Turkey, Middle East

‘We wish we were in Gaza with our families,’ says Palestinian student in Turkey

Palestinian students worry about safety of their families as violence escalates, number of civilian deaths go up in Gaza

Faruk Zorlu   | 18.05.2021
‘We wish we were in Gaza with our families,’ says Palestinian student in Turkey Palestinians walking throgh the ruins after Israeli warplanes continued pounding attacks on Gaza Strip, targeting the "Production Bank" building in Gaza City, Gaza on May 15, 2021. ( Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency )

ANKARA

Fear has gripped Palestinian students pursuing studies in Turkey as violence escalates and the number of civilian deaths goes up in the Gaza Strip.

"We wish we were in Gaza. Because we would be there with our families and whatever was going to happen would happen to all of us," Mohammed Abutaqiya, 31, hailing from Gaza told Anadolu Agency.

Abutaqiya, who is pursuing the master's program in journalism at Ege University in Turkey’s western Izmir province said he used to be less worried during the war in Gaza.

“But it's so hard to be away now," he said.

In 2014, he worked as a journalist in Gaza, when it was attacked by Israeli forces. He said he was not worried as much as he is now away from home in Turkey.

"My family is living in Gaza. There were attacks in the neighborhood where my family is living. Thank Allah, nothing happened to my family," he said.

He said his many friends have been martyred over the past one week, as there is no safe place in Gaza.

“When there is an attack on Gaza, we try to communicate with our family and relatives immediately. But it is hard to communicate due to the circumstances in Gaza. There is electricity just for four hours a day. Even when there is electricity, the internet is not running properly, he said.

Abutaqiya said it looks that there was a restriction on the internet also as after taking two minutes, the connection gets snapped, especially over the past one week.

“We cannot make video calls at all,” he said.

Praising Turkish people for their supports, the student said people, as well as institutions in Turkey, have extended support and solidarity with Palestinians.

Abutaqiya said while he is living safely in Turkey his family and people back in Gaza are in danger.

"After I came to Turkey in 2015 to study electrical electronics engineer, I could not go to my country," said Ibrahim Alshaikh another student enrolled in Ankara Gazi University. He also wanted to be in his motherland in these difficult times.

Experienced two wars in Gaza

“My family is living in Gaza. They are not subjected to the attacks directly in Gaza but they are going through very difficult times,” he said.

Alshaikh said he has experienced two wars in Gaza, but described the current one hardest.

“Because I am living far from my family. They are not safe in Gaza, and I am in Turkey. I am living with the fear that something will happen to my family at any moment," he explained.

“We used to have a power outage in Gaza on normal days. But now there is electricity for just four hours a day and I can only talk to my family when there is electricity,” he added.

He said while his family is safe in Gaza, but the attacks are happening closer to his home.

“When I talk to my family and friends living in Gaza, I hear terrifying sounds of explosions of missiles and aerial bombardments," said Zaid Isleem from Gaza, studying journalism at Ankara University.

"The incidents currently happening in Palestine, especially in Gaza City, are war crimes and Israel must be punished for its crimes," he said.

He said Palestinians were struggling for their legitimate rights

"Frankly, I support the resistance as Palestinian youth. Many children have been martyred and many houses bombed. Resistance will always be the Palestinian's answer to the injustice of its Zionist enemy," he said.

Will protect Al-Aqsa

Expressing confidence that Palestinians will continue to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque until their last breath, Isleem said there was a need to stop the war and he will support the resistance till the end.

Tensions were running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem since early May when an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families, which was later delayed.

Palestinians protesting in solidarity with residents of Sheikh Jarrah were targeted by Israeli forces. The tensions escalated further due to Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Since last week, at least 212 Palestinians have been killed, including 61 children and 35 women, in Israeli attacks in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Ten Israelis have also been killed by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 – a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

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