As bombs fall in Gaza, history looms over a family fighting to survive | ET REALITY


The legacy of displacement also loomed large within Israel, said Nathan Thrall, author of “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama,” a book about the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. “Beyond the shock and atrocities of the attack, it stoked the deepest Israeli fears: that all these Palestinians, who live on the other side of the wall, will return and try to retake their villages and homes,” he said. .

On the fifth day of the war, Mr. Abujayyab received devastating news. An Israeli airstrike destroyed an apartment block in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, killing 45 members of his extended family. Among the dead was a one-month-old child.

“I consider myself a tough person,” Abujayyab said in a video call the next day, his eyes filling with tears. “But I had to take a moment and cry.”

A split developed within the family WhatsApp group. His grandmother was still defying the Israeli order to evacuate, even though the Israeli military would soon warn that residents who stayed risked being considered “members of a terrorist organization.”

But her sister, Doaa, wasn’t so sure. Mr. Abujayyab and his siblings discussed his next move: staying at his grandmother’s apartment? Or risk the short but dangerous journey south?

Azmi Keshawi’s son after being injured in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.Credit…via Azmi Keshawi

Even below the evacuation line, no one was safe. Azmi, the Crisis Group researcher, had moved his family to a friend’s house in southern Gaza. On Saturday, an airstrike hit the house next door and his 29-year-old son’s roof collapsed. He fractured her skull and crushed her chest, Azmi said by phone. But he survived.

Then Mr. Abujayyab’s grandmother was nearby. Early Friday, the Israeli military ordered the evacuation of residents of a group of 25 apartment blocks near his grandmother. A small drone attack on a rooftop reinforced the message.

Shortly after, planes bombed the apartments and blew out grandma’s windows. With her sister, she drove away into the night along with about 6,000 other people, sleeping on the side of the road. They eventually found refuge in a small hospital run by a relative in southern Gaza.

As of Wednesday, the Israeli attack had killed more than 6,500 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run territory’s Health Ministry.

A few nights earlier, two other grandmothers left Gaza: Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who had been kidnapped on October 7 during a massacre at Kibbutz Nir Oz, just a kilometer from the fence. Hamas freed the two women through Egypt. But her husband and more than 200 other captives remained in Gaza.

Mr. Abujayyab’s sister or grandmother probably didn’t hear that news. They had no power, limited internet and more bombs were falling, his sister said in a voice message to her family.

“There are many reasons why you can’t contact us,” he said. “Don’t worry.”

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