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Israel Gaza: Palestinians Mourn Controversial Writer Killed in Air Strike

Palestinians are mourning the death of well-known writer and literary scholar Refaat Alareer, who was killed in an air strike in Gaza City on Wednesday.

Alareer’s father-in-law said he had died along with his brother and sister and four of her children.

He had taught literature at Gaza’s Islamic University, which was destroyed by Israeli air strikes on 11 October.

Israel said the university was an “important Hamas operational, political and military centre in Gaza”.

In an interview with the BBC in the hours after Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel, which sparked the current war, Alareer caused huge offence by calling it “legitimate and moral” and “exactly like the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising”.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was a revolt that took place in German-occupied Poland in 1943 and saw Jews use weapons smuggled into the ghetto to try to resist Nazi efforts to transport people to the extermination camps.

Alareer was one of the founders of “We Are Not Numbers”, a Palestinian non-profit set up in 2015 to “tell the stories behind the numbers of Palestinians in the news”.

He had declined to leave northern Gaza following the start of Israeli operations in the area, and two days before he died posted video to social media in which a number of explosions could be heard.

“The building is shaking. The debris and shrapnel are hitting the walls and flying in the streets,” he wrote.

Paying tribute on social media, former student Jehad Abusalim described Alareer as a mentor and friend who had “truly cared about his students beyond the classroom”.

Alareer, he added, taught him English and viewed the language as a “way to break free from Gaza’s prolonged siege, a teleportation device that defied Israel’s fences and the intellectual, academic, and cultural blockade of Gaza”.

Following the outcry over the interview in October, a BBC spokesperson said: “We reported the Hamas attacks and the response by Israel in line with the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.

“We have included contributors who have condemned the attackers as terrorists and we have reported that Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by many Western governments, including the UK.

“While an interviewee who made comments on the Warsaw Ghetto was robustly challenged on air, we agree his comments were offensive and we don’t intend to use him again.”

In the 7 October attack, Hamas killed around 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, some of whom were released during a short-lived truce at the end of November.

Hamas officials in Gaza say Israel has killed more than 17,177 people in its retaliatory campaign, including about 7,000 children.

Source : BBC