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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Destroyed and damaged buildings of the Islamic University are seen in the aftermath of Israeli strikes in Gaza, October 13, 2023. ― Reuters file pic
JERUSALEM, Dec 9 ― Palestinians yesterday paid tribute to Refaat Alareer, a prominent poet and scholar who sought to tell the stories behind the news headlines in the blockaded enclave of Gaza and was killed in an Israeli air strike, his friends said.
The 44-year-old, who wrote in English, taught world literature and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza and edited two short story collections, Gaza Unsilenced and Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine.
“My heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family,” Mosab Abu Toha, a Palestinian poet and librarian from Gaza wrote on Facebook, in a tribute that was among many from Palestinian intellectuals. “I don't want to believe this.”
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alareer, who fiercely denounced Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians, helped found “We Are Not Numbers,” which connected young Palestinian writers with mentors to tell stories that go beyond the numbers in the news.
Israel's bombardment has killed more than 17,000 Palestinians in Hamas-run Gaza and internally displaced most of its population since the start of the war. The latest escalation began when Hamas gunmen breached the separation barrier into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 and seizing more than 240 as hostages.
In a BBC interview hours after the Hamas attack, Alareer said Palestinian resistance was “legitimate and moral” and compared the attack to the wartime Jewish resistance to Nazi Germany.
“This is exactly like the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This is the Gaza Ghetto Uprising against 100 hundred years of European and Zionist colonialism and occupation,” he said in the interview, which caused offence outside Gaza.
A father of six, Alareer had said that he and his wife had lost more than 30 relatives in different Israeli assaults on Gaza.
The Islamic University in Gaza where he taught was hit during Israeli air strikes on October 11. ― Reuters
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