‘We are strong and resilient’: Palestinian mothers in UAE describe story of survival

The women who lost many relatives in Israeli attack on Gaza thank UAE for supporting them

by

Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

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Sabah Elnemnem, a Palestinian grandmother from Gaza, in Abu Dhabi. — Photo by Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi
Sabah Elnemnem, a Palestinian grandmother from Gaza, in Abu Dhabi. — Photo by Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

Published: Sun 17 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 17 Dec 2023, 10:23 PM

In the past couple of months, the world has seen the killing of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Palestine. Amidst all the deaths and atrocities by Israel, strength and resilience were the words used by a mother to describe her fellow Palestinians.

The Israeli bombings have resulted in the death of over 18,000 people in Gaza, and among them 80 were family members and friends of Sabah Elnemnem, a Palestinian grandmother from Gaza, who recently arrived in Abu Dhabi.

Kamilla Ahmed, a cancer patient who lives in Gaza, also lost three of her children, as well brothers and sisters. It’s the same for Wissam Al Farrah, whose mother also arrived in Abu Dhabi for medical treatment.

No food and water

Describing the situation in Gaza, Sabah told Khaleej Times: “There is no food and water; we can barely find gas. Gaza is becoming empty. Many people were killed, and whoever is left, is either carrying a deadly disease or disabled.”

The United Nations reported a concerning amount of water, food and electricity shortage in the affected areas in Palestine. Sabah said she experienced this herself — not being able to light their stoves or get clean water, and surviving only with a loaf of bread for the day. But it didn’t stop them from helping others with what they could.

Human empathy grows

A Palestinian woman arrives in Abu Dhabi from Gaza. — Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi
A Palestinian woman arrives in Abu Dhabi from Gaza. — Ahmed Waqqas Alawlaqi

In times of crisis and war, human empathy and unity grow. When the war started, Kamilla and many others opened their homes to affected Palestinians – even though food, water and electricity were scarce. They made sure that everyone felt like they were at home.

“My elder sons got married and had recently bought an apartment. Now, their house has 20 people, and our family house has more than 50,” Kamilla said.

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“We Palestinians are strong and resilient. Almost any day, we don’t have cooking gas, but we look for alternative ways like lighting cartons or sometimes plastic to make food, especially with the huge number of people in our house,” she added.

“The war has brought us misery but that won't stop us from helping each other,” Kamilla underscored.

In the UAE, the Palestinian mothers have found a safe refuge. They are grateful to the UAE for hosting and offering them medical support.

They all want an immediate cessation of war, and they hope one day they can host Emiratis back in Gaza to repay their kindness.


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