Four-year-old Qana survivor’s night between the dead

Four-year-old Hassan Chalhoub (image courtesy of Hanady Salman)

Three of my colleagues went to Tyre today.

I will spare you the details of what they saw and wrote. There’s only one thing that I need to share with you. Saada went to Jabal Amel hospital where she found a four year old boy, Hassan Chalhoub, who had spent the previous night in the morgue between the dead. He had been sleeping next to his sister, six-year-old Zeinab, in the shelter in Qana. There with him were his mom and his dad, who’s confined to a wheelchair. Many of the people of Qana are survivors of the 1996 massacre, when 110 people were killed and more than 100 were injured when by Israeli raids on civilians who had sought shelter in a nearby UN base. Thus, many of the people of Qana have special needs.

Hassan was sleeping when it all happened Saturday night. His mom was injured, but she managed to find her way under the rubble and was looking for her kids. She called him, and he answered her. She asked him if he was injured and he said no. So, she went to look for her daughter and husband. She found her daughter’s hand. She tried to take her out, to pull her up. She couldn’t. Then she saw her husband, so she crawled to him. But before that, she caressed her daughter’s hand and whispered to her, “forgive me my angel because I can’t help you out of here.”

She saved her husband, thinking that someone had already taken care of little Hassan.

She and her husband spent the rest of the night in the closest house, where the civil defense workers had taken them. The next morning, they took them to the hospital.

Hassan was thought dead. They put him where they put the other kids. He woke up in the morning and opened his eyes to see a two-year-old girl lying next to him. He thought she sleeping. He looked around, and luckily found a man. “Ammo, what am I doing here?” he asked. The man couldn’t believe his eyes.

He took Hassan to his parents. When Hassan saw his mom, he started yelling at her, “Why did you leave me there alone, sleeping with our neighbor’s kids? How could you? You know, if I weren’t scared I would have followed you home. But it was dark and they were shelling, so I slept again. Where is Zeinab?”

His mother, Rabab, told him the following: “She’s having fun in heaven. There are no Israelis there. She’s happy there.”

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Hanady Salman is an editor at As-Safir newspaper