CHICAGO — A Chicago police officer, who was born in Gaza before moving to Chicago in the 1990’s, learned Monday morning that nearly a dozen of his family members had been killed.
Chicago Police Department’s Mohammad Darabaih told WGN-TV that on Monday his cousin called him saying that 10 of his relatives were killed in Gaza. Among them, his brother-in-law’s sister, husband, and their children.
“My sister and husband and the whole family got bombed and they’re all dead,” Darabaih said. “Her son, a 7-year-old boy, (is) on life support. Her daughter, 6-years-old, passed away. (They) pulled her out of the rubble on site.”
Darabaih said that he was told on Monday that two surviving children, two-year-old twins, are now orphaned and two other children are still alive, but severely wounded.
“I condemn killing of innocent people.” Darabaih said. “We need peace, both sides need to seek peace.”
Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, launched attacks over the weekend against Israel, which prompted a counterattack from Israeli forces.
Hamas said it launched its attack Saturday because Palestinians’ suffering had become intolerable under unending Israeli military occupation and increasing settlements in the West Bank and a 16-year-long blockade in Gaza.
Militants in Gaza are holding an estimated 150 people taken hostage from Israel — soldiers, men, women, children and older adults — and they have fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past five days.
Israel has vowed unprecedented retaliation on the group.
Counterattacks from Israel have destroyed neighborhoods in Gaza — home to more than 2.3 million Palestinians.
As a result of the war, the Israeli military said more than 1,200 people — including 155 soldiers — have died in Israel since the initial attacks. In Gaza, the health ministry said more than 1,050 were killed and over 5,100 injured.
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency says 250,000 people have been displaced in Gaza.
The number of U.S. citizens confirmed to have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war has risen to at least 22 with at least 17 more Americans unaccounted for, the State Department said Wednesday. That’s an increase in the death toll from 14 the day before, in a war that has already claimed more than 2,200 lives on both sides.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland security issued a warning on Wednesday of potential safety concerns in the United States in the wake of the attacks on Israel, saying while there is no current intelligence suggesting a planned domestic attack, the potential for one remains a concern.
The Associated Press and The Hill contributed to this article.