The cries of an 11-year-old boy named Ahmad pierce the air In Jabalia refugee camp, north of Gaza. I want my Baba, my Baba, Baba, he sobs. His plea echoes through the camp, exposing the profound void left by the murder of his father at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces. Where are you, Baba? Why did they murder you? What crime did he commit?
Ahmad is beyond consolation as people attempt to console the grief-stricken boy. My father promised me to stay alive and not to go. I am tired. Leave me alone. Meanwhile, another Palestinian boy, 15-year-old Zain, mourns the loss of his father. Zain recounts the tragedy revealing the cruelty of his father’s murder by an Israeli drone.
When shrapnel struck, his father bled to death for five hours on the ground. The drone also killed three members of an ambulance team, who attempted to rescue. Zain’s words and Ahmad’s cries reach everywhere. People are unable to escape the thoughts of these children made orphans by a genocidal army. This intensifies the deep sorrow for Zain, Ahmad, and the hundreds of thousands of children who have lost their parents in Gaza.
My thoughts wander to another Palestinian orphan, 12-year-old Donia Abu Muhsen. Donia was recovering in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Israeli bombardment of a house where Donia and her family were taking shelter had killed her parents and two siblings and smashed her leg, which necessitated an amputation.
The children who survive but their hearts and bodies are broken; with no one, left of their extended families to take care of them is surprising. Another young orphan, perhaps Donia’s age, shares her harrowing story in another video.
She recounts the loss of 70 people, including her parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, while seeking refuge in a chalet on the beach after losing their home. Only she and her five-year-old brother Kanan survived. Unable to walk and in urgent need of an operation, she prays for the opening of the Rafah crossing, hoping for a chance to leave.
Among the abandoned 55,000 wounded people, Israel scattered across Gaza where a fabricated medical collapse is taking place, she is one of those. Miserably, and in a voice and with a facial appearance that could break the obstinate heart, the girl says, If the border doesn’t open within 48 hours, I will not be able to walk again. I am in great pain, and I miss walking and my parents deeply.
The horror and pain the children of Gaza are experiencing, the cry for justice is not a mere plea, and it is a global call to humanity, to its collective conscience, if it still exists. This comes at a time, when the authorities, led by America, openly endorse this genocide and stand in the way of putting an end to it. They are making sure that more children will be orphaned, starved, made homeless, bombarded day and night, and denied access to healthcare, education, and parental love and care.
Nonetheless, there is also a growing chorus of voices of peace and hope as well. Russian-American activist Masha Gessen, upon receiving the Hannah Arendt Prize, highlighted the critical opportunity the world still possesses to intervene in Gaza.
Gessen stressed that the biggest difference between Gaza and the Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe is that many Gazans, most Gazans are still alive, and the world still has an opportunity to do something about it.
Although we could not save Donia and the parents of Zain, Ahmad, and the tiny bereaved girl, there remains a chance to save those who are still alive in Gaza. We require a ceasefire immediately.