The Bashir brothers lost both their parents and eldest brother in an Israeli air strike on January 11 

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During Israel's war on Gaza last January, Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin was one of the only international correspondents able to cover the story from inside the Gaza Strip.

He looks at the estimated 53,000 orphans in Gaza, a number that has risen by more than 2,000 since the Gaza war.

The Bashir orphans, Saturday, April 18, 2009

As if life in Gaza was not hard enough, imagine living it as an orphan.

The Amal Association for Orphans estimates there are about 53,000 orphans in Gaza - children who have lost both or, less commonly, one of their parents. Since the war, that number has gone up by 2,200, the group says.

Eighty-three children lost both of their parents in Israel's war on Gaza, shattering families and a generation of Palestinian children.

I went to visit what remains of the Bashir family in Gaza's Karma neighbourhood.

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Seventeen-year-old Saeb, 13-year-old Mosab and 10-year-old Moatesem lost both their parents and their eldest brother in Israeli air strikes on January 11.

Today, the three remaining siblings are sharing a bedroom in a building with their aunts and uncles.

Their uncle Ziad has taken them in. Along with his five children, he will now be responsible for the Bashir brothers.

While the financial burden has increased, making it more difficult for him, his biggest challenge will be trying to make life as normal as possible for the three-orphaned brothers.

That is a task they all agree is almost impossible.

It is not about just providing them with a roof over their heads, meals and financial support, it is about giving them the emotional comfort and guidance they need to grow. And for them it was something their parents gave them that can’t be replaced.

Saeb says he is no longer the same person. He doesn't concentrate on his schoolwork as much and admits he constantly finds himself daydreaming and reflecting about his older brother, who was a bedrock of inspiration.

When he heard the explosion, Saeb rushed to the street next to their house where the air raid hit. When he arrived he saw his brother and father lying helplessly, slowly dying.

As his mother came running to the scene, she ordered him to go and seek help. It was at the moment, when Saeb turned his back and ran to get help, that a second air raid killed his mother, father and older brother.

Today, Saeb is trying to remain strong for his younger brothers, keeping a close eye on their up bringing and trying to keep an eye on his goal of becoming a doctor - a wish his parents made before they were killed.

For more on the struggle of the Bashir children and orphans in Gaza stay tuned to the report by Ayman Mohyeldin scheduled to air on Saturday April 18.

Source: Al Jazeera