The al-Samouni family is currently living in a tent in Deir el-Balah, Gaza Strip. They are in a state of shock as they have no idea what happened to their sons and brothers. The 36 women and children are sharing four blankets among themselves. They used to live in peace in Zeitoun, in the southeast of Gaza City, where they farmed their land. However, they were forced to flee south due to Israel’s assault on Gaza.
The family decided to take what the Israeli army said was a “safe corridor” – Salah al-Din, the main road that runs north-south in the Gaza Strip. However, the corridor was not as safe as they had hoped. Zahwa al-Samouni, 56, recounted how Israeli soldiers took her three sons away at a newly erected checkpoint. The soldiers ordered the brothers to step to the side of the road, and the rest of the family was forced to pass through the turnstiles.
Zahwa’s sister-wife Zeenat informed the Red Cross of the brothers’ names, ID numbers, and mobile phone numbers. The family is desperate for any news about their sons and stepchildren. Zeenat and her family had taken the so-called safe corridor three days before her sons and stepchildren. They had to walk past their land, seeing Israeli tanks and their destroyed homes.
Zahwa made the same trek three days later and was threatened by Israeli soldiers. Her granddaughter, 10-year-old Zahwa, recalls the events of that day. She witnessed her father and uncles being taken by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers also shot a man in front of them, who had learning disabilities. The family has experienced trauma before, as they lost 48 family members during the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive.
The family’s father, Attiya, was killed in front of them by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers threw a grenade at the entrance of the house, and Attiya was shot multiple times. The family had to endure the loss of their father and other family members. Faraj, the oldest brother, played a crucial role in supporting the family after their father’s death. He was a farmer and a pillar of strength for the family.
Faraj’s wife, Shifa, said her six children cannot sleep without their father. The family has been through immense suffering and loss, and they are desperate for any news about their missing family members. They have faced violence and trauma at the hands of Israeli soldiers and are struggling to cope with the uncertainty and fear. The al-Samouni family’s story is a heartbreaking example of the impact of conflict and war on innocent civilians.
World, News, Human Interest