Ahmed Masoud talks about the Israeli assault of 2014 and how it has scarred not just him and his family, but also an entire region.
Palestinian author Ahmed Masoud was in the gym at work one day last year when all of a sudden he had a breakdown. "I was crying like a baby in the middle of the sports centre," he says. "Everybody just looked at me, thinking ‘what's wrong with him!' People only stopped and stared, or just walked past."
What caused Masoud, who lives in London, to be in this strange situation were events taking place faraway, in Gaza. For someone whose family was living there, the 2014 Israeli invasion was a painful experience.
There would be reports of mounting casualties every day. Masoud remembers the horror of having to read the names of the dead. The first thing Masoud did every morning was to call his family in Gaza. After making sure they were safe he would go to work. When he returned home, he had to play the role of a father to two small children who did not understand what was going on. "All that pain and agony was completely suppressed inside," he says.
When I meet Masoud in a café in central London, it has been a year since Israel began its summer assault of Gaza. The attack lasted 51 days and left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead - mostly civilians - with many more injured and homeless.
"I feel as if 51 days of my life have been plucked out completely," he says. "I don't have memories of things, of what I did and how I felt. It was torture."
I am here to interview Masoud about his book "Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda". It is a fictional story about Omar, a young boy who lives in Gaza and goes out in search of his missing father.
By Syed Hamad Ali
Special to Weekend Review