Islamic Relief aid worker Maysara reports on the fear and horror facing families trapped in conflict-torn Gaza.

Another long night, shattered by frequent bombing, and I could barely sleep. My husband woke me at five o’clock so I could keep watch while he slept. Since this latest outbreak of conflict, we never sleep at the same time – we have three young children and we need as much time as we can get if we have to evacuate.

Afraid that the bombs would follow them

It was almost the last day of Ramadan, and a ceasefire was announced. My children ask me to visit their school, as they know it is now offering shelter to thousands of displaced people from Buraij refugee camp, in the middle of the Gaza Strip.

At the school, I was astonished to see my two children engaging with ease with the newly-arrived children. Talking with my children, the displaced youngsters described how they had fled and their fears that the bombs would follow them. A number of the children began to cry.

A five-year old boy cried for a new pair of shoes, bought for Eid and left at home when they evacuated. A girl aged about seven cried for her pet fish, which she had to leave behind. My son took my hand and asked, “Mum, can we buy a new pair of shoes and a fish? Can we buy coloured birds..?” The list quickly became very long.

Islamic Relief delivers emergency aid at a shelter in Gaza.

Islamic Relief delivers emergency aid at a shelter in Gaza.

She was forced to leave him behind

With a heavy heart, I spoke with some women who were sitting on the ground. One was heavily pregnant, and crying painfully. One of her companions told her story.

“While running from bombing and shelling, her eleven-year old son was hit in the head by shrapnel. She stopped running to try to carry him, but she is pregnant and he was too heavy. Other running people swept and dragged her away, and she was forced to leave him behind.

“She does not know what has happened to him, and she is waiting here at the door to the school waiting and hoping for somebody to bring news of her son.”

I stood there, speechless. It was now two o’clock, the ceasefire was over and soon the ugly sounds of bombing began again. We went back home carrying the burden of those who are unable to go back to their homes.

I hugged my children tight

I carried the pain of that mother inside my heart. Once we made it home, I hugged my children tight and thanked God that we are still together. I promised we would visit their new friends again soon, and that we would help them as much as we can.

Islamic Relief is offering much-needed assistance to thousands of displaced families, for example, by providing food and hygiene kits. We have also provided children’s clothes and gifts to help distract the children from the trauma and fear of this fighting.

With your support, we can continue our work to ease the suffering of those caught up in this conflict. Please donate to our Palestine Emergency Appeal today.

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