Thirteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Daqqa vividly recalls the moment his friend and cousin Ahmad Abu Daqqa was killed outside his southeast Gaza home while they were playing football last Thursday afternoon.
“Suddenly, Ahmad fell on the ground and I was surprised to see him sort of bleeding right beneath his heart. An Israeli helicopter was buzzing overhead and other Israeli military jeeps and tanks were seen near the border line,” Muhammad explained.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), the life of the football-obsessed 13-year-old was cut short when a bullet fired by Israeli soldiers stationed nearby hit him in the stomach (“New Israeli escalation against the Gaza Strip,” 11 November).
Ahmad Abu Daqqa was born and raised in Abbasan al-Kabira town, a rural area east of Khan Younis. The boy is one of several Gaza children who have been killed by Israeli fire in recent days; two teen cousins, 16-year-old Muhammad Harara and 17-year-old Ahmad Harara, were also killed by Israeli fire while playing football near Gaza City on Saturday, according to PCHR.
Ahmad Abu Daqqa’s mother, who goes by Um Bilal, was at the home a relative to greet pilgrims who had recently returned from Mecca when her son was killed. She learned that a member of her family was shot through the news broadcast on a TV in the home she was visiting.
In a lowered voice, Um Bilal said through her tears, “The broadcaster announced the news, and at that moment my nephew screamed. … At this moment I felt my heart was taken out of me and I rushed to verify the news, as I had a feeling it was my son Ahmad.
“I went to the hospital directly to find my husband Abu Bilal holding Ahmad in his arms. It was such a horrible, heartbreaking moment, and I burst into sobs,” she said.
The grieving mother sighed, and recalled how her active son was known for helping not only his immediate family but his extended family as well.
“His aunts and others in the family used to always ask Ahmad for help — such as getting something from a grocer, or bringing water. Ahmad was my eye with which I see, Ahmad was my hand with which I create things, Ahmad was my leg with which I walk,” Um Bilal said, as her eight-year-old daughter Noor sat beside her.
“He was so helpful — to the extent that once he asked me to teach him how to cook for his eldest sister, Taghreed, who is a university student and spends much of her time studying,” Um Bilal added.
Sisters, father mourn
Noor proudly displayed a poster of her slain older brother and recalled watching Tom and Jerry with Ahmad, who was devoted to the Real Madrid football club.
Older sister Taghreed, who studies chemistry, said that Ahmad excelled at school and dreamed of becoming a computer engineer. Ahmad was a friend as well as a brother and would escort her on family visits or to the nearby market and help her with anything related to the computer, she explained.
Ahmad’s father, Younis Abu Daqqa or Abu Bilal, had just returned from the European Gaza Hospital where he works on the administrative staff. Abu Bilal, who is in his late fifties, couldn’t hold back as he recalled his son with a shaking voice.
“Ahmad was a part of me,” Abu Bilal said, surrounded by neighbors who had come to support the grieving family. “But I want to only say, I thank God for this and may he rest in peace with the angels. May God take revenge upon them [the Israeli soldiers]. What did my son do to deserve to be killed by them? Was his ball that he was playing with a rocket or a machine gun?”
Since the death of Ahmad Abu Daqqa, approximately twenty other Palestinians have been killed in increasing Israeli military aggression against the Gaza Strip, where the civilian population has nowhere to flee.
Israel ended an effective truce with armed groups in Gaza yesterday when it extrajudicially executed Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari. Israel says its military activity in Gaza is aimed at stopping crude rocket fire in Gaza. Between the beginning of the year through 6 November, 71 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza while 19 Israelis were injured by Palestinian fire from Gaza and none killed, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (“Protection of civilians weekly report”).
Back at the Abu Daqqa family home, Taghreed had the following message for Israel: “Do whatever you want, kill whoever you want; you should know that you are strangers on this land and one day you will go away.”
Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.