Dalal – the only survivor in her family

Dalal – the only survivor in her family

by Mahmoud Abu Aisha

When I used to write about the victims of Israeli crimes, I never imagined that one day I’d be writing about the unbearable misery of my own family.

In the first week of Israel’s war against Gaza, our friends phoned to tell us that my cousin’s house had been bombed. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. Fifteen minutes later, another phone call came from relatives asking if we had heard the news and if it was true.

I turned on the radio. The local station confirmed that F16 warplanes had bombed the Abu Aisha home. I fainted.

My brothers roused me, and we rushed to my cousin’s house to help. It was very risky, because the Israelis were targeting all moving vehicles in the darkness.

The house consisted of four floors and a basement. Four families live in this house, and my cousin’s family lived on the first floor. When we arrived, we found the civil defense and ambulances collecting the severed limbs of the children and their parents.

A scene of horror

We found the father’s corpse laying on the ground, about 50 meters away from the home, with severe injuries and burns. He had two wives, as the first was childless: Nahil, my cousin with four children, of whom the oldest is Dalal, and Sabah, the first wife, who had a child years later. One of the mothers (we couldn’t distinguish which one) was found with her head and shoulder severed from her body.

The fate of the children was even more heart-wrenching. I wept as I collected their limbs and shredded bodies. The three children were Mohamad, 4 years, Ghaida, 7 years, and Sayed, 10 years. I still feel traumatized by seeing their fingers, flesh and guts spread everywhere.

Only Dalal, 12 years old, survived because she had gone to sleep with her aunt the day before. When she learned that she had lost her entire family, she crumbled in shock. She was inconsolable, crying, “I am an orphan… what is my sin?… Nothing remains for me…”

It was 10:00 am, and we had to bury the bodies according to Islamic rituals. However, we couldn’t find any part of the other mother. We thought that the body we found was Sabah, but we later discovered that Sabah had left her home a few days earlier, seeking a safer place.

When Sabah heard about the catastrophe on the radio she fainted. The host family thought she was simply tired. By the time she revived, her family had already buried what they thought was her body. In fact it was Nahil who was buried, not Sabah.

Dalal is consumed with grief at the loss of her family. She cries constantly. The only things left in her home were her school uniform, her cat and some photos of her brothers and sister.

Has the world abandoned us? Who will stand up for the rights of Palestinian children and their families?

video of Dalal’s story

Build the boycott against Israel

For information about the boycott,  go to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

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