Letter from Gaza: ‘We prefer to die standing than to give up’

October 16, 2023

By Ahmed Issa

Hello world,

I am from occupied Palestine. I live in the Gaza Strip. I am married and have two children, Bassam, five years old, and Adam, two years old. I’m 30 years old.

My family has lived in Gaza since 1948 as a result of the forcible displacement of my grandparents from their hometown Ashdod. All my life, I’ve dreamed of returning to my homeland.

Ahmed Issa speaking at Palestine Writes Festival, Sept. 24, 2023. Photo: Joe Piette

In 2020-2021, I secured the Chevening Award funded by the U.K. government to study MSc Marketing and Strategy at Warwick Business School in the U.K., which is considered one of the top universities in the world.

After I completed my masters in 2022, I returned to Palestine to work as communication coordinator with GGateway, a social enterprise that aims at assisting unemployed youth and helping them earn a decent income to support their families, a meaningful and purposeful mission that aligned with my core values. That’s why I returned, even though I had the chance to stay and work in the U.K.

My people have suffered in Gaza for the past 17 years, with a high unemployment rate, lack of hope and basic human needs, such as water and electricity, and constant assaults by Israeli warplanes and military drones which target anything anytime. This is a young population full of energy but no opportunities to grow or flourish. This has resulted in an explosion towards the occupier. What did they expect from people living under such circumstances?

I believe what has happened on Oct. 7 is the result of years of the Israeli brutal occupation that suffocated and besieged people for so long. What do they expect?

I’ve been privileged to travel to the U.S. to attend the Palestine Writes Literature Festival via the Erez crossing. It was not easy to get permission to travel, because most of my people are denied access to travel, but I was lucky!

On my way out of Gaza, and for the first time in my life, I saw my Palestine. I experienced the fresh air, looking for signs of our villages and greenery places where we all lived in peace. I kept wondering how so many settlers are living in peace with high human conditions as if they were living in Europe on our land, compared to my life in Gaza, just a few meters away, [where we] are living under brutal and inhumane circumstances. How is that possible? Don’t settlers living on the other side know about the people suffering in Gaza?

They are talking about displacing us to Egypt, but I will never leave Gaza! I have several experiences being outside of Gaza, but I have never felt that I belong anywhere else. If we were to die, we would prefer to die here in Gaza. All my family members have agreed that we are staying together, and we will not leave.

‘We are resilient and will never leave!’

We prefer to die standing than to give up.

We have suffered a lot, we have suffered everything, we are resilient and can endure everything, and we will never leave! Even if they want to kill us!

We, the Palestinian people, are going to persevere and stay in our country, no matter what. We will keep existing on this land, as I believe our existence is resistance. So many friends of mine have tried to convince me to stay in the U.K.

But I felt if I stay I will vanish, my identity will vanish. I know that I will have many benefits and privileges if I leave, but my impact and connection to Palestine will vanish. That’s why I returned to work with GGateway to help Palestinian youth improve themselves and their skills to work with international clients as software developers and digital marketers. Being here, feeling the suffering and enduring it with my people, is far more satisfying and fulfilling to me than being outside and not being connected.

In conclusion, we are the people who have the truth on our side. We are facing a barbaric and brutal occupation and witness the killing of children and innocent civilians at night while they are sleeping. This is the Israeli strategy in all of their major aggressions in 2008, 2014, 2021 and now.

If you are feeling sorry about what you have seen recently, please take a closer look at all the pictures and the videos coming from Gaza to compare and contrast between our resistance fighters and the brutal occupier. I know you will not, because the mainstream media will not show you anything from our side. But, if you have heart, you will look and find the truth. You will be able to judge for yourself.

As a Palestinian and speaking on behalf of all Palestinians, we hope to live in peace, and we condemn any act of killing civilians on both sides. We condemn all acts of violence all the time in all cases. But there is a saying in the Quran, that Allah gave the permission for those who are oppressed to end their occupation by all means.

This is also legal by all the international laws and resolutions, such as the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 37/43 passed in 1982. It reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of people for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.

Peace upon everyone.


“uncivilized and human-animal”

Ahmed Issa