British Palestinians say family in Gaza ‘struggle to survive’ on war’s 100th day

British Palestinians living in the UK with relatives in Gaza have reflected on the last 100 days since the start of the Israel-Hamas war as their family members “struggle to survive” under “non-stop” bombardment.

A single-mother living in Scotland while her five-year-old child remains in southern Gaza in the care of her grandmother said her daughter “hasn’t lived her childhood”, while a man living in west London with several relatives in northern Gaza said his family are “struggling to find basic needs”.

It comes as Monday marks the 100th day since the start of the Israel-Hamas war which broke out on October 7, resulting in months of heavy bombardment across the Gaza Strip.

Mohammed Awad said his mother, father, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews are sheltering in his father’s house in Jabalia in northern Gaza, and said they are “struggling to survive”.

Mohammed Awad
Mohammed Awad said his family members in Gaza are ‘struggling to survive’ (Mohammed Awad/PA)

“They are waiting for the unknown, they are struggling to survive, they are just breathing,” the 34-year-old told the PA news agency.

He said that his brother-in-law was “killed by a sniper” in early December and is survived by four children.

“What they have witnessed so far is beyond belief, I can’t describe it,” he said.

“Can you imagine now 100 days under this non-stop aerial, navy, artillery bombardments.

“They are struggling to find the basic needs, there’s no flour, no wheat, they survive on some old tinned food and they’ve had no electricity for three months.”

Mr Awad, who moved to the UK in 2017 after living in Gaza for 28 years, said he received some photos from his family members of his neighbourhood, saying: “The destruction is unprecedented, you can’t recognise the area.

“They are killing my memories of the Gaza I know.”

Mr Awad said he receives messages and calls from his family once every week and he received a voice note from his father on Sunday.

“My dad said, ‘we are surviving, we are struggling but we are hoping for an immediate ceasefire’,” Mr Awad said.

“I just feel sorry for them whenever I eat here or enjoy life – I can’t even enjoy life because I’m watching and following the news most of the time.

“I’m just occupied with thinking how I can help my family and I wish I could go back to Gaza to be with them.”

29-year-old Israa Aljaish, who currently lives in Scotland and whose five-year-old daughter Marlin is sheltering in southern Gaza with her grandmother, Amal Aljaish, said she “hasn’t lived her childhood” and suffers with frequent nightmares as a result of the conflict.

Israa with her mother Amal and her daughter Marlin
Israa Aljaish with her mother Amal (left) and her daughter Marlin (Israa Aljaish/PA)

“I feel like Marlin is not just five years old, she’s older than this and it’s not a good thing – she hasn’t lived her childhood,” Ms Aljaish, who came to the UK in 2022 to study for a Masters degree at the University of St Andrews, told PA.

“She’s having a bad cough because of the smoke.

“She misses her clothing, she misses her home, she misses her room, she misses her classes at school.

“It’s so hard for me to think how Marlin now imagines her life, instead of imagining to be a princess or imagining to go and play, she imagines the picture of explosion, destruction and bombardment.”

Ms Aljaish took a job as a postgraduate administrator with the university at the start of October, with plans to bring her daughter to the UK when the Israel-Hamas war erupted just days later.

Israa and her daughter Marlin hugging and smiling at the camera
Israa Aljaish and her daughter Marlin (Israa Aljaish/PA)

“It’s been so hard because the news is getting worse and worse with every passing day,” she said.

She added that Marlin has been suffering with signs of “psychological trauma” as a result of the conflict and her daughter has frequent nightmares.

“It seems like she has nightmares every day and instead of thinking of good things, she pictures destruction and pictures the aeroplanes in the skies over Gaza,” she said.

“I just want this to end, killing kids and civilians.

“It’s not their fault and they are so peaceful and with every passing day, it’s still happening.

“It’s horrible to see this and not be able to do anything, especially us who are out of Gaza, and I feel really useless not being able to protect my daughter.”