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Israel-Palestine war: Yara Eid describes losing home, best friend and 60 family members in Gaza

In latest episode of Real Talk, Palestinian journalist talks of 'losing everything' to Israeli bombardment, including hope in the application of international law
Palestinian journalist Yara Eid, 23, grew up in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza (Middle East Eye)

In the past two months, Palestinian journalist Yara Eid has lost family members, friends, colleagues and her childhood home to relentless Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

"I've lived through four aggressions in Gaza. I've seen people being killed in front of my eyes. But this aggression, this genocide, is something I've never ever imagined," she described, during an interview for Middle East Eye's Real Talk series. 

The 23-year-old grew up in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. Her entire neighbourhood has been targeted by Israeli bombs since 7 October, and she does not know if her home is still standing. 

"I've lost everything. I've lost family. I've lost my home. I've lost my city. I've lost my best friend. I've lost my boss. My mentor. I've lost 60 members of my family," she said. 

Eid covered the 2022 Israeli bombardment of the besieged Strip on the ground for Ain Media, a Palestinian news organisation. She moved to the UK in 2016, and later studied international relations at the University of Edinburgh.

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She has spent parts of the last seven years in therapy, trying to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from Israel's 2014 war on Gaza

Israeli forces killed at least 2,251 Palestinians during that war, of whom over 500 were children. 

Yara Eid: ‘I lost 60 members of my family in Gaza’ | Real Talk
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"I had the privilege of getting medical treatment. I had a therapist," she said, adding that children who survive the current war would be severely traumatised. 

"For example, my cousin's daughter, Hannah, she lost her whole family," Eid explained. "She was the only survivor because she was out of the house getting medicine with one of her uncles.

"I think about this girl. What future will this girl have? What kind of PTSD will she suffer from?"

More than 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli attacks in the past nine weeks, most of whom are women and children. The bombing campaign followed Hamas' attack on southern Israeli communities on 7 October, which killed around 1,200 Israelis.

A one-week temporary truce, which had given the people trapped in the besieged enclave a brief respite, came to an abrupt and deadly end on Friday. Hundreds of Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza.  

Palestinians 'are more than numbers'

Eid said that western media had long dehumanised Palestinians, treating their lives as "just numbers". 

"The 60 family members I lost, every single one of them had a name, had a dream, had a life," she said. 

Eid added that Gaza is a small place, and despite being home to two million inhabitants, it feels like a close-knit community. 

'My whole life has been about occupation. My whole life has been about killing and imprisonment and blockade and suffering,'

- Yara Eid

"The 20,000 [killed], I knew [them]. Every single one of them was related to me somehow, either a friend of a friend or a daughter of a mother that's friends with my mum," she said.

Eid's mother is among those in Gaza at the moment. 

"Some days I wouldn't hear if she's alive or not. And I would just be literally shaking the whole day, not able to do anything, just crying, asking, praying that she's alive," she said. 

One of the tens of thousands killed was Palestinian journalist Ibrahim Lafi, Eid's closest friend and former colleague at Ain Media. He was killed by an Israeli attack on the first day of the conflict while reporting in Beit Hanoun, near the separation fence with Israel. 

"He became my best friend. The person I would call when I'm a sad person or when I'm happy. The person I would share the stupidest details with," she said.

"He kept talking about how he's going to visit me in London. He's never travelled from Gaza. We always talked about how we're going to be a team. Me and him, I'm going to be the reporter. He's the cameraman."

At least 61 journalists have been killed in the conflict, of whom 54 are Palestinians, four are Israeli and three are Lebanese. Ain Media's co-founder, Roshdi Sarraj, was also killed by Israeli bombardment.

'We want you to keep fighting for us'

Eid said that as a youth she studied international law, but had since become disillusioned by its effectiveness in Palestine. 

"International law is only applied to whoever they want it to be applied for," Eid stated. "Human rights of Palestinians don't matter. Human rights of children in Palestine do not matter."

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She said that instead, she decided to pursue journalism to convey realities on the ground. 

"My whole life has been about occupation. My whole life has been about killing and imprisonment and blockade and suffering," Eid said. 

"Everything I'm doing is because I'm Palestinian. Everything I'm doing in my life, my career, my dreams, my wishes, everything revolves about being born in Gaza under occupation."

Eid said she wished she was making films about romance and nature and the beauty of her homeland.

"I wish I'm here telling you about the dreams of Palestinian children. Instead I'm telling you that 8,000 of them have been killed."

She believes that everyone - Palestinian or not - can make a difference and amplify the Palestinian cause. 

"You have so much power. You can protest. You can keep boycotting. You can keep talking about Palestine," Eid said. "We want you to keep fighting for us."

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