NewsGerman civilians in Gaza fear for their lives

German civilians in Gaza fear for their lives

Citizens of Germany in Gaza fear for their lives.
Citizens of Germany in Gaza fear for their lives.
Images source: © The text "DW" is not translatable as it appears to be an abbreviation or initials in Polish. Without further context, I cannot provide an accurate translation.
ed. KBŃ

10:49 AM EST, November 5, 2023

Thousands of individuals are seeking to flee Gaza, a hope that remains unrealized for many. This includes Palestinians of German descent who feel neglected by their government.

A Palestinian of German origin, Mazen Eldanaf, has been at the Rafah border crossing in the Gaza Strip for several days, constantly checking new departure lists. His and his wife's names have not yet been listed.

– Hundreds of citizens from varying countries have left, but we remain stuck here – declares the 61-year-old Mazen, who has lived in Bonn with his wife for 43 years, and now finds himself in a war zone. They came to Gaza intending to visit family. A car dealer by profession, Mazen had plans to mix personal activities with professional ones. According to his account, they had planned no more than a ten-day stay to visit his four brothers and one sister.

The planned family visit morphed into a nightmare. For almost four weeks, his wife, Khitam, and he endured sleepless nights due to the constant Israeli air raids. – I want to get out of here – Khitam weakly conveys over the phone. – There is no life here. One only encounters death here, only sees death, – a social pedagogue points out. The most daunting realization for her is that their four adult children who live in Germany might not ever see them again. The children cannot concentrate on work with the terror unfolding in Gaza. – No one knows if we will be able to leave alive – the woman proclaims.

Anticipating their departure

Currently, in the conflicted region, several hundreds of Palestinians holding German citizenship reside. According to data from the Egyptian government, about 7000 citizens from 60 countries are waiting for the opportunity to escape. A few Germans have managed to journey to Egypt, away from the constant Israeli air strikes. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that over 30 German citizens left the region on Friday, while on Wednesday only a "few individuals" were able to do so.

In recent weeks, Khitam Eldanaf and her husband Mazen have had to escape numerous times. She hopes that the German government will act swiftly and "extract them from this hell". Still, concerns persist about other family members in the Gaza Strip, who do not have German citizenship, which causes the situation to remain on shaky grounds.

– People have saved for a house over 30 years, only to have bombs destroy everything – expresses Khitam, who later added, "More than 9000 people have died". Her husband, Mazen, holds complaints against the German government, specifically the Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock. Having voted for the Greens for numerous years, the party he believes champions peace, he is now disheartened by their lack of support. Eager to leave the Gaza Strip, Mazen laments the inertia, with his pleas to the embassy going unanswered. His children in Germany also found themselves at a dead end, unable to organize an escape for their parents.

Mazen Eldnaf and his family are entrenched in Germany. – We run businesses, employ workers, pay taxes, vote, but when it comes down to saving us, we are left on our own – stresses Eldanaf. He has heard rumors that the German government's nonchalant attitude during this conflict has displeased the Egyptian government. - Now we are paying the price – he discloses in an accusatory manner.

On Friday evening, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that they are making vigorous efforts to enable German citizens to evacuate the Gaza Strip.


Even a 75-year-old Palestinian of German origin, Jamal Abdel Latif, criticizes the German embassy in Ramallah. – Responding to an email is not too onerous of a task in this situation – believes Latif, who studied at the Technical University in Berlin during the 80s. The only update he received was a warning against entering this region. Latif's house is in Gaza. He, along with his wife and two of their children, were forced to escape the South. At present, they are staying 'temporarily' 16 miles south of Gaza with relatives in the town of Dir Al-Bala. Despite the current circumstances, they do plan to return – As soon as our names make it onto the list, we will head to the border crossing – he assures.

The journey to the Rafah border crossing is treacherous with regular bombings even in the south. During his recounting, Latif repeatedly refers to the attacks as a "massacre."

His wife's Palestinian passport is expired, which poses a major problem. – We didn't anticipate war, otherwise, we would have renewed it – explains Latif. He insists that he won't leave without his wife. He provided the German embassy with a certified copy of their marriage certificate but received no response. – I can't travel to Rafah without knowing if my wife can cross the border – he asserts.

The future remains unknown to him and his family. Returning to Gaza would amount to a death sentence as far as he's concerned. Is his house still standing? He assumes so, despite hearing that a bomb landed on his street. The south is equally unsafe.

Days prior, his niece sent her 10-year-old son to a store in a tower block to recharge their phone, since they have been without electricity for a while. Suddenly, a bomb struck, collapsing the entire building. – My niece's son and the other residents have lost their lives – he recounts. This incident further confirms his need to leave Gaza.

Related content