Stop this war: Message from mother, displaced 18 times, who is fleeing the fighting again

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(RAFAH, GAZA) — Sumaya Samir Al-Tot, a mother-of-one in Rafah, Gaza, said she has been displaced 17 times. On Wednesday, she fled for the 18th.

Sumaya is among one of the more than one million people, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), who have fled the southern city of Rafah in recent weeks. She left on Tuesday among streams of people heading for safety with their belongings piled high on top of cars and rickshaws, some pulled by donkeys, as families are once again fleeing the conflict.

She said her mother, father and sister have all been killed in the conflict so far that began on Oct. 7, 2023.

“We have children, and they are afraid, there is no safety anywhere, as we are now going to Deir al-Balah, but there is no safety, there is no safety anywhere,” the mother-of-one said.

Israel’s assault on Rafah, which it says is essential to target Hamas battalions, has come under greater international scrutiny following a series of strikes on a refugee camp which killed at least 45 people on Sunday, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The strikes were described as a “massacre” by UNRWA, while Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they were a “mistake.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said a major fire that broke out was due to a secondary explosion — possibly of a fuel or weapons container.

Two weapons experts who reviewed photos and video of fragments at the site told ABC News that the munitions used in the strike appear to have been made by a U.S. company.

UNRWA, the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, had effectively stopped working in Rafah, according to Salah al-Faram, who also fled Rafah with his children in tow.

“There is no aid, and we are not working because of the war,” he said. “Even when we work, we work for a day and stop for a week. The situation is bad here.”

“I haven’t slept for two days, the bombing is violent, although we are in Rafah,” he said. “But the bombing is intense. My little girl cries and cannot sleep, especially yesterday. This I will evacuate.”

In recent months ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas have broken down and, at least for now, there is no end to the war in sight.

Exhausted, Sumaya had a message for all the parties involved in this devastating conflict.

“I send a message to the whole world, to Hamas, and [Hamas leader] Sinwar to stop this war, because we are tired,” she said. “Children cannot sleep at night.”

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