A man carries an injured girl into an UNWRA-run school, in which displaced families in Gaza are seeking shelter.

Vulnerable people caught up in escalating conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territory desperately need your support, says Islamic Relief.

The latest escalation of violence has killed 219 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which reports that 63 children, 36 women, and 16 older people are among the dead. Many more have been injured and others are missing.

In one devastating incident, a neighbourhood in Gaza was subject to airstrikes in the early hours of Sunday morning, as residents slept. When 3 residential buildings on Al Wehda Street collapsed, nearly 40 people are thought to have died, including 85-year old Amin and 1-year old Qusay. 15 of the victims belonged to the same family.

The bombardment damaged the headquarters of the Ministry of Social Development, the main coordinating body for humanitarian work in the Gaza Strip. This is expected to hamper vital humanitarian efforts.

The desperate search for safety in Gaza

Many people have fled their homes in a desperate search for safety, but cannot leave Gaza, which has for years been under Israeli blockade, with strict restrictions on the movement of goods and people.

Instead displaced people are living with relatives or seeking refuge in schools run by the United Nations body, the UNRWA, hoping that schools will not be targeted in the violence. Among them are Islamic Relief staff, who live and work in the communities we serve.

“My family and I have had horrible moments that I cannot describe or forget,” says Hend*, an Islamic Relief project coordinator. She was at home with her family when the bombing began in her area, around 6am.

“Shards of glass flew above our heads. My daughter’s leg was injured. As we fled our house I saw the fear in my children’s eyes. But I didn’t know how to ease their fear, as the bombardment didn’t stop for a second.

“Now we are sheltering with relatives. My children still can’t sleep as they are afraid that the bombing will return when they are asleep. At night they wake up terrified.

“I don’t know what happened to my house, but we can’t go back yet as there is still bombing in the area. This morning the block next to ours was also blown up.”

Hassan*, who works in our Gaza office, managed to escape just before bombs hit the residential block where he lives with his family.

“The bombs hit next door, early in the morning. Some of the walls of my house collapsed, windows were smashed and furniture was destroyed. My house is now uninhabitable,” he says, pointing out that 15 families lost their homes in that attack.

We fled the house just a few minutes before the bombing, looking for a safer place. But there is no safe place. The bombing continues everywhere.”

A family amid the rubble on Al Wahda street, Gaza.

A family amid the rubble on Al Wahda street, Gaza.

Islamic Relief is on the ground in Gaza

Hassan and Hend are part of a dedicated team of around 60 Islamic Relief staff in Gaza, who work tirelessly to help vulnerable people. Right now our focus is on providing displaced families with desperately needed items like bedding, hygiene products and vouchers to buy urgently needed supplies.

However the continuous bombardment makes this very dangerous, forcing us to wait for a ceasefire or a safe passage in which our staff and suppliers can operate. We also stand ready to step up our delivery of vital health support in blockaded Gaza, as soon as border crossings reopen and we can access more life-saving supplies.

Islamic Relief is calling for an immediate end to the escalation in violence against civilians, for an end to the Israeli occupation and for a lasting solution that is rooted in international law and justice.

For over 20 years Islamic Relief has been a lifeline to those facing the devastating effects of occupation, blockade and recurring conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In that time we have invested almost £109 million in humanitarian and development programmes to support the Palestinian people.

With your support, we will remain by their side during this latest crisis. Please donate to our Palestine Emergency Appeal now to support our lifesaving work.

*Names have been changed to protect identities