An Emotional Account of the Impact on Gaza’s Journalists and Their Families

The recent violence in Gaza has forced many journalists and their families to leave their homes and observe the situation from afar. One such journalist is Rushdi Abualouf, who has reported from Gaza for decades. In a poignant interview with the BBC’s Newshour programme, Abualouf describes the heartbreak of leaving his home and watching Gaza from the outside.

Abualouf’s family has deep roots in Gaza – they were born and raised there. Leaving their home behind was a painful decision, filled with memories of every corner of their house and neighborhood. While they are now safe in Istanbul, Turkey, their loved ones still remain in Gaza, living amidst the destruction and danger.

For Abualouf, watching Gaza from the outside is more difficult than being there. When he was in the enclave, he was busy dealing with the day-to-day challenges and didn’t have much time to dwell on the situation. Now that he is outside, he has more time to reflect and it’s incredibly hard for him to imagine never returning to his home, his bed, and seeing his neighbors and neighborhood again.

The destruction of their home and neighborhood adds to the anguish. Abualouf learned that their house was destroyed after they left for Istanbul. Knowing that their once familiar surroundings are now reduced to ruins must be devastating for him and his family.

In the midst of their own ordeal, Abualouf continues to support his colleagues who are still in Gaza, working for BBC Arabic. He communicates with them daily, offering advice and assistance with any problems they face. He assures them that the BBC is proud of their work and will do everything possible to protect them and help them leave Gaza safely. Abualouf’s dedication to his colleagues and their safety highlights the strong bond between journalists and their commitment to their profession.

Abualouf’s family had an opportunity to leave Gaza at the start of the conflict when he anticipated a significant retaliation from Israel. However, his wife chose to stay with him, not realizing the magnitude of the danger they would face. The crossing they were planning to use was bombed and closed, leaving them trapped in Gaza with countless worries and responsibilities. They had to navigate taking care of their family, reporting on the situation, and constantly fearing for their safety.

Their journey out of Gaza was filled with uncertainty and hardship. They initially stayed with family in Khan Younis, but the threat of their house being bombed forced them to leave and seek refuge elsewhere. Abualouf set up a tent near a hospital and his family stayed there for a week, cramped into a small room and facing food shortages. The situation took a toll on their well-being, with Abualouf’s wife getting injured during one of their attempts to be together.

Despite the challenges they faced, Abualouf’s resolve to return to Gaza remains unwavering. As a journalist, he believes it is his duty to tell the stories of the 2.3 million people living in the Strip. Gaza, with its history and complexities, is a place where stories are abundant. While his daughters long to go back home, Abualouf is adamant about establishing a new life elsewhere to protect his family.

The impact of the conflict on journalists and their families in Gaza is profound. Their experiences are a reminder of the sacrifices they make to bring the world’s attention to the plight of the people living there. As the world watches the situation unfold from afar, we must remember the human stories behind the headlines and support the journalists who risk their lives to tell them.