Nima Hassan, 43, from Gaza, is a single parent of seven children between the ages of 7 and 23. In a society that does not accept women managing their affairs alone without men.
– It was not easy, but I did my best with a small income. We all lived in one room and I was never able to provide what my children needed. Then came the war, Nima Hassan tells Dagbladet.
Death pursued him
Hassan’s seven children are currently seven, nine, eleven, 15, 17, 19 and 23 years old. In simple ways, it gave them dreams and hope for the future, outside Gaza as well.
Then the war came and destroyed my children’s dreams and mine. Death haunts us everywhere here now. She says: We were evacuated from our house, which was bombed.
The family now lives in a UN school in Rafah with hundreds of other people who also have no home – because of the bombing. Shocked and terrified people now live close to each other. After more than two weeks of war and bombing, almost no one has any food, water or medicine.
– Three of my children suffer from chronic diseases. “We are now living here at the United Nations School, without drinking water, food for the children, or electricity,” Hassan says.
More than 2.2 million people, almost half of whom are children, now lack food and water and are completely dependent on aid to survive.
The hospitals quickly became empty of everything. Also basic medicines – and electricity.
At the same time, bomb attacks are intensifying and the number of deaths is increasing faster by the day.
He dies every fifteen minutes
According to Save the Children, one child dies every fifteen minutes in Gaza now. More than 2.2 million people live in an area the size of Greater Oslo. It is now being bombed around the clock. Citizens have nowhere to go.
– More than 2,000 children were killed. In addition, there are more than 700 children missing under the ruins that have not yet been excavated. There are so many dead and I constantly receive reports of so many deaths,” says Nora Engdahl, international director of Save the Children, who has lived in Gaza for several years.
Hassan’s family comes from Rafah, a city located in the far south of the Gaza Strip, from where hundreds of thousands of people are now fleeing.
– I am afraid for my children. Let the missiles hit them and kill them. Death surrounds and besieges us and I am unable to find a safe place for my children, Hassan writes to Dagbladet on social media.
Strong for children
Trying to be strong for the kids. They had already lost many of their friends in the last two weeks of hell.
“War is so terrible, I try, but I can’t help them comprehend everything that is happening now,” says the woman who usually writes poems and helps women who have fled violent relationships and war.
Since Israel launched its war on Hamas following the October 7 terror attack, more than 5,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since then, according to statistics. United nations, which uses figures from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health. More than 15,000 people were reported infected.
– The situation is terrible. People line up for bread at three in the morning. A family member goes out to book his flight to buy, under the threat of bombing and air strikes. Now, at 7:15 p.m., the line for bread is not over. Hassan says there are still many children who have not received food.
Bombardment from Israel is increasing, just over two and a half weeks since Hamas attacked twenty targets in southern Israel. In the past 24 hours alone, more than 700 people have been killed in Gaza, the highest number. Among these are 305 children, according to the report CNN.
-I usually try to help people through drama, poetry, music, drawing, and writing. Now, during the war, I work as a volunteer in UN schools, she says.
Before the war, Hassan worked to help people process their trauma from past wars through drama, poetry, music, and writing. The 43-year-old has also written several books, and sent one poem in English to Dagbladet.
He will draw flowers – not blood
Nima Hassan sends Dagbladet several drawings made by her seven-year-old daughter.
– You want to draw flowers and butterflies, not blood and corpses. One of my other children loves writing poems and stories. She wants to tell the world about her adventures, not about the war. “The world must stop this madness before it kills children’s dreams,” she says.
One word is repeated when Hassan writes: dignity. That all people on earth have the right to this.
– We Palestinians also love life, and we want to live it. Our children also have dreams and ambitions that they want to achieve. “The world must – and can – give us the right to live in dignity,” she explains.
– I want Gaza and its children to live like the children of the outside world.
– Give us dignity
But for now, there’s one thing Niama Hassan and more than 2.2 million Gazans are doing: They’re wondering how they can survive the ongoing nightmare, war. They have nowhere to go.
People are always thinking about whether they should travel somewhere else, for fear that the building they are in will be bombed. Or is it maybe better to just stay?
More than 2.2 million Gazans feel desperate: should they leave or stay? No one knows where they can be safe.
This boy survived a bomb attack on his home in a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
These two children also survived a bomb attack, but more than 2,000 children have been confirmed dead. It is feared that more than 700 people have died and are still under the rubble.
-We do not have food, clean water, or medicine. Children die before their mothers’ eyes without realizing their dreams like other children, Hassan says and continues:
-What does the world expect from them? The enemy has been besieging the country for 17 years. Hamas tried to open a way out for the people of Gaza so that they could live like other people. Israel is the occupier, Hassan writes.
She believes that “it is wrong to carry out collective punishment against the civilian population in Gaza, if the goal is to take over Hamas.”
Doesn’t the world see the massacres committed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza? Hassan says that this war could end if Israel stopped fighting Gaza and besieging us for 17 years.
– Children must be protected
Nora Engdahl, International Director of Save the Children, has lived in Gaza for many years and is in daily contact with Save the Children staff and other acquaintances. Last Monday, a letter arrived from a former colleague.
He and his family were in central Gaza. He has now lost three children, while his wife and two youngest are seriously injured in intensive care. “I have no words for what’s happening right now,” Engdahl says.
It has been just over two weeks since Hamas fighters entered Israel, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking more than 200 hostage in Gaza.
-We talk loudly all the time about releasing hostages. Many of them are children. Engdahl says children should never be used as weapons in war.
The organization is putting intense pressure on authorities around the world: the bombing must stop, children must be protected, the wounded must be evacuated, while food and emergency aid must enter, this is the message.
-If we were alive
Because it is the children of Gaza in particular who are suffering the most now. Every 15 minutes a child dies in Gaza, according to Save the Children. There are one hundred Norwegian school classes.
-The numbers speak for themselves. Children are being killed every night and I hesitate to open the WhatsApp group with the staff every morning. How many children, relatives, parents and aunts were killed? You become insanely helpless. This will happen in 2023, says Engdahl, the experienced director of Save the Children.
Nima Hassan, 43, has never left Gaza because of the siege and war.
“But my biggest dream is to have a home and a safe space where my children can develop their wonderful talents,” Hassan says.
She sends Dagbladet a number of photos of the women and children she has met over the years, to bring them out of the many shocks and sorrows that war, siege, and poverty have inflicted upon most of Gaza’s population.
– Most women and children in Gaza have the same dreams as me. I hope that one day I can read my poems in the world so that people there can know the real Palestinian woman, with our feelings, love and motherhood, before she added:
-If we’re still alive.
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