Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels

Ironically, it was in Palestine,
20 years ago, that I concluded that there is no God. For how could a
God, who claims to love all and treat all with impartiality, allow such
horrors like those in Palestine to happen?

unbelief grew stronger with each curfew, with each strike that mourned
the death of yet one more martyr, with a decapitation induced by
gunfire in the main square on a sunny Ramallah afternoon so many years
ago. But it was cemented the day I had to tell one of my fifth grade
students that his brother had just been taken away by the Israeli army.
His expression, his body going limp, the shuddering of his shoulders as
he wept with his classmates...that's what finally did it.

20 years have passed since that day, and I have now married into a
Gazan family. I am a wife and mother, the sister and aunt of so many
kids living the horror of what Gaza has become. As we watch the footage of Israel's
onslaught, I hear myself, whispering as I see one more martyred child,
"Run to the" After so many years, this living nightmare is
fostering a burning desire to believe once again in the afterlife.

starved, sniped, suffocated. They are slaughtered like sheep, but the
leaders of the free world just cannot seem to find a moment to comment.
Golfing, vacationing, Obama, Bush, even the EU, they just aren't
important enough. My mutterings have become a like a canter. I call out
to these stricken and shattered little bodies, who frankly never
experienced life to lose it. The only consolation to offer is the
respite found in death.

crowd gathers, shrouded in gas, smoke and dust. In the front stand
eight young fathers, each holding a white swaddled bundle of what used
to be a son, a daughter. For a few moments there is no screaming, no
chanting or crying, but a moment of quiet and stillness that presses
one to wonder just whom has been granted the greater mercy, the toddler
who caught the snipers bullet, or the young father, who will have to
find some way to live beyond this moment?

young boy sits on the sidewalk beside his mother. She is propped up
against the wall of a collapsed building and her life is bleeding out
all over the sidewalk. It is spattered on his face and smeared on his
shirt. She uses the last of her strength to lift her arm and clutch his
cheek in her palm and then she is gone. He rests his head in his hands
and cries. He is all alone.

camera zooms in on the scene of a freshly detonated building, a
civilian home. A little girls brown curly hair covered in dust and eyes
wide open is all that can be found of her. Her mother wails and pulls
her hair while her father frantically searches among the rubble for the
rest of his daughter, where could she be? I whisper again, "you will be
made whole again in Paradise. Run to the angels".

amazing faith. What strong devotion that a father loses his mother,
father, wife and eight children, that this man before anything can
assert, "God is Great, Thank God for Everything". He holds his child,
now still and ashen, he smothers him with kisses and then gently pulls
back the sheet to expose two bullet holes in his chest. He then
tenderly places the child beside his brother and again, pulls the sheet
back of his youngest son to reveal a single snipers bullet to the
chest. He can barely compose himself and he moans to the sympathizing
camera man, "God is Great, Thank God for Everything".

old and wrinkled Imam so lovingly cradles a little girl's lifeless
body, as if mishandling her now could inflict more pain, he mumbles a
benediction and gently lies her beside her sisters and her brothers in
the mass grave. I try to comfort her, saying, "Finally, a place of
safety. Rest beside your sister. Your brother. Put your fears to rest
and meet your beloved Prophet and the many of your little friends who
have fallen before you."

schools, mosques, civilian homes, UN shelters, all worthy targets.
Doctors, medicines, food and water, truckloads of relief from all
corners of the world line up for miles at the Egyptian border but they
are refused entry. Security is high, food is scarce, water is
completely gone.

seems to spring forth in the strangest of moments. For me, it seems to
be coming full circle out of desperation and in agony, for the sake of
the snow-white souls of the many bloodied and dismembered innocents of Gaza.

workers coordinate with Israelis to get civilians to safety inside a UN
school. Hundreds are tucked inside the mutually agreed safe haven. Soon
after, the school comes under Israeli fire. Bruised and battered
refugees stare Satan in the face, clad in his fatigues. Hundreds
wounded, scores dead, many lost and unaccounted for.

negotiate a cease-fire. Rumors buzz of conspiracies. The US
President-elect is forever silent. Parents search beneath the collapsed
walls for what remains of their children. Shattered concrete, random
arms and legs, broken glass, tossed together in a bloody hodge-podge.
But, in my mind, I see them whole, their little bodies swiftly being
swept up into Paradise and I call out to them, "Run!"

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