"There Is No Escape"



When Israeli bombing intensified in the days after the Hamas attacks, Maha Rafeek was forced to leave her home in Gaza, fleeing first to her sister and then parents’ house, before joining the tens of thousands of Palestinians heading south.  Here, she describes her heartbreak at being unable to find enough food for her four children, Rama, Tala, Zain and Ameer.

"Since the beginning of the war, things have gone from bad to worse. We were forced to leave our homes, so we left and fled south. We didn’t know where we would go, for how long, or even how we would live. But we left, believing we had escaped inevitable death. Unfortunately that was when our suffering began – the struggle to find food and anything to drink. Even water that was clean. We started to ask other people where and how to get water, and those people started to exploit us."

"We wake up early in the morning to try to get what we need, and hope there is some electricity. When I can, I use the internet to find fitness routines to help us pass the time. I see in my children they need food and they need something to drink, but I do not have the capacity to provide what they need."

"I started today by lighting a fire at the stove to cook what food we have, and to heat some water so [the children] can wash. I am so tired but for a moment the light came in when I saw my children’s joy over a plate of pasta. I was so happy they were eating, but all the time, the bombing continued. The bombs fall more frequently in the south, but for now we are in a place where the bombing raids happen only once or twice each day and night."

"Our lives have become a tragedy that is repeated every day. We are in a place that has no windows or doors and the cold is beginning to enter our bodies. We need to find a solution to this problem, but there is no escape. The freezing cold is at the doors, and we don’t have enough blankets or mattresses. We didn’t have time to take clothes from our homes, or belongings, or even the children’s toys. Nothing."

Read more about this Palestinian mother's daily life at PRIMER.

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