When tragedy strikes your own

It was a shocking moment. On July 10, I was watching a local television programme and heard that there had been a massacre in the El Halabi family. Seven of my family members had been killed…in one day.

That night everyone in Gaza was counting the death toll of the children – which was rapidly increasing. Most of the children, like the casualties in my family, had died under the rubble of homes that the Israelis had targeted for demolition without any pre-warning.

I wanted to be beside my family, who live 30 kilometres away from my house, to help them pull out the buried children under the rubble. But I could not help because of the blind indiscriminative missiles that target any moving body during the night.

The seven victims in my family were children and women. But this became eight after my injured pregnant cousin lost her baby in a forced abortion operation to save her life. She was expecting to give birth by the end of this month.

Every hour and every day, we see scenes of murdered children predominantly displayed on all of our television channels. I am sure it is hard for most people in the world to imagine the status of their bodies and their innocent childhoods being destroyed by indiscriminative fire. 

Last year, World Vision’s programmes in Gaza achieved amazing results with children. We managed to reduce children’s distress significantly. For one big event, we gathered children together to fly kites that carried messages of peace, child protection, rights and hopes for the future. 

The majority of the participating children have been affected by this war between the Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. The children’s houses have been partially or totally demolished. Unfortunately, these children are now all internally displaced people living in temporary shelters at schools, set up by United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

I am concerned that the values that we have instilled in these children will be swept by the devastating bombs from the F16s and drones.

I call on the international community to intervene, which could prevent the killing of children. The support would also help with a ceasefire, which could lead to a lifting of the siege (Gaza Blockade) that the Israelis have imposed on Gaza for more than seven years now. This has prevented people in Gaza from travelling and working, as well as from importing goods like building supplies or exporting their own products.

We all have to pray for the protection of all children on both sides of this conflict. We must urge our support offices and donors to participate in relieving the sufferings of Gaza children so that we can restore their hopes and values.