‘We will die here’: Family stuck in Gaza Strip need £7k each to escape

Prices to smuggle Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip have skyrocketed since the war began

Barney Davis
Friday 05 April 2024 22:36 BST
Ghazi Shaqoura is a 27-year-old Palestinian journalist who lives in the Gaza Strip with his family
Ghazi Shaqoura is a 27-year-old Palestinian journalist who lives in the Gaza Strip with his family (@Ghaazzi )

Ghazi has already lost both his father and brother and he can’t allow his one-year-old daughter Abeer, born in Gaza, “the deadliest region in the world to be a child”, to suffer the same fate.

Now the young journalist’s family, including his disabled sister Maryam confined to a wheelchair by a war injury, hide out in their bomb-ravaged home covered in graffiti from occupying Israeli soldiers.

He points out their battle plans, sleep schedules and names scrawled on his family living room walls used as a base by Israeli soldiers as they launched an assault on the Al-Maghazi camp in the central area of Gaza City where he was forced to relocate.

The 27-year-old told The Independent: “My father was martyred in the 2014 war. My brother was martyred in the 2018 war. My wife and I do not care whether we live or die, but we have a daughter- Abeer. This is life.

“We strive in every way to take care of her and pray no harm will happen to her. We try to feed her healthy food, but there is nothing healthy. We lose fruit here and vitamins. We lose Pampers and we lose clothes, but we manage with just the simplest things.”

“We returned to our house in the Maghazi camp, after the [soldiers] occupied our house throughout the invasion and before leaving the house, [Israeli soldiers] destroyed and broke all our furniture. I feel disappointed because there is nothing we can do.

Israeli soldiers used Gazi’s family home as a base (Instagram/@Ghaazzi)

“Now we hide [at night] in the partially destroyed house. We all sleep here, it is only destroyed on the inside.

“But life is very difficult. There is no safety, security, healthy food, or healthy water. Diseases are widespread, and there is not enough medicine for everyone.

“Hospitals have become unable to accommodate the sick and injured, we are suffering from all sides. Prices have become very expensive. We can’t buy anything, but we thank God that we are still alive.”

Gazi gave up his dangerous job as a photojournalist in Gaza just as the Committee To Protect Journalists said at least 95 reporters and media workers were among the more than 33,800 killed since the war began on October 7.

“I’m very afraid for my family, my daughter, and my wife, because this war is very fierce. You saw how many journalists were martyred in this war. The army target journalists here.”

Soldiers wrote their battle plans and patrol schedules on his walls (@Ghaazi)

He has launched a GoFundMe to get his ten-strong family to safety. He added: “Without help it seems that we will not leave Gaza and we will die here. Any money will be paid in coordination to Egypt until we leave Gaza. Many families went out this way, they collected donations and went directly to Egypt.”

By “coordination”, Ghazi speaks of the system by which Palestinians can pay for permission to leave the Gaza Strip.

Cross-border travel has been suspended so now coordination is now the only way for Palestinians without dual nationality to leave the deadly warzone.

Before the war, it was possible to travel with Egyptian travel company Hala for €350 but this price has now skyrocketed to €8,000 paid in cash with very little recourse or any competition from other companies offering the chance to start a new life.

He added: “I have never tried to leave Gaza because I never had the money. It’s so expensive.

“But I fear there will never be peace in Gaza, and I do not believe that this war will end soon.

“So we must evacuate the Gaza Strip of my most valuable things - my family. It would be impossible to leave anyone behind.

“My only hope is that this war will end and that my family and I will leave the Gaza Strip safely and live stably in any other country. I hope everyone will stand by us and help us live.”

It came as Palestinians in the Gaza Strip faced further difficulties feeding their families after World Central Kitchen (WCK) paused its operations in response to the deaths of seven aid workers in an Israeli drone strike.

Sir Alex Younger, ex-head of M16, heaped the pressure on Rishi Sunak to intervene saying the killings showed Israel was using “systematic targeting” that risked slaughtering innocent people by mistake.

In an outspoken intervention, he claimed Israel was in danger of losing its right to claim a “moral purpose” in the war with Hamas.

To donate to Ghazi’s fundraiser click here.

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