I was shocked when I saw in the media photos of a child drowning in his own blood. I was shocked because I know this face very well. It is the face of Hasan, the child who works every year during the month of Ramadan at my neighbor accessories store. I saw him often last year during Ramadan. He would come early to the shop to clean and arrange accessories, welcome customers and haggle with women as if he were a professional trader. I used to see this elegant, polite and smart boy either looking for work in the shops next to my father’s pharmacy or working during the holidays and vacations.
I am wondering now how I did not pay attention to him throughout the year. I never thought to ask him about his family, about his dreams, or to help him to join a summer camp. Maybe it’s because I’m used to seeing kids working in shops during their holidays. Or maybe because I heard from our parents about their hard work on the farms and spinning wool into yarn when they were children. Actually, our long history of tragedy and work from childhood to death just to survive has made us consider that the work of children is normal and necessary.
How does the Israeli sniper choose his victim with such precision? How did he know about Hasan’s dreams of becoming a doctor or an engineer (according to his friends)? How did he know about his diligence in his school and that his chances at a bright future? The Israeli occupation kills dreams in their infancy.
But Hasan was really killed twice. First by poverty and second by Israeli bullets. Poverty is ruthless, it crushes dreams, kills childhood and makes people grow up quickly. And in Gaza, it is everywhere.
Can you imagine that finding work became the dream of children in the Gaza Strip? It is horrible. I do not want to believe that we reached such a degree of poverty and misery. I do not want to believe that play and sports – and maybe in the future education – are considered luxuries for children, not rights.