Al-Naouq (right) with journalists in front of the BBC building after a protest protest against its coverage of the Gaza war (Al-Jazeera)

London -

Ahmed Al-Naouk experienced separation in many colors and forms, the first of which was when he lost his brother Ayman in the Operation Protective Edge aggression on Gaza in 2015. He came out of his grief with an article of lamentation that inspired the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Human Rights to establish the “We Are Not Numbers” project as a site that records the stories of the victims not as a number but as a human story. .

But the surprise is that, 8 years after its founding, the Al-Naouq family and members of the “We Are Not Numbers” team became on the lists of the Israeli Occupation Goals Bank, and the most prominent of them was the writer Dr. Rifaat Al-Arair, co-founder of We Are Not Numbers.

Ahmed spent days in his latest shock, and just as the first time in which he was inspired to establish a website to record the pain of Gaza, until a new journey of lament began, this time in London, by answering invitations from universities, unions, newspapers, and local councils to tell the story of Gaza through his story as a sole survivor and partner. Founder of "We Are Not Numbers".

Ahmed Al-Naouq with members of his family before their martyrdom (Al-Jazeera)

The first spark

Al Jazeera Net met with Ahmed Al-Naouk to tell the story, which began in 2015 when he contacted American journalist Pam Bailey, secretary of the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Human Rights at the time, to transform his brother’s martyrdom from a number into a story.

The martyr Ayman Al-Naouq was not an ordinary story, not only because he was the primary breadwinner for the family, as the father was sick with a heart, but also because he joined the Martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas.”

At first glance, this was supposed to cause concern to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, but Bailey insisted on continuing, and her curiosity prompted her to learn more about Ayman’s life, and over the course of two consecutive months she worked with Ahmed Al-Naouq to write the story “Ayman Al-Naouq is a target for Israel and a brother and friend of Ahmed.” .

Bailey insisted that the story of a martyr be vividly written and helped Ahmed tell many of the details. Bailey had been arranging for the story to be published in Western media from day one. They explained in an article how Ayman lost 340 children from his high school when he was 17 years old.

But Ayman soon lived repeatedly under siege and destruction until 2012 after the Israeli invasion, when he decided to join the Martyr Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, according to the story told by Ahmed al-Naouq in cooperation with Bayley and published in 2015 in several foreign newspapers.

This story was the beginning of the “We Are Not Numbers” project, where the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Observatory adopted blogging, to be an open documentation platform for the people of Gaza and not “Ayman alone,” where there are thousands like Ahmed Al-Naouq whose families need to commemorate them and commemorate them in human stories that immortalize them, not just a number. In statistics.

Juniper and founding

Al-Naouq spoke to Al-Jazeera Net about the role of Dr. Rifaat Al-Arair in the founding phase of the “We Are Not Numbers” project as a trainer and partner, which helped many writers and families tell their stories and bring them to light.

With the current aggression on Gaza, Al-Arair's home was bombed, and after his rich professional career, he joined as a new story of painful loss in this project.

“We Are Not Numbers” developed significantly, and Ahmed Al-Naouk was appointed director of the project in 2016. Within 3 years, Al-Naouk obtained a scholarship to study a master’s degree in journalism at the British University of Leeds with a Chevening scholarship, trying to recover and move forward with the expansion of the “We Are Not Numbers” project.

Al-Naouq added, "Rifat Al-Arair was a wonderful coach and like a spiritual father, and he will not be repeated. Everyone who worked with him knows that he will not be replaced and no person can fill the void that Al-Arair left."

He told Al Jazeera Net, "We Are Not Numbers and Dr. Al-Arair's training have contributed deeply to society in Gaza, not only by transforming numbers into vibrant human stories. Rather, we developed the website to mention positive aspects of Gaza, because Gaza is not just war. There are projects, entrepreneurship, and achievements." .

He added, "We Are Not Numbers was the reason for graduating batches of journalists and writers for professional life from Gaza to the world. Many writers and journalists began their careers in We Are Not Numbers and are now working in London and several international capitals."

Israeli raids target entire families, leading to the erasure of some of them from civil records (Anatolia)

A terrifying separation

The current war dealt painful blows to Ahmed Al-Naouq, as he lost Dr. Al-Arair, and 21 members of his family, his father, his mother, his brothers, and their children, 3 generations whose lives ended under the rubble, with a single airstrike during the current Israeli aggression on Gaza.

The news reached him as a lonely expatriate in London, and he was unable to say anything about this loss except that it “shocked” him. Despite Ahmed’s experience in telling stories, and stories of loss in particular, he has not yet been able to tell this time.

Ahmed's friends and colleagues offered their condolences, and some of them spontaneously tried to tell him, "Replace with whoever is left," and his response was, "There is no one left."

The story of Ahmed Al-Naouq may be painful, as he is the “sole survivor” of Dar Al-Naouq, but there are thousands like Ahmed, including children and premature infants who survived the bombings and bombs alone, without any member of their family.

If Dar Al-Naouq knew a lone survivor, then many families in Gaza were erased from civil records after all their members from all generations were martyred, and not a single survivor remained to tell the world their story.

Al-Naouq plans to write a book about his family, and therefore he pledged that the “We Are Not Numbers” project will continue to tell stories despite the tragedies, to immortalize painful memories, console their lovers, and bear witness to their executioners forever. The justice that international law did not achieve will be recorded in history in “We Are Not Numbers.”

Source: Al Jazeera