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Palestinian man in Denver loses 26 relatives to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza

Palestinian Denver man loses 26 relatives to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza
Palestinian Denver man loses 26 relatives to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza 03:10

Twenty-six. That's how many relatives Abdullah Elagha has lost in Gaza. Elagha was born in the Khan Yunis area of Gaza before coming to the United States as a child. Now he's struggling as he watches things unfold in Gaza from afar.

"They just want to make it to the next day," Elagha told CBS News Colorado.

A week ago, Elagha heard from his relatives about life in Gaza.

Abdullah Elagha CBS

"The walls are constantly shaking every time there's an explosion. You realize it's not you and you're grateful, but then you realize that it's one of your neighbors and you don't know who it is and you don't know who's left," said Elagha.

Then communication stopped.

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"There is no power there's no way for them to charge their phones," said Elagha.

Wednesday he woke to a video of a funeral in Gaza. The names of the dead were familiar.

"I saw that 10 members of my family had been killed in an Israeli airstrike they were sitting at home and an Israeli strike hit their home and killed 10 of them," said Elagha.

Abdullah Elagha learns of family members in Gaza killed by Israeli airstrikes from watching a video of the funeral on Instagram, from 7,000 miles away in Denver. CBS

An 11-year-old boy survived the attack but succumbed to his injuries the next day.

"This wiped out the entire family, grandparents, parents and children," said Elagha.

Days later, 11 more relatives died in an airstrike.

"We've got a 3-year-old, 6-year-old, 11-year-old, 12-year-old. It's so wrong," said Elagha, while reading names and ages off an Instagram post.

Sunday, news of four more family members killed.

"It's very difficult to watch. It's difficult to imagine. Especially the fact that I live here in Denver, I live a fairly comfortable life and that comes with a degree of survivor's guilt. Why me and why not them?" said Elagha.

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Gaza health officials say at least 2,800 people, including hundreds of children, have been killed by Israel's airstrikes since Oct. 7, and more than 10,000 more wounded.

Israel says at least 1,400 people there, most of them civilians, have been killed since Hamas launched the coordinated, multi-fronted attack from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory it has controlled for years.

Hours after speaking with CBS News Colorado, Elagha finally received an update from his uncle in Gaza. The family had managed to charge their phones using a car battery. He said that, for now, the surviving members are alive and safe.

But Elagha worries that won't be the case for long and calls the place he was born unrecognizable.

"Khan Yunis is not a big neighborhood. There's only so much shelling you can do there before it's just completely gone," said Elagha.

He's also concerned about Israel's direction to Palestinians to leave Gaza. He feels they have no safe way to leave and nowhere to go, with Israel controlling its borders with Gaza and the only other escape route into Egypt.

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