The hardest thing: Palestinian parents speak of their children killed by Israeli bombings


angeofdeath

ingaza.wordpress.com

During the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, 182 Palestinians were killed, according to the World Health Organization’s Dec 2012 report, among whom 47 were children, including 16 under 5 years old. Another 1399 Palestinians were injured, most of them with multiple injuries.

It is only four years after Israel’s last major assault on Gaza, which killed over 1450 including those who died of their injuries, and injured over 5000.  Then there are the random Israeli attacks throughout the years, leaving injured suffering even years later.

And there were the under-reported attacks in the week preceding the Nov 14 attacks: the Nov 8 killing of 13 year old Ahmed Abu Daqqa as he played football, the Nov 10 killing of Mohammed Harara (16) and Ahmed Harara (17) as they played football, the subsequent killings of Ahmed Al- Dirdissawi (18) and Matar Abu al-‘Ata (19) when they rushed to the scene of the Harara killings (source: PCHR).

Every December and January, I remember the victims of the 2008-2009 massacre, particularly some of the harder incidents ofburning to death from white phosphorous bombing, or point blank shootings of loved ones. All ages suffered, although we tend to pick up on the children. Somehow their murders, their maimings, their imprisonment strikes us more.

Two cases from the November 2012 attacks struck me and stay with me: the killing of 4 year old Reham as she stood a few metres from the door of her Nusseirat camp home, outside of which an Israeli  bomb exploded…and the murder of Nader, 14, killed by a precision drone missile as he walked to get food for his siblings… just two hours before the ceasefire.

Below are follow-up photos, the families and loved ones of Reham and Nader.  Allah yerhamhum (Allah, God, bless them).

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Mourning area for Reham Nabaheen, killed by an Israeli bombing outside her Nusseirat camp home.

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Abu Reham looks to where the Israeli bomb struck, the shrapnel of which blasted into his home and struck his daughter in the temple, killing her.

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Um Reham sits with other women, mourning her daughter.

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Fatoum, Reham’s neighbour and close friend, stopped speaking after her friend’s killing. Also four years old, she is in shock from knowing her friend is dead. Abu Reham: “I love her like I loved my daughter.”

Roa'a, Reham's infant cousin. Reham used to play with her and bring her treats.

Roa’a, Reham’s infant cousin. Reham used to play with her and bring her treats.

In the days following Reham’s murder, we visit the family in the simple Nusseirat home. Beside a mourning room set up to receive family and friends, a portrait of the girl I’d only until then seen dead in the morgue.

The home is barebones simple, the old Palestinian style of home and courtyard reconstructed with refugee camp means: cheap cement, toxic asbestos roof, chipped paint, thin walls and doors, sparse decor…no frills. A single olive tree grows in one side of the courtyard.

Um Reham sits amongst female relatives and although her daughter was killed only a few days earlier, is strong and tells me of the day. We’d seen her at al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah on Nov 21, after the shelling. Further back from where the explosion hit, Um Reham was still wounded in her face by flying shrapnel. Her other two sons suffered only minor injuries.

We’d gone to my sister’s home in Bureij, at the beginning of the attacks. There was so much bombing in Nusseirat, we were afraid to stay here, our kids were terrified.  On the last day, we heard there would soon be a cease-fire and wanted to come home. I wanted to do laundry, to change my kids clothing. My sister told me to leave Reham with her, but I said no, I couldn’t leave my daughter behind.

After we’d returned to Nusseirat, we realized the bombing was still very heavy here. We were going to return to Bureij…

Abu Reham, who we’d seen at the hospital morgue leaning over his daughter’s lifeless body, sobbing and kissing her, stoically continues explaining what happened that day.

Although Nusseirat was still being hammered, at the moment of the Israeli shelling which killed his daughter, it was relatively calm, he says.

There was no visible danger, our neighbour across street was sitting on a chair by his doorway just minutes before the bombing. He left to go see something at a neighbour’s home…if he had not left, he would have been killed.

He points out the two narrow courtyard doors to the street where a pocket in the asphalt speaks to the earlier bombing.

It was around 4pm, one of the doors was closed, we were getting the kids ready to go back to Bureij. I’d brought out some cookies, and Reham went to get them out of the bag. She was reaching into the bag when the bomb struck. She was near the door, the shrapnel went right into her head. She died soon after, there was blood all over.

