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Dubai woman loses 30 family members in one night as Israeli bombing devastates her Gaza home – News


The victims, aged between 8 and 65, took refuge in a three-story villa in Rafah, which was hit by a missile on October 16.

Palestinians search for victims at the site of Israeli attacks on houses, in Gaza City, on October 28, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Published: Monday, October 30, 2023, 16:06

Last update: Monday, October 30, 2023, 5:49 p.m.

Sana sports a brave smile as she goes about her tasks at a department store in Mall of the Emirates, Dubai. However, behind that smile there is an indescribable pain: the pain of losing loved ones. Less than a fortnight ago, this Palestinian woman went through a heartbreaking tragedy that left her emotionally devastated.

The Dubai resident lost 30 family members in an Israeli airstrike that decimated a village in her hometown in Gaza. Among the victims, whose ages ranged from 8 to 65, was her cousin Alia, who was 22 years old and about to start a new life in Dubai after getting a job as a nutritionist.

Sana’s voice shook and her eyes filled with tears as she tried to talk about the tragedy. But she felt that her anguish was overshadowed by the deep pain that Alia’s older sister, who lives in Abu Dhabi, and her husband have gone through. “They are too traumatized to talk to anyone as the attack also claimed the lives of their parents.”

Out of respect for the privacy of those affected by the tragedy, Khaleej Times has changed the names of the people.

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“Why did this have to happen to all those wonderful people back home? Oh, Alia, I have so many memories with her,” Sana said as she flipped through her phone to show the frantic WhatsApp messages she sent to her cousin after hearing about the stroke. “Where are you, Alia?” “Please answer.” “I hope you are well,” the messages said.

Sana held out hope for hours, praying for news of her beloved cousin, but soon realized the heartbreaking reality. At around 8 pm on October 16, a missile hit the three-story villa in Rafah, located in southwestern Gaza, where five extended families had taken shelter. There were no survivors.

30 bodies were removed from the rubble. Among the deceased were Sana’s uncle, owner of the villa, his wife, his daughter Naila and his four children. “They thought it was a safe place. It had been a vacation home and they had moved there just a few weeks ago,” Sana said. “My uncle lived in Saudi Arabia and was visiting Gaza with his family. His married daughter, who lived elsewhere, came to visit her parents with her children. Two of his children were going to university. The youngest was eight years. All of them deceased.”

Sana said her nights are filled with memories of her visit to Gaza in 2021. She showed photos of her and Alia on her phone, remembering the days they spent in cafes and the joy they shared. “Alia was so full of life,” Sana recalled, her voice shaking. “I had a master’s degree in nutrition and had just gotten a job in Dubai. I used to say, ‘I won’t stay with my sister in Abu Dhabi; I’ll stay with you.’ All I wanted was to study. I was tremendously ambitious and couldn’t leave of getting degrees. We used to tease her about how many degrees she would get. Alia was excited to come to Dubai; she had never been here and was looking forward to “Experience the vibrant culture and opportunities this city has to offer. Unfortunately, fate had decided otherwise.”

Sana grew up in Abu Dhabi, where her father worked for the public sector. She got married in 2014, but her life took an unexpected turn when her husband died due to cardiac arrest five years later, leaving behind her two little twins.

Since then, Alia and her extended family had become an essential part of Sana’s support system. “Now all that is gone,” Sana said, staring into space. “He was taken away from me in a matter of minutes. My elderly parents are inconsolable, and I can’t even imagine what Alia’s real sister is going through, having lost not only a brother but also her parents and in-laws.”

Sana now faces the challenge of maintaining a composed demeanor while interacting with customers and colleagues in the mall. Her office has advised her to take some time off, understanding the enormity of her loss, but she fears going crazy sitting at home. “I’m trying to stay busy; it’s not easy.”

As Sana deals with her situation, it has come to light that a doctor in Sharjah has also suffered a tragic loss. She lost several family members in an airstrike in another part of Gaza on Sunday (October 29). Victims include children, who now account for more than 40 percent of the approximately 8,000 people killed in Gaza.

Figures published on Sunday by the non-governmental organization Save the Children, referring to Palestinian health authorities, show that at least 3,324 children have been killed in Gaza since October 7, with 36 deaths in the West Bank. “More children have died in Gaza in the last three weeks than in conflicts around the world every year since 2019,” Save the Children said.


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