#ObliteratedFamilies – Balata Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

I renewed everything
Balata Family, Jabaliya refugee camp
11 people killed
July 29, 2014

Naim sat in a room full of birds, drinking his morning coffee. At the end of July, the Israeli army had warned the people of East Jabaliya to evacuate the area. Naim was torn: should they leave everything behind and run? Who would take care of the birds? His brother Abdelkarim’s house, where they would have been welcome, had a thick cement roof, something that could protect them from debris in case of a nearby explosion. Above Naim’s head was a thin sheet of asbestos, not even good enough to shield his family from the merciless heat of the summer sun. Naim’s 17-year-old son, Ala, was on his way to pick up groceries from the market when he saw many people leaving the area. Some people were carrying their belongings, others were riding on donkey carts or in tuk-tuks, a few had cars, filled up to the roof. When he got back home, he convinced his father that they too should evacuate their place and go to their uncle Abdelkarim’s house, also in the Jabaliya refugee camp, but a much more solid construction.

The family sat in Abdelkarim’s house, eating lunch, telling each other stories, joking and trying to turn their forced evacuation into a family gathering. The two brothers were very close, so were their wives. Later on that day, Ala’s older sister, Wafaa’, brought up the topic of marriage. She said their mother had someone in mind for Ala. He listened, but right away laughed the idea off.

The shelling started on 29 July in the afternoon and lasted until the next day. The house of Naim’s brother, Abdelkarim, where the family had gone for shelter, was hit on the first day, it was struck by several shells. One of them fell into the room where Ala’s sisters were staying. Ala’s parents and all seven siblings were killed.

“DELO”

Room of 17-year-old Hadil, nicknamed “Delo”. “She planned to become a doctor; she promised this to her grandfather,” Hadil’s father, Abdelkarim, says. Ala, her cousin, will add later that she got 92% in her high school final exam. She made the entire family proud.

The families of two brothers Naim and Abdelkarim ate lunch together. When the shelling started soon after, most of them were napping.
The families of two brothers Naim and Abdelkarim ate lunch together. When the shelling started soon after, most of them were napping.

“We are homeless now. I demand justice, I demand that an international court hold Israel accountable, because they murdered our family, with no warning. All I want is to find a prosecutor who will take this case, but no one is looking into it,” Abdelkarim says.

“We are homeless now. I demand justice, I demand that an international court hold Israel accountable, because they murdered our family, with no warning. All I want is to find a prosecutor who will take this case, but no one is looking into it,” Abdelkarim says.

NOWHERE SAFE TO GO

Now that Abdelkarim’s house was destroyed, his family was homeless. The Israeli offensive was in full swing and the family needed shelter. The UNRWA schools, where internally displaced Gazans sought safety, were full. And before they had even begun to consider going to one of those temporary shelters, a nearby elementary school in Jabaliya camp was shelled by the Israeli military, just 12 hours after their house was hit. Nearly one hundred people were injured, and 19 – mostly women and children – killed.

But there was of course Naim’s house, now standing empty. Ala couldn’t return there straight away. Literally everything brought up memories of his family. As Abdelkarim’s family temporarily moved in there, Ala gathered a few items, took his father’s canaries to his cousin, who was also a bird breeder, and went to an overcrowded UNRWA school.

For a while, Ala lived between the school and the house of another uncle. At the school, there was no space in the classrooms and he slept outside, in the playground. The days were awfully hot and the nights were cold. He couldn’t decide which place was safer. After all, his family had died seeking shelter in a relatives’ house, while a nearby UNRWA school was shelled by the Israeli army. He eventually chose the school and during the last week of the bombing, he was so terrified that he wasn’t able to leave it at all. He didn’t feel at ease there, yet he stayed even after the war.

 

EVEN THE BIRDS FELT THE LOSS

Once he was ready to move back to the house, Ala brought the birds that he left to his cousin back to his family home. He placed them in their old room, where his father used to have coffee every morning. He intended to take good care of them. Ala wanted to fulfil all of his parents’ wishes – his father, apart from the birds being cared for, would want Ala to go back to school, while his mother would wish for him to get married and start his own family. Naim was an electrician; he had worked hard all his life so that his children wouldn’t have to, so that each one had a chance to finish university. Ala’s late sister, 22-year-old Doaa’, had already graduated, while Wafaa’ and Hanaa’ had both been university students. He was supposed to follow in their footsteps, but it turned out to be a real struggle.

