Tatyana Tapalova’s home nation of Ukraine has now been at war with Russia for nearly two years. But as a longtime resident of Gaza with her husband and their five children, Tapalova has been left with a heartwrenching choice – stay in the territory to keep her family together, or flee to an entirely new place to take care of her children as a single parent from two.
Tapalova and her children, including a 9-month-old baby, have been grantedthrough the Rafah border crossing. Her husband, however, was not.
“This is my husband, we’ve been married for the past 23 years. We have five children. How is he not on the list?” she told Reuters. “This is a family. Why do they want to separate our family? … I have a baby, I can’t do it alone in a new country.”
She and her family reside in Beit Lahiya. Less than a week after Hamas militants attacked Israel, those who reside in the northern Gaza city saiddropped flyers telling them to – after bombs had already started falling in the area.
“Anyone who is near Hamas terrorists will put their lives in danger,” the flyers said. “Adhering to IDF (Israel Defense Forces) instructions will prevent you from being exposed to danger.”
When Tapalova spoke to Reuters, she said there is no internet in the city, “no communication, no water, no electricity.”
“There is nothing in Beit Lahiya. They struck it and destroyed it,” she said. “There is only rubble. Out of 1,000 homes, there are perhaps only 50 left standing.”
Tapalova said roughly 35 members of her family have been killed since thebroke out. Overall, it’s believed that thousands have been since Oct. 7.
With thousands dead across the Hamas-run territory where she resides, and thousands more killed in her home country of, Tapalova made one thing clear as she weighs what to do next: “I don’t want to go from one war to another.”
She’s hopeful that she and her family can go to Moldova or Romania.
“I am not going back home,” she said, “not to Gaza and not to Ukraine.”