Solafa el Deabella (31), her husband Issa, and their three and a half year old son, Adam, live in Gaza City. Over the past week, Solafa has shared her experiences during this military offensive.
“I am in the seventh month of my pregnancy. I am so stressed. It is not good for me to live in these conditions. I’m also worried; I think I might be suffering from high blood pressure. I’m afraid I’m having the same as I had in my previous pregnancy, with high blood pressure caused by all the stress. And there is no way I can reach my doctor in these circumstances; it’s not safe to move.”
On Wednesday 9 July, the family experienced an attack on an adjacent building, which left their apartment damaged. Solafa, Issa and Adam had to flee their home.
On Tuesday 15 July, Solafa writes: “Due to the damage to our apartment, we had to leave Gaza City. Now we are staying in Bureij refugee camp, with my family in law. They targeted a house here a few hours ago. Thank God we are all safe. Still, it is safer for us to stay here than to go back. And at least there are other children with whom Adam can play. That way he forgets about the bombing, at least during the day time. At night, it is terrible.”
Damage to Solafa and Issa’s bedroom after an F16 targeted an adjacent building (Gaza City, 9 July 2014)
In a phone conversation today (Saturday 19 July), Solafa has a worrying update: “We’re fine so far but they’ve [Israeli jets] just dropped leaflets on Bureij, telling us to move to Deir el Balah. They’re going to attack this area and we’re supposed to move. They’ve dropped them just now, within the last 30 minutes. It is the first time that they’ve dropped the leaflets in Bureij camp. I don’t know what to do. Issa is at the UNRWA schools, checking what the displaced people staying there need, and trying to get supplies for them from other people and charities. We have two UNRWA schools in Bureij that have been receiving people.”
Solafa continues; “Adam is very worried and he is afraid. He was shocked seeing the leaflets falling from the sky. But now, my phone battery is very low. I’ll have to go soon. Since yesterday, we have electricity for 3 hours per day only. It will be off soon. Our electricity might come back on at about 5am tomorrow.”
Adam (May 2014)
Not long after the end of te phone conversation, Solafa sends a message: “Just after I got off the phone with you, Adam entered the room where we keep our belongings. He started collecting our stuff and putting it into our travel bag. I tried to stop him but he was crying and saying we should go to Deir al-Balah, to ‘Uncle Mari’s’ house. Mari is Issa’s friend. You met him once at our home.”
After a long pause, another message follows: “I called Issa and asked him to speak to Adam. Issa told Adam to join him in the nearby UNRWA school. But Adam continued crying and said: ‘I am afraid of the people who fled their homes and who are staying at the school now.’ Maybe it is because of the pictures he sometimes sees of dead people. I try not to let him see any pictures. Maybe he thinks they are dead or wounded people staying at the UNRWA schools.”
In a rush, Solafa adds: “And there is something else I wanted to tell you. On Friday, July, just two days after we arrived in Bureij, a man from Bureij was killed in an airstrike, Mr. Abu Khaled. He is an employee of the Bureij municipality and he was targeted while driving in an official municipality vehicle. This man was very dear to Adam. On Thursday, just one day before he was killed, he spent hours with Adam. He used to take Adam to the market and buy him things. When Adam learned about Abu Khaled’s death, his first reaction was laughter, then he kept silent for several hours. This is not usual for Adam. At night, he did not sleep a moment. He kept talking about the Israelis, the bombing, and Abu Khaled. He has been wetting the bed every night since that day. I spend difficult moments with him at night. He gets up every few hours and keeps crying. This is too stressful to me.”
When asked about their decision; whether to move or stay, Solafa answers: “to this moment we have not decided to leave.”
Then Solafa has to disconnect, probably until tomorrow morning, unable to communicate what will happen over the night.