Father of five Mostafa Kahlout is a CARE Economic Empowerment Program coordinator in Gaza. His role involves helping more than 8,000 vulnerable households in Gaza to access food and earn an income, mostly through small scale farming. Mostafa and his family live in Gaza, and have barely left the house since the Israeli military operation began last week.
We are surrounded by bombs and explosions. Our nights have become days and our days have become nights, as we can hardly sleep more than an hour or so without the explosions. We just stay in the house and keep watching what is happening outside, watching the black smoke in the sky when the houses nearby are hit.
It is really a sad and terrible situation for all of the people of Gaza, including my own family. My kids are suffering a lot. I have two boys and three girls aged from 7 to 21-years-old.
In front of my kids and family, I act like I am not scared, so they don’t feel so stressed and depressed, but of course I am very worried and afraid. I am scared for the life of my kids and wife, relatives, and our home.
My daughters are already traumatised from the previous military operations on Gaza. Even before the bombs fall they would shiver and come close to their mother or me whenever they hear a plane.
My youngest daughter is nearly eight, she’s only small and she just keeps looking at the ceiling and asking ‘why are they trying to kill us?’
I say to her: ‘No one is going to kill us; it will all be over soon,’ trying to calm her down. But I don’t know when it will be over.
My boys put their hands to their ears to block out the noise and sit close with us. You wouldn’t believe the sound, the noise is very terrible.
I have only left the house a few times to get food from the market. The kids might go to the close neighbours’ houses but they rush back every time they hear the planes.
All the wars have been terrible, but the bombing, the shooting, the missiles, the shelling into houses this time, is just too much. It’s everywhere. Everyone feels targeted. I am part of a big family in Gaza, and we have heard that a relative has been killed. I have lost friends and my daughter’s friend is in hospital, injured.
My children have lived through three wars in six years. I want them to live and sleep in peace without worry or trauma. They want a childhood. They deserve a childhood.
It feels quite hopeless in Gaza even without war – unemployment is so high, Israeli siege and closures, there is no stability, just violence. It’s a very difficult life indeed.
This is the worst Holy month (Ramadan) we have ever known. We are fasting, and worried and scared and we don’t know if we will find food to break the fast. And even when we do go to break the fast there might be bombing and shelling so we hide. If there is electricity we watch TV for updates, instead of celebrating the time together as a family like we usually would. When we get up early in the morning to prepare for the fast, again we hear the shelling and it is very hard.
Right now it is difficult for CARE, we cannot reach people to support them because we cannot move. Any moving car in the street could be targeted. My main concern is a shortage of food and medicine. There are so many casualties, injuries, destruction of lands and houses, and even before the war started, supplies were low due to the blockade. Now I worry that they will run out completely.
When this finishes we will have so many people to help. Our priority will be those whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. Even small funds will help make a difference to them.
The people in Gaza feel isolated, there does not seem to be strong support from other countries to push for a ceasefire but as long as there is war it is civilians who will pay the price.
Right now it feels like our destiny is unknown, particularly with the Israeli closures and movement restriction imposed on Gaza since 2007. We don’t understand what will happen next, it is out of our hands. But hope never dies. We will always have hope. We want to live in peace.