‘If I must die, let it bring hope’: Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer killed in Gaza strike

Read some of his last words in a poem he wrote amidst the raging war between Israel and Hamas

By AFP

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Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram

Published: Fri 8 Dec 2023, 9:50 AM

Last updated: Fri 8 Dec 2023, 10:24 PM

Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer — one of the leaders of a young generation of authors in Gaza who chose to write in English to tell their stories — was killed in an Israeli strike, his friends said overnight Thursday.

"My heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family a few minutes ago," wrote his friend, the Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha, on Facebook.

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"I don't want to believe this. We both loved to pick strawberries together."

Israel had conducted further raids on Thursday evening in the north of the Gaza Strip, according to Hamas authorities.

Alareer had said a few days after Israel began its ground offensive in October that he refused to leave northern Gaza, the epicentre of the fighting at the time.

"Refaat's assassination is tragic, painful and outrageous. It is a huge loss," his friend Ahmed Alnaouq wrote on X.

The Literary Hub website also paid tribute to him, while author and journalist Ramzy Baroud wrote on X: "Rest in peace Refaat Alareer. We will continue to be guided by your wisdom, today and for eternity."

Alareer, a professor of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught Shakespeare among other subjects, was also one of the co-founders of the "We are not numbers" project, which pairs authors from Gaza with mentors abroad who help them write stories in English about their experiences.

The project edited the book Gaza Writes Back, chronicles of life in Gaza by young Palestinian authors, and published Gaza Unsilenced.

On X, Alareer pinned what could be one of his last poems, shared on November 1 amidst the raging war between Israel and Hamas.

Titled If I must die, it had been viewed more than 14 million times and shared tens of thousands of times. It concludes with the words: "If I must die, let it bring hope, let it be a tale". Here it is:

Israel launched a vast military operation in Gaza following an attack by Hamas on October 7, in which around 1,200 were killed, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

More than 17,100, also mostly civilians, have been killed in Israel's relentless bombardment that has spread to the entirety of the Palestinian territory, according to the Gaza's health ministry.

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