Thursday, December 17, 2009

Childhood in ruins

Last December, Israel began a 23-day bombardment of Gaza, killing around 1,400 people. One year on, a generation of children is growing up amid the wreckage of that attack, traumatised – and radicalised – by the experience

Guardian foreign editor Harriet Sherwood
The Guardian, Thursday 17 December 2009

"......The attack was one of countless assaults during Israel's 23 days of war on Gaza – Operation Cast Lead – that began on 27 December. But it was also one of the most notorious because Ghiada's uncle – Aya's father – was a doctor who worked in Israeli hospitals and was well known to Israeli viewers for advocating peace and reconciliation. All through the conflict, Dr Izzeldin abu Elaish gave regular eyewitness accounts by phone in fluent Hebrew to Israeli television. Within minutes of the attack on his own family, he was back on the phone to a journalist in a Tel Aviv studio, weeping and begging for help as Israeli viewers listened: "My daughters have been killed."

Indeed, they had: Bissan, 20, Miar, 15, and Aya, 14, were dead, along with another cousin, 17-year-old Nour. Ghiada was in a critical condition; another of the doctor's daughters was also wounded......

The shelling of the Abu Elaish family was unusual in that it caught the attention of the Israeli public, but what Ghiada continues to endure 12 months on is shared by many of Gaza's 750,000 children – half of its population........

Some children no longer look on their homes as a place of safety, security and comfort. Others don't even have a home to go to. The Israeli bombardment damaged or destroyed more than 20,000 houses, forcing some families into tents and others into crowding in with relatives. Hamas distributed money to displaced families to rebuild their homes but the Israeli blockade has created a desperate shortage of materials. Almost one year later, some children still have no roof over their head......"

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