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A mother in Gaza

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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 depravation, to the everyday tasks of keeping the wellbeing of a human being, motherhood is not easy and never gets easy. And that’s in normal situations where your and the safety of you 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 where the children go for safety, protection and comfort. Then she has to make up all sorts of stories that make that 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 are some of the 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 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 is in itself a miraculous effort.

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. What about if bombs were dropping on your head and your children’s’? Israel indeed has killed many Palestinian children some were buried in 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 prison. 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 more bitter than a mother kissing her child one last time instead of giving goodnight kiss?

I am writing this, because my mother, my sister in laws, many of my friends, whom are now mothers, 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).

(Originally published on Lina Al-Sharif’s blog Reflections on motherhood, motherland, and poetry)

Lina Al-Sharif

Lina Al-Sharif, a Palestinian blogger living in Doha-Qatar.

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2 Responses

  1. Citizen on July 14, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Meanwhile, the American mainstream media is telling to Americans, 98% non-Jewish, a story of Jewish Israeli mothers trying to comfort their kids as endless HAMAS rockets pour down on them. Many US congress folks and Obama himself have empathized publicly with the Jews. Only one side of this story is getting out in the main, no matter Phil Weiss thinks there may be the start of a sea change in news coverage. Phil mixes a few tidbits of news that the Tampa Bay youth beat up by the Jewish thugs with hope. I hope too, but I look and hear, sitting here on my US couch, and all I see in the TV news is the Zionist narrative framing the American news. It’s really hard to not say ZOG when you add in US politicians’ take. I’m aware that ZOG is an anti-Semitic term, but how am I to face what I see and hear on US mainstream news, and juxtapose that with what I learn on the internet alternative news, and remain sane and humane?

  2. Sumud on July 15, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Lina thank you for this heartfelt piece.

    It hasn’t generated much in the way of comments I think because people don’t know what to say – here many of us sit in a comfortable house with a comfortable life (at least by comparison) witnessing the unfolding horror and feeling very powerless to make an immediate difference.

    So being a mother in Gaza means that your and your children’s worst fears is Israel and its brutality.

    I read your article yesterday and this line stayed with me throughout the day. We can look at photographs and videos and even talk with people in Gaza but this stayed with me and gave me a deeper feeling for what Gaza and especially the children of Gaza are enduring.

    Worst fears for most of us is something that is remote. For a child maybe it is monsters or ghosts. For an adult it might be fear of a disease or a random accident befalling a family member. But in Palestine – and especially in Gaza – your worse fears are right there in the room with you. It’s so much.

    So yes, to Palestinian mothers! To their steadfast perseverance – to the land and the olive tree and the pregnant mother. An inspiration.

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