Mothers of Gaza: War, Depression and Hope

Many mothers in the Gaza Strip have experienced harsh conditions during Israeli military escalations. (Photo: Rawand Alagha, WANN, Supplied)

By Rawand Alagha

According to the Palestinian Statistics Center, many households are being led by women in Palestine. They play the role of father and mother to their children and become their first line of defense.

Women are often upheld as symbols and champions of causes. In Gaza, women often serve the role of protectors of their families and children. It is the case of Lena Mohammed.

“Lena reassured her children every night, during the latest Israeli war on Gaza, telling them that they will survive another day in her arms,” Yasser Ahmed, Lena’s husband, told The Palestine Chronicle. 

Protecting Her Children

The latest Israeli military escalation in the besieged Gaza Strip lasted from the dawn of May 9 to the evening of May 13. Lena Mohammed, 45 years old, did not sleep as she tried to hide her fear in front of her children. When the sounds of shelling woke them up, they ran toward their mother in despair.

Lena moved her children out of their room, and kept overlooking the street, fearing that the Israeli shells would shatter their windows. Her maternal instincts guided them to the safest part of the house. During these horrific nights, she was her family’s first line of defense. The only person who could guarantee their safety and protect them when the Israeli warplanes threw their bombs at Palestinian civilians.

As a mother in Gaza, Lena learned all the secrets to being safer. For example, she knows that the windows must be kept slightly open in order to reduce the risk of potentially dangerous shards of glass. When she heard the sound of a warplane, Lena would immediately inspect the apartment’s gas cylinders to prevent a gas leak. 

“My children were worried and I had to be overcautious to calm their fears,” Lena told us, in reference to the latest Israeli aggression.  

Lena managed to find the courage to give hope to her children even when she was hardly hopeful herself.

“Despite my fear and anxiety, I have been trying hard to bring hope and strength to my children’s hearts”, she said.

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Being a Mother in Gaza

Lena is not the only woman in this situation. Many mothers in the Gaza Strip have experienced the same harsh conditions during Israeli military escalations. 

Another heroic woman is Samah Qanitah, 33 years old. She graduated with a master’s degree in Health Management during the assault in May 2023 and she became a mother for the first time that same month. 

In fact, she was on duty as a nurse all night helping deliver children in the maternity ward. She helped other mothers by providing them with information and support. In spite of her right to get maternity leave, she insisted on working to mitigate the suffering of Palestinian women during the assault on Gaza.

“I am taking courses offered by my department at the university. I am proud of my service to the Palestinian mothers to deliver babies and alleviate their pain during such hard times,” Samah told The Palestine Chronicle. 

“It is all the more precious to me to know that my daughter shared part of that with me”, Samah added.

According to the Palestinian Statistics Center, many households are being led by women in Palestine. They play the role of father and mother to their children and become their first line of defense.

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Psychosocial specialist Ibrahim Yassin told The Palestine Chronicle that the negative impact of Israel’s aggression on Gaza extends to all segments of society. Yassin stressed that the experience of aggression never truly ends for Palestinian mothers and their children.

“The charged atmosphere causes great psychological pressure for all individuals and specifically for a mother,” Yassin said.

“The fear for her children leaves her psychologically exhausted. She takes the role of a superwoman, who tries to bring security at home.  She must also reassure herself first.”

Due to this dire situation, many women fall victim to depression. 

Three Palestinian mothers have been killed during the recent escalation of the Gaza Strip, while dozens were injured.  In May 2021, in another assault on Gaza, 48 women were killed by Israeli missiles.

– Rawand Alagha is a Palestinian Gaza-based translator and MBA researcher. WANN contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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