The birds started to die, one after another, as if they were also feeling the tragic loss of their owners. Ala sold the remaining canaries four months after the end of the war. He tried to resit his final exams in order to get accepted into a university, but studying was hard for him, not only because school simply wasn’t his thing, but because he was traumatized. Post-war trauma can make it really hard to focus and to memorize things. Despite his best intentions, his plan to become a college student had to be postponed. But there was one last thing he had set his mind on: starting a family of his own. On this front, he did not give up. In his eyes, there was only one person he wanted do it with: his cousin Amuna, the one his sister talked about just a day before their family was bombed.

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May 26 – June 25, 2017
Sponsor an Orphan this Ramadan

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

This Ramadan, Give Hope to Orphans in Gaza

Make a difference during the month of Ramadan by supporting the PCRF’s Gaza Orphan Sponsorship Program. Throughout this month, millions of people all over the world will fast from sunrise to sunset and provide charity to those in need. Please consider making the PCRF your chosen charity and help us successfully launch our Ramadan campaign!

Our goal for the Ramadan 2017 Campaign, “Give Hope: Gaza Orphan Sponsorship Ramadan Campaign”, is to provide orphans in Gaza food and other commodities they need to live a better childhood. As a donor, you will be able to choose either 1) to make a one-time donation in any amount towards the general fund for these orphans, thus keeping it sustainable for years to come; or 2) to provide monthly support for a specific orphan.

How can you help?

  1. Read about the Gaza Orphan Sponsorship Program at www.pcrf.net.
  2. Share our special Ramadan messages with a loved one.
  3. Spread awareness! Post about our upcoming campaign on social media, share our Facebook posts throughout the month, or forward this newsletter. Share the news of this campaign with your friends, and follow it on social media using our hashtag #hope4orphans.
  4. Don’t forget that you can support the PCRF while shopping by designating us as your charity of choice on Amazon Smile. By shopping on smile.amazon.com, your Amazon experience donates a small portion of proceeds to us.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund
PO Box 1926
Kent, Oh 44240

May 26 – June 25, 2017
Feed Families in Gaza This Ramadan

From our friend Anees in Rafah: Donate to send food packages to needy families. The project has raised more than half of its $5,000 goal; please help them over the top in this Ramadan Challenge.

Hello from Gaza

Ramadan is just a few weeks away – and we need your help to provide support and care to those most in need. The conditions in Gaza grow worse every day, with unemployment now sitting at 43%. For many, there is nowhere to work and no-one to help them.

مرحبا من غزة

باقي لشهر رمضان أسابيع قليلة، ونحنبحاجة لمساعدتكم لتوفير الدعم والرعاية لأولئك الذين هم في أمس الحاجة إليها، معالعلم بأن الظروف الاقتصادية والاجتماعية في قطاع غزة تزداد سواء يوما بعد يوم.حيث تبلغ نسبة البطالة 43% ولا يوجد من يهتم في العائلات الفقير بالشكل المطلوب.

With your help we have raised money for three years’ worth of incredible projects, you can see the impact and positive difference we have made in Gaza through the links we’ve shared below. But as the occupation cuts off a large amount of traditional funding to NGOs we are left with little choice but to run crowdfunding campaigns to help with the most basic needs.

خلال السنوات الماضية قمنا بتنفيذالعديد من الأنشطة الفنية والثقافية التي تهتم بالطفل، ومن خلال الروابط أسفلالصفحة يمكنكم الإطلاع على صور الأنشطة خلال المرحلة الماضية. وبما أن الوضع صعب وسيءبواسطة هذا الاحتلال الغاشم وحصاره المفروض على غزة إلا أننا نعمل جاهدين من خلالالقيام بهذه الحملات لمساعدة أطفالنا.

How You Can Help Feed Palestinian Families 

With your help we will distribute food packages to some of the families most at-risk in Rafah throughout Ramadan, our city at the southern edge of Gaza.

What Is In a Food Package?

Your support will allow us to provide food packages to feed Palestinian families by providing them with basic food items – one food package contains items such as beans, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, green beans, onions and essentials like flour, rice, sugar and tea during Ramadan.

If you can’t spare any money now, you can also help by spreading the word.

Our Previous Projects in Gaza

The siege of Gaza is strangling us slowly and we rely on the generosity of our online friends. If you haven’t seen our work before, please do click on the links below. We are a small, dedicated team of volunteers that work primarily with at-risk children. Work we cannot do without your help.

