On March 20, 2024, Oriya Dahan, age 11, smiles for a picture at the Alon Sciences Elementary School in Sderot, Israel.

On October 7, Hamas launched its largest city attack against Sderot, Israel, which is close to the Gaza border. Nearly everyone was evacuated by Israel at the start of the war. When our correspondent returns to Sderot, he discovers that people are coming back.

With a megaphone in hand and an orange fluorescent vest on, Corrie was determined to stop them. She was expecting the Israeli bulldozer approaching her to stop, as other bulldozers have done when confronted by protesters from across the world, as she was the only person on a mound of earth in the way of the armoured machine.

Despite the protests of her fellow activists, the 23-year-old Olympia, Washington, college student was crushed to death as it continued unabated. The children of the Nasrallah family peered through a gap in their garden wall, horrified.

People in Gaza and the surrounding area have named their children Corrie, carrying on her legacy even after her passing. In the United States, where her journals were made into plays and books, it still has resonance. Her death two decades ago highlights Gaza’s ongoing military occupation and the breakdown of Palestinian civil society there. According to World Bank estimates, Israel has demolished nearly half of Gaza’s homes since the conflict with Hamas began in October.

The world has been enthralled by the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught on Israel and the subsequent war, but Gaza’s poverty and isolation in the face of continuous bombardment have persisted for as long as many Palestinians, including some of the Nasrallah children, have lived.

Israel claims that the Hamas attack claimed the lives of over 1,200 Israelis and other people. According to Gaza health authorities, since then, the Israeli force has killed over 32,000 Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom were women and children, on the grounds that it had to exterminate the militant group.

During the 1967 war with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, Israel took control of Gaza from Egypt. Despite its disengagement in 2005, the United Nations continues to view it as an occupying force due to the blockade it placed on Palestinian land.

According to international charity officials, children are starving to death and widespread hunger is nearly a certainty due to Israeli restrictions on aid entering Gaza, which it claims it needs to guarantee weapons are not smuggled in.

According to international charity officials, children are starving to death and widespread hunger is nearly a certainty due to Israeli restrictions on aid entering Gaza, which it claims it needs to guarantee weapons are not smuggled in.

Corrie’s host family in Gaza, whose home she was killed attempting to defend, has a daughter named Nour Nasrallah. “We are hoping for a million Rachel Corries to be our fearless lifeline,” she adds. “We really need that kind of support right now.”

The Nasrallah family now worries that an Israeli attack may destroy their current Rafah house.
Twenty-two-year-old Nasrallah was a toddler when Corrie died. Two months prior to the commencement of the war, she received her undergraduate degree in Gaza, and since then, she has been writing and drawing the children’s book I’d Rather Be Dancing! about Corrie.

From Gaza, Nasrallah speaks to NPR over the phone. “I was just two, but the memories and the stories about her have been passed down through my family from one generation to the next,” he says. “My dad always talks about her … how she was this brave soul and fearlessly stood up for the truth.”

The Nasrallah residence was still standing the day Corrie was slain, but it was subsequently destroyed as part of an operation in which Israel said it had to rid the region of terrorists’ hiding spots. They are currently residing in a separate Rafah home because of fear that the predicted ground assault of the city by Israel would destroy their current house.

“The thought of losing our house is unsettling.

From Gaza, Nasrallah speaks to NPR over the phone. “I was just two, but the memories and the stories about her have been passed down through my family from one generation to the next,” he says. “My dad always talks about her … how she was this brave soul and fearlessly stood up for the truth.”

everything we hold — the memories,” says Nour Nasrallah.

The Nasrallah family embodied many aspects of middle-class life in Gaza. Nour’s father, Khaled, had an elder brother named Samir Nasrallah who worked as a chemist. A two-story house on the outskirts of Rafah, close to the Israeli border, was home to the two brothers and their families.

The majority of people in Gaza are dependent on aid, and Khaled Nasrallah works for a U.N. organisation there. They now spend nearly all of their time, like other families, attempting to get food, water, and medication.

 

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