announce a larger attack was imminent. The “knock on the roof” policy seems to have been stopped.

In this house, a woman lived with her husband, three sons and three daughters. They had also provided refuge to relatives from northern Gaza who had been displaced.

Now the house and the families who lived in it are gone forever.

The adjacent house is “luckier”. Its owner inspects it with a sense of astonishment.

His neighbour screams when she sees all that she once owned turned into rubble because the US president believes that “Israel has the right to defend itself”.

Defend itself against who? Terrorists!

If Israel keeps killing at the rate it has been, the official death toll will reach 10,000 very soon. About 40% of the dead are children.

All terrorists.

Human animals.”

Make me be Superman

I imagine my ghost standing beside the ruins of another house in al-Rimal. Al-Rimal used to be a peaceful neighbourhood in Gaza City.

My ghost pats one of my university students – a brilliant student – on the shoulder, offering her a tissue to wipe away her tears. It embraces her father and carries her little sister, who weeps as she searches for their mother under the rubble.

Ghosts do not cry. My ghost is an exception.

This incident must be recorded as that of “the first weeping ghost in history”.

My ghost sings to the pretty woman sitting on a rock in the middle of what was once a home. A home that contained dreams, hopes and desires.

My ghost wipes her tears and weeps along with her.

My ghost reflects on the pain of birth.

My ghost goes to Nuseirat refugee camp.

In Nuseirat, my ghost hears the cooing of a dove coming from the south, from Khan Younis. The dove bears the story of another home.

The home is a lover. A woman who has feelings for you and for whom you have feelings.

She is you and you are her. There are no boundaries. No separation.

When the home is demolished, something within you dies.

“Where is my mom?” a little girl screams.

“Where is my dad?”

The girl is beside the rubble of yet another house. The rubble where the cooing dove had landed.

I try to pull myself together and fail.

My shadow refuses to return to my body. My ghost rebels against its master.

On Laylat-al-Qadr – the Night of Destiny – my prayer was: “Oh God, make me be Superman during these massacres. I ask for nothing else, oh merciful God.”

Make me be Superman and I will not attack any Israeli, either soldier or civilian. I will not be aggressive towards either Benjamin Netanyahu or Itamar Ben-Gvir.

I will not even be aggressive towards Benny Gantz, who has boasted of sending Gaza back to the “Stone Age” with all the slaughter he ordered in 2014.

And I will not be any threat to Joe Biden or Rishi Sunak.

The only thing I will do will be to intercept the shells before they kill the children of Gaza.

My ghost decides to take leave. It is gone forever. DM

First published in The Electronic Intifada.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Anton van der Westhuizen says:

    Why does Hamas not raise the white flag and give up? And bring an immediate end to all of this.
    Why did they attack Israel in the manner they did?
    What did they think was going to happen?
    It just boggles my mind!

    • Pet Bug says:

      I just can’t grasp what in heavens name, Hamas thought would happen if they send hundreds of crazed young men on mopeds into Israel. Slaughtering Jewish babies.
      Here is a writer with a PhD being emotional about Arab baby losses. But somehow not grasping why this is happening.
      Hamas started this brutal insanity, and Israel will brutally defend itself.
      It’s not rocket science.

      • virginia crawford says:

        Who can grasp the justice or logic of collective punishment and the wanton killing of women and children in their thousands?

        • Caroline de Braganza says:

          I ask the same question. My soul weeps for all who are suffering.

          • David Anthony James Starley says:

            Stop HAMAS from using civilians as human shields to hide their weapons and cowardly selves behind then, then there wouldn’t be any collective suffering.

      • Mary Contrary says:

        No. Israel started this brutal insanity 75 years ago when it ethnically cleansed Palestine and chased residents out of their homes and into refugee camps. Jewish lives are not worth more than Arab lives, and vice versa. But there’s a lot more of the latter dying. And it remains to be seen if Bibi and right-wing cohorts were complicit in this – seriously, men on mopeds and paragliders and no-one noticed?? I don’t believe it. I thought this piece was beautiful and heartfelt.

  • Denise Smit says:

    And what about the massacre of 1400 Jews without notice on 7 October and the taking of 240 hostages. Everybody talks about Gaza but what are you doing to the hostages and do you not regret that you started the actions? You are at least given warnings to try to hide. And you are not butchered or burned alive or raped or decapitated or taken hostages being paraded naked in the streets of Gaza. Denise Smit

    • Anthony Sturges says:

      It would seem the author conveniently forgets who the instigator of this violence was – who attacked and butchered innocent farmers on an Israeli kibbutz and then ran back to hide behind the skirts of the innocent women and children in Gaza. What did Hamas think would happen, that Israel would sit back saying ‘It is what it is!’? No of course not, Israel hit back hard – the tragic and unnecessary harm done to the innocents of Gaza must be laid fairly and squarely at the door of Hamas. The outlook of this internationally recognised terrorist group is explained clearly in its charter:

      The charter states that “our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious” and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.

      While I mourn greatly the loss of innocent life in Gaza, spare me the hand-wringing platitudes, your anger must be directed to the Hamas leadership in the self-same enclave!

    • Mary Contrary says:

      Warnings to try to hide? Where? Palestinians are being crushed and blown up in their thousands. One human rights violation does not make another OK. Palestinians have been humiliated for 75 years with no civil rights. I am surprised any South African cannot see this and care that history is repeating itself.

