Israel-Hamas War

Chicago-area family mourning 36 family members killed in Gaza

The Mosque Harlem Center in Bridgeview hosted an Azza for the families Tuesday night

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On a cold Tuesday night, the Mosque Harlem Center in Bridgeview was filled with warmth, as dozens of community members offered support and solace for a Chicago area family that lost 36 family members in Gaza.

“There is a lot of American people who have family still in Gaza. One of them is mine," said Mohammed Aburealh.

Aburealh is a registered nurse in Cook County. His wife lost her sisters, their husbands and children's families in an attack near the Shifa Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip.

“My brothers in law, two of them were killed. Their family were killed," Aburealh said. "One of them was a father who has a master degree in engineering in the environment sector. The other one was a school principal. I just don’t want [them] to be a number."

He said it's the terrifying reality they face every day since the war broke out. He prays for his other family members' safety.

"They send me a message in the morning to say ‘thanks to God, we have one more day that we’re still alive.’ That’s the message we get every single day,'" he said, holding back tears. "Because you expect your family to be eliminated from the earth every single night, every single minute.” 

So Tuesday the community held an Azza, which Aburealh says is part of the religious duty for the Muslim community following death.

“One persons grief is all of our grief," said Deanna Othman, a community member offering her support. "It’s been very difficult for our community to cope with everything that has happened... Seeing just craters of land where there used to be buildings, used to be homes, there used to be schools and children playing.”

Those killed who were tied to the Chicago family were all part of the Al Redwan, Al Shamia and Al Abu Safia families.

Their community is calling for an immediate ceasefire and end to the war.

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