“I wish to return back to the place where our house once stood, to search for anything which holds memories of our lives”

In the fourth of our ‘Voices from Gaza’ blog series, Nawraz Abu Libdeh, MAP’s Finance and Administration Officer, reflects on everything she has lost, including her own son, over the past seven months of Israel’s military onslaught, and how she hopes she can one day return to her home with her beloved family.

Content warning: This blog contains distressing details of violent attacks on civilians.

The last seven months have been the most difficult of my 54 years of life. I have never experienced such sadness, loss and inhumanity. I have lost so much in this war.

My eldest son, Majd, just 27 years old, was brutally killed. His life taken in this senseless violence. We collected pieces of his head, piece by piece. 

I have lost my house to the relentless bombing, and now my family have nowhere to seek refuge. My sons’ homes were also destroyed. These houses were all of my family’s savings and now there is nothing left. My youngest brother was shot and killed while protecting his wife and three little children. 

My mother’s house, which was the only house that remained standing, was shelled three weeks ago. This was where all of my sisters and brothers who lost their homes were planning to stay after the war, but they now live in tents.

My niece, who is 18 years old, was injured in an Israeli military attack and lost her left eye.

Another brother of mine was arbitrarily arrested. He was tortured, and later released, leaving him scarred physically and mentally. His two legs were broken and his head had been beaten repeatedly. His body is full of torture wounds.

The day Israel’s military onslaught started

Seven months ago, on 5 October 2023, my son Shams, his wife, and my daughter and her husband were visiting me. That day we made a lovely dinner with all of our favourite desserts. It was a hot night, so we sat outside on our rooftop. My youngest son Zien, who has a beautiful voice, was singing, and we were all clapping and laughing together. We went to bed at 3am. On Friday 6 October, I made fatteh, a traditional meal that we all love to eat on the weekends. After lunch, my children left to their homes and I cleaned the house. 

On Saturday 7 October, I woke up at 5.30am to prepare my two younger children to go to school. We were all ready at 6.15 and I told myself that once they leave, I will go back to sleep. At 6.20, while my kids were about to enter the lift in our apartment block, we heard bombing. At first, I thought it was thunder but after a second, I knew that they were rockets. My children ran into the house, and I rushed to watch the news to know what was happening. After an hour, we realised what was going on, another war. My husband went straight to the nearest shop, he bought all the things that we would need for at least a week. 

Then at around 4pm that day we heard commotion in the street. We looked out the window and saw people running, packing up their things and leaving their homes. We found out that our neighbourhood had been alerted to evacuate our homes as Israeli forces announced they were going to hit Palestine Tower, which is about 60 metres away from our apartment building.

We ran down quickly to the street, as we live on the 12th floor, scared that the electricity will be cut and it would be hard to go down the stairs. The Israeli military hit the tower. All the windows and doors in our flat were broken and the electricity had been cut. Terrified, we decided to flee to Khan Yunis in the south of Gaza, to my daughter’s house, to stay the night. We hoped we would return the next day. 

Unfortunately, we have been stuck in the south of Gaza, 30km away from our home, for more than 200 days. I am now in the west of Rafah, at a guest house that has been rented by MAP. I have been displaced eight times now: from Gaza City to a camp in Khan Yunis, to Rafah, back to the north of Khan Yunis, to the middle of Khan Younis, then to four different places in Rafah. 

“My two young kids can’t bear hearing the bombing all night. They can’t bear that every month we lose someone we love.”

The situation is so difficult, all of us are just waiting to see what Israeli forces will do next in Rafah. All we do all day is follow the news. None of it is ever good. We are reading horrible stories that are happening every day: people tortured and humiliated by Israeli soldiers, children killed in front of their parents’ eyes, soldiers removing the clothes and headscarves of women. So many horrible stories which no human mind can bear. I pray every day that I will die before such humiliation happens to me. 

There are only two bank branches functioning in Rafah which are serving over one million people. You can’t imagine the crowds, hundreds of people are standing in a queue from 5am till 5pm. Most of the time, people leave without getting cash, due to a shortage, or internet outage, or the ATM is damaged. People are standing for more than 12 hours under the sun, they get frustrated and tired and they fight, and the crowds push each other.  


“I wish that the seven months of this nightmare would end”

I miss my beloved son Majd. He was an ambulance driver and volunteered with the Palestine Red Crescent Society as an emergency responder and ambulance driver for three years during the ‘Great March of Return’ protests. He wasn’t part of any political party; his colleagues named him “pure heart”. 

I also miss my home. I made a beautiful family, continued working for 32 years and all my savings were put into this home which I built to be enough for all my family when it would grow. This beautiful house was destroyed in one second by an Israeli army rocket. 

I’m trying to busy myself with work as much as I can, because any free time I get is so difficult. Either I keep following the news, which becomes worse and worse, or I look at photos on my phone and remember times before the war.

I look at photos of my son who was killed, photos of the weddings of my children, or photos of my beautiful home that has been destroyed. Looking at these photos of all the things we lost is psychological trauma. I cry for hours and hours until I go to sleep, until I am too tired to cry anymore. 

Thank God, I am currently living in a guest house that is rented by MAP, but my sons and daughter live in tents. Life in the tents is so difficult: no clean water, no furniture, no toilets, the children sleep on the sand. During the day it is so hot, while at night it is very cold. It is a very poor life, sometimes I think death would be better. 

I wish for this war to end, I wish that the seven months of this nightmare would end. I wish to return back to the place where my house once stood, to search for anything that belonged to my kids, which holds memories of our lives. I wish I can find something of Majd’s so that I have something that reminds me of him, I didn’t get to say goodbye to him. I wish I can return back to Gaza City so I can find anything under the rubble.

I wish my two young kids could go to Egypt until the war ends, those two little hearts can’t bear hearing the bombing all night. They can’t bear that every month we lose someone we love. They keep seeing pieces of bodies of children like them while they walk through the rubble, and I can’t bear to think that it might be them one day.  

MAP’s team in Gaza were among the first to respond to the current emergency and remain one of the only international organisations working to provide humanitarian and medical services, including in the north. Please support our emergency response today.


This is the fourth of our ’Voices from Gaza’ blog series where we hear from members of MAP’s team in Gaza. Stay tuned for next week’s blog.

Photo: Nawraz Abu Libdeh (right), with two of her children.

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