Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer, one of the leaders of a young generation of authors in Gaza who chose to write in English to tell their stories, was killed in an Israeli strike, his friends say.
“My heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family a few minutes ago,” Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha writes on Facebook. “I don’t want to believe this. We both loved to pick strawberries together.”
Alareer had said a few days after Israel began its ground offensive in October that he refused to leave northern Gaza, the epicenter of the fighting at the time.
Alareer, a professor of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught Shakespeare among other subjects, was also one of the co-founders of the “We are not numbers” project, which pairs authors from Gaza with mentors abroad who help them write stories in English about their experiences.
On October 7, he was invited onto the BBC, where he praised Hamas’s onslaught into southern Israel, calling the massacre of Israeli civilians “legitimate and moral,” and likening the slaughter to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.