RESTON, Va. (DC News Now) — When Emilie Rauchenberger, a U.S. and U.K. citizen, traveled to the Gaza Strip with her five children to visit her husband’s olive tree farm, she never imagined she’d feel so trapped.
Now, she’s holed up in an apartment with 30 relatives and clinging to hope that her family can go home.
In Reston, across the Atlantic Ocean, her brother Joe Rauchenberger waits for intermittent updates.
“The whole family, we’re in a group chat and every morning we just wake up waiting for that confirmation,” Rauchenberger said. “I can’t sleep, I can’t think. Not anything I’d wish on anybody.”
Emilie told DC News Now via FaceTime that her family has moved to safety several times since the violence broke out.
“We had to evacuate our homes Monday due to the bombardment from Israel. We moved to Khan Yunis City and stayed with family. But it just got bombed the next block. So during the day we’ve moved again to an apartment near the sea where we hope tonight we will be safe,” she said.
She and her husband, Mohammad Abu Hamad, have five children who are 14 years old and younger. All of them are on edge.
“You hear a car door slam or a car door come past in the street. You get scared. But soon you realize it’s not a bomb,” she said.
She said as a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen, she’s been instructed by U.K. officials that her family may evacuate Gaza through Egypt. But she’s said that’s not a remote possibility due to bombings near the crossing. She said she has heard nothing from the U.S. embassy about a possible evacuation despite asking for help.
The family’s more immediate worry, though, is dwindling food and water supplies. She said that Israel has cut off electricity and water flowing into Gaza, prompting people to conserve resources.
“It’s essential to have a ceasefire so that people can breathe and people can, you know, be safe. This is not going to solve anything, the killing of innocent people. There needs to be a ceasefire and immediate humanitarian aid and let people leave,” she said.
Since the violence began on Saturday, more than 2,000 people have been killed by both Israeli airstrikes and Hamas terror attacks.