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‘I couldn’t sleep last night’: Life stops for Gazans in Ireland as they check on relatives

Palestinian students in Dublin react with horror at explosion at Gaza hospital that killed hundreds

The explosion at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday, killing hundreds of people in the Palestinian territory, horrified Ahmed, a native of Gaza now living and studying in Dublin.

“I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking of all the displaced people, children, women and doctors who were killed,” he said. “It’s very heartbreaking . . . Day by day, the situation deteriorates further.”

Israel has blamed the hospital explosion on a failed rocket launch by Gaza-based militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but Hamas has accused Israel of being responsible.

Palestinian students based in Ireland, including Ahmed, have spoken of life stopping as they await news each day on the safety of their friends and family back home.


Ahmed, who came to Dublin five weeks ago to begin a master’s, says he has been struggling daily as he thinks about his family who are “very far away and under brutal attack”.

“What’s going on is insane,” he says. “My uncle’s house was bombed three days ago. All my uncle’s family were in it. There were more than 20 members inside. The majority were children and women. Four children we lost. All of the others were injured.”

Some people in the area managed to remove Ahmed’s relatives from under the rubble after two hours, he says. “Can you imagine that? Your uncles and your cousins who you were brought up with and spent all your life playing with . . . under the rubble and you are away reading the news to know if they are alive or not.”

Ahmed says he had also lost some of his friends, while many others he knows are “stuck in Gaza city and can’t move”.

Israeli strikes in Gaza, in response to Hamas attacks, have so far killed at least 3,000 Palestinians and wounded 12,500 in the Gaza Strip since October 7th, the Palestinian health ministry said on Tuesday. More than 1,400 Israelis and dozens more have been taken captive and brought to Gaza by militants.

“I’ve been in touch with my family since last Saturday, but as Israel bombed the infrastructure there, the internet has been missing in most areas in the Gaza Strip. It’s very difficult for me to call my family because of that,” Ahmed says.

He sometimes manages to call them “if they are moving from one area to another”.

Ahmed struggles to speak about his family, as he was not sure “if they will be alive after an hour or after a minute”.

“Since last Saturday, I haven’t gone to my university. For me, life has stopped since then. I can’t go out, I can’t study, I can’t do anything. I’ve been thinking of my family all the time,” he says.

Another Palestinian student, who grew up in Gaza, Asil Nasir, says the situation back home has been “indescribable and unbelievable”.

Ms Nasir came to Dublin to study an MSc in business analytics at Dublin Business School just last month and has spent the past two weeks “keeping up with the news 24 hours a day and trying to contact my family”.

“We have added international minutes to our sim cards here to call them. That’s the only way we can contact them. The food is about to run out,” she says. “There are no shelters in the Gaza Strip. Most have lost their houses. The winter is coming and where are people going to live, even if the war is finished?”

She describes Israel’s blockade of Gaza, not permitting any relief supplies of food or fuel into the Gaza Strip since the October 7th attack by Hamas, as “unbearable”.

“My friend who came here with me on the same scholarship to Ireland, her family has lost their house. Luckily, they’re still alive. But can you imagine the struggle they will be living even if this war ends? They have no place to live. They’re running from one house to another house until its turn comes,” Ms Nasir says.

Ms Nasir has lost contact with her family in recent days because electricity has been running out and charging phones is difficult.

She says she was still in shock at the explosion at the hospital and the many deaths there.

“I’m now even more terrified about my family and friends because it’s sure now to the world that no place is safe in Gaza,” she says. “We are not numbers. We are all human beings, we shouldn’t be treated this way.”

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times