A Palestinian father-of-6 says his youngest kids would scream and cry when they first heard bombs, but now they’re ‘numb’ and sit in the corner instead of playing – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

A Palestinian father-of-6 says his youngest kids would scream and cry when they first heard bombs, but now they’re ‘numb’ and sit in the corner instead of playing

A bombed-out section of western Gaza City.

Loay Ayyoub, The Washington Post/Getty Images

A Palestinian man says his youngest kids used to cry and scream when they heard bombings nearby. 
Now, he says, they are “numb and indifferent,” and have lost their sense of childhood.
Since Hamas first attacked Israel, Israel has devastated the Gaza Strip with air strikes.  

A University professor and father of six in Gaza said the current war is the most difficult time he and his fellow Palestinians have been through and that it’s particularly hard on the children. 

Refaat Alareer, a 44-year-old who works at Islamic University of Gaza, told Insider that the constant bombings, the death, and the destruction have had a stark impact on his youngest children.

Since Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, first attacked Israel last Saturday, Israel has dropped hundreds of tons of bombs onto the Palestinian territory, flattening mosques and neighborhoods and displacing hundreds of thousands of residents.

“The little ones are usually where you see the impact of the bombings,” said Alareer, whose two youngest children are 7 and 11 years old. 

“It’s gradual,” he said, “So first, it starts with fear and screaming and crying from the kids every time they hear a bomb. And because it never stops and the first couple of days there’s barely any sleep. Even when you sleep, you get awakened by yet another series of bombs with the home, the building, all the whole building shaking and the sirens and the smoke, the gunpowder, the cement.”

A bomb could be heard going off close to Alareer’s home while he was on the phone with Insider. He said he was okay and that his family has stayed away from the windows during the blasts.

Alareer said that once his kids got used to the fear, their mentality shifted. They became “a little bit numb and indifferent, kind of submitting to what might come at any time in the most brutal kind of anticipation and waiting,” he said.

He said his youngest children ask questions like, “Is this a war?” Is this person or that person going to be okay?” and “Are we going to be okay?”

“These are the questions that you don’t want to hear. You want your kids to grow,” he said, “but you don’t want them to grow talking about war and death and destruction.”

“The other thing is they lose this kind of sense of childhood that is being playful, being naughty, being out there with the toys and everything,” he said, adding that now, “it’s most often they will be sitting somewhere in a corner.”

Alareer’s older kids are 14, 17, 20, and 21 years old. All six of them, along with Alareer and his wife, have been hunkered down in their apartment in Gaza City since the war began. The youngest children have not been allowed to go outside, Alareer said, adding, “Not that it is safer inside.”

Alareer said that people normally distinguish events in their lives by markers like when they traveled to that place, when they bought this car, and when they moved to a place, but not Palestinians.

He said he has found himself marking big life events, and time itself, by its connection to war, explaining that his 7-year-old daughter is now four-wars-old. 

“It’s usually, in Gaza, ‘yeah, he was born after the war, after the second war, after that war, after this war,'” Alareer said. “And that is in itself devastating — in the way how we mark our memories by not the best, but by the worst.”

But, he said, there’s beauty in Palestinians’ strong sense of solidarity. Despite the dwindling supplies of food and water, he hasn’t seen anyone hoarding or amassing more food than they need. 

“So at least we suffer equally,” Alareer added. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip, including cutting off the Palestinian territory’s access to electricity, food, water, and medical supplies. The only crossings where civilians could flee Gaza have also been closed off, trapping about 2 million residents in the war-torn enclave. 

“Here, there is not anything, not enough food, not enough water,” Ahmed Abu Artema, another Palestinian living in Gaza, told Insider. “And every day come, the situation becomes worse. The crossings are completely closed. Most of the shops are closed.”

Artema said he has been separated from his family since the war began because it’s too dangerous to drive to get to them, especially with little to no electricity and internet. It’s not immediately clear how far his family is from him, and when Insider spoke to Artema, he said his phone only had 6% battery left. 

He said he doesn’t know how to feel when “every hour” he sees a “new massacre.”

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said earlier this week that it had already hit nearly 2,300 Hamas targets in Gaza, which have included mosques, residential areas, and refugee camps.

Gaza’s health ministry has said that over 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,000 injured. The IDF said more than 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’ attack in Israel. 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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