Bridgeview family mourns over 30 relatives killed in Gaza

Chicago
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Mohammed Abu Realh gets the same message from loved ones in Gaza whenever they have access to the internet.

“Thanks to God we have one more day that we are still alive,” the message reads. 

But others haven’t been able to escape the destruction in the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. Abu Realh said over 30 members of his family, including two of his brothers-in- law, their families and children, have been killed in Gaza.

On Tuesday, community members, friends and family gathered at the Mosque Harlem Center, 9340 S. Harlem, in Bridgeview for a traditional azza service during which mourners paid respects to Abu Realh’s family.

“One of them was a father who was a master’s degree engineer in the environment sector, his wife was a school principal,” said Abu Realh, who lives in Bridgeview. He doesn’t want their deaths “to be just a number.”

Abu Realh, 57, said his family members were killed in a strike about half a mile from Shifa Hospital at a beach camp in Gaza City. He said more may have been killed, and many are stuck under rubble.

The wounded have poured into Shifa Hospital in recent days from nearby Shati camp along the Mediterranean coast that has seen heavy bombardment.

More than 8,500 Palestinians have been killed in the war, mostly women and minors, the Gaza Health Ministry said Tuesday, without providing a breakdown between civilians and fighters. The figure is without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Over 1,400 people have died on the Israeli side, mainly civilians killed during Hamas’ initial attack, also an unprecedented figure. Palestinian militants abducted around 240 people and have continued firing rockets into Israel.

Air strikes level apartment buildings in Gaza refugee camps

On Tuesday, a barrage of Israeli airstrikes leveled apartment buildings in a refugee camp near Gaza City, and footage showed rescuers pulling men, women and children out of the rubble.

The toll from the strikes in Jabaliya camp was not immediately known. The Israeli military said a large number of Hamas militants were killed, including the commander overseeing their operations in northern Gaza.

The director of the nearby hospital where casualties were taken, Dr. Atef Al-Kahlot, said hundreds were wounded or killed, but he did not provide exact figures. Neither side’s account could be independently confirmed.

The military said it carried out a wide-scale strike in Jabaliya on Hamas infrastructure “that had taken over civilian buildings.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem denied the military’s claim, saying it was trying to justify “its heinous crime” against civilians.

Deanna Othman, a Palestinian American and community member who attended Tuesday’s azza, has family in Gaza who evacuated to Shifa Hospital. They include her husband’s nieces, nephews and their children. She described the difficult conditions they are facing.

“It’s been very hard to speak to them, they have no electricity, they are very short on water, they are very thirsty,” said Othman, 41. “Food is very difficult to obtain, and it’s very risky, because some of our family have had cousins who have left their homes and who have been killed. It’s a choice between hunger and possibly losing your life.”

There has been no central electricity in Gaza for weeks, and Israel has barred the entry of fuel needed to power generators for hospitals and homes, saying it wants to prevent it from falling into Hamas’ hands.

It has allowed a limited amount of food, water, medicine and other supplies to enter from Egypt, though far less than what is needed, relief groups say.

The White House said Tuesday afternoon that 66 trucks of humanitarian aid have flowed into the Gaza Strip over the previous 24 hours — the highest single day delivery of aid since Hamas launched its attack Oct. 7. Israel authorities have said they will soon allow more aid to enter Gaza.

Abu Realh said he fears for the lives of his relatives in the region every day.

“You expect your family to be eliminated from the earth every single night, every single minute,” Abu Realh said. “That’s the life the Palestinians are living.”

Contributing: Associated Press

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