Palestine Red Crescent Society worker lost seven family members during Gaza’s Summer violence

Publié: 13 mai 2015 14:53 CET

By Hanne Sorine Sorensen, IFRC

Anwar Mohamed Abu Suliman was working with the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in the northern part of Gaza during the violence of summer 2014 when he was told his neighbourhood in his home town of Rafah had been attacked.

“I received the news when the National Society’s branch in the North was under attack, so the situation was chaotic. I tried to make phone calls and get news about my family, but I couldn’t get any detailed information. Eventually, I was told that five houses in my neighbourhood had been attacked almost simultaneously at 3:15 am,” says Anwar, 40, who has been working with the Palestine Red Crescent Society for 15 years.

The home of Anwar’s family in Tal El Sultan district of Rafah was indeed one of the five houses hit in the raids on 2 August 2014. Standing outside what earlier was the home of 32 members of his family, Anwar finds it hard to even look at the totally destroyed building.

“When I was told our house had been hit, I was in total shock. My colleagues hugged me and gave me medicine to make me relax. I told my boss that I had to go home and look for my relatives. It was difficult, as many roads were closed due to the rocket fire. I went to many hospitals and found the body of my sister-in-law and the body of my neighbour’s wife,” says Anwar in a shivering voice.

Later, ambulances started to arrive at the hospital in Khan Younis, transporting dead bodies and wounded people, among them Anwar’s relatives.

Anwar lost a total of seven family members during that night; two sisters in law and five nephews and nieces were killed. Six other nieces and nephews of Anwar were also wounded and so was one of his brothers.

“We didn’t expect an attack and no warning was given before two rockets destroyed the house. We have no weapons and we were not involved in the fighting,” says Anwar as he walks into the totally destroyed house and picks up children’s pink shoes from the rubble.

“In the hospital I started to count my nephews and nieces and assisted in treating them. It gave me some hope and consolation. I felt a bit more relaxed as some of my relatives were alive. There was pain and there was hope,” says Anwar, adding that he did not know the exact death toll of his family members until 10 pm, almost 20 hours after the attack.

Anwar did not return to his work in the EMS in northern Gaza for a while after the attack.

“They tried to make me come back but I couldn’t. My heart was broken and I was busy treating my relatives. But after three weeks I returned to work. This is my work. I will continue to support the humanitarian cause. But it is different now. When I see injured people I now think of my relatives who were killed and wounded,” says Anwar.