1. Gaza Summer Camp 2015:
2. Our Right To Play:

#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Khalili Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

Life and death in Gaza: neither normal, nor natural
Al-Khalili family, Gaza City, al-Tuffah neighbourhood
8 people killed
July 30, 2014

In al-Tuffah neighbourhood, in the eastern part of Gaza City, Mahmoud al-Khalili turns the ground floor of his family home into a workshop, which in time grows to become a small factory adjacent to the building. His sons, Ashraf and Ahmed, work with their father and eventually become mechanics of specialized factory machines imported from Germany. The family business is doing well despite the fact that the Israeli occupation and the blockade increasingly cripple the local economy, eventually leaving half of Gaza’s population unemployed. The factory produces simple plastic and wooden elements, such as broomsticks. Easily flammable.

One hot Friday afternoon

June 2014, Gaza beach

Mahmoud’s son, 37-year-old Ashraf, is laughing and when he laughs his whole body shakes. Compulsively hospitable, as all Gazans are, he entices his guests to eat more and more of a watermelon, picking for them the sweetest and juiciest pieces and not stopping until the silver tray is empty.

Ashraf and his childhood friends from al-Tuffah meet every weekend in a small chalet on the Gaza City beach, where they smoke sheesha, play cards and chat about troubles at home. All are married, with kids. Ashraf and his wife Nidaa’ have three children, age three to eight: Mahmoud, Dima and Ziyad. Ashraf is a proud father and Dima is the apple of her daddy’s eye, as he says. She is a very energetic little girl. The kids are the joy of the house above the factory, where three generations of al-Khalilis live.

It is just another hot Friday afternoon in Gaza. The beach is packed. Children play in the water. Families barbecue and picnic, enjoying the only open space in the Strip – the sea, the only window of this prison cell that the Gaza Strip has become. They know very well that the sea’s openness is illusory; go past three or four nautical miles from the shore and the Israeli navy will be there to attack you, arrest you and confiscate your boat. Ashraf and his friends spend the evening imagining how it would be to live in a normal place. Not under Israeli siege, not under the constant threat of Israeli bombings, not under the rule of a conservative government. How does it feel to be free? It’s a question asked by many people in the enclave.

JULY 8, 2014

Israel launches a military operation codenamed Protective Edge – a large-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip. It starts with aerial bombings.

 

JULY 17, 2014

The Israeli army begins the ground offensive. Eastern parts of the enclave are at risk from artillery fire – an extremely imprecise weapon. The target of an artillery shell is an area of fifty by fifty meters large. If a shell falls within 100 meters of the target, it is still considered a hit. The UN Human Rights Council concluded in its report that due to the indiscriminate nature of artillery shelling, using it in densely populated areas – almost anywhere in the Gaza Strip – can constitute a violation of the customary international law prohibition of direct attack on civilians and amount to a war crime. Israel will pour 35,000 artillery shells into the Gaza Strip during the summer war.

JULY 29, 2014

AL-TUFFAH

The night is horrifying. Bombs explode all around and to the al-Khalili family it becomes clear that it is not safe to stay in al-Tuffah anymore.

JULY 30, 2014

EARLY MORNING, AL-TUFFAH

In the morning, Mahmoud gathers his children and grandchildren and starts sending them off to houses of relatives located further away from the border with Israel. It is almost impossible to find a car, there is a severe fuel shortage and drivers are afraid to enter neighbourhoods close to the combat zones and targetted areas. The al-Khalilis need more than one car – there are 30 people waiting to be evacuated.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Hashash Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

Eid of martyrs
Al-Hashash family, Rafah, in the al-Hashasheen area
7 people killed
July 29, 2014

Every morning, on her way to school, Mina passes a poster on the side of the road. She makes sure she walks right by it. If anyone is in the street, she will grab their attention and pull them close to look at the poster with her. It has pictures of her brothers, and a rose instead of a photo for her step-mom Hanaa’. Neighbours or passersby have to stand there as Mina names each one of them; once the ritual is done, she will allow them to leave.

THE FAMILY

Ahmed al-Hashash was the knot that tied everyone together. He is a deeply religious man. He was married to three women, Amina, Hanaa’ and Amna, and they had twelve children. They were a big family. Amna and Amina will say later that they were warm, caring and supportive of each other. “We were all one,” says Amna; the polygamy did not get in the way.

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