A Birmingham relative of five girls killed in the Gaza Strip has called for politicians to stop the fighting before more members of his family are killed.

University of Birmingham research fellow, Mohammed Balousha, discovered that five of his cousin’s children were killed when a bomb flattened their home in Gabalya on Sunday night.

The five children who died were four-year-old Gawaher Balousha, and her sisters Donya, aged eight, Samar, aged 12, Ikra, aged 14, and Tahrer, aged 17.

Their parents, two of their sisters and one brother survived the bombing but suffered injuries in the attack.

Yesterday, Mr Balousha, aged 30, who lives in Selly Oak, described how he felt “completely helpless” knowing that his family were battling to survive amid frequent Israeli bombing attacks.

Mr Balousha, who has not returned to Palestine since the borders were closed in 2006, said: “I’m absolutely devastated that my five beautiful cousins were killed. I’m now terrified that my mum, six brothers and two sisters, who all live in Gaza City, may also be hurt or even killed.

“They all live within a couple of hundred metres of Mosques which could be targeted by Israeli bombers at any moment. It’s horrible being so far away when I know my whole family are terrified, living in fear every day the attacks continue. “I spoke to my brother on the phone and he said it is like an earthquake has hit. I just want both sides to stop the fighting and bloodshed so all the civilians will be safe. I desperately want to return home to see my family and support them at this difficult time.”

More than 360 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s bombing campaign started five days ago. Four Israelis have been killed by rockets from Gaza.

Mr Balousha, who was among 700 protesters who burned an Israeli flag outside the Bull Ring shopping centre on Monday night, said: “I just hope mum and my brothers and sisters, and all their children, make it through this terrifying time so I can see them again one day. I have no other family here so it has been an extremely difficult time. My friends and colleagues have been very supportive and that has helped a lot.”

The UN says at least 62 of the Palestinians killed so far have been women and children.