May 26, 2024

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Destruction in Gaza as Israel wages war on Hamas: Live updates

5:48 a.m. ET, April 7, 2024

The Gaza war has taken a heavy toll on elderly Palestinians like this grandmother

From CNN's Mohammad Al Sawalhi, Abeer Salman and Sana Noor Haq

Umm Ihab stands on the beach along the coast of the central Gaza Strip.

CNN

The yard of Umm Ihab's family home in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, was once thriving with citrus trees.

Most weekends, dozens of relatives would gather for a birthday or college graduation party. The Palestinian grandmother was decorating the house with golden ribbons and multi-colored balloons, while white confetti fell from the ceiling.

But when an Israeli air strike destroyed the house last winter, at least 30 members of Ihab's family were forced to flee the neighborhood where they had lived for three generations. Umm Ihab said that they are now residing in a narrow tent in the courtyard of one of the shelters for displaced people in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

“The land has been swept away,” Umm Ihab told CNN in February. “Not even a single tree remained.”

Over the course of six months of war in Gaza, the Israeli military offensive has devastated neighborhoods, depleted essential supplies and caused extreme hunger and thirst. Many Palestinians have been forced to seek shelter in open-air camps, where they struggle to find enough food or water.

For older people in Gaza whose lives have been punctuated by war, the recent fighting has exacerbated years of suffering under partial blockade. These days, many find themselves celebrating death instead of celebrating life.

Some, like Umm Ihab, are desperately trying to keep their families together. But their age and poor health make daily survival more difficult.

Read her full story here.

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