Middle East

Mother's Day overshadowed by tragedy as mothers in Gaza struggle amid war, fear

'I am a mother saddened by difficult situation we live in due to Israeli war on the enclave,' Um Mohammad Sabiha tells Anadolu

Mustafa Haboush  | 22.03.2024 - Update : 22.03.2024
Mother's Day overshadowed by tragedy as mothers in Gaza struggle amid war, fear

GAZA CITY, Palestine

Like other mothers, Palestinian women are celebrating Mother's Day this year but amid war and displacement in makeshift tents, facing harsh conditions that don't allow for traditional celebrations with gifts and flowers from their children.

Inside a tent in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, women have taken refuge with their families, sitting together without concerns and fears on Mother's Day, which falls on March 21 each year.

This year, Mother's Day is different

Palestinian women are preoccupied with preparing iftar meals during the holy month of Ramadan amid dire humanitarian conditions in the enclave.

While preparing the iftar meal in her tent, Palestinian mother Um Adel Zahar, 77, told Anadolu: "Every year, my children used to give me a dress and flowers on Mother's Day, and I was happy. But today, there is no such event.”

“Instead, we want to return to our homes. We want to sit amid the rubble and sand of our homes, and for the war to end,” she wished.

Um Adel continued: "This place is not my real home; rather, I wish to return to our lands in the village of Hamam (one of the Palestinian villages in the city of Ashkelon in 1948).”

Living in difficult humanitarian conditions, Um Adel suffers from various diseases, including cancer. The food she consumes under the strict Israeli blockade does not suit her health condition.

Um Mohammad Sabiha, 55, told Anadolu: “I am a mother saddened by the difficult situation we live in due to the Israeli war on the enclave.”

“I remember Mother's Day we celebrated in our house, leaving beautiful memories,” she recalled.

Um Mohammad pointed out that her children used to bring her gifts on this occasion, but "today is a sad day."

Carrying sweet memories, the Palestinian woman wished to go back to her home in Khan Younis from where she was displaced.

Mother's Day amid fear, war

Palestinian Anam Abu Wadi, 61, is busy washing clothes, and the horrors of war have made her forget that today is Mother's Day.

Anam tells Anadolu: “Our children used to bring gifts, but today, we spend this occasion in the tents.”

No one remembers that it's Mother's Day because everyone is preoccupied with fear and war, she added.

“The Palestinian mother deserves everything beautiful; she is a patient mother who endures with us and suffers with us,” Anam explained.

Yearning for daughters’ hugs

Ghada Al Kurd, 36, told Anadolu: "I have two daughters far away from me; they are in the north of the enclave, and I am in the south. Communicating with them is difficult due to the war."

"March brings Mother's Day, but unfortunately, my daughters are not with me. I wished I was with them today; we would spend a beautiful day together and exchange gifts,” she added.

The Palestinian mother deeply misses her daughters, wishing they were by her side, to embrace them and provide them with food, especially amid looming famine in the northern part of the enclave.

37 mothers killed daily in Gaza

Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said on X that the Israeli war on Gaza has been killing 37 mothers daily since Oct. 7, 2023.

According to the latest statistics issued by the Gaza Media Office, the Israeli army has killed 9,220 Palestinian women in the besieged territory over the past 17 years.

On Thursday, the Commission of Detainees’ Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society said in a joint statement that 28 mothers are among 67 Palestinian women prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since a cross-border attack by Hamas killed nearly 1,200 Israelis in early October.

Nearly 32,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, and more than 74,000 injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of most food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide, and guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

*Writing by Mohammad Sio in Istanbul

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