Childhood in Gaza: war, destruction and asylum







Written by child Sarah Taher Al-Assar, born in Gaza, December 9, 2010



It is the ninth of December of the year 2024, that is, 63 days after the war on Gaza. It was difficult for me to remember my birthday and what to do while we are in the midst of rubble, devastation and destruction, but I submitted to my parents’ insistence that marking this occasion is a form of resistance and confrontation and another way to express it towards steadfastness. So the children from our neighborhood gathered in a dark room and in the light of candles, my thirteenth birthday was marked in an environment as silent as death of cemetery around us, interspersed with the sound of my parents’ friends from around the world who sent congratulatory videos to me on this day, which raised my spirits as I felt that in Gaza we were not alone, but there are many free people in the world who feel the suffering of children in Gaza.

So I wrote:

Can I lose my vision? I do not want to see women, men and children in the streets totally collapsed. There is nothing to harbor them. Their eyes are empty, with no life. They kill me from the inside. How can they escape death? How can they forget what happened? Did they forget or try to lie about what happened?

Can I lose my hearing? I do not want to hear the sounds of the shelling and bombardment targeting the people’s houses and lives; It breaks my heart and not the people’s houses. It destroys me a bit after a bit. Do children have a future? Do I have a future to live or am I going to meet my God? I do not want to hear people’s cries mourning their beloved ones who have gone and will not come back; I do not want to hear the cries of wounded people out of their pain that does not heal in their hearts and in their body. I don’t want to hear a sentence that “your loved one’s or house has gone, I know I won’t see them unless I go there and then I know I just want to go to them to heaven. I want to complain to my God about the injustice that is happening to us. I want to tell him everything.

I know that all my prayers protect us, He knows everything in my heart and mind, He knows every word I want to say, but I cannot.

I want to embrace my mom, my dad and my siblings day by day. I do not want to lose them. I want to hear their heartbeat. I want too many wishes but its not enough, I want to embrace them with my heart and soul and give them my life. I want to tell them unspeakable words in my tongue. I want to tell my mother how much your laughter makes me happy and warm , my eyes want to tell her that I don’t hope for her beauty to end,

And I want to tell Dad that, every day I don’t want him to stop, I want to hear your voice every day, I don’t want to miss him and how grateful I am for having a father like you.

And I want to tell my only sister that the beauty of your eyes, the beauty of your mouth, the beauty of your hair, I don’t want to stop looking at you, I don’t want to imagine a day without you. For my older brothers Ahmed and Mustafa, I don’t see you much, but all I know is that I miss you sooo much. Please don’t be afraid if we are gone to our God.

You must rejoice. We are now in a safer place. Don’t forget us. Don’t cry. I wish you a life where you can do whatever you want and have all of your dreams achieved.

To my brother Muhammad I love, I love all the goodness, kindness, beauty and wonderfulness you have.

You think my words describe everything that’s going on, but that’s just a drop of a sea.

After my family and I took refuge in Cairo from Gaza, I was deeply saddened, despite the horrors of war that I experienced when I left. All these painful memories made me

feel like I have lost a piece of my soul and mind when I left my beloved Gaza. The feeling of family and friends still captivates my thoughts, and I surrender to this feeling, as I can not control it. I can not imagine leaving the place where I grew up, leaving my home that I return to defeated from exhaustion. My heart still longs for the days from the past that my mind and heart yearn for. Do people know that I miss it as a child misses his mother? Perhaps longing will kill me, as I feel arrows piercing my heart when I hear the name Palestine. All I want now is to look at its sky filled with stars, to smell its gentle breeze, to hear the birds chirping as they play on the branches of the ancient olive tree in our house yard. I miss you, my home. I miss you, Gaza. Nostalgia overwhelms me for moments from the past. I did not know how lucky I was to have a home that protects me, a family that shelters me, embraces me, and gives me that infinite feeling of security and happiness. I regret having to bid farewell to you, my beloved homeland, and saying goodbye to my family and friends. Deep inside, I still want to stay. My memories, thoughts, and longing are still attached to you, attached to all those small and big details. Perhaps these words are too few for what you deserve. Forgive me. Perhaps the distance between us is long, but I will definitely return. I will return proud of you. I will return with my head held high. I will tell everyone that I was born in a country fighting the occupier for its freedom and justice cause, for a better future. I will tell everyone about the memories I have lived, the most beautiful memories that can not be forgotten. When I used to run in your alleys, when I used to play and meet people who shared my childhood, my best and worst days. Share with me when I used to cry from the unbearable injustice, the sounds of crying and explosions, when I used to scream because I wanted to sleep without fear, without losing anyone, without hearing the sounds of rockets and the sounds of our homes being demolished and stones falling on our houses. Share with me the moments of my success that vanished, but I know and will always remember that I am from there. I will always be proud to be Palestinian by nationality, born in Gaza. I will remember the days of peace, family warmth, and our loud laughter, as I will remember the sounds of our crying. I will remember how we never left each other’s side out of fear of death, where we only hoped to die together. I will remember how I met the best people in the worst days, relying on each other, because in the end, we are all one family, sacrificing each other with our blood and souls. I will remember you, my relatives, my friends, and my acquaintances. We will meet someday, my homeland.


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