BEIRUT: On July 8, Hussein Kaware was arguing with his little sister over a new toy their mom had bought her, and in frustration, he stormed outside the house. At that moment, an Israeli rocket exploded on the roof next door. In the confusion, Hussein ran with his neighbors toward the house. It was bombed again by an Israeli plane. He was 12 years old when he died.
His sister, still torn up by their last fight, has a message for her brother: “Please, just come back. I’ll give you my toy and anything else you want, just come back and don’t leave me alone. I love you.”
Hussein’s story, and the stories of the hundreds of Palestinian children who, like him, have been killed during the latest conflict in Gaza, are being collected and published by the website Gaza’s Children.
Let's not allow the death of our children to become normalized
The website is expanding by the day, gathering the pictures and stories of the at least 469 children who have died during the Israeli assault on Gaza.
It was launched just last week by a small number of individuals from across the world, brought together by their mutual concern over the loss of life in Gaza.
The individuals, who come from a variety of backgrounds, have chosen to remain anonymous “in order for attention to stay strictly focused on Gaza’s children.”
They say that while there are plenty of websites listing the growing number of casualties in Gaza, and others attempting to provide names and backgrounds to the now just shy of 2,000 dead, there was no website “specifically devoted” to the children who have lost their lives.
The team behind Gaza’s Children is keen to fill in that gap and tell the children’s stories. They argue that in most conflicts the media provide a human face to tragedies and in its absence they have stepped in.
“When we see tragedies in other parts of the world, particularly Europe and the United States, many media outlets endeavor to help us learn more about the people who were killed," the group told The Daily Star in an email. "In the relative absence of such coverage, we hope this website will serve that purpose.”
Each picture of a smiling child on the website hides a tragic story underneath.
A baby dressed in pink looks wide-eyed at the camera. Her name was Lama al-Satari, and the bombing of Rafah had been keeping her awake at night. On July 15, her mother had finally gotten her to fall asleep.
“Minutes later, an explosion shook the house. Lama's mom rushed into the bedroom to find her on the floor, unresponsive. The force of the nearby explosion had lifted Lama out of her crib and onto the floor. ... Doctors were unable to stop the internal bleeding in her brain.”
Lama was 5 months old when she died; her 2-year-old brother Yazan keeps asking his parents about her.
The team researches each child’s story “meticulously” and provides citation wherever possible. They work closely with organizations and individuals on the ground in Gaza and have issued a general call for anyone who can help them in gathering the information, asking for them to email the site.
They also have a Twitter presence @gazaschildren that they use to “spread the word” and share the children’s stories.
Only a week out, the website has been gaining attention. Belal Dabour, a Palestinian doctor working in Gaza tweeted on Aug. 10:
“Excellent effort. Take a look at it, let's not allow the death of our children to become normalized. http://www.gazaschildren.com/ #GazaUnderAttack”
Other Twitter users have been equally praising of the initiative.
“Awesome site to remember and honor young lives taken too soon” says one; “heartbreaking” says another.