Palestinian writer and academic Refaat Alareer killed in airstrike

‘Brilliant’ academic killed along with his brother, sister and her four children

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 08 December 2023 18:30 GMT
Israel resumes strikes in Gaza as ceasefire expires

Dr Refaat Alareer, a prominent Palestinian professor, writer and activist, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on 6 December, according to friends and colleagues.

The Islamic University professor was killed in Shujaiya, east of Gaza City.

He died, along with his brother, sister and her four children, Lithub reports.

“Refaat was one of my inspirations in Gaza. Beyond brilliant and charming, he was simply kind and genuine as a person,” Ramzy Baroud, a Gaza-born author, told the Palestine Chronicle.

“I felt that everything he wrote or uttered represented a priority for us around the world. We were guided by him, and people like him. His death has completely disoriented me.”

Alareer was known for his work editing compilations like Gaza Unsilenced and Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine, and for his dedicating to supporting young Palestinian writers.

He helped found We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit that’s shared thousands of stories from up and coming Palestinian storytellers.

The group “tells the stories behind the numbers of Palestinians in the news and advocates for their human rights,” according to their website.

In a tribute, journalist Max Blumenthal called Alareer “a model of the resistance which Israel and its patrons aim to destroy.”

A poem by Alareer released on his widely followed Twitter account last month, “If I must die,” had a call to readers in the the event of his death. It has been viewed millions of times.

“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 i na blaze – / and bid no one farewell / no even to his flesh / not even to himself – / sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up / above / 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.”

Throughout the Israel-Hamas war, Alareer was a prominent voice in Western media, denouncing the conflict as a genocide against Palestinians.

“If people are asking, how was the Holocaust allowed and other genocides in Africa and across the world, now you can see this, live on  TV, live on social media,” he told Democracy Now! in an October interview. “We are speaking about thousands and thousands of housings units destroyed by Israel. So my message to the people of the world is to move to pressure, to mobilize and to take to the streets.”

Over 17,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, while 1,200 people in were killed in Hamas’s 7 October terror attack on Israel, according to The Washington Post.

Of the casualties in Gaza, roughly half are children, according to human rights officials.

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