Yasin and Ayoub Abu Khusa were as close as two brothers could be. They slept beside each other and walked to school together. They were the best of friends.
Thirteen-year-old Ayoub does not know how he will cope without Yasin, 10. On Saturday, Yasin was killed when Israel attacked their neighborhood in northern Gaza.
“When I found Yasin losing consciousness and covered with blood, I sat in the corner and started crying from fear,” Ayoub said.
To make matters worse, their 6-year-old sister Isra was also killed.
Media reports about the killings relied heavily on Israeli propaganda. The reports conveyed the impression that the children were killed accidentally as Israel targeted a nearby training camp for the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
The reports also insinuated that the family was partly to blame because they lived beside a Hamas training camp.
Sabha, the children’s mother, offers a perspective that has been omitted from those reports.
As a result, the family asked the authorities within Gaza that they be moved somewhere that was considered safer. Their request went unanswered. They did not receive any financial aid to repair the damage caused by the previous attacks.
“How are we guilty?” Sabha asked. “Why have our children been denied a chance to live in safety?”
The family’s home was completely dark at the time of the attack. As happens frequently in Gaza, there had been a power cut.
The attack took place without warning in the early hours last Saturday morning.
Suleiman, the children’s father, woke up in a state of panic when he heard the explosion. He ran towards the children’s room. There was smoke everywhere.
It was immediately clear that Yasin could not move. Suleiman found Isra groaning in pain.
An ambulance was called. But when 15 minutes had elapsed and there was no sign of it, a neighbor drove Isra and Yasin to a hospital, along with their father.
Suleiman screamed at his neighbor to drive as fast as possible. Yasin died during the journey.
“My neighbor whispered that my son was dead,” Suleiman said. “I kept silent for a moment. Then I screamed louder.”
The car stopped in Indonesia hospital, a recently opened facility in Jabaliya refugee camp. Isra was rushed to the intensive care unit; Yasin’s remains were brought to the morgue.
After a few hours, Isra was transferred to al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital.
Back at the family’s home, friends and neighbors soon began calling to offer their condolences. Yasin’s funeral was held soon after his death, in accordance with Palestinian traditions. Teachers and pupils from his school were among those to attend.
Just one hour after Yasin was buried, the family received a phone call from al-Shifa hospital. Isra had died from her injuries, they were told.
“We were in deep shock,” Suleiman said.
Sabha had dreamed of Isra getting married in the future. Isra would be a beautiful bride.
Sabha is barely able to talk now. She cannot comprehend what has happened to her family. She could only speak a few sentences when asked for a comment.
The Abu Khusa family posed no threat to anyone. They were trying to survive as best they could by grazing sheep and planting crops. Israel has robbed them of two precious children.
Hamza Abu Eltarabesh is a journalist in Gaza