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Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer was killed in an airstrike in northern Gaza on Wednesday, according to his father-in-law. He was 44 years old.

Alareer, a literature professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, became known outside the territory for editing two books of essays and short fiction in English about the struggles of life in Gaza, “Gaza Writes Back” and “Gaza Unsilenced.”

Alareer, who also wrote his own poetry and short fiction, gained a following around the world for his political activism on behalf of the Palestinians. But in Israel he was known for comments he made online and in his classroom that were virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

“We could die this dawn,” Alareer wrote on December 4 in one of his last social media posts. “I wish I were a freedom fighter and so he would die fighting those genocidal Israeli maniacs that invade my neighborhood and my city.”

In one of his last poems, aware On social media website X, he spoke about the possibility of his death:

if I must die

let it bring hope

let it be a story

Saker Abu Hain, Alareer’s father-in-law, confirmed his death to the New York Times. Abu Hain, 68, a retired deputy minister in the Hamas-controlled Gaza government, said Alareer was killed along with his brother, his sister and several other members of her family.

For many Palestinians and their supporters, Alareer was an important champion of Palestinian writers who brought their voices and anger to the world’s attention.

“More than a teacher, he was a mentor, a friend, and he truly cared about his students beyond the classroom,” said Jehad Abusalim, a Palestinian writer who studied with Alareer. wrote on social networks.

Among Israelis, Alareer was known for posting hateful comments about Israel and its citizens. He regularly cursed Israelis and people he considered his supporters, describing them as “human waste“, “Nazis” and “filth.” Mr. Alareer saying Israel was “the fundamental cause of evil” and “worse than Nazi Germany,” and saying that Palestinian violence against Israel cannot be described as terrorism.

Responding to early, now-debunked claims that an Israeli baby, killed in the Hamas-led attack on October 7, had been found in an oven, Alareer asked in a social media post: “With or without baking powder? “

Since October 7, Mr. Alareer had also been criticized for presenting the attack, in which an estimated 1,200 people died, as a valid act of resistance and dismissing reports of sexual violence during the raid.

Alareer’s anger against Israel was exacerbated by his previous military campaigns in Gaza, one of which killed his brother in 2014, and the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza, which at times prevented him from leaving Gaza to teach and study in abroad.

In 2021, Alareer was the subject of a profile in The Times, in which a journalist described a lecture in which Alareer spoke positively about a poem by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.

Alareer described the poem as “beautiful” and said it showed the “shared humanity” of Israelis and Palestinians. Alareer also said that he admired how it showed that Jerusalem is a place “where we all come together, regardless of religion and faith.”

After the article was published, it emerged that Alareer had given a very different presentation of the poem two years earlier. In a video of a lecture she gave in 2019, Alareer said it was “horrible” and “dangerous,” and “brainwashed” readers into thinking Israelis were “innocent.”

At the same conference, Alareer also said that a second poem, by Israeli poet Tuvya Ruebner, was “partly to blame for the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine.”