When Israel launched operation Pillars of Clouds back in 2012, I was 8 month pregnant with Yasmeen. Yet, I knew very little, about the enormous emotional complexities of loving, raising, and protecting a child.
From the anxiety of giving birth to the sleep deprivation, to the everyday tasks of keeping the well-being of a human being, motherhood is not easy and never gets easy. And that’s in normal situations where you and the safety of your child are something you can take for granted. But in Gaza, this is not the case.
As one mentioned on Twitter, children in Gaza born in 2007 are witnessing the third assault in their lives. Many were killed in the first 2008-2009, many were killed in 2012, and many are being killed these days. So being a mother in Gaza means that your and your children’s worst fears is Israel and its brutality.
When the bombs drop and booms rock their cradles and beds, the mother is the one the children go for safety, protection and comfort. Then she has to make up all sorts of stories that could make the situation more tolerable for her children. “It’s firework’, “it’s thunder”. “It’s nothing”, “it’s going to be ok”, “a popped balloon”, and other imaginative stories that may or may not be believable.And if she was asked to stop “these big booms”, she knows that she’s as helpless as her children. The situation is bigger than both. The most unsettling thing, however, is that a mother has to provide her children with a sense of safety that she herself doesn’t feel. Masking the stress and fear in order to give hope and a sense of normality requires a miraculous effort.
— Gaza Writes Back (@ThisIsGaZa) July 13, 2014
And still a mother in Gaza is a mother who fears that her children will be killed in israel’s bombardments. Israel has been targeting civilian houses, and many of the causalities are children who were sleeping in their beds or just playing. If a normal person worries about the wellbeing of others, then a mother worries ten times more. How about if bombs were dropping on your head and your children’s’? Israel has killed many Palestinian children some were buried under rubble and some were even directly shot and killed. Israel’s occupation is a mother’s worst fear. If these children weren’t killed, they still may face detention and torture in Israel’s prisons.
A mother in Gaza is a mother who she herself is facing death and leaving her children orphans. Once you become a mother, you can’t imagine your children’s future without you crowning it with them graduated or married. You fear that if you leave the world while they are small that no one will be there for them. And you know, the mother is irreplaceable. It’s true that a mother would gladly sacrifice her life for the lives of her children. But she knows deep down that she wants to be part of their present and future. Families stay together in one room during attacks so in case they get killed they all leave together. No one is left behind to grieve. Yet that doesn’t always happen and many children are left orphaned in Gaza. And many mothers are left with mourning the death of her children.
Palestinian kids inspect graves of 18 members of al-Batsh family who were killed in their house by Israeli strikes pic.twitter.com/JqIqklq1yg
— Gaza Writes Back (@ThisIsGaZa) July 13, 2014
A mother in Gaza is a mother who is grieving the loss of her child/children, born and unborn. Many mothers in Gaza are having miscarriages as result of the stress and the impact of airstrikes. The emptiness of the house, of her child’s clothes, bed, toys, and photos fill her with memories of a child she once carried inside her, and endlessly loved.
It’s an irrevocable loss.
It’s a loss that Israel brazenly justifies as collateral damage, or a tool of pressure to bring the people’s defiance down. It’s a loss that’s overlooked in the media, because the people targeted are considered less worthy than other children.
Is there something more painful and bitterer than a mother kissing her child one last time instead of placing a goodnight kiss on her child’s forehead?
I am writing this, because my mother, my sister in laws, many of my friends, who are mothers now, are in Gaza now facing the danger of israel’s attacks.
I am writing this, because the strength they manifest is inspirational and unparalleled. And because many take this strength for granted while it takes enormous effort and incredible courage to be able to stay a figure that provides protection and love in such dire circumstances. Gaza’s mothers and fathers are my heroes, and examples to follow.
May all mothers around the world be given the strength of Palestinian mothers.
May Palestinian mothers live in a Palestine where peace prevail…
(Palestinian fathers are not less heroic than the mothers, but I was just focusing on mothers, because I can relate to them the most).