Ahmed and Hassan Abdullah are two brothers with autism. On May 13, during the latest Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, their already challenging life was turned into a nightmare.
At five in the morning, shrapnel from the Israeli Iron Dome System hit their house, located in the crowded Jabaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip. Consequently, a major fire broke out.
Khaled Mahmoud Abdullah, 51, is the father of Ahmed and Hassan. He told local media about that terrible day.
“We saw a cloud of black smoke rising and a state of fear and panic spread among the members of my family. I have two sons, with autism, and two daughters,” Khaled said.
“Our neighbors started screaming. The sight was terrifying, the flames were very high and red,” he continued.
“What hurts me the most,” he said, after a moment of silence as the man tried to control his emotions, “ is that the fire destroyed all the handmade toys my wife had made for our two sons, Ahmed and Hassan”.
The two brothers’ only safe shelter, their swing, and their little dolls, had been reduced to a pile of ashes.
“Ahmed and Hassan used to play with the toys I made for them”, Zainab Abdullah, the mother of the two boys, said.
“The Israeli occupation does not differentiate between children, women, and sick people,” she added.
Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication and by restricted or repetitive patterns of thought and behavior, according to Maha Azzam, a psychologist at the Palestinian Association for Autism and Rehabilitation.
Azzam added that life is especially difficult for autistic patients in the besieged Gaza Strip, due to the Israeli blockade and the continuous wars, pointing out that these patients would need more family and community rehabilitation programs.
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)