TWO brothers from Gaza who have made Belfast their home since 2018 have started a fundraising campaign to help their family escape the war.

Alaa Alraee and Hashem Jouda live on the Oldpark Road in North Belfast and work in a kebab shop in Andersonstown.

After Hamas attacked Israel on October 7 2023, Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip killing, say relief organisations and United Nations bodies, over 30,000 Palestinians, the majority women and children. 

With the war on Gaza showing no signs of ending, the two brothers are becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of their family – mother, father, two sisters, brother and grandmother. After fleeing from northern Gaza to the south, they are trying to survive by living in a shelter in Rafah, which is now under threat of invasion from Israeli ground forces 

Increasingly fearful for their family, the brothers have now started a fundraising page online to raise money to buy them the essentials to survive, and if possible, to leave Gaza across the Egyptian border.

"Our family were living in Gaza City. When the ground invasion started in the North of Gaza, they moved to Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip," explained Hashem.
"Now, they are in Rafah with 1.5 million other Palestinians. They are living in tents. It is a small city like the same size of Lisburn. The people there have no access to basic services. Food is now very expensive to buy.
"If the Israeli Army bomb Rafah, I don’t know where my family will go to next. There has been around 30,000 people killed. We are just praying for my family."

With communications often down, the brothers have found it increasingly difficult to keep in contact with their family and any contact they do have has brought home the grim reality of living in war-torn Gaza.

"If there is internet, I am able to contact my sister," added Hashem.

The brothers' family are living in a tent in Rafah – pictured is their mum, granny, two sisters and brother

The brothers' family are living in a tent in Rafah – pictured is their mum, granny, two sisters and brother

"There has been limited contact since October. It is a hard time for them and they are very scared because there is no guarantee you will still be alive the next morning. One day recently, my sister told me she saw someone being killed by a rocket. I have lost a lot of friends."

Alaa says the situation now for his family in Gaza is even more precarious and with aid so scarce people are being forced to buy and sell what they can to survive.

"Before the war, life in Gaza is not so good. We came here to work and earn money to send home to our family," he said. "I have set up a fundraising page to try and help them. I am doing my best to work and send money to them.
"It is a very hard life for them. I bought a tent for my family and it was around $1,000. There is also a scheme to pay to leave Gaza into Egypt but it costs up to $6,000 per person.
"After this war, you will not find anyone in Gaza because there is no life there. There are no streets, plants, animals or buildings."

Hashem is grateful for the support that people in Belfast have shown towards his country, but he now has one wish – for the war to stop.

"It is a genocide. It is a war between Hamas and Israel but what I care about is my family and the Palestinian people," he added. "Everyone has eyes, a TV or the internet knows what is happening in Gaza. For me, I feel good when I see my flag here and people who support us, but it is not enough.
"We need to stop the war. 30,000 people have been killed but every one of them had a dream. They are not just numbers. They all had a dream like me or you. Our message is simple – stop the war. We want our people to stay alive."

You can donate to the brothers Go Fund Me page at