The diary of Palestinian writer and Minister of Culture Atef Abu Saif

Since 7 October, Palestinian Minister for Culture, Atef Abu Saif, has been keeping a diary in the Gaza Strip.

Comma Press will publish all these chronicles, entitled "Don't Look Left: A Diary of Genocide", due out around 8 February.

Many of Abu Saif's diary entries were sent in the form of WhatsApp messages and voice memos to his editor. The book follows Abu Saif as he is "reduced to running the streets in search of shelter, like so many other Gazans, after the hotel where he was staying was bombed", said Comma Press.

Abu Saif has written six novels and previously published a war diary, The Drone Eats With Me, about the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted 50 days and resulted in the deaths of 2,251 Palestinians.

All profits from the sale of the book will be donated to four Palestinian charities: Medical Aid for Palestinians, Middle East Children's Alliance, Afaq Shadida/New Horizons Children's Center (Nuseirat Refugee Camp) and Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Khan Younis Emergency Relief).


Monday, December 20
When I left my office in Ramallah on the afternoon of 5 October for a short work trip to Gaza, I never thought I'd be stuck there for nearly three months, in the middle of the longest and most devastating war of my life.

In the weeks that followed, I lost family members, good friends, my most precious memories and my family home. I didn't know that I was going to lose my neighbourhood and my beloved camp, Jabaliya. I never thought I would have to repeat my grandmother Aisha's journey and finally understand every word she said about her painful exodus from Jaffa to Gaza in 1948 (...)

When I think back over the last 70 days, I wonder how I survived. I could have been at my sister-in-law Huda's house when the bombing killed her, her husband and their two boys, and mutilated her daughter. I could have been with Bilal, as we had planned to travel together, and been murdered with him. I could have been in a hundred places that were attacked. I remember that at the end of the 2014 war (which I also chronicled), when peace was declared, a journalist asked me: "Who won? I replied at the time: "I won". I survived, didn't I? I'm not sure my answer would be the same at the end of this war.

Looking back on this diary - even though it's not finished yet and I'm still living in a tent in Rafah - I find myself not wanting to remember anything. I just want to remember what life was like before the war. I don't want to remember that so many people close to me have been wiped out. I want to keep them with me, pretend they're still there.