The heartbreak of the mothers of Palestine

  • Date: 27/10/2023
  • Author: Mariana Musse
Somaya is a pregnant mother who has been displaced twice with her family since the escalation of violence started in Gaza

The lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been torn apart due to the devastating escalation of violence in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

Men, women and children are paying a deadly and unbearable price. At a scale that is unimaginable and growing far too fast.

ActionAid works with women and girls living in poverty, 80% of the population in Gaza were already dependent on humanitarian aid. The impact of this violence is truly heartbreaking on the people of Gaza. We are hearing devastating testimonies of the impact on mothers, who are desperately doing all they can to protect their families and children. Likewise in the West Bank – as violence grows there, the impact is immense.

ActionAid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, said: “As a mother of an almost four-year-old I cannot imagine what life is like for the mothers of Gaza.  It is a mother’s instinct to do everything possible to protect her children when there is a threat.”

What we are seeing unfolding in Gaza is heartbreaking. Not to know when the next bomb will strike. Not to know where the next food will come from. Not to know if your child will survive or when life will return to some sort of normality. Not to know what the future will be for your children.”

She said fuel, water and food is running out in Gaza amidst the continuous bombardment.

“The situation in Gaza is catastrophic for all 2.2million residents. The impact of the Israeli bombardment and blockade has been particularly harrowing for children, mothers and pregnant women.”

Here some of the mothers of Gaza and the West Bank share their stories:

Sabine is the mother of an infant born during the war. They have been displaced to the south of Gaza. 

I was displaced from Khan Yunis to a school shelter. I gave birth during war, in an atmosphere and circumstances that only God knows about.”

“Here there is no water, there is no food, there is nothing to drink, and there is no place to shelter the child.”

“I have my child who is seven days old, born in the war. We don’t have nappies, milk, or anything. We suffer a lot and there is no electricity even at night – the baby needs milk. We cannot provide anything for my child.”

“I mean the aid is very, very little that reaches us. We have been here for almost five days, and we have no bread. No one has brought us bread or anything. Our situation is very, very bad.”

“What did my child do wrong who is only a week old and has no milk or anything to drink?” “What did he do wrong?”

Somaya, a pregnant mother who has been displaced twice with her family since the bombardment on Gaza started, is now sheltering in a school in central Gaza. She needs to take insulin due to a medical condition.  She spoke to ActionAid about her worries.

“My children are screaming all night, while there is bombing on us. I am pregnant. On the 28th of the month, I am supposed to give birth, I will have a caesarean section. Where should I go?

“When the baby comes, it must be born in a clean place. Where is the cleanliness? Whenever I take a dose of insulin, with this heat, it seems that it spoils.”

“Every time I take a dose, I get dizzier. I must monitor my blood pressure and blood sugar. We are sheltering in a school now, where should I go to monitor it?”

“This water is salty sea water; we have to drink it because we can’t find clean water. We don’t know what to do.”

Noor, a mother in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank shared with ActionAid staff:

“To this day, some children sleep with their hands up. That is because, in the recent incursions into the camp, Israeli soldiers would barge into homes and demand all family members put their hands up in the air and surrender.

“Children, as a result, now subconsciously sleep with their hands up. They feel unsafe. Today, these boys and girls no longer feel safe in their homes.”

“They don’t feel the walls surrounding them are protecting them anymore. They are not protected, with no sense of psychological stability. All of this would affect the reality those children live, whether they are in school, or in their social life.”

“It also affects women who today feel that they need to handle this kind of crisis and situation, a situation that is very difficult and that affects their lives in general”. 

Another mother in the Jenin camp, who wanted to remain anonymous, told ActionAid staff that snipers took to the rooftops surrounding the camp. 

“They fire at everything that moves in the camp with the aim of killing. They destroyed almost 15 shops and many houses that were at the entrance of the camp to give space to their army trucks and military tools, they also destroyed the Youth Club, destroyed the roads and streets inside the camp, you know the camp has very narrow streets, they destroyed it all.” 

It was a nightmare, I couldn’t sleep for 27 hours, watching the kids and taking care of them, they would shout and cry every time they heard the sound of a bomb, on Sunday as the military airplane was bombarding, the snipers were shooting at anything that moves.”

“One of the killed was a man who was inside his house, actually there are five children killed the same way, inside or near their homes.” 

Farah, a mother who is also in Jenin camp,  told ActionAid of the increasing difficulties.

“Today, the women in the camp live in a state of fear, frustration and tension, especially the women who lost members of their families. Women in Jenin refugee camps tried to play a role in protecting themselves and their families under lack of international protection.”

“Mothers try to hide their sadness and injustice they experience to give more hope and provide small spaces for their children to live a quite stable and stable life.”

“This situation affects the economic and educational aspects of the life in Jenin refugee camp. Men cannot go to their work due to strict closure of West Bank after recent escalation against Gaza.” 

“They lost their livelihood and they become unable to cover the basic needs of their families. This is the most difficult situation where people lose everything”. 

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