Tamer Jarada and his wife were both warned by their parents still living in Gaza that they may not live through the airstrikes.
Each time the Calgary man spoke with his dad recently, he knew it could be for the final time.
“Apparently the last goodbye two days ago was really the last goodbye,” Jarada said on Thursday evening.
Nineteen members of Jarada’s family were taking shelter inside a three-bedroom apartment in Gaza City on Wednesday when an airstrike demolished the entire building.
The extent of the tragedy is hard to comprehend.
“I got in touch with one of my relatives who told me that he pulled my dad from under the rubble,” Jarada told Global News. “I told him to send me a picture, and he did. My dad‘s brain was gone. He says your uncle was beside your dad and we couldn’t get him out because the ceiling was on his lap so all they saw were his legs. They couldn’t see the rest of his body.”
Jarada said his surviving family members have been struggling to get the bodies of his sisters out of the debris because of a lack of access to equipment.
“They were able to get my mother Thursday morning,” said Jarada. As of Thursday evening, Jarada said his aunt, his cousin’s wife and 10 other family members were still under the rubble.
He said three children who were in his family’s apartment survived but many others in the 35-suite building were considered dead or missing.
“It was a massacre and I’m just talking about my building not the other buildings in the block. It happened without warning because I talked to my cousin and he said we didn’t get any warnings. They were just sitting watching TV trying to see what was going on in other areas and it suddenly happened.”
Among the family members Jarada has now lost are both of his parents — Nasr Rbah Salama Jarada, his 67-year-old father, and Nima Ali Ibrahim Jarada, his 54-year-old mother.
Other members of Tamer Jarada’s family killed in the blast include his sister, 29-year-old Nisreen Nasr Rbah Jarada, who was planning to get married next month. She worked as a psychologist helping women and kids affected by war trauma. His sister, 31-year-old Haneen Nasr Rbah Jarada, who was a mother to children aged eight and six. His nephews, 12-year-old Abdullah Mahmoud Nasr Jarada and his seven-year-old brother Nasr Mahmoud Nasr Jarada, were also lost along with his 85-year-old uncle Harpy Rbah Salama Jarada and 87-year-old aunt Fawzya Hamadan Jarada. Jarada’s cousin who was a retired civil servant, Rbah Harpy Rbah Jarada and his wife Ruba Jarada, who had a degree in business administration, Kareem Rbah Harpy Jarada, Jarada’s nephew, who just finished his B.Sc. degree in software engineering and was in contact with universities in Canada and the United States to do his master’s, Mohammed Harpy Rbah Jarada, Jarada’s cousin, who had a degree in business administration and his wife, Halah Ahmed Jarada, who had a degree in business and was working in the insurance industry, his niece Maymana Mohammed Harpy Jarada, who was about to finish her degree in art and Habeba Mohammed Harpy Jarada, Jarada’s teenage niece, who was a junior high student.
“We didn’t want things to reach this point. We feel like we were let down by the international community. They are still trying to do something but nothing is happening. I lost my family now, maybe tomorrow my wife’s family,” said Jarada.
He’s thankful for the support of the local community at the Akram Jomaa Islamic Centre. He’s hoping his family’s staggering loss will serve as a wake-up call for politicians and spur them to action toward a cease-fire.
The situation remains dire in Gaza City and it appears lines of communication to the rest of the world have been severed. Jawwal, the main Palestinian tele-com company that provides mobile service to the Gaza Strip, released a statement Friday night saying “the intense bombardment in the past hour has resulted in the destruction of all remaining international routes connecting Gaza with the outside world” leading to a “complete interruption of telecommunications services.”
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