THE first episode of Diaries From Gaza – an ongoing audio and video series from The National where I hear from Oxfam staff and civilians trapped in Gaza – was published just four days after the awful October 7 Hamas attacks.

Fidaa Al-Araj, a mother of five, ­described the start of Israel’s brutal ­retaliation – the “loud and continuous” blasts and ­“crying and screaming” children – as the IDF ­carpet-bombed the Gaza Strip, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble.

“This voicenote might be my last,” she said. “What’s happening now, as I am speaking, is a massacre – butchering. It’s like a doomsday.”

Horrifyingly, Fidaa’s words have ­proven true. Israel’s war on Gaza has so far displaced 1.7 million and killed at least 25,490, the majority of whom are women and children.

The ICJ ruled last Friday that it is ­“plausible” that Israel has – and is – committing a genocide.

Listening to Fidaa’s voicenotes – as well as testimony from Wassem, Najla and Alhasan, to name a few – as the brutal violence has unfolded hasn’t been easy. A window into the daily suffering of the Palestinian people. I have shed more than a few tears.

READ MORE: Diaries from Gaza: Audio from Palestinians in need of aid

One such time was when Omar Ghrieb described hearing the screams of people trapped under rubble.

You could hear the pain in his voice, but also the fatigue. Omar sighed, then added: “We ask ourselves every minute of every day: Are we next? When is it our time?”

I have wondered the same for each of those I have heard from. And I’m amazed by how much of their testimony – even to this day – is centred on their humanitarian work, despite the fact they are in need of aid themselves.

When Oxfam worker Najla Shawa and her family relocated to a southern area of the Gaza Strip, they lived in cramped conditions with 50 other people. She explained that food was running out, ­although they recently managed to bake some bread with wheat borrowed from a neighbour.

She added: “What is the world waiting for?

“We’re talking about people unable to use toilets. In shelters, they hardly have water.”

Weeks later – as access to safe water dwindled further and the WHO warned of a “public health catastrophe” – she spoke of how five children in her household had vomited in the last 24 hours.

“I hope that they are recovering and that it’s just a virus,” she said – noting that they have doubts about how safe the salinated water they drink from a nearby tanker is.

It’s the children I feel for the most – for their safety as well as their ­mental ­wellbeing. About half of Gaza’s 2.3m population are children, and 91% of them already suffered from some form of ­conflict-related trauma back in 2021, according to a report.

When Alhasan Swairjo evacuated from the area around Al-Shifa hospital to the south with his three children, he ­described their journey as a “ghost walk” with “many dead bodies on the ground”.

He added: “I asked my kids not to stare at the bodies and to never look back. The journey was a nightmare.”

The National: Wassem Mushtaha, Oxfam's Saving Lives Program Manager - Gaza, personal photo..

Wassem Mushtaha (above), meanwhile, sent over a page from his young daughter ­Habiba’s diary – which includes a to-do list for after the war.

Within are many things we take for granted – to take a “hot shower”, go back home “safely” and walk by the sea.

The National: diary entry mentioned in the piece. Wassem gift to children 10AM

Chillingly, one of Habiba’s wishes – “eat all the things I’ve drawn” – is written alongside pictures of a chicken, a burger and a pair of eggs (above). The horror.

Human rights groups have accused ­Israel of using starvation as a method of warfare, with the UN warning of a severe famine as 90% of Palestinians already regularly go without food.

The National: ‘We ask ourselves every day: Are we next?’

In my latest episode, we hear from a family living in a tent in Al Mawasi, one of the shrinking areas of Gaza that ­­Israel has designated as a “safe zone” with promised aid. But there is none. Muna (above) spoke about the horrible living conditions before breaking into tears.

Mutaz, meanwhile, held up two small bags with a handful each of mouldy, stale and burnt morsels of bread. He has saved them in case his children are dying of starvation.

It’s an unbelievably painful watch. And while the Diaries From Gaza series doesn’t always get the clicks, bearing witness and documenting these people’s struggles is a necessity.

I thank Oxfam and all those who have contributed. These are people I have never met, and yet have been given an ­­intimate first-hand view of likely the most traumatic moments in their lives.

I wish them all – and their families – health, safety and a swift ceasefire.