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Children under fire

By Fida Qishta – ISM co-ordinator in the Gaza Strip

Visit Fida’s blog here.

According to news reports, over 665 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed,and more than 2950 injured. Of those, more than 214 children and more than 88 women were killed. This is the story of two of those children.

January 2, 2008 Al Qarara, Khan Yunis – According to Mahmud Mosa Alstal, 27 years old, the children`s uncle, “I was sitting down in the building. The children were playing 40 meters away from me, and they were 500 meters away from their house. I could hear the drone (Israeli unmanned drone). I thought it would attack one of the police stations or one of the government sites. I looked at it. Suddenly the drone fired a rocket. I told myself it was close. It could be targeting a car nearby. But when I ran there to investigate, Iran first to the place where the children were playing. I was shocked when I saw the three children on the ground. The head of Abed Alsatar, who was nine years-old, flew far away from the place, and also Abed Rabo nine years-old and his brother Mohammed 12 years-old were hit. I called other people to come and help me to take them to the hospital. When they saw the scene, they also were shocked and they left. I stopped a car passing by and I took them to the hospital, it was difficult for the ambulance to get there because the attack just happened and the area was hard to reach. You know that four of the children’s uncles were killed, not during this attack, but in the last few years, also by the Israeli army. What can I say. They went to see their uncles in heaven. They are together now.”

30 year-old Um Mohammed, the mother of Abed Rabo and Mohammed told us,”They were playing. They didn’t do any thing wrong. Mohammed was in fifthgrade. The first exam started Saturday, when the first and biggest attack happened throughout the Gaza Strip. The didn’t even take the exam. Today they took their lunch and went to the mosque to pray and then to play. They went to play in an empty piece of land nearby. Suddenly a drone missile hitt hem.”

“Mohammed was helpful. He helped me a lot. He was the oldest of my sons.Yesterday, I was telling them the story of our prophet Ibrahim, who God asked to sacrifice his son Ishmael. I found them telling me the next part of the story and telling me the end. They knew it.”

“They loved playing football. They played together most of the time in the playground when they were playing football.”

“I used to call Abed Rabo, Abood. But Mohammed, we called him Mohammed.They just had their lunch. Mohammed asked if he could do anything for me before he went out. I asked him to put the teapot on the fire before he left because we have no gas. He put it on the fire and put in the tea and the sugar. The tea even didn’t boil before I got the news that Mohammed was killed, and he is a martyr now.”

“The last joke that Mohammed told before he was killed, he told me and his dad about one of our neighbors. He’s a short man. He made a tent, short like him. He just made it for himself and not for other people. If a tall person wanted to visit, he would have to stoop. But they are children and short still. They can get inside.”

“God’s mercy be upon you Mohammed. I will miss you a lot. Abed too used tohelp me a lot. He used to help me when I was cooking, starting the fire with me. Today he woke up this morning, and he told me that breakfast was ready. And I found he made the tea too. He used to wake up early, everyday, starting the fire to make breakfast.”

“We want the other nations to stand side by side with us. They can’t stop the Israelis? They can stop them, but they don’t because its not their sake to stop them.”

We just look for Allah and wait for Allah to help us. Let them take their time and watch us and to see the children’s blood. I lost two of my children, but 11 children and their parents were killed from Alrayan family yesterday. I’m not better than them. I just lost two children.”

“My children were upset and felt pain when they saw what happened to the other children during the Israeli attack on Saturday. I used to change the channel and wouldn’t let them see the other children’s dead bodies so as to not scare them. I didn’t like them to see these scenes because it will effect them, Mohammed didn’t sleep all night. When they had exams, they wouldn’t try to wake me up in the morning. They would get dressed and go to school early, because they were thinking that if they went early they would come back early to play.”

“This morning I told my little daughter to wash her face. She said to me,did I sleep enough to need to wash my face? All night they don’t sleep because of the bombing and the air-strikes. What have we done for the Israelis to attack us like that! Tell me what we have done?”

“We are nine in the family, I have five daughters and three sons, I lost two and now we are seven including me and their Dad.”

“It’s true that I lost two of my sons but when I see other people’s misery I feel that my misery is small.”

“I’m like any person living here. I could die any night, killed by an Israeli attack. They just attack the area. I could be killed, who knows. I will die today or tomorrow or now. All the Palestinians here are threatened. I say every day, tomorrow I could die.”

“They want us to leave our homes, but it is in their dreams. They are wrong. We will not leave our homes. We will always stay here. It will not be like the 1948 war. We will stay in our homes, and we prefer to die in our homes. It’s an honor to die in our country rather than to escape. They will not evacuate our land and take it. They occupied our land and they came to us. Why did they come to us? We didn’t go to their homes but they came to ours. I don’t know what they want from the Palestinian people, or why they occupied us? We are strong in our faith, and God will always help us.”