In memory of Refaat Alareer

Layne Mullett
Director of Media Relations


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We just received the devastating news that Refaat Alareer was killed today when Israeli forces bombed his sister’s home in Gaza where he was staying. His brother, sister, and four of their children were also killed. Refaat was a contributor to AFSC’s anthology Light in Gaza (2022). He was the co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced (2015) and editor of (and a contributor to) Gaza Writes Back (2014). He was a native of Gaza City's Shijaieh neighborhood, and a professor of English Literature at the Islamic University in Gaza.

Refaat worked closely with emerging Palestinian writers to help them develop their creative writing skills. In 2018, Refaat organized a writing seminar at the AFSC office in Gaza City, for young people interested in contributing to AFSC’s publication “Life Under Blockade: A Collection of Essays” (published in 2018). His book Gaza Writes Back is a compilation of short stories written in English by young Palestinian writers living in the Gaza Strip. In 2014, Refaat and two other contributors to Gaza Writes Back toured the United States, speaking to thousands of young (and older) Americans in a tour co-organized by Just World Books and the American Friends Service Committee.

As he writes in his chapter in Light in Gaza, stories are meant to be told and retold. “Telling stories was my way of resisting. It was all I could do. And it was then [in the aftermath of Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2008-9] that I decided if I lived, I would dedicate much of my life to telling the stories of Palestine, empowering Palestinian narratives, and nurturing younger voices.”

Refaat was a friend, a mentor, and a father. He built up those around him, helping them envision a different future and encouraging them to speak up for their rights. His impact will be felt for generations to come.

Days before his death. Refaat posted a poem he wrote on social media called “If I must Die.”

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale

We are sending our condolences, love, and light to Refaat’s family and all those who love him. And we will continue to demand a cease-fire while working to end violence, occupation, and apartheid so that all Palestinians will be free.