Fri 17-May-2024

Strongest English-speaking advocate for Palestine, Dr. Refaat Al-Areer martyred

Friday 8-December-2023

On Thursday, December 7, 2023, Israeli missiles silenced one of the strongest voices in the national academic field advocating for the Palestinian cause, Dr. Refaat Al-Areer, who became one of over 17,000 Palestinian martyrs who have fallen in the genocidal war waged by Israel on Gaza.

Dr. Refaat Al-Areer, 44 years old, was a Palestinian academic born in Gaza. He obtained his Ph.D. in English literature from Putra University in Malaysia in 2017 and worked as a faculty member in the English Language Department at the Islamic University of Gaza.

The martyr was also a pillar of the English language site of the Palestinian Information Center and the founder and supervisor of its Social Media Department.

Al-Areer, along with his brother, sister, and her four children, was martyred in a new act of extermination added to the ongoing crimes of this Nazi occupation.

Pioneer of the English language
Al-Areer is considered one of the prominent and important English language teachers in Gaza, earning him the title “Pioneer of the English Language” given by many academics. Since the start of the aggression on the Gaza Strip, he has been dedicated, like every aggression, to exposing the Israeli crimes against the Strip and conveying the voice of Gaza to the outside world.

The martyr stood out for his exceptional ability to convey the voice of Palestine to Western and global media. He is regarded as one of the best speakers on Palestinian narrative and refuting the Israeli enemy’s narrative in English. He authored the book “Gaza Writes Back” in English and conducted numerous notable interviews and press meetings with various Western media outlets.

An Israeli journalist named Moshe Ya’ir commented on the assassination of Professor Refaat Al-Areer via the X platform, saying, “The reason for the assassination of the academic Professor Refaat Al-Areer is the reports he was publishing in English about the violations taking place in Gaza, which were being circulated by Western organizations. This was a cause of concern for the Netanyahu government.”

Al-Areer was known for his profound writings about Gaza in English and his activity on social media platforms to promote the Palestinian cause and the art of addressing the West. He was one of the founders of the “We Are Not Numbers” project, which aimed to teach children in Gaza to write stories in English about life during war.

I will resist the soldiers with all I have
After the start of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip two months ago, social media users circulated a video clip of Dr. Al-Areer speaking in an interview with the BBC in English about the harsh conditions the people of Gaza are living in.

In the clip, he said, “The situation is very dark; we don’t even have water, I only have my pen.”

He continued, “What does Israel want from us? Do they want us to commit mass suicide? But we will not do that.”

Emotionally affected, he added, “I am an academic, and the most valuable and the hardest thing I have at home is the chalkboard pen. I will throw it at the Israeli soldiers if they try to invade my house, even if it is the last thing I do.”

He pointed out that everyone in Gaza shares the same feeling because they are helpless and have nothing to lose.

Activity in writing and storytelling
In 2015, Al-Areer published a book called “Gaza Writes Back,” in which he collected writings by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, most of whom were students. They experienced pain and suffering firsthand and conveyed it to the Western world in their language.

According to Al-Areer’s previous statements to the Palestinian Information Center, the book spread in America and several countries around the world to reveal the extent of the suffering experienced by the people of Gaza during the 2014 aggression and their ongoing blockade. The book consisted of 330 pages and included six chapters.

Restriction and incitement
The Palestinian Information Center correspondent monitored a campaign of Israeli incitement against Al-Areer that was observed through social media platforms, which lasted for several years due to his significant activity in disseminating Palestinian narratives and debunking the Israeli accounts of the crimes committed against the Palestinian people.

In December 2018, Refaat Al-Areer’s Twitter account was suspended under the pretext of violating the standards. It was one of the most active English-language accounts, with around 90,000 followers, including many politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and activists around the world.

At that time, Al-Areer believed that exposing the Israeli crimes and his continuous and intensive coverage of the situation in Palestine under occupation, as well as demanding the Palestinians’ right to live in freedom and dignity and resist the occupation, were the reasons behind the deletion of his account.

Al-Areer as a poet
In early November, the martyr Al-Areer wrote his last poems, beginning with the lines:
“If I must die, you must live to tell my story, to sell my things.”

Wide obituary
With great sadness, grief, pride, and honor, the Palestinian Information Center mourns the martyrdom of Dr. Refaat Al-Areer, one of the pillars of the English section on the website, founder and supervisor of the Social Media Department (Social Media). He was martyred along with his brother, sister, and her four children in a new massacre added to the ongoing crimes of this Nazi occupation.

Several social media accounts of activists and users mourned Al-Areer, the founder of the “We Are Not Numbers” campaign, after his martyrdom due to the Israeli bombardment that claimed the lives of other members of his family.

Journalist Hossam Yahya shared words from Dr. Refaat, saying, “When we write about the martyrs, we must highlight that the occupation killed them.”

Yahya continued, “The terrorist occupation killed Dr. Refaat Al-Areer, the English literature professor who translated the stories of the martyrs into English for the world to read.”

Palestinian journalist and activist Adham Abu Salmiya also mourned Dr. Refaat, guided by a famous quote from the late professor: “We will resist until the end, as we have nothing to lose.”

Fareeda Essam wrote on Facebook: “Israel targeted Professor Dr. Refaat Al-Areer, the Palestinian academic and writer who taught us about Palestine, and taught us how to remain strong in the face of genocide, how to nurture hope, and how to defy the occupation and our devastated world. The world has lost thousands and continues to lose every day some of the noblest and most beautiful humans. We will not forget you.”

Palestinian journalist Mohammed Mansour said, “Gaza has lost today one of the most, if not the most, important voices in the English language and in exporting Palestinian storytelling to the world.”

Targeted assassinations
The assassination of Al-Areer is part of a list of targeted killings by the Israeli occupation forces that includes journalists and academics. Among them was the President of the Islamic University in Gaza, Sufian Tayeh, who was martyred along with several members of his family on Saturday, December 2, in an Israeli airstrike that targeted Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

Since October 7, the Israeli army has been waging a devastating war on the Gaza Strip, resulting in 17,177 deaths, 46,000 injuries, massive infrastructure destruction, and an “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” according to Palestinian and international official sources.

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