The sound of drones was insane then, it could’ve been a drone strike.

Tank,” his brother says, “it was a tank shell.

The brother holds a girl.

This is my daughter, Roa’a, she’s a year and a half old. Reham used to play with her every afternoon, she’d bring Roa’a chips and snacks… Reham used to always take care of her.

A neighbour daughter comes over with his daughter, Fatoum (Fatema), 4 years old as Reham was. She is chubby cheeked and lovely, but unsmiling and won’t say a word.

She came to play with Reham every day. A four year old shouldn’t have to know what death is, that her friend has been killed. She said to me, ‘my friend is dead, my friend died.’

Abu Reham, whose daughter is just days dead, is worried about Fatoum who fell ill after learning Reham was dead.

I love her like a daughter. Every child who loved my daughter, I love them like my own child (breaks down crying). I went to the cemetery, saw children from the area there, they had brought flowers and were tending Reham’s grave. They told me ‘we will visit her, even if your family moves, we’ll continue to visit her.’

nader

Nader Abu Mghaseeb, 14, killed by precision Israeli drone bombing as he went to get food for his siblings.

Abu Nader tells how his son was killed by an Israeli bombing

Abu Nader tells how his son was killed by an Israeli bombing

When Nader's siblings awoke the morning after his murder, they asked for him, only to learn he'd been killed.

When Nader’s siblings awoke the morning after his murder, they asked for him, only to learn he’d been killed.

Abu Nader points to the hole in the road where the Israeli bomb which killed his son struck.

Abu Nader points to the hole in the road where the Israeli bomb which killed his son struck.

Shrapnel markings from the Israeli bombing  which killed his son.

Shrapnel markings from the Israeli bombing which killed his son.

Light of the small shop to which Nader was headed when murdered by the Israeli bombing.

Light of the small shop to which Nader was headed when murdered by the Israeli bombing.

When killed, Nader was en route to the store to buy food for his siblings.

When killed, Nader was en route to the store to buy food for his siblings.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision  drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.

Nader's watch and the memory chip from his cell phone, which he had with him when targeted by the Israeli bomb.

Nader’s watch and the memory chip from his cell phone, which he had with him when targeted by the Israeli bomb.

On the eastern outskirts of Deir al Balah, central Gaza, we go to the home of the 14 year old whose mutilated body set me sobbing when I saw it in al-Aqsa hospital on Nov 21.  The family has a number of olive trees, from which they exist. Their simple home, just over a kilometre from the border and surrounded by trees on a small plot of land, is a little oasis in the over-crowded Strip.  But for Abu Nader, it is now hell.

“I look at his jeans, I remember him. I look at the house, I remember him. I look there, look there, wherever I look, I’m reminded of Nader.

I hate this house, this area. I hate life now. I started to hate life when my son was killed.

You don’t stay in a place if your dear one is no longer there.”

We’re sitting in the small, nylon-walled tent behind his home, drinking bitter coffee and listening as Abu Nader tells us how his son  was killed. Nader’s six younger siblings, for whom he’d been going to get food when killed, sit beside their father. When we walked into the tent, Abu Nader ran to one corner to grab a small vial of cologne, which he rolled onto the backs of our hands. Nader’s favourite.

“I had lit a fire and we were sitting like this. Sitting like this exactly. Nader asked if I had money, said he wanted to go to the shop to get food for dinner. I didn’t want him to go, but he said the ceasefire would start in a couple of hours, he’d be okay.

There was nothing to eat in the house. These kids need to eat, we’d had nothing in the house for 5 days.

Nader told me to warm the bread over the fire. He said he’d get some yogurt, some canned meat, anything so that all the kids could eat. One of his younger brothers went with Nader, but halfway there Nader told his brother to go back home. His brother kept saying he wanted to go with Nader, but Nader insisted he go back home, told him to wait for him at home.

His brother came back here and said to me, ‘Dad, Nader told me to come back here. He wouldn’t let me go with him to the store’. While he was telling me this, we heard a loud explosion.

My wife said that the explosion was very close to here. She told me to call Nader’s cellphone to see where he was. I called Nader but he cellphone was off. I kept trying to call him, and I ran to the street to try to find Nader.

I kept running until I reached the mosque. From the mosque I saw the light of the store.

