When Parents in Gaza Take Care Children in Shelter

"Our children need to be distracted by toys or whatever that will take their minds off the bombardment and fear they have been experiencing," said Jamal al-Attar, one of the displaced Gazans who is now seeking refuge in the school.

children in the shelter
Children have been the most severely affected by the Israeli attacks. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, GAZA – Suheir al-Arbeed (30) sat on the cold floor of the classroom. She is a mother of five, who was forced to flee in a school building in Gaza after her house was destroyed by an Israeli missile. While cuddling his newborn child, al-Arbeed poured out her heart.

“We need food, clothes, duvets, mattresses, and milk,” said al-Arbeed, who gave birth two weeks ago. “My back hurts from sleeping on a thin cover on the floor,” she added, as quoted by the Aljazeera, Monday (5/17/2021).

The baby on her lap continued to cry, still hungry, said al-Arbeed. She had breastfed her child. Al-Arbeed is one of the hundreds of families living north and east of Gaza, who fled their homes on Thursday evening. The families fled on foot and stepped through the darkness of the night for several kilometers to the Gaza al-Jadeeda school, which is her current shelter.

“There were no cars or transportation available,” al-Arbeed said, whose home is in the Shujaiya area in northeast Gaza.

Meanwhile, another Gazan named Umm Jamal al-Attar said it was not the first time she and her family were been displaced. She told Al Jazeera that she spent 40 days sheltering in a school during the 2014 Gaza war, in which Israel killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians for 51 days

Umm Jamal, her husband, and five children ran out of their house in Atatra, in the northern town of Beit Lahia, after a neighboring house was targeted by an Israeli missile. “The Israelis were bombarding us with missiles and shelling. They also fired some sort of gas,” Umm Jamal said, adding that she had not been able to return home to get clothes or food.

Not all children in Gaza understand the conditions they are experiencing at this time. (ACTNews)

Majda Abu Karesh, a mother of seven, also felt the difficulty of caring for her children after her house in Beit Lahia was destroyed. She said her families have had to fend for themselves regarding basic supplies.

“For five days, we have been sleeping on bare floors, and we haven’t received food or any supplies from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). There isn’t even clean drinking water, and the toilets are a mess,” Majda said.

Shaher Barda, who was forced to leave Shujaiya with his family with only the clothes on their back, said the refugee agency has not “cared much for our situation”.

“We gathered ourselves, and every person paid 1 shekel ($0.30) so we could buy enough water,” he said. “We’re not here by choice, but because our homes are not bombed shelters and no one would have survived the crazy Israeli attacks,” said Barda.

Rajai, a relative of Barda, “We want the world to support us,” he continued. “And we in Gaza are behind the Aqsa Mosque and Palestinians in Jerusalem and elsewhere. We all need to stand together but now I just need blankets for my children, who couldn’t sleep last night from the cold,” he said, sitting on a piece of cardboard that now serves as his bed.

Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip has killed at least 212 Palestinians, including 61 children and 36 women and more than 1,500 others were injured.

According to the United Nations (UN), more than 38 thousand Palestinians in Gaza have fled and sought refuge in 48 UN-run school buildings. The figure includes at least 2,500 people whose homes were destroyed in the Israeli attack. []