I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.
M.Burch, “Epitaph for a Palestinian Child”
They opened the door with a ram.
They took us from the house
and fired shots at my family.
They killed my mother and four sisters,
my father and my brother’s son .
Then all my brothers were found and shot.
I stood still. I could not move.
My whole family was dead.
They lay there under rubble for sixteen days
Who will teach me now?
Where can I go?
Author’s name withheld, age 13
From Child Poets of Gaza, M. Burch, Editor,
“The most important message you get from your superiors in the Israeli military is that every Palestinian needs to feel Israel is at the back of their neck. So, quickly, you adapt to the environment; you don’t see the Palestinian in front of you as human. They are reduced to being an object.”
Before Palestine became a Muslim region in the year 636, numerous peoples competed for control of its strategic location, including Nazerine Christians and Caananites. Between around 1382 and 1615, Palestine was universally revered by Arab and Muslim scholars and other writers of the time as the “blessed land of the prophets and Islam’s revered leaders”. Pilgrims flocked to Palestine from throughout the Arab world in a kind of renaissance, as ancient Muslim sanctuaries were rediscovered. In 1496, Mujir al-Din al-‘Ulaymi wrote his history of Palestine known as The Glorious History of Jerusalem and Hebron.
The Mamluk Sultanate was indirectly created in Egypt as a result of the Seventh Crusade. The Mongol Empire reached Palestine for the first time in 1260, beginning with the Mongol raids into Palestine under Nestorian Christian general Kitbuqa and reaching an apex at the pivotal Battle of Ain Jalut. In 1486, hostilities broke out between the Mamluks and the Ottoman Turks in a battle for control over western Asia and the Ottomans captured Palestine in 1516
“The way we passed those night patrols was to bang on random houses, no reason and we’d go in, wake everyone up, men in one room, women in another, mess everything up, onto the next house. One night we wanted to watch a soccer match so we went looking for a house that had a satellite dish. We found one, went in and locked the family in the basement while we watched the match. Why wouldn’t we? That’s what we do in the occupied territories.”
La Madre de los Árboles
De Alice Walker
Si yo fuera
la madre del Viento
soplaría todo el miedo
lejos de ti.
The Mother of Trees
©2014 by Alice Walker
If I could be
the mother of Wind
I would blow all fear
away from you.
If I could be
the mother of Water
I would wash out the path
that frightens you.
If I were the mother
I would plant
my tallest children
around your feet
that you might
climb beyond all danger.
I am only
a mother of humans
whose magic powers
since we allow
our littlest ones
to face injustice
& the unholiest
Translated by Cuban poet Mañuel Verdecia
Alice Walker’s note about this poem:
For weeks I did nothing but think about this child and all the Palestinian children taken from their schools and homes, their beds, often in the middle of the night
Casi no existen las palabras cuando la Guerra es contra los niños e.
There are almost no words when the war is against children.
Future – it’s a big word for me and I had a lot of dreams…two years ago I decided to be a journalist because I like to write and take photos and things like that – but I forgot that I live in Gaza and those things are impossible for us.
I can’t travel at any time or write anything here. No one writes anything except about war and enemies (Israel) so my dream started to vanish.
Now I don’t know what I want to be and have no dream.
Boy, age 12. Name withheld, Child Poets of Gaza, Ibid.
I just want to ask the people who are living outside of Gaza…
Imagine your life with no electricity or basic things? Destroyed home, a lot of children who don’t have parents, the sounds just like the roll of thunder…BOOM…all the time. Imagine your children tell you through their eyes and cries, “We are afraid, we can’t take it anymore and we can’t even sleep!”
Imagine yourself with no one beside you, to take care of you or even to look after you…and the people around you are strangers…How long could you stand it?
If the world stood with us we will not stand it any longer or anymore. But unfortunately there is no ”doings” just other people who are trying to help us by saying words, not more. They don’t do for us any good things.
We are now better than before, at least we can go to school everyday instead of seeing others dying.
I hope Gaza will change and be as the other countries…we just have to pray all the time!
We just want PEACE.
Girl, age 14, name withheld, The Child Poets of Gaza, Ibid.
All text is excerpts, except Alice Walker poem. Historical references from Wikipedia. Photos from Google Images.