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Gaza children left orphaned by bloody war
Published Friday 29/08/2014 (updated) 30/08/2014 18:05
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Two Palestinian boys walk amid the rubble of destroyed homes in
Shujaiyeh on August 27, 2014.(AFP/File Roberto Schmidt)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- "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 war-torn 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, 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, 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 traumatized 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 children in Gaza 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 orphanage 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 parent-less 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.
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1 ) David / USA
29/08/2014 17:50
This is tragic, simply tragic. Hamas never gave a second thought to the kids that would be left orphans by their jihadist actions against Israel. What do you call a government that doesn't give a crap about the people it should be representing? CRIMINAL. Hamas is a criminal organization that is responsible for all the death and destruction in Gaza. The people of Gaza should get out their pitchforks and knives and go after every member and leader of Hamas.

2 ) Maureen / Australia
29/08/2014 23:44
Israel, should be the one to pay for educating the children of Gaza!

3 ) jojo / uk
30/08/2014 11:33
Oh my dear people What do you think.They have to fight with the brutality of the occupying forces.They have been enduring day in and day outfor umpteen years. Please see what they are against before commenting

4 ) XRay / Germany
30/08/2014 11:51
The Israelis did until they unilaterally left Gaza in 2006.

5 ) Kelly / Barbados
30/08/2014 16:14
@1: When Israel unilaterally left the Gaza Strip in 2006, leaving everything behind for the advancement of the residents of Gaza. The Khazar Zionisti invaders left behind hospitals, health clinics, kindergartens, schools, factories, tourism infrastructure and agricultural settlements...for the benefit of the Gaza economy, everything except their synagogues. In fact a business model for Gaza to be developed into the Singapore of the Med. But Hamas has other ideals and a different agenda.

6 ) Abu Ammar / usa
30/08/2014 17:42
The story we read was committed by zionists I don't know why we are trying to blame others.

7 ) Alice / Wonderland
30/08/2014 17:51
@1 Spare us the crocodile tears David, did your government care about the potential orphans when it armed & rearmed Israel in the middle of the conflict, when casualties were high? Did Israel care when Bibi instructed the IDF to drop six tons of bombs on Gaza, knowing what damage those bombs would do. Try turning the mirror around.

8 ) Outlier / USA
30/08/2014 18:17
Another consequence of a conflict precipitated by and prolonged by Hamas. It would not have happened except for Hamas' selfish agenda.

9 ) carine / UK
30/08/2014 19:15
#1 - ...and so the propaganda bandwagon rolls on...

10 ) Julie / USa
30/08/2014 22:55
David and Outlier, you are two of the most misguided people I have encountered. I charge you to think of this. You live in Manhattan. The Canadians were occupying it and left, but when they did, they closed the borders no trade in or out, minimal medicines and materials in and infrequently,closed the airports, shut the harbor & stopped you from transiting to school and work. Would you think they left? They are unselfish? They want peace? Occupation over? Please justify.

11 ) Call peace / Egypt
31/08/2014 00:18
America and Israel know the truth the people in israel know that the melatry hit Gaza every day killing two or four every sun rise, also they made sage for more than six years ,, not finish yet, the Israely meletary made ware every two years agaist Gaza using Fosforant and chemical wepons killing thousant of Paliseian , using F16, this meletary of Israel the fouth biggest miletary in the world , can you compair that with Hamass tell me who is the terrose ? Israeal and Amireca.

12 ) Jo Siedlecka / UK
31/08/2014 03:54
This is just heartbreaking. I wish I was rich and could help these children .

13 ) Julie / USA
01/09/2014 18:26
Call peace, I agree. There is nothing I can say that will make up for what our country has done, in concert with Israel, to the Middle East and most particularly Palestine. All I can tell you is that there are people working to get our government to somehow grow a conscience......though I increasingly wonder if that is at all possible.

14 ) Erna Lund / United States
16/09/2014 21:08
Shameful--Outrage! We Americans have been described as war-mongers and indeed we are with Israel as the proxy! War Crimes, "legal" killings aka murders--anyone/group/country who criticizes U.S./Israel automaticlly is a Terrorist threat, demonized and on the "kill list." The U.S. has become the symbol of immorality/amoral with no sense of humanity domesticly and internationally. We cannot look to our congress or administration for "Moral Courage"--Grass Roots--Power to the People to "revive" Hope
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