Gaza youths appeal directly to Canadians: “Please help us- We are Not Just Numbers – we are people!!!”

gaza u students

Young men and women in an English literature class in one of Gaza’s 6 universities.  Well educated, but no jobs and no future. Want to leave Gaza? Can’t – Israel won’t let them. Nearly 2 million people are trapped in Gaza – blockaded by air, sea and land. The world treats them as if they were “just numbers”. Do you know the name (or story) of even one of them?  Here is one organization that wants to help young Palestinians tell their story to the outside world. It appeals to individual Canadians for help. Read more.


The heart-wrenching image of the body of 2 year old Alan Kurdi did more to focus Canadian attention on the issue of Syrian refugees, than all the stories about the difficulties of millions of refugees displaced by the war.

A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”, Joseph Stalin is alleged to have said during WWII. Whether he actually said this or not, it is true that we react emotionally to individual human stories, but when the numbers start to add up, the emotional impact tends to be obscured.

grm human cost

Between March and May 2018, Israeli forces killed or wounded thousands of young Palestinians in Gaza. The slaughter continues. But the tragedy in Gaza doesn’t lie solely in the numbers. It lies in the individual stories.

This is the idea behind We Are Not Numbers (WANN), a small NGO run by a collective of young Palestinians trapped in Gaza by the Israeli blockade.  Founded in 2015, it aims to help aspiring young Palestinians to learn to write in English and get their stories circulating in the West by electronically “leaping over” Israel’s stifling blockade. It provides a way for them to tell their personal stories to the outside world.

women oppress women

Young author Ali-Orjawan Shurrab writes about a delicate subject – domestic violence in Gaza

On the WANN website are over 700 stories written in English by young Palestinians stuck in Gaza. They range from the humourous, to the philosophical to the deeply personal. Stories about boys and girls growing up and about personal loss.

One touching story “Living as a little man” is by Ahmed Majed Lulu, a young man born with dwarfism, and his life as a “dwarf” in Gaza.

Another is about domestic violence, by men, and by women against other women.  Each one gives an insight into life in Gaza today.

WANN also produces short videos. One video “Six Miles Out,” is an 11-minute documentary on the plight of Gaza fishermen. Slow moving and powerful, it was chosen as an official selection for, and screened at the Nice International Film Festival. It also won several other international awards.

WANN needs help

WANN is a shoestring organization. They mostly rely on a few full-time staff and a host of volunteers. WANN is in the middle of a fundraising drive trying to raise $25,000 US. It is just one of many Palestinian initiatives that deserve support.

I spoke to Ahmed Alnaouq and Assma Tayeh, two staff members of WANN about why they need the money, and why they are appealing to individual Canadians. (NOTE: internet connection to Gaza is not reliable and often intermittent, which affected this short interview.  There is a 20 second pause at the 4:50 min mark before we reconnected and said goodbye.)



Israel imposes the draconian blockade on Gaza because it hopes that the people will turn against the Hamas government. This “collective punishment” is illegal and has caused tremendous hardship, but it hasn’t worked so far. The evidence is that it just makes these brave youngsters more determined than ever to reach out to the outside world.

Young people in Gaza want to show the world that they are just that – young people!!

  • Go to the WANN website
  • Choose one or two stories to read or videos to watch.
  • Make a comment. (Each of the stories has a “comments” section. But very few people have bothered. If you make a comment the author will be thrilled.)
  • Consider making a small donation.
  • Show them that to us, They are not just numbers


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) encourages and promotes a thoughtful discussion among Canadians on the Israel/Palestine issue, including a well informed and sensitive discussion about solutions. CTIP encourages serious people who disagree with any column to make comment. Disagreements respectfully offered are welcome. To learn more about what CTIP does, contact us at







  1. Excellent initiative and thank you for giving it exposure. Will try to amplify it further.

    However, this is also a great injustice vs humanitarian tragedy. People in Gaza are not wanting to leave except for the brutality visited upon them by Israel’s blockade and military actions which on occasion go into full war destruction. They want to live in their homes and land given half a chance and opportunity.

    There are number of crimes / injustices here:
    One, Israel creating a crisis with total impunity and protection
    Two, Israel not permitting people to leave
    Three, very few countries where Palestinians / Gazans are welcome
    Four, continuation of a “stateless” status which makes it impossible except as a refugee or asylum seekers.

    This is a continuation of the “matrix” of imprisonment / control (Jeff Halper’s concept) which Palestinians have been living in for 100+ years. It did not begin with 1967 or Oslo. It had its beginning in the Mandate given to Britain by the western powers. And it will not end until those same powers seek to end the situation.

    The damage has been done at great expense way beyond the Palestinian people. The entire world has paid a heavy price for the benefit accrued to relatively small number of people. Until a great mass of people in the west wake up to this unjust calculation, not much will change for the better. If anything will get worse and spark global conflagration. That is what justice-minded people like CTIP readers are working to avoid. They realize the stakes are not just regional or humanitarian.

    1. Agreed. Too many Canadians – even well meaning Canadians – feel sorry for the Palestinians but think that the “right to return” is impossible. The Jews say they need a Jewish State for their protection. But at what terrible cost. Is there not another way to give security to Jews around the world without inflicting so much pain and suffering on Palestinians? I’m sure there is.

      1. Thanx peter the world is learning Israeli injustice and joining solidarity with Palestinians

  2. Thanks Peter for keeping Gaza in the spotlight. With the express purpose of “electronically “leaping over” Israel’s stifling blockade,” last weekend Canadian Friends of Sabeel hosted a 2-hour national video conference from Gaza, which including a very impressive youth. The video will be available shortly.

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