The Children of Gaza

A journalist based in Palestine, Hazem Balousha wrote about the trauma of children after the recent war.

A journalist based in Palestine, Hazem Balousha wrote about the trauma of children after the recent war in Gaza for the Autumn 2014 edition of ONE. Here, he offers some further impressions.

One of the toughest moments for a Palestinian father from Gaza in the 50-day of Israeli war was to see children become victims of bloodshed — and then follow the reaction of their parents as they experienced fear and thus lost ability to live as normal a life as much as possible.

Covering the recent war in Gaza was especially difficult for me because I am a father of two young children.

I spent my time patrolling between the cities of the Gaza Strip, moving from street to street and among destroyed buildings, meeting those harmed by the the bombardment and people who were displaced from their homes.

I met groups of children and their families, each individually, and every moment as I met one of them I was horrified at their tales, thinking about my children and my moral and physical ability to protect them from the war and alleviate their fear and anxiety.

I tried to deal intelligently with the children during the interviews with each of them; I treated each one as I do my own children.

I met with 12-year-old Nesma al Haddad, as well as with 14-year-old Tamer al Nakhla individually before I later met with 10-year-old Wissam Abu Shaqfa. Each tried to hide the feelings of fear, despite their psychologist’s advice that it is better to show feelings of fear than to hide them.

A smile never left the face of the energetic Nesma all the time I spent talking and listening to her; meanwhile Tamer was a shy loner, despite being the eldest among his brothers.

Wissam — who used to be a funny and active boy both at home and among his friends, according to his parents — turned out to be silent, spending most of his time sitting at home alone. His parents said that he was traumatized after witnessing not only the loss of his uncle but also his close friend Yousef during the recent 50 day war.

Some wounds will take a long time to heal.

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