Gaza children left orphaned by bloody war

Gaza City - "She will call me Daddy and Mummy," insisted 11-year-old Amir Hamad, cradling his infant sister in his arms after the Gaza war left him and his four siblings orphans.

Fifty days of bloody fighting in and around the wartorn Gaza Strip has cost the lives of nearly 500 children, but it has also turned hundreds more into orphans, who face a future deprived of their parents' love.

"I would rather be dead than without my mother and father," Amir told AFP, saying he would never forget that fateful moment on the second day of the war when they were killed.

"My parents were drinking their coffee in the evening after breaking the [Ramadan] fast, when a bomb fell onto our home," he said, recalling how an Israeli air strike hit their home in northern Gaza.

"I saw them lying on the ground and knew immediately they were dead," said Amir, the oldest of the five children. His sister Lamis, just four-months-old, is the youngest.

Amir's six-year-old brother Nur had laid motionless, his face covered in blood.

"Two paramedics took him," Amir recalled, watching Nur who is now sitting safely next to him.

"I'll look after my brothers and sisters. But I'm scared, because my parents are no longer here to help me."

There are still adult figures in the family - the grandmother and grandfather.

The grandmother Afaf Hamad, aged 60, was displaced by fighting that made almost half a million people homeless, but said she would do whatever to look after the five children.

But she has no idea how she will fund their education.

"I'll never leave them, I'll raise them as I did my daughter," she said.

"But how will we pay for school?"

'Mum, dad are in heaven'

Bisan Daher, aged 8, lost both parents and several brothers in an Israeli air raid in northern Gaza.

"We were all at home. We don't have anything to hide, no rockets. But they hit our house while we were all inside.

"Now mum and dad and my brothers are in heaven," she said, still covered in bandages from wounds sustained in the strike.

"I regained consciousness after the strike, with sand and pebbles in my eyes. I really want to see mum and dad again," Bisan said.

She was trapped for six hours under the rubble before paramedics found her and rushed her to hospital.

Bisan's 28-year-old sister Noha, who is married, has taken her in.

"She's still haunted and traumatised by the incident. She doesn't sleep, she cries a lot and keeps calling for mum and dad," Noha told AFP.

"We've been told she has to see a psychiatrist, but while the war was going on it was impossible to move freely for fear of aerial and artillery bombardments."

Figures released by the UN show that at least 373 000 Gazan children will need psychological support in the wake of the seven-week war.

Children also numbered high on the casualties list, making up nearly a quarter of the dead - of the 2 143 victims, 494 of them were children.

On the Israeli side, one child was among 70 people killed, 64 of them soldiers.

Sole orphange overwhelmed

There is only one orphanage in the whole of the Gaza Strip and the war has left it overwhelmed.

Al-Amal orphanage has already taken in between 250 to 300 children made parentless by the war, its director Ayad al-Masri told AFP.

That number has shot up from around 120 before the conflict began.

During the fighting, one of the children living at the orphanage, 10-year-old Ali, was killed by a shelling at a UN school where he was sheltering with extended family.

The orphanage only has 31 rooms, but Masri promises it will grow.

"We will build another building to cater for all the orphans coming in," he said.

How quickly that construction can be completed will depend on how much building material Israel lets into Gaza, after a years-long ban on such supplies as a result of its eight-year blockade.

Under a truce deal reached on Tuesday, Israel has pledged to allow in construction materials but will subject any deliveries to thorough searches, on grounds they could be used to make weapons, or build fortifications and attack tunnels.

Read more on: palestine israel gaza
Cynical Heathen 2014-08-29 05:45:46 AM
This is the 'victory' hamas is bleating about.
Kirsty Prinsloo 2014-08-29 05:53:51 AM
In any war it is the innocents who suffer.
Stephen Theron 2014-08-29 06:05:46 AM
And on the Israeli children? Or don't they matter?
David Jones 2014-08-29 06:21:45 AM
There are reports that a lot of bearded alqaeda and ISIS rebels are in the Golan already and it looks like there is going a hell of fight with Israel. Already an Israeli officer has been wounded by 'stray' bullet. Watch this space!
Enig Ma 2014-08-29 06:22:30 AM
Damn hamas and their terror manual, the quran. All this bloodshed and tears in the pursuance of their islamic state!?
Wayne McCrae 2014-08-29 06:32:12 AM
News 24 only seems to report the gaza side. Never a story showing sympothy for isreal.
Wayne McCrae 2014-08-29 06:33:20 AM
Sympathy. Oops.
Nonkululeko Dlomo 2014-08-29 06:43:19 AM
Guys we can't be saying victory good for them.... We are all humans and war isn't a solution.
Mohammed Salajee 2014-08-29 06:48:44 AM
Nut yahu Plz God show that moron wat he deserves & blast him to pieces as the innocent parents of the kids.GOD is ever hearing the cry's of these innocent precious pearls.Wil the hard rock of that animal nut ever change.
Mohammed Salajee 2014-08-29 07:03:33 AM
I think I followed the news accurately 1 isrealie child I hope his parents r alive & got more kids to console.on the other side 100's of kids homeless orphaned imagine an 11 year old consoling a 4 month old.If the tears of that innocent child does not melt ur "heart"then ur heart is hard as a rock ,or mayb no kids u have to experience the love &joy kids brings to ones life. Only GOD alone u have mercy on the innocent souls. May u rot in hell the perpetrator's!