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Over the Bodies of Children: God Willing We'll Have Fun Tomorrow

Photo by Mahmoud Ajjour/Palestine Chronicle. Front photo: Screenshot of Ahmed and Sarah 

In the latest manifestation of a savage, years-long Gaza strategy they call mowing the grass," Israel has now killed from the aloof air - often using U.S. made weaponry - at least 212 Palestinians, including 61 children, 36 women, two doctors, 10 members of one family and 17 members of another. They have also wounded over 1,200, left tens of thousands homeless, and reportedly targeted roads leading to the main hospital to prevent injured Palestinians from getting treated, thus brutally clarifying to a both-sides-beguiled media that, "THIS IS NOT A CONFLICT," but genocide. Among those killed without warning in attacks Sunday night were multiple generations of the al-Qawlaq family; the youngest victim, Qusay Sameh al-Qawlaq, was 6 months old, and the oldest was 84-year-old Saadiya Yousef al-Qawlaq. Two prominent doctors were also killed; so were 10 members of a family, including eight children preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan: "They put on their Eid clothes and went to celebrate it with their uncle, just like any innocent children would do." For a resurgent Palestinian resistance, the slaughter again proves "no one is privileged, no one is safe" under an Occupation that is "trying to score a victory over the bodies of children." “War after war after war. Bombing after bombing after bombing. You build a house, they destroy it. You raise a child, they kill him,” says one traumatized survivor of the 2014 assault in the movie 'Killing Gaza.' "This struggle, before it (is) political or historical or ideological, (is) a struggle for our humanity."
Especially heartrending among Sunday's victims - is it possible to delineate a hierarchy of suffering? - was 34-year-old Ahmed Hatem Mahmoud Al-Mansi, who had just posted a popular video on his daughters' YouTube channel. Explaining his three children Malek, Hala and Sarah were traumatized by the carnage outside, Ahmed brings each sweet, smiling kid before the camera, gently mocking their sleep-tousled hair and announcing he's going to the market for them. "Hala is sad because of the shellings, so today I'm trying to please her," he says in an English translation. "I’m going to buy you some toys, God willing.” In the full version of the video, he records, despite the bloody havoc, the packed marketplace, vibrant crowds, store crammed with toys. A shorter version cuts to his arrival back home with his plastic treasure; the girls gleefully start in with it until the faint rumble of a plane sounds. "Don’t worry OK?” Ahmed says tenderly. “Keep playing.” But the girls scatter to the couch, eyes wide, pillows over their heads, and he tries to comfort them: "God willing, tomorrow we'll have fun." A couple of days later, a Twitter post said Ahmed and his brother Yousef, 22, were both killed in an airstrike; in a video, another brother Mohammed tearfully says he was recording the victims when he found his brothers were among them. The deaths were among many on a human rights group's long, grim list: "Yasmin Muhammad Khamis Abu Hatab, 31, and four of her children: Yusef, 11, Maryam, eight,  Bilal, nine, Yamen, six. The children's aunt Maha Muhammad Abdel-Al Abu Hatab, 35, and three of her children: Osama, six, Abdel and Suhaib, both 13." Another child, Yahya, 11, and several other victims were still missing under the rubble. In all likelihood, Israel won't have to "defend itself" against them anymore.

Looking for survivors. Photo by Ashraf Amra/APA

Tear-gassed protesters. Twitter photo.

Twitter photo

Photo by Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills

Boy with body of a relative being transported. Photo by Mahmoud Ajjour/Palestine Chronicle

Ahmed and Sarah

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet, Further columnist

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning print journalist for newspapers and magazines, she lived in the Maine woods for about a dozen years before moving to Portland in 1983. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues.

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