It has been six days since Dina Alalami heard from her family in Gaza City after she received a text message from a relative informing her that they were alive.
The 33-year-old mother of two, who has been living in Qatar’s capital Doha for the past five years, has no idea whether her sister, two brothers-in-law, two nephews and three other relatives are still alive or have fallen victim to Israeli bombardment that has killed more than 11,500 people in Gaza.
“On Friday [November 10], they decided to leave their house and head south because the Israeli tanks had gotten closer and were surrounding the area,” Dina told Al Jazeera on Thursday.
“They took the decision because they said they wouldn’t survive the night if they stayed. We called the Red Cross and asked them to help secure a safe passage for them.”
But the Red Cross and Red Crescent said they were unable to help.
The family left their homes on November 10 during the four-hour pause – a day after Israel announced a daily four-hour window to allow Palestinians to flee from the north to the south.
At about noon, the family left the house waving white flags. Dina’s two sisters, who are married to two brothers, had left their homes on the first day of the war to stay at their in-laws’ villa, also in Gaza City.
Dina was talking to her youngest sister Rulla on the phone as the group cautiously moved forward when suddenly screams pierced the air. Their other sister Lina had crumpled to the floor, blood soaking through her shirt after an Israeli tank fired at them.
Rulla dragged Lina, getting her as far as the entrance of the Bakri building on Shuhada street, and tried to administer first aid. She saw a gunshot wound to her sister’s chest.