And it was night, dark, about fifteen minutes after the evening prayer.

I was looking at the store and waiting for my son to come out of it, and didn’t see that my son was on the ground near me. There was blood all over the street. I thought it was water.

They fired a missile right at him.

When I saw him, I knelt down and grabbed him. There was no one around. I tried to pick him up but couldn’t. He was dead weight, heavy, I couldn’t pick him up on my own. And his legs were shredded, falling apart.

I started screaming, for anyone to hear and help me pick up my son and take him to the hospital.

No one heard me.

I left Nader and screamed to the houses around me, then came back to Nader, but no one heard me.

I sat next to him for a minute, panicking, didn’t know what to do.

I ran to another house to yell for help, but no one heard me.

I came back and wrapped my arms around him, put my head on his head. And I woke up in the hospital.

They killed him in a horrible way. They shot the missile right at him.

In the morning, one of Nader’s brothers came to me and said, ‘Nader’s bed is empty. Where is Nader?’

I told him, the Israeli army killed him.

We are all traumatized.

I’m not angry because Allah chose to take Nader.  Allah gives and Allah takes. The hardest thing is that I saw how Nader died. In pieces. How can I live seeing my son cut into pieces? He was a child. He went to get food for his siblings.”

Abu Nader, a wiry frame and the weathered face of a farmer, repeatedly breaks into sobs as he re-tells the story of Nader’s killing.

He takes out a bag of the shrapnel bits he collected from the bomb which killed Nader, a collection of circular, square and jagged pieces, some with serial numbers inscribed, some with the wiring and chips of a precisely-fired missile. He also shows us Nader’s wristwatch, something I’d honed in on at the hospital, looking away from Nader’s shredded legs and noting the watch, a bright plastic stopwatch the kind most teens love.

We walk through the darkness of the unlit village, the only lights being the mosque near which Nader was killed and the shop to which he’d been headed. Abu Nader shows us the hole in the road where the missile hit, points out shrapnel marks… The same tormented pointing out of details that Abu Reham performed.

He points out the mosque, which Nader prayed at devoutly. Nader’s mother later reiterates, “he was such a good boy, didn’t talk back to his parents, was excellent in school.”

At the small shop Nader never made it to that day, the shop owner shakes his head in regret, echoes the words of Nader’s parents about the boy’s character. Abu Nader pulls hummus, processed meat and yogurt from the fridge, waving it at us… this is why Nader was killed, because he’d wanted to bring these things to his family.

Two children, of 47 in the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks alone, killed in brutal ways their parents can never forget, on the afternoon of the impending cease-fire. Zionist aggressors know no bounds.

  1. #1 by annebeck58 on January 13, 2013 - 7:32 pm

    Yesterday, I was thinking about all of the murders in Palestine and the nation-states of their Arab neighbors.
    I’d also been thinking about the (lies) lists of names the Zionazi have put-up everywhere, to remember their own, whether they lived or not, or were killed or not. And that they (Jews) have hardly been killed, en-masse or otherwise, since their so-called holocaust (hollow-cause).

    One of the big differences I was thinking about was names.. We don’t put-up the NAMES of those murdered by Israhell and the USA and the Allied-forces, anywhere. Or, I’ve never seen a list; a FULL list of all of these horrific murders, not just of children, but of ALL Muslims and Arabs, in the past dozen years. I know we could certainly go back much further, to 1967 or 1948, but let’s just make the starting point, 9-11-01, when the USA and IZ lied so blatantly about the Arab people.., and caused the American sheeples to fear and detest them- making it a non-thing when they’re murdered.

    Sure, once in a while we read short lists of the dead, from Israhell’s incursions (ten here, one-hundred there..) and Harry Fear did a great job as a journalist in Gaza, this past time, of keeping track of the dead and reading the list of the dead in, “Op Pillar of Cloud” (later changed to Pillar of Defense when the world started to complain about what Israhell was doing with absolutely NO justification, to a completely defenseless civilian population.)

    This is what I want so see. Begin in the year 2001, and find lists of those killed by USofA and USofIz, and post them. If we’re not going to put up a memorial to these people, almost all innocent civilians, in brick-and-mortar,we can at least make a virtual memorial. Perhaps this can get others, almost awake, to finally take notice of what is really happening in this world?
    I include Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, and any other Middle-Eastern nation, in the list of what’s been thought of as our,”enemies”, or at least touted as such. I’d really like to know the numbers of dead, regardless of what the USA or IZ calls them.

