The Palestinian poet, writer, literature professor, and activist Dr. Refaat Alareer was killed today in a targeted Israeli airstrike that also killed his brother, his sister, and four of her children. He is survived by his wife, Nusayba, and their children.
Dr. Alareer was a beloved professor of literature and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught since 2007.
He was the co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced (2015) and the editor of Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine (2014). In his contribution to the 2022 collection Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire, titled “Gaza Asks: When Shall this Pass?”, Refaat writes:
It shall pass, I keep hoping. It shall pass, I keep saying. Sometimes I mean it. Sometimes I don’t. And as Gaza keeps gasping for life, we struggle for it to pass, we have no choice but to fight back and to tell her stories. For Palestine.
Dr. Alareer was also one of the founders of We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit organization launched in Gaza after Israel’s 2014 attack and dedicated to creating “a new generation of Palestinian writers and thinkers who can bring together a profound change to the Palestinian cause.”
Through his popular Twitter account, “Refaat in Gaza,” Dr. Alareer vehemently condemned the ongoing atrocities committed against his people by Israeli forces, as well as the successive U.S. administrations that enabled them.
This heartbreaking poem, pinned to his profile since November 1, speaks to the terrible future Alareer could see coming, and to the resilience that gave so many of his followers hope in the darkest of times:
His death, announced earlier this afternoon, has prompted an outpouring of grief, and anger, among his friends, colleagues, former students, and followers: