Syria and Gaza are both difficult places to live right now. But in the last few days - while in great difficulty themselves - Syrians have reached out to support Palestinians in Gaza with messages of solidarity, humanity, and peace. We heard why some Syrians are moved to express solidarity with Gaza in their own words.
In Deraa, where several local NGOs and civil activists have created graffiti and other symbolic gestures in solidarity with Gaza, Mohammed said: “The first time I ever went out to protest was for Gaza. I believe Palestine taught us the culture of defiance, and was our window of reflection on our roles as individuals in this region that was doomed to live in tyranny. Today Gaza can’t be separated from Deraa, they both have similar stories, and they’re both paying the price for their defiance.”
The small town of Kafranbel in southern Syria has become known for its people’s truthful humour displayed in the banners they make. Raed, the man behind the banners said, “Gaza is the people who are oppressed by tyrants, and Syria is the same. I feel as if they are oppressed by the same tyranny. Sometimes such tragedies may lead us astray, but every death should make us see our road even clearer, so all this death won’t go in vain. Despite all the Syrian blood that has overwhelmed us, our hearts are still in Palestine.”
Barrel bombs are a daily event for civilians in Aleppo. “Gaza is our pain, as much as Syria,” said Rayan, an activist working hard to keep the civil defiance movement alive. “We know what it means to be dying while the world is watching, and we know that solidarity does matter. Nothing is more horrible that knowing that you’re on your own in the face of tyranny. We have gathered a few simple donations and wanted to send them to Gaza. It’s all we could get with the poor living conditions we’re going through, but we couldn’t find a way to deliver them.”
Ghanem from Yarmouk camp, who’s still living under the siege, and is known for his civil activities in the camp said: “I am the refugee who couldn’t join Gaza and Daffa [West Bank] in their resilience because I am living under the siege of Yarmouk. A siege that has been enforced by those who claim to care about Palestine (the Syrian regime), I am a refugee who has to watch his fellow Palestinians suffering both in their homeland and in their host countries, trying to raise my voice for both in defiance.”
Mahmoud from the Occupied Golan Heights said: “My identity as a Syrian crystallized with the revolution. I’ve always been Syrian, but now it’s different. The struggle for freedom is not only from occupation, but from all kinds of tyranny as well. Identity is closely related to having a ‘case’ you’re defending. I’m Palestinian as much as I’m Syrian. Defending the Palestinian case against Israel for my entire life has made Palestine part of my identity as well. I am Syrian not just because Golan belongs to Syria but because being Syrian is a way to show the occupation that we have an identity of our own.”