Young Gaza poet and novelist, killed in Israeli strike, chronicled pain of her people

Humaira Ahad

The Israeli military, after launching the indiscriminate aerial bombardment three weeks ago, warned Gazans to leave their homes in the north and flee to the south “for their own safety.”

Like thousands of other Palestinians, 32-year-old poet and writer Heba Abu Nada also abandoned her home in the north, and sought refuge with her relatives in Khan Yunis, a city in southern Gaza. However, the sweeping bombing campaign of the apartheid regime did not even spare the south and killed many displaced people, including the young and promising Palestinian poet and novelist. As the United Nations acknowledged, “there really is no safe place to go in Gaza.” The death toll in the besieged Gaza Strip has jumped above 8,000 since October 7, with majority of victims being children, women and elderly.

Abu Nada, who was a popular name in the literary circles of Palestine and had earned several awards for her writings, was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1991. She traced her roots to a refugee family from Beit Jirja, a Palestinian village northeast of Gaza. The village was overrun by the Zionist forces during the Arab-Israeli war displacing the family in 1948. After that, her family was forced to relocate to the Gaza Strip.

As a young female Palestinian poet and writer, Abu Nada co-authored three poetry collections. In 2017, she won second place in the Sharjah Award for Creativity in the novel category for her debut novel “Uksujinlaysalil-mawta" (Oxygen isn't for the dead). In her novel, Abu Nada raised the issue of justice, bringing to light the harsh reality of Palestinians under occupation and comparing it with the Arab uprising of 2011. Her famous novel, ‘Oxygen isn't for the dead’, is in its fourth edition now.

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