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Tyem, 4 years old, remained for half an hour under the rubble of his house before being saved by his mother. (Photo: Supplied)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

“Tyem is my firstborn, the first joy in my life. He is my son, my friend, my beloved one, he is everything to me.”

An Israeli military strike, on March 12, targeted a residential area of the Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza. It was the second day of the holy month of Ramadan. 

The news reported that many were killed or wounded, without providing much context to what was considered yet another Israeli massacre against civilians. 

The Palestine Chronicle spoke with Angham al-Mahdoun, a survivor of the Israeli massacre. 

The al-Madhoun family lived in the al-Bureij refugee camp before the start of the war. But following a series of Israeli massacres in the camp, Angham took her two children, Tyem, 4, and Ayla, 3, and fled. Al-Nuseirat, however, was not much safer. 

On the eve of the latest massacre, the family had just broken their Ramadan fast when the Israeli airstrike hit their house.

“I went to the bathroom to perform ablution and prepare for the evening prayers and Taraweeh at home,” Angham told The Palestine Chronicle. 

“My children were playing in the adjacent room when the occupation bombed the house. The smell of smoke, gunpowder, and dust immediately filled the air,” she recounted. 

“I rushed out of the bathroom. And the toughest half an hour of my life began at that very moment,” Angham said.

“I was terrified. I could not see anything because of the dust and the fire, and I was not able to locate my children. The place was dark, and there was no light except for the fire ignited by the bombing. I started crying and screaming, calling their names, but to no avail.”

Where is My Son? 

“I finally heard the voice of my little daughter Ayla and I managed to locate her,” Angham told us.

“She had wounds all over her body, but thankfully, she was still alive, and her injuries were not severe. I was relieved, but she was crying and trembling with intense fear. The sound of the rockets, the crumbling walls, the collapse of a large part of the house. Everything was extremely terrifying,” she said.

Our fear intensified when she realized that Tyem was not responding to her desperate calls. 

“Tears were streaming down my face. I wanted my son Tyem. My little boy, with his beautiful face, who experienced fear at every moment of this war. My Tyem was now under the rubble, and I could not locate him,” the woman told us, now tears once more streaming down her face. 

“Tyem is my firstborn, the first joy in my life. He is my son, my friend, my beloved one, he is everything to me.”

“I started digging with my hands, desperately, around the same spot where I found my daughter Ayla. I could feel the walls and the rubble, and finally my hand touched Tyem’s foot,” al-Madhoun recounted.

Aylan, 3, was playing with her brother when an Israeli strike targeted her house. (Photo: Supplied)

“His foot was sticking out of the rubble, but the place was pitch dark. I started talking to him, but he didn’t respond. One of the adjacent mosque’s walls had fallen on him, burying his small body under the rubble,” she said.

“There were no tools to lift the rubble off Tyem’s body, so I kept digging with my hands. I removed the shattered stones, one by one, I cleared the sand that had turned black due to the gunpowder. My tears mixed with the sand as I could not stop crying while I was trying to save my Tyem. All I could think about was getting my son out from under the rubble.”

“I kept digging and digging for at least half an hour. My hands were now covered in blood, but I finally managed to extract Tyem from under that wall,” she said, with a trembling voice. 

“I rushed him to the Al-Awda Hospital. The neighbors helped me to get him out and transport him to the hospital,” she told us.

“Tyem was injured. Wounds, burns and fractures were all over his body, but he was alive, and he is currently receiving treatment at the hospital.”

The Other Wounds

Unfortunately, though, there are wounds that are not visible and will take more time to heal. 

“During the first month of the war, the Israeli occupation bombed my husband’s family house, in the Al-Bureij refugee camp, where we used to live,” Angham recalled.

“The house was completely destroyed and we moved to my family house in the Nuseirat refugee camp. My husband works remotely for a company outside Gaza and is currently at risk of losing his job due to the power outage in the Gaza,” she said. 

“My children were directly bombed twice during this war and they need psychological treatment to help them overcome the traumas they experienced so far,” she continued. 

“I hope the war stops immediately, that my husband doesn’t lose his job, that we can urgently rebuild our house, and that my children won’t be hit by the occupation’s missiles for a third time,” al-Madoun said, in a faint voice.

“We call on all free people of the world to intervene urgently and work to stop the genocide being perpetrated against the people of Gaza,” she concluded.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle in the Gaza Strip.

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