UAE resident who lost dozens of relatives in deadly Gaza attacks tells of heartbreak

Fidaa Alloh fears more loved ones reported missing may have died in conflict

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A heartbroken Palestinian in the UAE has told of her devastation after dozens of relatives were killed during Israeli strikes on Gaza.

Fidaa Alloh, 39, said at least 40 family members have lost their lives in the raging Israeli-Gaza conflict.

She fears the toll will rise further, with other loved ones reported missing.

Her cousin and three of her children, including an infant, were killed in an Israeli air strike.

“Another child survived but lost a leg, while my cousin’s husband sustained severe injuries and hearing loss,” said Ms Alloh, who lives in Sharjah.

“Their home now lies in ruins, reduced to a pile of rubble.”

In a separate incident, a cousin of Ms Alloh's father were killed along with her entire family, including her husband, children and grandchildren, when their apartment complex was bombed.

“Her name was Huda Mohammad Alloh, she was in a video that circulated on social media praying for help just a day or two before she and her family were killed,” said Ms Alloh.

Gaza is in the grip of a worsening humanitarian crisis stemming from retaliatory Israeli bombardments, after Hamas militants launched a surprise assault in the south of Israel on October 7.

At least 12 hospitals and 32 clinics in the Gaza Strip have been shut due to a lack of power and the damage caused by Israeli air strikes, the Palestinian Health Ministry has said.

The closures have come in the two weeks since the deadly Hamas attack in southern Israel that led to a retaliatory siege of Gaza and heavy air strikes, resulting in the killing of more than 5,000 Palestinians and displacement of more than one million.

Fears grow as attacks intensify

Ms Alloh said her elderly diabetic mother, who is also in the UAE, is living in constant fear of losing more loved ones in Gaza.

She said her mother spoke to one of her sisters in Gaza, who told her that family members were gathered in one house, believing that if they are to die they should do so together.

“My aunt said what is breaking their hearts the most is the terror felt by their children, who now refer to night time as 'the monster' because of the increased air strikes during that time,” Ms Alloh said

“She told my mother not to feel sad if they are all killed because they would be martyrs.”

Ms Alloh spoke of her sorrow at civilians in Gaza who have died while seeking shelter from the barrage of attacks.

“People seeking shelter in hospitals met with more tragedy as some were killed in those very hospitals.”

She underlined the challenges of making contact with relatives to ensure they remain safe.

“There are rare moments when we manage to get in touch with our family, often receiving lists of martyrs to help identify them,” she said.

She said Gaza had been suffering for years, even before this most recent escalation in violence.

“We lost many family members in every previous attack on Gaza, but what's happening now is a massacre.”

Ms Alloh said Gaza's women remain steadfast in the face of unthinkable tragedy.

“Gaza women lack the luxury of dedicating time to mourn properly because they need to be strong for whatever loss the next minute might bring them,” she said.

Horrors of war take toll

Fellow Palestinian Fathi Abu Seedo, 61, has lived in the UAE for four decades and works in Dubai.

He has four sons and four daughters, aged between 15 and 33, who were all born in the Emirates.

In 2021, due to financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Seedo decided to send his family back to Gaza, where they share a home with his brother and 81-year-old mother.

“My mother has experienced all of the wars on Gaza, and now refuses to leave her home in Al Remal neighbourhood,” he said.

His son and brother have chosen to stay with her, while the rest of the family, comprising 24 members including his brothers and their families, have relocated to what they hope is a potentially safer area.

Communication with them has become exceedingly difficult.

“I call and text them 24 hours a day but nothing. I can't sleep spending the night looking at their pictures to the extent that I deleted all of the pictures on my mobile phone,” he said.

He spoke of the emotional toll it has taken on him being separated from his family, as he yearns to be with them once more in their moment of need.

“They are my wealth and my entire support network,” he said.

His son sent him a video of the destruction in Gaza, which horrified him.

“It has been reduced to rubble, and no words can describe the dire situation on the ground.”

His family faces severe challenges, including lack of electricity, clean water, and food.

“They must ration their limited food supply to ensure it lasts as long as possible,” Mr Abu Seedo said.

“Even the water they drink is salty.”

He recalled one heart-rending conversation with his family, when they expressed their desire to stay together, to spare each other the pain of loss.

“They said if they will die, it's best to die together so none of them is heart-broken on the other.

“I screamed, what about me? I wish I was with them.”

Despite the constant fear, Mr Abu Seedo remains hopeful and prays for the safety of all the people of Gaza.

“They are all my family, and Allah will protect them,” he said.

He said he hoped the world would take note of the crisis enveloping Gaza, where the “suffering is now beyond comprehension”.

Updated: October 25, 2023, 8:49 AM