Voices from Gaza
Right now, we are witnessing one of the biggest humanitarian catastrophes in recent history. In this blog we give space to the voices from Gaza, as the violence continues and children are paying the heaviest price.
Palestinian and Israeli children endure the fear and bear the consequences of countless escalations of violence.
Before the escalation of the current crisis, children in Gaza were already living in dire circumstances, under a blockade that restricts their opportunities and well-being. In the last three weeks, the number of children killed in Gaza has surpassed the annual number of children killed in conflicts (across 20 countries) for any of the last three years.
Save the Children currently has 17 colleagues in Gaza, some with their families, including young children. They have shared their harrowing stories.
Abdallah* and his two-year-old son sheltered from the destruction after telephone and internet connections were cut off, leaving them disconnected from the outside world:
“There is violent bombing and random strikes everywhere. It’s in all areas of the Gaza Strip, from the air, sea, and land. At the same time, there is no communication, transmission, or internet inside the Gaza Strip. I’m trying to reach out to people, but there is no connection at all. We could all die, we could survive…pray for us.
As I understand it, entire neighbourhoods in Gaza City are gone and we have reached a stage in which there is no water, food, fuel, electricity, communication or internet. I have reached a point of fear where I do not feel anything at all. These are the last words I will send.
Honestly, we are now just like anyone abroad, anyone far away, who doesn’t know the news or what’s happening to any Gazan who could die at any moment.
Even if I die, no one in the world would know. After they disconnected the network and with the insane bombardment, we’ll just be numbers.
Our souls have already died, and our bodies are simply trying to fight to survive.”
Amir* shares his fear for his seven-year-old daughter Nana:
“Little Nana ran to me as usual because it was safe for her, but with the roar of the swarms of killing in the sky, hovering above like a terrifying nightmare, swimming in the warm sky of our neighbourhood that is filled with memories. In a moment the world is lit with a great light, we all fall to the ground and try not to hear, hugging each other. Through inhales and exhales, Nana tells me: “I love you, Baba.”
The darkness turned into hell with the smell of gunpowder and blood.
Especially in the dark while I am hugging my little girl, who, with a fragile made-up confidence tells me, shivering, “Baba, I am not afraid, but nervous!”
I try to hug her and feel the heat of her small body, as if we had become one body. My feeling of helplessness was undoubtedly the worst.
After a wave of violent bombing, Nana draws a picture (see below), in which there is a house, a garden, a sweet sun, and a clear sky free of swarms. She did not draw birds in the sky – she wanted the sky to be clear – but she did draw clouds. Maybe she’s even become afraid of birds.
She started explaining her plans, “if we stayed alive, we would always stay together and go to aunty and grandpa’s house.” Nana doesn’t know that her aunt’s house has evaporated and her grandfather’s house, filled with memories, warmth, family gatherings, birthdays, happiness and tears, has become rubble.
I tried to be a source of strength for the family, but I cried a few times and we cried together. We cried for the past and the present. We did not cry for the future because we do not know if we have a place in it.”
Abdul*, who has a two-year-old son, describes his experience:
“I was filling water containers with my cousins from a water well in front of the mosque, because we are all in one house (33 people). I saw a man, who Save the Children supported in one of our organization’s previous projects, coming from the areas of northern Gaza. As soon as he recognized me, he asked, “Where can we find baby formula?” For a moment, I had this moral dilemma: shall I keep filling water because it’s scarce, or shall I go to find him formula from people I know.”
Abdul goes on to ask questions that no one can answer: “Will our homes, from which we were displaced , be destroyed? Will our friends who remained behind be killed? When will we be saved? When will this end? When are we going to die?”
Amal* has a nine-year-old daughter who is living outside of Gaza:
“I dream of her every day and keep counting every minute until I can meet her again and hold her in my arms. A fire burns from the inside when I ask my friends or anybody outside of Gaza to try and find her, and hug her for me, and tell her how much I love her with all my heart. I am afraid that I will never see her again or be there to celebrate her 10th birthday.
Everything around us now is painful. Memories are being erased. Souls that were once full of dreams and laughter are now gone. They were reduced into ashes. We must not forget them, and we do not know how we will live with all this pain.”
Maryam*, the mother of a young son:
“All of us are squeezed into one room, but it is better than staying in an unsafe place. Last night was the hardest and I hardly slept. There is no fuel for the generators and electricity is completely off. When the internet is cut, I am scared that it will not come back and that I will be cut off from the rest of the world.
Yesterday, I was so sleepy and was afraid to sleep with fear of something happening. The bomb sounds are getting very heavy, and children are terrified. It is horrible and can’t be described in any language. Nearly every bit of Gaza is being asked to move, but no one knows where people should be moving to. Two days before they were asking people to move to the centre of the city and now the centre of the city is threatened. All the areas in Gaza are close to each other. I don’t know who we are fooling when we move. No place is safe in Gaza. I am barely holding myself together in front of my son.”
Save the Children condemns all acts of violence against children. The killing, maiming, and kidnapping of children must stop immediately. The destruction of homes, hospitals, and other essential infrastructure must stop. These are all grave violations of children’s rights. Enough is enough. Stop the War on Children.
*names changed to protect privacy