    • A B says:

      I think your comments evidence a lack of reading beyond CNN headlines – maybe read the history of the Israel – Palestine conflict and you will see that Israel have been committing atrocities against the Palestinian people for literal decades. But the minute a group responds with violence the whole world is shocked. The hypocrisy is astounding. It is however unsurprising that a bunch of mid aged white people would defend the colonizing Israel. History does repeat itself… #FreePalestine.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    While you are at being Superman why don’t you stop the rockets going into Israel even now, or depose the murderers who are your governnent. Or take the fuel Hamas is hoarding for its rockets and give it to the hospitals who need it.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Did Hamas “knock on the door” of The Kibbutz they raided where they slaughtered the residents? Where they be headed babies, cutting the unborn child out of a woman‘s belly, throwing babies into ovens where they were burnt to death. Raping young women and then taking their bodies back to Gaza where they were paraded through the streets to be spat on by onlookers. Save your tears Mr. Phd. Rather rise up and overthrow the Hamas terrorists (Yes BBC, they actually ARE terrorists, despite your denial)

  • David van der Want says:

    I liked Yuval Noah Harari’s statement that it is exceedingly difficult for us to hold the idea that we can be both perpetrator and victim simultaneously. I shared his dismay at the silence of the global democracies in the face of the appalling assault Israel has mounted in response to the terror attack and I also share his belief that the barbarism of Hamas’ attack was designed specifically to plunge a knife into the collective wound the Jewish people suffered in the holocaust.

    And the ghosts haunting Gaza are legion – they are the ghosts of the millions killed in the pogroms and the holocaust and the mass of spirits the decades of this conflict have claimed and are adding to daily. Do we imagine that these spirits are roaming the banks of the river and the streets of Jerusalem demanding revenge? I must believe that these are not revenants, they are the souls of all of those dead children and mothers and fathers and brothers and that they plead with the living to stop adding to their number even as we the living trade barbaric blow for barbaric blow.

    How many more voices must be added to that haunting chorus before we say enough?

  • Peter Van Zyl says:

    If you were Superman would you also MAKE SURE that you protect the Children of Israel too from the RELENTLESS incoming indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks aimed at civilians?? After all, Children are children regardless of ethnicity, or residence!

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    This is sad, unfortunate and unnecessary.

    Even while imploring our empathy, note the paradigm: “The official death toll will reach 10,000 very soon”. The Israeli paradigm is measured in lives saved, not by how many deaths could very soon be reached.

  • Andrew P says:

    Other commenters seem to think that the Earth was created on 7 October. I don’t support the actions of Hamas, the governing coalition in Israel, or any other right-wing government/movement, but the fact remains that Israel as a state (not Jewish people in general) has created a breeding ground for terrorism through segregation, deprivation, collective punishment and ethnic cleansing, all of which have escalated in the recent past (before 7 October). Netanyahu supported the rise of Hamas in a cynical move to divide Palestinians (this according to the Times of Israel, not me), endangering civilians on both sides for the sake of territorial expansion. Can you excuse the decision of a person to behead a baby? No, but you can try to understand it, especially if they’ve been raised by a traumatised society in an open-air prison under theocratic rule, and forced to watch the gradual ethnic cleansing of their ancestral land to make room for foreign settlers. These conditions, and the continuing bombardment, are a gift to terrorist recruiters.

  • Rencia Cloete says:

    And the children of Ukraine….
    And northern Africa…
    Has the world gone mad?

  • Hannes Maree says:

    Perhaps Mr Eid should gave started praying many years ago to be Superman so that he could have intercepted all the rockets fired by Hamas into Israel killing innocent civilians…
    Hamas, the typical cowardly terrorists that they are are now not only using the various nationalities they captured as human shields but also innocent palestinian civilians as human shields as well!
    And trying to gain sympathy from the international community in stead of evacuating the aged, children and woman!
    Israel was not forewarned about the despicable Hamas attack on innocent civilians but the Palestinians are repeatedly warned to evacuate before they attack! Keep on praying if you like Mr. Eid, but rather get off your butt and rescue your beloved Palestinians who knew pretty well what Hamas has been doing under their noses for years now!!

  • Cecilia Wedgwood says:

    To be informed read any one of these authors. Professors Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Noam Chomsky, and, Norman Finkelstein. Also the journalist Gideon Levy of Haaretz newspaper. If you don’t want read – go to UTube.

  • Leslie van Minnen says:

    Mr. Haidar Eid.
    I notice that you call upon your God to stop the slaughter of children, women and men in Gaza. My I ask if you called upon your GOD to stop the killing of babies, women and men in Israel. I doubt this very much as the people you apparently support want the total destruction of the Jews. Is not the God of Islam also not the God of the Jews?
    So the killing of children, men and women of Ukraine by Russian shells and missiles seems not to bother you and your GOD. Is this because they are not of the Islamic faith. Are Jews and others not of your faith considered to suitable targets and so have a lower status on your radar. Please get objective. Children being killed is wrong irrespective of where they live.
    Perhaps you condone the fact that fanatical so-called fighters cut the throats of babies. Now you ask your GOD and Superman to stop the killing of your kin.
    It is so typical that those who support the likes of Russia, Iran, Cuba, Hamas and many other dictatorial fanatics of human rights abuses never appear too inclined to go and live under these regimes. The mention of the word “WAR” in Russia will get you a few years in prison but because you live in the free world you think that you have the right to spread your one sided BS. Even Christians are not permitted to carry a Bible or wear a small cross on the Temple Mount In Jerusalem. Why? Because your faith is not tolerant of any others. That is way the cutting of throats of babies is acceptable.

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