I Want to Know When I am Dying

By Mohamed Omer

I had a long day, an awful day, taking photos and writing from on the ground in Gaza City and northern Gaza.

I met with two children who survived Wednesday’s Jabalyia soccer bombing: the other 4 kids were, as you likely know, killed. One of the children I saw had no flesh on their legs, had burns all over their bodies from the tank’s shelling. This was one of the scariest things I have seen yet, and I have seen a lot more than that. Only today, 35 killed, still going on and 180 injured, many were women and child. Hospitals appeal for blood donation and fuel for ambulances.

I asked one boy to give me details of what happened that Thursday afternoon. The 9 year old boy cried while he told that he’d seen the decapitated head of his cousin strewn far from his body, arms and legs, far away from where they were all playing soccer. His mother added that there wasn’t any electricity when her son was admitted to the hospital.

He was crying as he told the story, his tears hurting him even more than his psychological pain, as he has burns in his eyes. His mother uncovered his wounded leg where I could only see bones without flesh in places. I could not understand how he managed to lay down conscious, but knew it was a consciousness full of pain and anguish. I felt this pain in my own heart and head.

As I talked this child’s mother, she said that she’d had to evacuate her children, as it’s no longer safe to be in that area where the children had been playing. The kids ranged from 6 to 14 years old. The two ones who survived said they had all been playing soccer in front of the door of their house in Jabalyia when the Israeli missile hit them.

I finally came back home some hours ago, after waiting a long time to find transportation. But, eventually managing to make it back to Rafah, I collapsed for a nap for an hour. My sleep was disrupted: I awoke scared by the bombing of F-16s (I learned later on). I ran from my bed through our dark house, and seeing no one from my family inside, I ran without shoes into the street. People were out in the street, young men running. I didn’t understand, didn’t know what I was doing other than that I was running but didn’t know to where. Most people’s windows were down, shutters closed, as it is freezing cold at moment.

I was glad not to be injured by shattered glass and debris on the streets. I made it back home to write this on my laptop. But I’ve decided going back to sleep is not a good idea, no matter how exhausted I am. If I have to die (not my wish), I want to be awake, so I know I’m dying, and by whom. Not asleep.

-Mohammed Omer is an International Award Winner: Best Youth Voice from New America Media 2006.

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