A PALESTINIAN activist who moved from Gaza when she was eight years old has said the “strength of support from Scotland to Gaza” has kept her strong as Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has intensified, killing more than 30,000 people.

Nada Shawa, an activist from Gaza with cerebral palsy, moved to Glasgow to have a better chance at receiving treatment for her disability.

Speaking to The National, Shawa (below) said she felt like an “alien” when she first arrived in Scotland.

The National:  (Image: Sarah / Clear Photography)“It really was as if I came from another world,” she said, adding that as a child she was always keen to teach other children about Gaza.

Although she quickly learned English, Shawa was determined not to lose proficiency in Arabic, and continues to use her native language in her working life to support asylum seekers and refugees.


Shawa said it was “inspiring” to see demonstrations taking place across Scotland in support of Gaza.

We previously reported on a demonstration in Edinburgh where two young children dressed as journalists and read poetry in support of Palestine.

“It’s been really inspiring to see a deep sense of allowing others to live as you would love to live,” Shawa said.

“There’s a deep sense of welcome, wherever you’re from, whatever your ability is. It’s given me strength.”

Inspired by the solidarity of the Scottish people, Shawa decided to write her poem The Wave, a powerful exploration of resistance and courage in the face of violence.

You can read the poem below.

The Wave, Nada Shawa

The clear gentle wave flows over me, and back again to soak the growing seeds. Centuries of trees whisper the stories of my ancestors. Why am I possessive of this soil?

Because generations of my ancestors lay here, touching this precious soil. The deep roots cradle their bones in safety, while up above, the living are determined to survive the firing of the enemy.

You rejected my generous gift to you, to share this land, which you fiercely took from my ancestors, and now, you blatantly and in front of the world, wish to eliminate me.

What have I done to you? What has my mother’s cypress trees done to you? What has my grandmother’s orange groves done to you? What has my great-grandmother’s olive trees done to you?

I do not hate you, and never wish to ever BE MADE to hate you, but if you intend on breaking me, I will not bear the sight of you.

The founding fathers of your state of Israel would be quite staggered by how inventive your cruelty and deceit have become…… would they applaud you?

It has been 75 years since my name became obsolete…. but it will never be insignificant.

Beneath the shelter and care of the Scots Pine and Heather, from exile, I send the gentle Scottish wave to flow over you, Palestine, to give you the strength to continue to resist and survive.

When asked why Shawa had decided to focus on Scotland in her work, she said: “That’s what Scotland has meant to me. It has welcomed me ever since I was very young, and really nurtured me in its welcome.

“That’s what has kept me strong, because of the strength of support from Scotland to Gaza. Scotland has been a beautiful shelter.”


Shawa was influenced by her mother, who was a politician in Palestine and also wrote poetry.

“She had a real passion for it,” Shawa said. “She would read [her poems] to us and she would take us on picnics by the beach to see the sunset.

“I really dream of seeing a Gazan sunset again.”

‘It’s a nightmare to see Gaza without the humans’

Shawa told The National that “the last five months have been a nightmare” since Israel intensified its military offensive in Gaza following attacks by Hamas which killed 1200 and took around 250 people hostage.

Now, more than 30,000 Palestinians are reported to have been killed, with 85% of Gaza's population displaced, according to the UN.

“It’s a nightmare, just to see Gaza without the humans, to see it in that destruction, places that have got history. It’s heartbreaking.

“My sister, her husband, our elderly nanny and my nieces, who are really small, were trapped for quite a while,” she added.

Shawa said they had been able to leave Gaza due to her brother-in-law’s dual nationality. Her sister now works as the Gaza regional officer for the charity Oxfam.

“We had extended family and dear friends who were killed in brutal circumstances,” Shawa said.

“I know people who have been executed in cold blood. We have relatives trying to survive in Rafah, and it feels really helpless.”

The National: The majority of Palestinians have now fled to Rafah, the southernmost town in the Gaza StripThe majority of Palestinians have now fled to Rafah, the southernmost town in the Gaza Strip (Image: AP Photo)Shawa condemned countries that had withdrawn funding from UNRWA, adding: “Why do civilians have to pay the price?”

“It’s revealing that Israel has not provided evidence [that UNRWA workers were involved in Hamas activities],” Shawa continued.

“So many people are being sacrificed as a result of those lies.”

She added that the media has failed in its coverage of the atrocities in Gaza.


“We have to emphasise that it’s not just from October 7,” she said. “Unfortunately, in general. the media can only focus on segments rather than going into analysis or detail.

“Nobody has the time to list all the atrocities of 75 years.”

‘All we want is freedom’

Shawa maintains hope through her activism.

In addition to running her blog Mountains Of Justice, where she shares her experiences and her poetry, Shawa is also a dancer.

She has performed in multiple events to raise awareness and money, including raising funds for athletes travelling from Gaza to the London 2012 Olympics.

“I’m so happy I’m able to do something,” she told The National. “Being visible as a woman who uses a wheelchair - it says, 'well, we exist'.

“Dancing gave me the freedom to show my existence. Visibility is a kind of battle that if people aren’t visible, then they’re not really considered.”

Shawa believes justice will ultimately prevail for the Palestinian people.

“That conviction of our rights is so strong,” she said. “All we want is freedom and independence.”