Feature: 13-year-old Gazan boy becomes only breadwinner in family in Hamas-Israel conflict-Xinhua

Feature: 13-year-old Gazan boy becomes only breadwinner in family in Hamas-Israel conflict

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-02-15 20:37:45

GAZA, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Mohammed al-Yazji, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, lives in a small tent in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip. He is responsible for taking care of his six siblings, including his six-month-old sister Toleen.

"It is too hard to be the breadwinner of my siblings while I myself need someone who could protect me and help me survive the war," al-Yazji told Xinhua as he fed his young sister.

Al-Yazji and his siblings have been displaced several times since the Hamas-Israeli conflict erupted in October 2023.

The first tragedy came when they lost their mother in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. Before they could properly grieve, the Israeli military compelled them to vacate their own house.

"The Israeli army ordered us to evacuate our house before it was attacked by the warplanes. My father took me and my siblings to al-Shifaa hospital and we stayed there for some weeks," al-Yazji recalled.

But their ordeal did not end there. The Israeli army later ordered the displaced people to leave the hospital and head to the southern parts of Gaza. At that time, his father went back to their old neighborhood to retrieve their mother's body from the rubble and bury her in the local cemetery. Al-Yazji couldn't contact his father to tell him where they were going.

"I was forced, along with thousands of other displaced people, to walk on foot for six hours along the 'safe road' designated by the army. My siblings and I were lucky not to be shot," al-Yazji said.

They reached the al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the center of Gaza, where they lived for a few weeks before being displaced again to Rafah, where they now reside in their tent.

"During my multiple displacement journeys, I cried a lot as I lost my parents who would deal with such difficult circumstances," he said with teary eyes.

Like many other Palestinian displaced people, al-Yazji depends on the food aid provided by the UN Relief and Works Agency. However, he complained that the food was not enough for him and his siblings.

"We are left alone in this war without having any chance to live in peace," he lamented.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a press statement that about 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip are unaccompanied or separated from their families, about four months after the start of the war. The number represents 1 percent of the total number of displaced people, which amounts to 1.7 million people.

"Each of the children has a heartbreaking story of loss and grief," the organization said.