They had attempted to cross three times before. Still, there were causes for optimism. According to every news report, the border would undoubtedly open.
The Jordanian embassy had called the family and instructed them to proceed to the Rafah crossing.
The mother of Tala Abu Nahleh is a citizen of Jordan. Those with foreign passports were going to be permitted entry. Likewise, the injured and the critically ill were.
Yazid, Tala’s 15-year-old brother, is nonfunctional and experiences seizures. He is dependent on a wheelchair to help him get around. The medication he requires is no longer available in Gaza’s hospitals, and the bombing has made his condition worse.
Tala claims, “Once the escalation started, he became extremely afraid, and the seizures continued to worsen.” It never stops getting worse, even when I think things are at their lowest point.”
Tala is the only provider for the six members of the family. She studied in the US and Beirut, Lebanon, after receiving scholarships. As self-assured and articulate as she is, it is easy to picture her assisting her family in navigating the difficulties of life outside of Gaza.
“Our goal is to live. I just don’t want to die at the age of 24,” so even though we’re not sure if we’ll survive, we’re doing everything we can.”
There’s a border where one’s interpretation of “luck” changes. It entails avoiding starvation, water scarcity, and bombing.
It also means having to say goodbye to people you love who are trapped in a fire and unable to cross the border, or who do not have foreign passports or are not seriously injured enough to require evacuation.
The 2.2 million people living in Gaza make up a very small portion of those who have left or will be able to leave.
Mona, who wished to remain anonymous, is an Australian citizen by virtue of her marriage. The image of her family being stuck in Gaza followed her when she arrived at the border by herself.
“I’m leaving my siblings and sisters, my entire family is still here, so I’m not happy at all. With God willing, I hope they are all in a secure location. There, the situation is appalling, she says, calling it extremely bad.
On the Gaza side of the crossing, groups of men gathered in front of paper lists that were displayed in windows. Fingers scanned lists of names to find those who had already received approval to leave. Families were seated on the plastic chairs in the waiting area, a tiny area that is receiving a lot of hope.
On the first day of the evacuation on Wednesday, 400 foreign nationals and injured individuals were able to leave Gaza.
Tala Abu Nahleh knew by the end of the day that her family would not be as lucky. They returned to their apartment, which was as dark as their neighbors’ due to a lack of electricity.
Tala told us via video message that she was at her loss for words about how she felt. She appeared and sounded exhausted.
“When we returned, there was no clean water to drink, no food for today, and not even enough water for washing. We’re still here, one day closer to my brother running out of medicine. It’s also nighttime. Although I’m not sure if we’ll make it tomorrow, I hope we do.”