Palestinian Americans Grapple with Powerlessness Amid Gaza Crisis

In the face of an escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Palestinian Americans find themselves grappling with helplessness and hopelessness as they witness the ongoing conflict from a distance. The relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israel and the dire conditions on the ground have left them deeply concerned for the safety of their loved ones. The situation has highlighted the disparities between Israeli and Palestinian Americans, particularly when it comes to offering support during times of crisis.

The Plight of Laila El-Haddad

Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian American residing in Columbia, Maryland, has made it her mission to amplify the voices of her fellow Palestinians and raise awareness of the dire situation in Gaza. El-Haddad’s days are filled with frantic phone calls from journalists seeking her expertise and Palestinian Americans attempting to capture the attention of local elected officials. In the midst of these efforts, she anxiously checks WhatsApp for updates from her family members in Gaza, who are struggling with intermittent access to electricity and the internet due to Israeli actions.

A Glimpse into Gaza

The Gaza Health Ministry reported that over 2,200 people, including 724 children and 458 women, have been killed in Gaza as a result of the recent conflict. With a looming humanitarian crisis, these numbers are expected to rise. Families in Gaza share heart-wrenching accounts of loss and hardship, with schools damaged, buildings reduced to rubble, and no assurance of safety.

The Challenge of Providing Aid

For Palestinian Americans like Mohammad AbuLughod, sending support to their families in Gaza is nearly impossible. The blockade on Gaza and the dire conditions have left them feeling powerless to help. The inability to send money or meaningful assistance compounds the sense of helplessness.

The Personal Toll

Deanna Othman, a Palestinian American from Chicago, received a distressing message from her young nephew in Gaza, who expressed uncertainty about his future. The emotional toll of not being able to offer comfort to loved ones facing their own mortality is overwhelming.

Stranded in Gaza

Haneen Okal, a Palestinian American living in New Jersey, is currently stuck in Gaza with her three young children. An Israeli airstrike left the Rafah crossing with Egypt inoperable just as they were set to leave. The Okal family is now pleading with the U.S. government for assistance in returning to safety.

A Stark Contrast

As they watch Israelis abroad rush to travel to Israel to provide aid or join military reserve units, Palestinian Americans lament the stark contrast in their ability to assist their own families. They have never had the option to do the same for their loved ones in Gaza.

A History of Longing and Loss

The story of Palestinian Americans is one of longing, loss, and the fear that their history is slowly being erased. The echoes of the 1948 Nakba, the mass exodus of Palestinians from what is now Israel, continue to haunt many Palestinian families. For them, their identity is all they have left.

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The Burden of Witnessing

Palestinian Americans are painfully aware that the world is witnessing the forced evacuation and suffering of the people of Gaza in real-time. They fear that the cycle of displacement and loss will continue, and accountability may remain elusive.


As the conflict in Gaza continues to unfold, Palestinian Americans find themselves caught between their desire to help their loved ones and the limitations imposed by distance and geopolitical realities. Their experience underscores the enduring hardship faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the emotional toll it takes on those who bear witness to this ongoing tragedy.