Acclaimed Palestinian Academic, Writer Dr Refaat Al-Areer Latest Gaza Casualty 

A professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Areer had written a poem about being killed just weeks ago

Acclaimed Palestinian Academic, Writer Dr Refaat Al-Areer Latest Gaza Casualty 

Renowned Palestinian academic and writer Dr Refaat Al-Areer was killed in an Israeli air strike on his sister's home, where he was taking refuge.

Al-Areer, who was previously seeking shelter in a school, left it after he received a call threatening that the entire school would be targeted. He sought refuge with his sister, brother and four children. An Israeli air strike on Thursday evening killed all six in their Shujayia home.

Dr Al-Areer was a professor of English literature and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza. He had degrees from the Islamic University of Gaza and the University College of London, as well as a doctorate from Universiti Putra in Malaysia. He was also a renowned poet, writer, translator as well as an activist. His writings often reflected on life under occupation in Gaza. 

On his social media account, 'Refaat in Gaza, ' he took a humorous view of life in Gaza.

He was a father of six who had turned into an anti-occupation activist by launching the "We Are Not Numbers" initiative, where he taught English language and writing to young Palestinians of Gaza to express themselves.

In the last message he posted on social media before his murder, Al-Areer accused the US Democratic party and US President Joe Biden of being responsible for a genocide in Gaza.

As news of his death spread, tributes poured in, and his poem from the beginning of November 2023, nearly a month into Israel's current war in Gaza, started going viral.

If I must die,

you must live

to tell my story

to sell my things

to buy a piece of cloth

and some strings,

(make it white with a long tail)

so that a child, somewhere in Gaza

while looking heaven in the eye

awaiting his dad who left in a blaze–

and bid no one farewell

not even to his flesh

not even to himself–

sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above

and thinks for a moment an angel is there

bringing back love

If I must die

let it bring hope

let it be a tale

Fellow Palestinian scholar and academic, and a friend of Al-Areer, Jehad Abusalim, termed the poet a "towering figure in Palestinian society, especially in Gaza".

"The tragedy that has befallen the academic, scholarly and intellectual community in Gaza and in Palestine is unprecedented. Israel is destroying the foundations of society in the Gaza Strip," Abusalim said in an interview after his passing.

Israel has bombed the Islamic University and the Al-Azhar University, rendering the only two universities of Gaza inoperable. Israel also bombed the homes of Islamic University President Professor Sofyan Taya.

So far, Israeli bombing since the Hamas incursion on October 7 has killed over 17,000 Palestinians across the narrow Gaza Strip.