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CNN Gaza reporter’s relatives killed and childhood home destroyed in two separate strikes

For weeks, CNN producer Ibrahim Dahman reported from Gaza as Israeli airstrikes brought devastation and despair to the besieged strip in the wake of the Hamas terror attacks of October 7.

Dahman, 36, escaped to Egypt with his young family after nearly a month, but on Sunday he heard news that at least nine relatives trapped in northern Gaza had been killed in a strike on his aunt’s house.

His childhood home in Gaza City was obliterated in a separate strike on an adjacent building the same day.

“I will never be able to forget every stone and corner of the house in which I was born and raised and in which my children were born,” he said.

Sunday will forever be remembered as a dark day for the Dahman family, after messages began pouring in on their messaging group that an Israeli strike had directly hit the building where his relatives were living in Beit Lahia, killing his uncle, and the uncle’s wife, daughter and two grandchildren, as well as his aunt, her husband and two children. At least two other relatives are in critical condition, and still others are still buried under the rubble.

“They were extremely peaceful and simple people, and their entire lives were devoted solely to work and raising their sons and daughters,” Dahman said. “They have no affiliation with any organization or group… Pray to God to have mercy on them all.”

A picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023, shows smoke billowing over the Palestinian enclave during Israeli bombardment amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. - Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on December 3, 2023, shows smoke billowing over the Palestinian enclave during Israeli bombardment amid continuing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. - Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Video posted on social media shows the aftermath of the blast that killed Dahman’s relatives. Smoke can be seen rising from the destroyed building, which has been reduced to a pile of concrete slabs and twisted metal. Debris is strewn across the street.

Just two days ago, Dahman’s uncle, who used to work in Israel, relocated with his family to his sister’s house from their home in the Sheik Zayed area of northern Gaza, after the bombing intensified there. Dahman’s aunt was suffering from chronic cancer at the time.

Just before learning of the devastating deaths of his family, Dahman’s brother had called to tell him that his home in Gaza City, which he was born and grew up in, was in ruins.

Dahman had finished renovating the apartment, in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, just three months before October 7, and no one was there when the bombardment began.

He has happy memories from a life lived there, of celebrating his sons’ birthdays with cake and candles surrounded by family.

“Unfortunately, I left all my memories, my belongings, and the gifts that my bosses sent me at work in this house, all of which were lost under the rubble now.”

Dahman’s story is a reminder that no one in Gaza has been left untouched by the war.

Israel’s bombing and military campaign in Gaza came following Hamas’ deadly October 7 terror attack which killed some 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilian, and saw more than 240 hostages seized.

Since then Israeli has turned much of the strip into a wasteland. The airstrikes have reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble and about 1.8 million people – 80% of Gaza’s population – have been forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.

In almost two months of war, most people in Gaza have been just trying to survive, focusing on the basics of finding shelter, fleeing the fighting, and getting access to food and water.

Israeli attacks in Gaza have killed about 15,200 Palestinians, including 6,000 children, since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which draws its figures from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The seven-day pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas — which saw the release of some hostages from Hamas captivity and the release of 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails — gave many Gazans a brief respite from the constant bombing and time to buy supplies, if any were to be found.

Almost immediately after truce broke down on Friday, the Israeli military restarted its aerial bombardment of Gaza, and on Sunday announced it was expanding its ground operations to the whole of the strip.

Renewed strikes also hit the Jabalya refugee camp, in northern Gaza on Sunday, as seen in verified videos from the scene as well as in reporting by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

The Israeli military told civilians to leave large swaths of the strip, including number of neighborhoods in southern parts of the enclave, after it resumed its military offensive there.

Dahman had previously detailed his desperate flight south to Khan Younis with his wife and two young sons, from their home in Gaza City in October. He described their ordeal of waking up to the sound of explosions for days, of being forced to move from place to place to keep his family safe from the strikes, and the struggles trying to find potable water to drink and food to eat for his young children and pregnant wife.

Throughout it all he continued to report and film — to tell the world what was happening in Gaza.

He described finally being able to cross the Rafah border to Egypt last month and the relief of settling in Cairo with his family. Though anxiety and worry continue to plague him as his parents and siblings remain trapped in Gaza.

In the early days after his escape, Dahman had said he realized that “peace remains distant.”

“I’ve covered many wars through the years. Nothing compares to the current conflict. Entire quarters in Gaza have been evisceratedthousands of women, children and elderly have perished. What have civilians done to deserve this?” he said.

“I am also haunted by our unknown fate: Where will we go from here? What is our future?”

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