Bay Area High School Student Shares Shock Over Loss of Relatives in Gaza War - Latest Global News

Bay Area High School Student Shares Shock Over Loss of Relatives in Gaza War

SAN FRANCISCOFor many Palestinian Americans in the Bay Area, the rise in civilian deaths from the war in Gaza is deeply personal and particularly difficult as Wednesday marks the 76th anniversary of the 1948 Israeli-Arab war that forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes Houses in what they call Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic.

“Over 100 people in our family were killed,” said Zayna Elkarra, 15, a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco. “Every day I wake up and I don’t know what’s going to happen and who’s still alive.”

Zayna says she first visited Gaza just 10 months ago to visit her family’s ancestral home north of Rafah and meet her relatives.

“It was like I finally felt at home. It was a feeling I had never had before,” Zayna said. “I met so many relatives and it was so nice because it was like they all knew me…and so many cousins, aunts, uncles.”

Now some of those family pages have been destroyed and some of the relatives she met have disappeared.

“I have an uncle. He worked his whole life to build this pharmacy from the ground up and it started to grow and everything is destroyed,” Zayna said, showing a photo of the pharmacy from the summer next to another image of the pharmacy building destroyed.

Health officials in the Gaza Strip say more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war. For those who have lost loved ones, the pain is personal and difficult to process.

“We haven’t had time to fully grieve because we’re still trying to explain to people what’s going on, raise awareness and make it stop. Because as we grieve, more and more things will happen. “This continues to happen,” Zayna said. “I think the youngest person in our family was four months old, a baby.”

Zayna’s mother, Dr. Manal Elkarra says her relatives in Gaza are now refugees.

“They all had to escape. Everyone has lost their homes. We don’t know that a single family member still has a house,” said Dr. Elkarra. “Everyone just moved on and on, and many of them ended up in Rafah.”

Monadel Herzallah is a Palestinian American from San Francisco and says the expulsion is a sad reminder of the 76th anniversary of the Nakba disaster this Wednesday, when older generations of Palestinians were forced from their homes due to the 1948 Israeli-Arab war became. Arab nations attacked Israel after the United Nations established the state of Israel on land where Palestinian families had lived.

Herzallah remembers his grandfather and grandmother’s escape from their homeland of Palestine. He says that now he feels like he understands their pain when he sees his own relatives going through this war.

“I lost eleven members of my family. One of them is four years old,” Herzallah said. “They were displaced once, twice and three times… from Gaza City to Khan Yunis, to Rafah, where at the moment we hardly know what is happening. The thing that hurts the most…you feel helpless, you feel like you can’t do anything for them.

“We just want to live like everyone else,” Herzallah added.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at [email protected] or call her at 510-326-5529. Or follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU.

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