Despite the warnings and ongoing Israeli airstrikes hitting their area, the family has decided to stay in their home in the northern Gaza Strip. Earlier this month, Israeli military ordered the evacuation of 1.1 million people from the northern Gaza Strip in anticipation of a possible ground assault.

Olwan, a retired teacher and mother of eight children, is no stranger to war, having lived through four of them in Gaza. However, that hasn't made the decision to stay any easier.

"The bombardment is coming from the left and right, from the north and south," she said in a phone interview with NBC News from the eastern part of Gaza City, about 6 miles from the Israeli border, where she lives with her husband, three adult children, and one daughter-in-law, along with two grandchildren aged 1 and 4.

"There is no safe place away from the bombings," she added.

This was underscored this week in southern Gaza cities like Khan Yunis, where health officials reported on Thursday that 77 people, mostly women and children, were killed in overnight Israeli airstrikes.

"In Gaza, there is nowhere safe," said Lynn Hastings, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, on Thursday, noting that evacuation routes had been targeted.

Representatives of Palestinian health services said on Thursday that more than 7,000 people, including over 2,900 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7 when Israel came under attack by Hamas, the militant group controlling the enclave. In response to the attack on Israel, about 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed, and at least 224 people were taken hostage.

Israel's evacuation order faced criticism from the United Nations, which said it would have "destructive humanitarian consequences." Nevertheless, many residents of the northern Gaza Strip complied, resulting in 1.4 million people out of Gaza's 2.2 million population who were forced to leave their homes due to the conflict.

The timing and certainty of an Israeli ground assault remain unclear. Israeli military announced on Friday that they conducted a ground raid in northern Gaza, the second this week. On Thursday, they said the first raid was carried out "as part of preparations for the next stages of the fighting."

When Olwan hears stories about former students being killed and bombings destroying mosques, grocery stores, and residential homes where entire families are located, she realizes the possibility of losing one of her own children in an instant.

"The decision to stay was difficult, and the decision to leave was also problematic," she said.

Staying Together When the evacuation order was issued on October 13, the Alhayek family discussed what to do. While the younger family members advocated for moving to the south, which was considered safer at the time, the older members didn't want to take a step that could deprive them of access to medications and other necessities that would be "impossible" to obtain in overcrowded southern shelters.

However, the one thing the family didn't do was split apart.

"It's either we live together or die together, but we stay together," said Said Alhayek, Olwan's eldest son, who lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children. He said the family came to that conclusion after several days of group calls.

Like many Palestinian families, the Alhayek family is large and scattered across different continents. Some of the siblings had left Gaza long ago, a densely populated Palestinian enclave whose economy has been undermined by a 16-year Israeli land, sea, and air blockade supported by Egypt. Due to the blockade, it had become challenging for scattered family members to meet up frequently.

The war has created an increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where due to the Israeli blockade, fuel, water, and electricity supplies have virtually halted. A representative of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said on Thursday that without fuel, they would be forced to suspend or reduce services for more than 600,000 people in 150 of its facilities across the territory.

According to the UN, nearly half of all residential units in Gaza are damaged or destroyed, and the Gaza Ministry of Health has said the healthcare system is "on the verge of total collapse."

Palestinian emergency response services say they are doing their best to identify all the dead and are burying unidentified individuals in mass graves. Some Gaza families, where half the population is under 19 years old, have started wearing identification bracelets so their loved ones can identify them if they are killed.

Israeli military claims to distinguish between civilians and combatants, saying they only target legitimate Hamas targets. However, for Gaza residents who fear that every night could be their last, this is hardly reassuring.

"The reality is that the Israeli army has very little trust in the Gaza Strip," Said Alhayek said. "People are trying to do what's in their best interest, but they don't necessarily take the Israeli army's word for it: 'Oh, it's not safe to stay here,' because we've seen it."