War is not only having a devastating impact in Gaza. It inflames the hearts of Palestinians who live abroad, especially those who have families in Gaza.
Every Palestinian from Gaza who lives abroad has family, friends and memories in Gaza. If they are lucky enough, and their families are still alive, they live with the constant fear of losing them.
Israel froze every aspect of life for Palestinians from Gaza, inside and outside.
Amal lives in America, but her family lives in Gaza.
Like everyone else quoted in this article, she did not want her full name published out of fear for the safety of her relatives.
Since the beginning of the war, Amal has lost her taste for life.
Her parents and siblings have been forced to evacuate their home to live with 60 family members in someone else’s house. Her extended family is also in Gaza.
On 11 October, she received the horrific news that two of her close relatives had been killed in Israel’s bombardment.
“Some of them are still under the rubble,” said Amal. “Some are buried without ever being identified.”
Israel also killed her childhood friend.
“They killed Hidaya with her four children and husband. I read her name on the news. My heart aches. I can’t say goodbye to her.”
Before Amal traveled, she had worked as a teacher. She continued her work in the US online.
She lost five of the students she taught in Gaza.
“Ibrahim was my favorite. I can’t believe Israel stole his life. He is just 11.”
For this, Amal quit her online job. Amal described how life around her goes on while hers stopped.
“I have not left the house since war started.”
Her neighbors in America are supportive, she said, but no one feels her emotions.
“If I were with my family, I wouldn’t be this terrified. I want to go back to Gaza and be with them.”
Those that remain
Suleiman lives in Iceland.
On 17 October, Suleman read on the news that there was heavy bombing in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. He immediately called his parents.
No one responded.
He thought that they might be asleep because it was midnight. He called them again in the morning, but, again, no one answered.
Finally, Suleiman contacted a friend who lives nearby to check on them. The friend did not call him back.
He felt something was terribly wrong.
Then, a relative called with the news: “Israel killed your family.”
Emergency services pulled his father, younger sister, and nephew alive from under the rubble. His mother, older sister, and all her children were killed.
His father and sister’s legs were amputated.
On 29 October, Suleiman’s father died from complications after surgery. His last words: “I wish my wife was here with me.”
“Israel killed my father twice,” said Suleiman.
When his 18-year-old sister first regained consciousness, it took her two days to understand what had happened. She just wants her legs back.
“Once this war ends,” Suleiman said. “I will go to Gaza, take my sister and travel to Iceland for treatment.”
When night is over
Ghada lived through all the previous Israeli attacks on Gaza. But not this one.
She now lives in Malaysia. Her family is still in the Beach refugee camp in Gaza City.
Her parents refuse to leave their home.
“They have no place to go to.”
Ghada’s married sisters evacuated with their children to a UN school.
Ghada’s parents are now engaged in a desperate plight to ensure enough water and food for their survival under near constant bombardment.
“They are rationing food. Every meal is a test of survival. My fear for their safety grows as these shortages continue.”
The time difference is also a test for Ghada. She sleeps only when night is over in Gaza.
“Every time I hear there is a bombardment in Beach camp, my heart burns.”
Ghada wants this war to end without losing any of her family members. Also, she hopes to come to Gaza to see them.
No more games
Muhammad is a medical student in Egypt. He is ready to come to Gaza and volunteer in the hospitals.
His family is in Gaza. When communications and internet services were cut off, he feared Israel was going to kill everyone under the cover of the information blackout.
He kept calling his family, but no one responded. Finally, his father answered.
He reassured his son that the family was alive. But he had bad news.
“Israel killed your friend Ibrahim and his family.”
Muhammad had been in Gaza just over a month ago. He and Ibrahim used to play on the PlayStation every night.
Noura Selmi is a translator and content writer from Gaza.