‘I’m worried about the kids’: Irishman in Palestine says everyone in Gaza is a target

Zac Hania, whose four sons were all born in Ireland, said he and his family don’t feel safe

“I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried about the kids. Everyone in Gaza is a target now,” Zak Hania said on Wednesday, emotion audible in his voice.

Mr Hania, who is an Irish citizen, was speaking from his home in Gaza city, where he lives with his wife, Batoul, and their children, Mazen, Ismael, Ahmed and Nour.

Having lived in Ireland since 1998, Mr Hania – who was born in Gaza – returned to the enclave about a decade ago, where he works as a researcher and translator. His four sons, aged between 19 and 10, were all born in Ireland.

As he spoke, electricity supplies in Gaza were fast running out in the wake of repeated Israeli air strikes.


“[There’s] bombings everywhere around, we can’t sleep. It shakes the houses, the windows. Yesterday, some windows on the road were broken because of the attack on a mosque near us.

“We don’t feel safe, we’re very worried ... Things are very difficult,” he said.

Mr Hania, who lived in Castleknock, west Dublin for a period and holds a master’s degree from Dublin City University, said that hospitals in Gaza are struggling to deal with overcrowding and electricity cuts.

“There is a shortage in everything. The hospitals are overcrowded, the staff are not able to cope with the high numbers ... The main station that supplies electricity is going to stop today.”

On Wednesday, major news outlets carried comments from Thafer Melhem, chairman of the Palestinian Energy Authority, stating that Gaza’s sole power plant and only source of electricity was close to running out of fuel.

Israel cut off its own electricity supply to Gaza on Monday, after Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, ordered a “total siege” of the region in response to violent Hamas-led assaults in southern Israel over the weekend.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, Yara AlAgha (27) learned that 10 members of her extended family were killed in Israeli bomb strikes on Gaza overnight.

“The last four days have been a dystopian nightmare,” she said, speaking from Amman, the capital of Jordan, where she is visiting family.

Ms AlAgha’s father and mother – from Gaza and Nablus, in the West Bank, respectively – moved to Dublin in 1995. Ms AlAgha grew up in Dublin, and previously worked as a researcher on Seanad Éireann’s Civil Engagement Group. She is currently based in the UK.

Ms AlAgha said that contact with family in Gaza is limited, given the electricity shortages.

In their last contact, family members in Khan Younis said they were “sticking together” in the event that, if they are caught in air strikes, they will die together.

“[So] no one will be left behind to suffer, grieve alone. There’s nowhere for them to escape from, there’s no open border to leave from, there’s no airport, there’s no seaport.

“It’s carpet bombing. It’s indiscriminate bombing, deliberate bombing of civilian homes, of mosques, ambulances, our university in Gaza.”

There is a worry that recent bombing on Gaza is a preamble to a ground invasion by Israel Defence Forces, Ms AlAgha said.

Ms AlAgha spoke of her frustration and anger at international attitudes to Palestinian struggles over the decades. “I’ve had family members die in previous wars.

“There’s not a single family in Palestine that hasn’t been visited by grief and destruction and death.

“I think there’s a total amnesia and absence of context when it comes to this war.

“I mean, in what other context would a complete blockade and siege on two million people be accepted? Israel has total control over what goes in and out of the strip,” she said.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist