UPM pays tribute to poet killed in ongoing Gaza violence

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Putra Malaysia has paid tribute to alumni and celebrated poet Dr Refaat Alareer, who was killed in the ongoing bombing in Gaza.

In a post on its official alumni Facebook page, it said that Refaat was part of its PhD program under the supervision of Associate Professor Dr Noritah Omar.

UPM Alumni said he was giving information on what was happening in Gaza, adding that he and his family have now become a victim of the bombing.

"Sheikh Bilal Nizar Rayyan called Dr Refaat 'Abu Ubaidah' online. He was the founder of Account X Gaza Martyrs, which gives updates on Gaza. Lets pray for the soul of Dr Refaat and his family," added UPM Alumni in its Facebook post.

According to AFP, Refaat was one of the leaders of a young generation of authors in Gaza who chose to write in English to tell their stories.

It said that his friends had said that he was killed in an Israeli strike earlier this week.

"My heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family a few minutes ago," wrote his friend, the Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha, on Facebook.

"I don't want to believe this. We both loved to pick strawberries together."

Israel had conducted further raids on Thursday (Sept 7) evening in the north of the Gaza Strip, according to Hamas authorities.

Refaat had said a few days after Israel began its ground offensive in October that he refused to leave northern Gaza, the epicentre of the fighting at the time.

"Refaat's assassination is tragic, painful and outrageous. It is a huge loss," his friend Ahmed Alnaouq wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The Literary Hub website also paid tribute to him, while author and journalist Ramzy Baroud wrote on X: "Rest in peace Refaat Alareer. We will continue to be guided by your wisdom, today and for eternity."

Refaat, a professor of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught Shakespeare among other subjects, was also one of the co-founders of the "We Are Not Numbers" project.

This project pairs authors from Gaza with mentors abroad who help them write stories in English about their experiences and it edited the book "Gaza Writes Back" which chronicles life in Gaza by young Palestinian authors and published "Gaza Unsilenced".

Israel launched a vast military operation in Gaza following an attack by Hamas on Oct 7, in which around 1,200 were killed, mostly civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

More than 17,100, also mostly civilians, have been killed in Israel's relentless bombardment that has spread to the entirety of the Palestinian territory, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

In November, Alareer published a poem on X entitled "If I Must Die" that was shared tens of thousands of times.

It concludes with the words: "If I must die, let it bring hope, let it be a tale".

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Poet , Refaat Alareer , Palestine , Death , Gaza , Tribute , Alumni , UPM


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