Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip killed more than 500 children. Those who survive must endure ongoing trauma and displacement.
Photos by Anne Paq and Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org
Text by Anne Paq
I visited Al Nada towers in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip after they were destroyed by Israeli strikes. The towers had 90 apartments, home to many families. Mohammed, an 11-year-old child, was sitting on top of rubble, waiting to go to school. As I was working on a series of images of destroyed bedrooms, I asked him to bring me to his home to show me his room. We climbed together over more rubble to access the second floor of the tower. Almost nothing remained of his room. It was completely burned and the walls had been blown off. Mohammed told me what he misses the most is “everything” — but especially his computer and his books. Since that encounter, I keep asking myself: what will Mohammed’s view of the world be after his little universe was destroyed this summer? A home can be rebuilt, but what about the psychological impact on his generation?
In Gaza, where the population is very young (over 60 percent of Gazans are under the age of 25), children are everywhere — and they are also the most vulnerable in conflict. Stuck in Gaza, these children only know the occupation and many have already witnessed several Israeli military operations. The latest Israeli offensive, named Operation Protective Edge, lasted for seven weeks and killed more than 500 children. More than 3,000 were injured, and 1,500 lost at least one parent. Most are traumatized. According to the UN, 373,000 children in Gaza are in immediate need of psychological assistance.
Their feeling of insecurity has worsened as many children lost what they consider to be their safe haven: their homes....Read More