The orphans of Gaza: suffering without borders

The orphans of Gaza: suffering without borders

By Ghada Ageel

The suffering of orphaned children in Gaza is unimaginable. On their behalf, we must act now to stop the Israeli genocide.

In the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, the cries of an 11-year-old boy, Ahmad, pierce the air. “I want my daddy, my daddy, daddy,” Ahmad sobs. His appeal resonates throughout the camp, revealing the deep void left by his father’s assassination at the hands of Israeli occupying forces.

“Where are you, Dad?” Why did they murder you? What crime did he commit? »

People try to console the grieving young boy, but he is indifferent to any consolation: “He promised me that he would stay alive and not leave. I have enough. Leave me alone “.

Meanwhile, a few thousand kilometers away, in Belgium, another Palestinian, 15-year-old Zain, mourns the loss of his father, Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abudaqa.

Zain recounts the tragedy that unfolded on December 15, revealing the cruelty of his father’s assassination by an Israeli drone.

After being hit by shrapnel, Samer bled to death for five hours in the compound of Farhanah, the high school I attended in Khan Younis. Three members of an ambulance team, including my friend Rami Budeir who tried to save Samer, were also targeted and killed.

The scale of this atrocity is etched in Zain’s eyes and tearful face as he speaks of his father. He commits to praying for him every day.

His voice breaks as he sings a song he wrote for his father: “My heart misses you. The separation tortures me. My heart, after you, is lost, and bitterness is the taste in my mouth. »

The words of Zain in Belgium, the cries of Ahmad in Jabaliia reach me here, in Edmonton, in Canada.

I find myself sobbing, unable to shake off the images of their pain or answer the questions they raise. My heart has broken a thousand times in the last 80 days and it is breaking once again.

I can’t help but think of these children who are experiencing the endless trauma of being intentionally orphaned by a genocidal army.

What makes the pain even more unbearable is that Zain is the same age as my own son, Aziz, and looks eerily similar to him in every way: facial features, height, body, voice, and even choice of clothing and hairstyle.

These disturbing similarities intensify the deep grief I feel for Zain and the thousands and thousands of children who lost their parents, relatives and friends in Gaza.

Thinking of Zain and his father, who was targeted while wearing a press vest, my thoughts turn to another Palestinian orphan, 12-year-old Donia Abu Muhsen.

Donia was recovering at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, when Samer’s body was brought in and prepared for the funeral. Israeli bombing of a house where Donia and her family had taken refuge killed her parents and two of her siblings, and broke her leg, requiring amputation.

When Donia looks at the camera in a video shot a few days before her death, a slight smile appears on her face. His will to live and his dreams are very strong. She says she wants to study and become a doctor.

“We are alone now without (my family). I was very connected to (them). But I have to continue,” she says.

But the Israeli occupying forces did not allow her to do so. Two days after murdering Samer, they killed Donia’s dream. They bombed the Nasser hospital, killing the orphan girl in her hospital bed.

I wonder about the other children who survived, but whose hearts and bodies are broken, and who no longer have anyone from their extended family to care for them.

Another young orphan, perhaps Donia’s age, shares her poignant story in another video. She recounts the loss of 70 people, including her parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as she sought shelter in a small shack on the beach after losing her home.

Only she and her five-year-old brother Kanan survived. Unable to walk and in need of emergency surgery, she prays for the Rafah crossing point to open, hoping for a chance to leave.

She is one of 55,000 injured people currently abandoned by the world and scattered across the Gaza Strip, where a man-made medical collapse is occurring.

With tears in her eyes, in a voice and with an expression on her face that could break the hardest rock, the young girl said: “If the border is not opened within 48 hours, I will no longer be able to walk. I’m in a lot of pain, can’t walk and miss my parents a lot. »

Faced with the horror and pain experienced by the children of Gaza, the call for justice is not a simple plea, it is a global appeal to humanity, to its collective conscience, if it still exists …

This is happening at a time when the powers that be, led by America, openly approve of this genocide and oppose its end.

They ensure that more children are orphaned, hungry, homeless, bombed day and night and deprived of access to health care, education, love and attention from their parents.

However, the voices of peace and hope are becoming more and more numerous.

Russian-American activist Masha Gessen, receiving the Hannah Arendt Prize, highlighted the crucial opportunity the world still has to intervene in Gaza. She stressed that “the biggest difference between Gaza and the Jewish ghettos of Nazi-occupied Europe is that many Gazans, most of them, are still alive and the world still has the opportunity to do something for them.”

Even though we were unable to save Donia and Zain’s parents, Ahmad and the little orphan, there is still a chance to save those who are still alive in Gaza.

We need a ceasefire now!