Widows in Gaza struggle to provide food for their children

More than 3,000 have been widowed since the start of the war on Gaza, according to the UN

Nariman Dalool now has to look after her four children without her husband, who was killed by an Israeli sniper. Mohamed Amra for The National
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Nariman Dalool, a 28-year-old widow, found herself having to take care of her four young children alone after her husband was killed trying to obtain flour for their family.

Originally from Gaza city, she and her family have sought refuge in Rafah amid the war in Gaza which has killed more than 30,800 Palestinians.

"Everything is hard," Mrs Dalool told The National. "I was dependent on my husband, he was my security and did everything for me. Suddenly, I found myself alone, taking care of four children. I don’t know how to manage it."

An Israeli sniper shot and killed him while he was carrying the flour, accompanied by his eight-year-old son. "My eldest son has nightmares about his father's death in front of him," Mrs Dalool said. "Who will care for him and help him heal? He is the one I used to rely on, even though he's young. But what can I do?"

She left Gaza the day after her husband's death and headed for Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, to protect her children.

Although her family offer some financial support, she is dreading the arduous days ahead. "How will Ramadan be without him? He used to provide everything for his children. Now the kids ask me to buy them things but I can't because I have no money."

More than 3,000 women had become widowed since the war broke out in Gaza, according to a UN report in January, and at least 10,000 children were estimated to have lost their fathers.

Ghada Abu Laban, 29, was widowed a month ago. She now lives in one of the UNRWA schools in Rafah city with her four children.

"I lost my soul, my everything," Mrs Abu Laban told The National, crying. "I am only living for my kids, otherwise I don't want to continue living.

She received the heartbreaking news of her husband's death while she was in Rafah, having been separated from him as he decided to stay in Gaza city to protect their family home.

"I am struggling here by myself. I need to feed my kids. My daughter keeps asking me for money to buy chocolate or chips but I don't have the money to give her."

Her husband Mohammed was the breadwinner and now they have lost their source of income and rely solely on aid provided by the school. "I haven't received any aid for two weeks and when I go to inquire about aid, they tell me there is nothing," she said.

'My heart is broken'

Shurooq Abbas, 26, lost her husband and her one-year-old son when an Israeli air strike killed them while they were sleeping. "We were four and now we are only two," she told The National.

She left Gaza city with her daughter for Khan Younis, where they took refuge in a UNRWA school.

"I am experiencing the most challenging moments of my life," she said. "My heart is broken and I don't even have time to grieve because I have to be strong for my three-year-old daughter, Mona."

Her daughter is traumatised, she said, often calling out for her father and brother at night, after having gone to bed hungry.

"I have no one around me and if I need money, I must borrow it from others, not knowing how I will repay them," the widow said.

The Israelis "destroyed my home and all my memories. I am homeless, with nothing to hold on to as a keepsake of my husband".

Updated: March 12, 2024, 10:26 AM