Gazans are suffering, says resident Ghada Al Kord. Photo: Alison Baskerville, CARE
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Letter from Gaza: “You cannot understand how it feels... There is no dignity”

Palestinian Ghada Al Kord tells of the difficulties of navigating a warzone while pregnant and the indignity of being trapped in Gaza. 

Ghada Al Kord, 28, has lived in Gaza since she was born and co-ordinates safety and security for CARE staff there. She lives with her husband and 18-month-old daughter and is expecting her second child.

I heard the first strike of the military operation on the day that I went to a clinic to check on my health for the pregnancy. Since then we have just watched it escalate and escalate. I thought it might be for one week, like “Pillar of Cloud” but the violence from both sides is not stopping.

I was pregnant during Pillar of Cloud and now I am pregnant in this war too. I’m suffering physically, it is difficult – we are fasting for Ramadan, there is the military operation and all these things are happening together, so it is a very big strain, especially for pregnant women. We cannot sleep for the air strikes.

On the first day there was an air strike outside our door. My husband and daughter had just been standing in that same place one minute before. Thank God they are not injured. The next day I went to my sister’s for the night. My niece answered the phone and it was a call from the IDF telling us to evacuate the house. In two minutes we were in the street with my nieces and nephews screaming and shouting. The whole neighbourhood got the same information, there was chaos, but we got back to my home.

That night there was an air strike very close to my sister’s home, the place where I would have been sleeping was badly damaged. We moved to my husband’s family home, but again there were air strikes targeting the houses and then the ground operation started and we moved back to our house. Whenever we move we are scared that we will be targeted, you can be on any street, any building. My sister’s family are now living in a basement because their building was so damaged, they can’t even go into their garden – imagine not leaving a basement for three weeks? If they go out they might be targeted.

My daughter does not understand, but she is scared. She comes close to me and hides in my arms when we hear the strikes. I try to tell her stories to calm her down so she will not remember. I worry for the life of my next child, our children are growing up surrounded by violence. There is no safe or calm environment for them, everything they learn is violence. They have the right to live in peace like other children, they should be able to play in the sea and in the park – I cannot even let my daughter out of the house.

We are living between wars. You cannot understand how it feels not being able to move, to be trapped, to not even see family or friends. There is no dignity. We are frustrated and we do not know when it will end.

We will not be able to celebrate Eid. How can we when we have lost relatives? My sister-in-law lost her brother, and two of our friends have been killed?  I lost my brother in Operation Cast Lead to a drone. He was just a civilian. He has four children and their life is so hard. They feel anger and hate and aggression. When I visit them in Rafah, I try to be strong in front of them, but inside I am very scared for them. There are air strikes in Rafah too.

The pregnancy clinic told me to come back after my last check-up, but I can’t go as it is now shut. There are many pregnant people like me and other sick people with diseases who need medicines but we cannot get any help because the hospitals and clinics are full of all the injured people. I have to be strong.

We just want to live in peace, not war. I am 28 and for more than 14 years I have witnessed war, 14 years of violence. We just want to live like other people. I’m 28 and I have never left Gaza, I would like to travel, I would like to meet people in other countries but we can’t – right now I cannot even see my own family and friends.

I ask the world to think of the civilians. We are good people. Everyone I know wants to live in peace. It is enough now. Our children deserve to grow up with their rights, and that is all we ask.

CARE and its partners are preparing to provide emergency mobile health teams to serve people affected by the violence in Gaza. As soon as the security situation allows, CARE and its partner, Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS), are planning to run two mobile health teams that would visit an average of 200 patients per day, providing basic health care to people living in communities affected by the ongoing violence, The teams will include medical staff and a psychosocial worker to help traumatised families, and will focus in particular on women’s health needs, particularly pre- and post-natal care for pregnant women and new mothers with infants.

John Moore
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The man who created the fake Tube sign explains why he did it

"We need to consider the fact that fake news isn't always fake news at the source," says John Moore.

"I wrote that at 8 o'clock on the evening and before midday the next day it had been read out in the Houses of Parliament."

John Moore, a 44-year-old doctor from Windsor, is describing the whirlwind process by which his social media response to Wednesday's Westminster attack became national news.

Moore used a Tube-sign generator on the evening after the attack to create a sign on a TfL Service Announcement board that read: "All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on thank you." Within three hours, it had just fifty shares. By the morning, it had accumulated 200. Yet by the afternoon, over 30,000 people had shared Moore's post, which was then read aloud on BBC Radio 4 and called a "wonderful tribute" by prime minister Theresa May, who at the time believed it was a genuine Underground sign. 

"I think you have to be very mindful of how powerful the internet is," says Moore, whose viral post was quickly debunked by social media users and then national newspapers such as the Guardian and the Sun. On Thursday, the online world split into two camps: those spreading the word that the sign was "fake news" and urging people not to share it, and those who said that it didn't matter that it was fake - the sentiment was what was important. 

Moore agrees with the latter camp. "I never claimed it was a real tube sign, I never claimed that at all," he says. "In my opinion the only fake news about that sign is that it has been reported as fake news. It was literally just how I was feeling at the time."

Moore was motivated to create and post the sign when he was struck by the "very British response" to the Westminster attack. "There was no sort of knee-jerk Islamaphobia, there was no dramatisation, it was all pretty much, I thought, very calm reporting," he says. "So my initial thought at the time was just a bit of pride in how London had reacted really." Though he saw other, real Tube signs online, he wanted to create his own in order to create a tribute that specifically epitomised the "very London" response. 

Yet though Moore insists he never claimed the sign was real, his caption on the image - which now has 100,800 shares - is arguably misleading. "Quintessentially British..." Moore wrote on his Facebook post, and agrees now that this was ambiguous. "It was meant to relate to the reaction that I saw in London in that day which I just thought was very calm and measured. What the sign was trying to do was capture the spirit I'd seen, so that's what I was actually talking about."

Not only did Moore not mean to mislead, he is actually shocked that anyone thought the sign was real. 

"I'm reasonably digitally savvy and I was extremely shocked that anyone thought it was real," he says, explaining that he thought everyone would be able to spot a fake after a "You ain't no muslim bruv" sign went viral after the Leytonstone Tube attack in 2015. "I thought this is an internet meme that people know isn't true and it's fine to do because this is a digital thing in a digital world."

Yet despite his intentions, Moore's sign has become the centre of debate about whether "nice" fake news is as problematic as that which was notoriously spread during the 2016 United States Presidential elections. Though Moore can understand this perspective, he ultimately feels as though the sentiment behind the sign makes it acceptable. 

"I use the word fake in inverted commas because I think fake implies the intention to deceive and there wasn't [any]... I think if the sentiment is ok then I think it is ok. I think if you were trying to be divisive and you were trying to stir up controversy or influence people's behaviour then perhaps I wouldn't have chosen that forum but I think when you're only expressing your own emotion, I think it's ok.

"The fact that it became so-called fake news was down to other people's interpretation and not down to the actual intention... So in many interesting ways you can see that fake news doesn't even have to originate from the source of the news."

Though Moore was initially "extremely shocked" at the reponse to his post, he says that on reflection he is "pretty proud". 

"I'm glad that other people, even the powers that be, found it an appropriate phrase to use," he says. "I also think social media is often denigrated as a source of evil and bad things in the world, but on occasion I think it can be used for very positive things. I think the vast majority of people who shared my post and liked my post have actually found the phrase and the sentiment useful to them, so I think we have to give social media a fair judgement at times and respect the fact it can be a source for good."

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.