Devastated by destruction

Student from Gaza scared for family and friends 

VTSU Castleton student Mahmoud Alyazji, from Gaza, speaks about losing friends and fearing for family.

On Oct. 13, Israel instructed residents in northern Gaza Strip to move southward. But as people began their relocation, they were subjected to airstrikes. 

Among those affected were family members of Vermont State University at Castleton student from Palestine, Mahmoud Alyazji, who survived the attack and subsequently returned to the Western part of the Gaza strip.

Alyazji is an international student majoring English language and literature. The ongoing situation in Gaza is causing him deep concern for the safety of his family and friends. 

He strongly condemns the actions that have resulted in the loss of thousands of Palestinian lives and that he says have broken international laws. 

He said every day, hundreds of people are getting killed and this is the act of genocide. 

“The situation in the Gaza Strip is disastrous on all scales. Under the light of the continuous bombardment, so far, 10,022 Palestinians have been killed, including 4104 children and 2,641 women. This barbaric killing and bombing hasn’t stopped yet,” he said in a recent interview. 

“Everything is being bombed; hospitals, schools, universities, media offices, mosques, churches, ambulances, journalists, and civilian houses. The hospitals are running out of fuel, which will result in catastrophic results for the more than 25,000 injured in different hospitals around Gaza; plus, they have no capacity to take more people. The gap between a Gazan citizen and death is as thin as a rope. It’s as long as the missile takes to fall from the F-16 to the house. In one second, I might lose a friend, like my friends Mohammed, Yousef, and Mossab. In one second, I might lose my family.” 

The conflict between Israel and Gaza is headlining news worldwide. Israel’s aggressive retaliation began after the Palestinian Hamas group’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7, aiming to reclaim their occupied land. Israel blames Hamas for killing hundreds in the attack at the music festival and for taking Israeli hostages. 

But Alyazji feels that media coverage isn’t balanced. He believes that media is being used to spread misleading information. He points out that even celebrities are sharing misinformation, and on his Instagram, he is committed to sharing every piece of accurate information he receives from Gaza.

“There is no doubt that media is a very strong weapon. What frustrates me very much is the false propaganda. In many cases, we had celebrities, such as Justin Biber, literally posting a photo of the Gaza strip and writing “Praying for Israel.” What made people do this is the fake Israeli propaganda. People still believe that there were 40 beheaded babies! They still talk about 40 fake beheaded children with not even a single photo to prove it, and they ignored the real 4,104 children that were murdered in cold blood. Our job as Palestinians and as humans is to share the truth. Every view counts. I often share what is it like to live under the bombings and between the distractions in the Gaza Strip. I invite people to follow journalists, such as Motas Azaiza, who film the truth and the harsh reality of the people there right now. People should not be mispleaded by propaganda,” he said.

The Gaza Strip is home to about 2.2 million people, nearly half of the population are children. Alyazji mentioned that following the airstrikes, the city has been so extensively demolished and ravaged that even the familiar streets he once walked on are now unrecognizable.

“Had I the chance to visit the Gaza Strip right now, I wouldn’t recognize any of the streets. Yesterday, they bombed near to my house on Al-Shefa Street. Looking at the photos, I couldn’t tell which street is this. The street that I’ve been living in for the past 22 years! I couldn’t. There are no more playgrounds for the children to play, no more mosques or churches for the people to pray. My beloved university has been demolished to the ground. I now can’t complete my education, nor can thousands of students. Our family business has stopped and will stop for years. Every place that carried memories for us was bombed. The streets’ smell is full of blood and rubble. We would never see anything normal again, never. Instead of seeing the beauty of places, we would see them loaded with layers of catastrophic memories. It will haunt us forever, even in the most peaceful places. My city, once a place full of memories, is now demolished to the ground, and every day new buildings are being wiped out. Although that being said, Gaza was home, and it is still home, the home that I love and will always love,” he said.


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