The Beautiful Smiles of the Fallen Children of Gaza

By Fazila Farouk · 31 Jul 2014

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Picture: Hind Shadi Abu Harbied (10) died of a heart attack during a bomb attack on Beit Hanoun on July 14, 2014, courtesy Humanize Palestine.
Picture: Hind Shadi Abu Harbied (10) died of a heart attack during a bomb attack on Beit Hanoun on July 14, 2014, courtesy Humanize Palestine.
On 28 July 2014, Defence for Children International Palestine reported that the death toll for the children of Gaza was 200 and rising. However, in the past day or two, the world received news that Israel had bombed a United Nations school in Gaza killing 15 people, mostly women and children. The Guardian newspaper reports, “United Nations officials described the killing of sleeping children as a disgrace to the world and accused Israel of a serious violation of international law…” Meanwhile eight children were killed in a playground in Gaza strip earlier this week.

The killing of a terrified and defenceless civilian population has taken place in large numbers since Israel commenced its assault on Gaza on July 8, 2014. We should all be demanding an end to the slaughter of the people of Gaza. But the media’s cautious reporting has alleviated the horrors of this war and erased the humanity of the people of Gaza in the public’s mind.

Many of the deaths have been presented as sterile statistics. CNN’s clumsy pie chart, which shows that 826 civilians were killed by July 29  exemplifies the media's detached treatment of the on-going tragedy in Gaza. And when we're not being offered mind-numbing statistics, we're shown pictures of faceless bundled children wrapped in blood-soaked burial cloths, variously presented as civilian casualties, collateral damage or worse, human shields.

One has to trawl alternative media sites on the Internet to find the brave journalists and commentators who speak truth to power or simply write in a manner that presents Palestinians as human beings worthy of compassion.

One noteworthy new initiative is the Humanize Palestine website that’s been created to restore the humanity of those killed in Gaza. They describe their work simply as:

“(Attempting) to restore the humanity that is often stripped away when Palestinians are reduced to calculative deaths, forgettable names, and burned and mutilated bodies, rather than people who shared loved ones, stories, dreams and aspirations.”

We bring you a brief collection of photographs from Humanize Palestine showing some of the children who’ve lost their lives in recent days and weeks.

An unknown person once famously said, “A child's smile is one of life's greatest blessings.” Let us remember the fallen children of Gaza for the beautiful blessings they bestowed on the world.

Asem Khalil Abed (4)

Four-year-old Asem Khalil Abed Ammar was killed in the Shuja’iyya massacre in Gaza on July 20, 2014 along with his siblings 9-year-old Eman Khalil Abed Ammar and 13-years-old Ibrahim Khalil Abed Ammar.

Kenan Hassan al-Hallaq (6) and Saji Hassan al-Hallaq (4)

Six-year-old Kenan Hassan al-Hallaq (left) and his brother four-year-old Saji Hassan al-Hallaq were killed on July 20, 2014 in an Israeli attack on their house in the al-Ramal area of Gaza. The boys' mother and other members of the family were also killed in the strike. Their father, Hassan who survived the attack, said Kenan loved solving puzzles.

Iman Khalil Abed Ammar (9)

Nine-year-old Iman Khalil Abed Ammar was killed on July 20, 2014 in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood.

Yasmeen Nayef al-Yazji (4) and Hatem Zain Nayef al-Yazji (3)

Four-year-old Yasmeen Nayef al-Yazji and three-year-old Hatem Zain Nayef were killed with their grandparents on Monday July 21, 2014. Israeli warplanes bombarded the family's house in the west of Jabalya.

Sahir Abu Namous (4)

Four-year-old Sahir Abu Namous was killed on Friday July 11, 2014 by shrapnel from a missile launched by Israel. His cousin described his killing: "He was playing and smiling next to his mother when missile shrapnel divided his head."

Jihad Issam Shuheiber (10) and Waseem Issam Shuheiber (9)

Ten-year-old Jihad Issam Shuheiber and nine-year-old Waseem Issam Shuheiber were both killed  with their cousin 10-year-old Afnan (Fulla) Tarek Shuheiber in an Israeli airstrike on July 17, 2014 in Gaza City. They were playing on the rooftop of their home when the attack occurred.

** All pictures and descriptions are from the Humanize Palestine website.
Farouk is founder and executive director of The South African Civil Society Information Service.

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Barry Saayman
1 Aug

All Adults Can and Must Practice Max Self-Restraint

>>"On 28 July 2014, Defence for Children International Palestine reported that the death toll for the children in Gaza was 200 and rising. However, in the past day or two, the world received news that Israel had bombed a United Nations school in Gaza killing 15 people, mostly women and children."

I think that fear, anger and hatred drives this never-ending conflict in Israel.

Armed attacks on civilians can never be condoned no matter who the perpetrators or what their motivations are. Choosing violence and counter-violence or armed retaliation is a conscious decision with serious consequences, after the fact, for all parties.

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
--Dr Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

The international community has a responsibility to stop and punish the brutal murder.

"Israel is currently attacking a population of 1.8 million that has no army, no navy, no air force, no mechanized military units, no command and control and no heavy artillery. Israel pretends that this indiscriminate slaughter is a war. But only the most self-deluded supporter of Israel is fooled. The rockets fired at Israel by Hamas—which is committing a war crime by launching those missiles against the Israeli population—are not remotely comparable to the 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs that have been dropped in large numbers on crowded Palestinian neighborhoods; the forced removal of some 300,000 Palestinians from their homes; the more than 160 reported dead - the U.N. estimates that 77 percent of those killed in Gaza have been civilians; the destruction of the basic infrastructure; the growing food and water shortages; and the massing of military forces for a possible major ground assault.

When all this does not work, when it becomes clear that the Palestinians once again have not become dormant and passive, Israel will take another step, more radical than the last. The "process of destruction" will be stopped only from outside Israel. Israel, captive to the process, is incapable of imposing self-restraint." Chris Hedges

I disagree. Only children cannot control their emotions. Self-restrain is rightfully expected from all adults. I cannot excuse anyone involved in this senseless and heart breaking ordeal. Lots of Palestinian and Israeli families have lost loved ones and are in grief. What are they doing to one another? Nothing good can come from this.

Who in the West or East, global north or global south with enough clout (read influence and power) can take the lead to convince Israel and Hamas to act as adults and caring parents and to practice self-restraint? That must pave the way for a lasting peace and that is possible. I will never accept the opposite.

Israel should have known by now that waging war against or persecuting a civilian population, negatively influences one's own resolve and the people that you supposedly serve and protect.

Ordinary Israeli people will have to follow the lead of the ordinary Americans that halted the killings by the US Army in Vietnam. Everyone, including the troops, become victims under these circumstances. And if Israelis neglect their duty they will have to individually and collectively face the fact that the over-reaction of their government on their behalf is a blemish on each and every Israeli. Not in my name. Never.

And the same applies to Hamas and the Palestinians they purportedly serve.

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