The smallest child in Gaza knows the meaning of these sounds

BACKGROUND: Since March more than 150 Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli snipers. Over 16,000 have been injured. Israelis are targeting Palestinian children: two teenage boys were killed in Gaza and another thirteen-year-old boy was killed in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank. Despite periodic announcements of a cease-fire, more people have died and there could be a full-scale attack. Below MECA friend and former staff member Amal Abu Moailqe recounts her day in Gaza. 

Right now, I feel that I have gone back in time four years. I am hearing the sounds and seeing in my mind the images of the massacres that happened all summer long in 2014.

No matter what age, from the youngest child to the oldest grandfather, we understand the meaning of the sounds in the sky. The sound of every helicopter or airplane or bomb is the sound of fear for us. We feel the earth shaking under us and we remember the falling buildings, the screams of people crying from fear and pain and grief.

We all called each other in my family today to make sure everyone was safe even though we know there is no safety anywhere in Gaza. Then we all came back to the house so we could be together. It is terrible to be alone with this fear and with the possibility of death at any moment.

I know my family is like every other family in Gaza. We want to be together and we look all around our small house to decide which spot is the safest. Maybe this corner, maybe that mattress. My father makes a dark joke: “Don’t be afraid from the sound of the shells exploding. The shells will kill you and then you will not hear them.”

A child of one and a half starts screaming and calling his dad but his dad is outside working or trying to bring home something to eat. The child already understands the meaning of the sounds coming from the sky. But the small children really don’t understand that their parents can’t keep them safe. They think that if they can see their parents, they will all be ok. And we think about the children who lost their parents in previous attacks. They still cry for their parents but their parents aren’t there to comfort them.

This is how our lives are in Gaza. We can’t go anywhere. We can’t get the things we need. We are trapped here. And then the bombs start falling and we don’t know when they will stop.

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