In Gaza, young victims of Israeli bombing tell the cruel 2021 | Gaza News

Gaza City– In May 2021, the occupied Gaza Strip experienced new bloodshed and destruction as Israel launched a devastating 11-day military offensive In the besieged enclave.

This is the fourth major Israeli offensive against the Palestinian territories in 14 years. It has aggravated the already severe living conditions, high poverty and unemployment rates in Gaza, which has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, the May attack killed at least 260 people, including 39 women and 67 children, and injured more than 1,900 people. The bombing also destroyed 1,800 residential units and partially demolished at least 14,300 other units.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to take refuge in schools run by the United Nations.

About seven months later, the reconstruction process started slowly, even though Israel continued to prevent many materials that could also be used for military purposes from entering Gaza.

Negotiations mediated by Egypt failed to reach a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian organization that rules Gaza, and tensions remain high.

Many people in Gaza had to deal with the consequences of the 11-day attack, including many young people who were seriously injured.

Al Jazeera interviewed three young people who were injured and permanently disabled during the offensive to discuss everything they have experienced and their hopes in the new year.

7-year-old Mohamed Shaban went blind in Israel’s attack on Gaza [Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

“Mom, I wish I could see your face”

Mohammed Shaban’s only wish in the new year is to see the light of day again. The 7-year-old went blind on the first day of the Israeli offensive in May.

That day, Muhammad and his 35-year-old mother Somaya went out to buy clothes for him and his siblings.

“He is very happy and can’t wait to go home and show his new shoes to his sisters,” Somaya told Al Jazeera.

“Suddenly, a huge explosion hit the area. I don’t remember what happened. Dust, chaos, people’s screams, blood…”

Somaya paused for a while, then continued. “I thought of Muhammad, and I started screaming:’Where is my son? Where is my son?'”

In Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, an Israeli air strike hit two men on motorcycles, and Mohammed was seriously injured in the eyes. He was rushed to the hospital.

“His face was covered with blood, and his eyes were bleeding. When I saw him, I lost consciousness,” Somaya said.

After several attempts, the doctors thought that Muhammad’s eyesight could not be saved, and they had to remove his eyes.

“Whenever I saw him, I couldn’t stop crying. He kept asking his brothers and sisters,’Why can I only see the black darkness? Why can’t I go to my school?'” she said.

“Last night, he told me:’Mom, I wish I could see your face.'”

Muhammad's mother Somayya Shaban cried as he told his story. Muhammad’s mother Somayya Shaban cried as she told of their ordeal [Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

Muhammad was recently admitted to a school for visually impaired children, but his mother had no hope for the new year.

“After what we have seen this year, I can’t expect better. Our lives are the same. I believe that Gaza’s destiny is to face more torture and suffering,” she said.

She said her only wish for 2022 is to see Muhammad again. “I wish I could give him my eyes.”

One Report The International Children’s Defense Organization (DCIP) stated that 86 Palestinian children were killed in the occupied territories in 2021, the highest number of deaths on record since 2014.

“During the 11-day military attack, the Israeli army killed Palestinian children using artillery shells fired from tanks, live ammunition, and missiles dropped from weaponized drones, U.S.-procured warplanes and Apache helicopters,” said May. The report of the attack stated that the wall was called “Operation Guardian”.

“I want to be a doctor when I grow up”

Despite losing a leg in May 2021, 12-year-old Farah Isleem feels more optimistic in the new year.

“It was around six in the morning. I was sleeping. Suddenly, I was awakened by the explosion. I couldn’t move. Everyone screamed around me,” she told Al Jazeera.

An Israeli attack hit Farah’s home on the fifth floor of a building in the al-Sabra neighborhood of central Gaza.

Farah’s father, Hazem Isleem, is a security guard at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Hazem was at work that night, dealing with patients and people evacuated from the bombing zone.

Farah's father helped her put on a prosthesis.Farah’s father helped her put on a prosthesis [File: Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

After the explosion, his seven children were rushed to the hospital. The six were slightly injured, but Farah was seriously injured.

“When I first met her, I realized that her leg must be amputated,” he said. “It was shattered and it bleeds badly.”

Farah was referred to Jordan, and three days after she was injured, she went to Jordan with her mother.

After trying to save her leg for 15 days, the doctor decided that it must be amputated. Later, a prosthesis was installed on her leg.

“Imagine your beautiful and smart child was amputated at this age. It’s a very difficult feeling,” Hazem said.

After 12-year-old Farah Isleem lost a leg in the Israeli bombing of their home, she wore a prosthesis. Farah Isleem installed a prosthesis in her home in Gaza City [File: Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

A month later, Farah returned from Jordan, Her family and school organized a reception to welcome her back.

“My focus now is to study in school,” Farah told Al Jazeera. “I have some obstacles when I go up and down the stairs, but my family always helps me.”

Farah told Al Jazeera before the injury that she was afraid of seeing blood and injuries. But now she wants to be a doctor, her New Year’s resolution is to learn English fluently, because it will help her realize her dream.

“During the treatment, I was very painful. But thank God, everything is fine now,” she said with a smile.

according to UNICEFBefore the escalation of violence, one-third of children in Gaza already needed support to cope with conflict-related trauma. UN agencies emphasize the need to provide mental health and psychosocial support for children facing terrible living conditions.

The organization also stated that tens of thousands of children in Gaza will need humanitarian assistance to obtain safe drinking water and basic sanitation due to power shortages affecting the water supply in besieged areas.

Mahmoud Naim, 18, was paralyzed by shrapnel in the back, lying on the bed. Mahmoud Naim, 18, was paralyzed by shrapnel pierced in his back, lying on the bed [File: Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

‘I wish I could walk again’

Mahmoud Naim, 18, was lying on his back on the bed, unable to move.

On May 18, shrapnel from an Israeli shell hit him in the back and pierced his abdomen. As a result, he was paralyzed and could not feel his lower body.

“I went to the street to buy bread for my brothers and sisters. I saw a friend standing there and talking to him. There was an explosion. After that, I didn’t remember anything,” Mahmoud told Al Jazeera.

“My life has been turned upside down,” he said.

Mahmoud stayed in the intensive care unit for a few days before being referred to Egypt for further treatment. He underwent seven operations and still needs intensive physical therapy and medication.

The shrapnel was still stuck on Mahmoud’s back. They should be removed as soon as possible so that his condition improves.

“At the moment I can’t move by myself. My mother helps me, but my brothers [too] Young,” he said.

“If I want to move, sometimes I stay in bed and wait for my cousin to come.”

Before his injury, Mahmoud worked in a shop to support his family. The father had been seriously ill for a long time, and his son’s condition deteriorated after being injured.

Mahmoud told Al Jazeera that he had heard reports that the shells that hit him were not Israeli, but Palestinian shells that hit him by mistake.

“This is a continuous state of war, everyone is under bombing and terror, and the victims are innocent people,” he said.

“Despite what happened to me, I am optimistic about the beginning of 2022, because every year is a new beginning.

“Enough war, enough things have happened to us in the Gaza Strip. I hope calm prevails, our living conditions will improve, and I hope I can walk again.”

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