Warning: This story contains distressing details.
Following a barrage of Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Palestinian-Calgarian Tamer Jarada has been told that 16 of his family members were killed or are presumed dead.
As of Friday, he said he's been informed by a relative that 11 bodies have been retrieved — including his mother, father, sisters and others — while five more family members are still buried under the rubble, including his cousins and nephews.
The Associated Press reported that, on Tuesday, Israel said 400 airstrikes were launched, resulting in the death of at least 704 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas. The Associated Press could not independently verify the death tolls.
Pictured on the left, Tamer Jarada's mother, Nima Ali Ibrahim Jarada, and father. On the right, Tamer hugs his sister, Haneen Nasr Rbah Jarada, who he says 'was a mother to two lovely kids.' (Submitted by Tamer Jarada)
News of what happened to the neighbourhood where Jarada's family members were living came Wednesday morning while he was getting his kids ready for school.
"I started calling my family members … nobody answered," said Jarada.
Jarada told CBC News that he continued reaching out to relatives and was able to get in touch with a cousin in Gaza who went to the block where his family was staying to assess the aftermath.
"[My cousin] said, 'Everyone is buried,'" Jarada told CBC News on Friday.
"He was able to see the body of my father," he said.
"I couldn't believe it. I asked him for a picture. I saw the picture, it was my dad."
Tamer Jarada's sister Nisreen Nasr Rbah Jarada, left, is pictured with the Calgarian-Palestinian. Tamer says his sister just completed her master's degree program and was set to get married next month. (Submitted by Tamer Jarada)
Jarada says his cousin told him he drove Nasr Rbah Salama Jarada — Tamer's father — to a hospital in his own vehicle.
This news comes after Jarada told CBC's Rosemary Barton during the Oct. 22 edition of Rosemary Barton Live that his family was struggling to access basic necessities, such as food and clean water.
"I, and many members of the Palestinian-Canadian communities across the country, feel excluded and treated like second class citizens. We feel it."
The entire family was staying in a three-bedroom apartment in Gaza City, with the airstrike destroying the entire block — three children within his family survived the airstrike that destroyed the apartment, Jarada says.
Just two months ago, Jarada was in Gaza, visiting his family. He says "people there are trying their best to survive."
"My people just need to be treated as humans and treated with dignity. We are not asking for much. We are just asking for our lives."
In an email to CBC News on Friday, Jarada says he has continued trying to contact relatives "without any luck," and that there is "no cell coverage in the Gaza Strip anymore."
Communications on the ground in the Gaza Strip are completely cut off, and the Israeli military says it will expand its ground operations Friday night.
The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly called for a humanitarian truce in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, demanding aid access and protection of civilians.
The Palestinian-Calgarian says a humanitarian ceasefire is needed, calling the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict "mass destruction."
On Wednesday, CBC Radio's As It Happens reported that 7,028 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.
"I just want this nightmare to end," Jarada said.
"I'm tired.… tired of crying and grieving every day."