A Palestinian mother living in Scotland has expressed her anguish and helplessness as her daughter remains trapped in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli bombardment.
Daughter’s wedding turned into nightmare
Rania Al-Najjar, 45, moved to Glasgow from Gaza in 2016 with her husband and three of her children. Her eldest daughter, Hadeel, 23, stayed behind to finish her studies and get married.
Hadeel’s wedding was supposed to be a joyous occasion, but it turned into a nightmare as Israel launched air strikes on Gaza on May 10, 2023, in response to rocket attacks by Hamas.
Rania said she was in constant contact with her daughter through phone and video calls, but she was terrified every time she heard the explosions and sirens.
“I feel helpless and powerless. I can’t do anything to protect her or comfort her. I can only pray for her safety and hope that this madness will stop soon,” she said.
No way out of Gaza
Rania said she had tried to bring her daughter to Scotland before the wedding, but the process was complicated and costly. She said she needed a visa, a travel permit from the Israeli authorities, and a Covid-19 test.
She said she had applied for a family reunion visa for her daughter, but it was rejected by the UK Home Office. She said she was planning to appeal the decision, but the escalation of violence in Gaza made it impossible.
“There is no way out of Gaza now. The borders are closed, the airport is destroyed, and the roads are unsafe. Even if she had a visa, she couldn’t travel,” she said.
She said she hoped that the international community would intervene and pressure Israel to stop the attacks and lift the blockade on Gaza.
Living in fear and uncertainty
Rania said her daughter was living in fear and uncertainty, as she did not know when or where the next strike would hit. She said her daughter had witnessed the destruction of several buildings near her home, including a tower that housed media offices.
She said her daughter had also seen the bodies of children and civilians killed by the air strikes, and the injured people crowding the hospitals.
“She is traumatized and depressed. She can’t sleep or eat. She cries all the time. She says she doesn’t want to die, but she doesn’t have a life either,” she said.
Rania said she was also worried about her daughter’s husband, who worked as a journalist and a human rights activist. She said he was at risk of being targeted by the Israeli forces or arrested by the Hamas authorities.
“He is doing his job, but he is also putting his life in danger. He wants to expose the truth and the injustice, but he also wants to survive and be with his wife,” she said.
A mother’s plea for peace
Rania said she was proud of her daughter and her son-in-law for their courage and resilience, but she also wished they could live in peace and dignity.
She said she wanted to hug her daughter and tell her that everything would be alright, but she did not know when she would see her again.
She said she also wanted to visit her parents and siblings in Gaza, whom she had not seen for seven years.
She said she missed her homeland, but she also loved Scotland and considered it her second home.
She said she was grateful for the support and solidarity she had received from her friends and neighbours in Glasgow, and from the Scottish government and civil society.
She said she hoped that the Scottish people would continue to raise their voice and awareness for the Palestinian cause, and demand an end to the occupation and oppression.
She said she also hoped that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders would find a peaceful and just solution to the conflict, and respect the human rights and dignity of both peoples.
“I am a mother, and I want peace for my children and for all the children in the world. I don’t want any more bloodshed, violence, or hatred. I want love, compassion, and justice. Is that too much to ask?” she said.