    Is it not time we made a (virtual) holocaust museum of our own?

  2. #2 by Blake on January 13, 2013 - 10:50 pm

    I could not imagine being in their shoes

  3. #3 by Eva F. on January 14, 2013 - 4:07 pm

    Wonderfully said, Anne !

  4. #4 by Ingrid B on January 15, 2013 - 3:42 pm

    @Blake, me neither..

  5. #5 by Paolo on January 19, 2013 - 3:30 pm

    anne, i agree with the general spirit of your comment and admire your passion for the issue, which i share. i would just like to comment on one particular line:
    “I’d also been thinking about the (lies) lists of names the Zionazi have put-up everywhere, to remember their own, whether they lived or not, or were killed or not. And that they (Jews) have hardly been killed, en-masse or otherwise, since their so-called holocaust (hollow-cause).”
    now, this line bothers me. as often as zionist discourse itself has perpetuated the anti-semitic equation of zionist ideology with jewish identity itself, we need to try really hard to be better than that and make the distinction between people, of whatever religious or ethnic affiliation, who are heavily indoctrinated in and perpetuating the colonialist racism of zionism (jews, christians, even certain muslims and others), and people who are ethnically or religiously jewish. zionism and ‘jewishness’ are not identical. when you try to combat zionism by minimizing the severity of a horrific mass murder like the holocaust, as much as it’s memory has been cynically and disingenuously exploited to gain sympathy for the zionist project, you are making use of the same techniques that zionist propogandists use to minimize the suffering caused by israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing. make sure your opposition to israel’s crimes doesn’t lead to unjustified and racist thinking about ‘jews’ as a group. i’m not saying it has, but it’s a danger that everyone faces if they don’t–consistently–draw the distinction between jews and zionism, not just in words but in our thinking. it’s important not to become the monster you’re trying to fight.
    now, it’s possible i misunderstood the implication of what you were saying with that line. but that’s a problem inherent in using sloganistic language like ‘zionazi’ or calling the holocaust, ‘hollow-cause’. neologisms are particularly susceptible to a wide variety of interpretation. and if people can use that type of language to discredit the legitimate points that not only you but also your allies are making, then you run the risk of hurting your own cause (freeing palestinians from the oppression of zionism). i don’t mean to sound like i think i’m better or that i know better, just putting it out there.

  6. #6 by annebeck58 on January 19, 2013 - 5:39 pm

    Here’s the thing, Paolo, that bothers me most.
    There were plenty more (different, part of the same) holocausts, some at the same time, and since the 1940′s, of other people(s). Yet, the only one group we’re not only expected to pay homage to, but to always consider, are the Jews. I do not equate all Jews with the group who would take advantage of the deaths of other Jews; and yes, I do believe a number were killed or died in camps due to starvation and/or disease (but not gas-chambers, surely), and we, the Allies, had a hand in this by placing numerous and inhumane sanctions on Germany.
    However, Gypsies, Blacks, Russians, etc.., died in camps, too. Japanese-Americans were interred into camps in the USA, too. Who’s building memorials to them? How about all of these others who died in that, “war to end all wars”? Do you know how long it took to place a WWII memorial in Washington, D.C.? It was decades! Yet, there are holocaust memorials, in brick-and-mortar as well as in banks, all over this world. How many memorials would finally be enough?

    If certain factions of the Jewish community had not overblown the figure of those who died in camps in Germany, I think it would have been more believable and accepted. But, it’s like they could not help themselves. The figure, six million, came long before WWII (approximately 25 years before) and they ran with it, though it could never be proven. In fact, it could be pretty easily disproven. This is all that holocaust-revision, done by Jews as well as others, is all about. It is not about, “denying”, the holocaust. It’s about being realistic.

    Too many of the lies or exaggerations of that huge figure have been unfounded. Yet, bringing up a more accurate number labels one anti-semitic, even IF one is Jewish.

    On top of this, we are now seeing a true holocaust (and who knows the numbers?) of Muslims all over the world. Nobody seems to care. Or, few seem to care, and somehow this detracts from the, “Jewish holocaust”; how?

  1. The hardest thing: Palestinian parents speak of their children killed by Israeli bombings « annebeck58

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