Grief in Gaza and the loss of a child
In the photo, the woman cradles a child in her arms on her knees, an image as old as humanity. But in a grim reversal of the familiar, we see that the child he holds is a corpse, wrapped in a shroud. It is a quiet moment of intense pain.
The woman is wearing a scarf on her head and is bending over. We can't see who she is or know anything about the child, not even if she is a boy or a girl.
The boy is one of many who have lost their lives on both sides of the war between Israel and Hamas. Most have names we will never know, whose deaths will cause a lifetime of pain to family members we will never know. In the 21st century, an average of almost 20 children a day are killed or maimed in wars around the world, according to UNICEF.
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Photographer Mohammad Salem was on October 17 in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, at the Nasser Hospital mortuary, where residents went to look for missing relatives.He saw the woman crouching on the morgue floor, sobbing and hugging the child's body tightly.
It was a shocking and sad moment, and I thought the image summed up the general feeling of what was happening in the Gaza Strip," he said. "People were confused, running from one place to another, anxious to know the fate of her loved ones, and this woman caught my attention because she was holding the girl's body and refused to let go.
The moment was especially poignant for Salem, whose wife gave birth to her own son just days earlier.
In Gaza, where communications have been cut, locating people has been fraught with difficulties. But two weeks after her photo was taken, the protagonist was able to be located and interviewed at her home in Jan Yunis.
Her name is Inas Abu Maamar and the body she is holding in the photo is that of her niece Saly.of five years.
Inas had rushed to her uncle's house when she found out she had been hit, and then to the morgue.
I lost consciousness when I saw the girl, I picked her up," he said. "The doctor asked me to let her go (...) but I told them to leave her with me."
Saly's mother and sister also died., along with Inas's uncle and aunt. Saly was one of Inas' favorites: she used to stop by her grandmother's house on the way to daycare and ask her aunt to take photos of her.
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Most of the videos and photos I have on my phone are of her," says Inas.
Saly's four-year-old brother, Ahmed, was outside the house when she was hit, and survived. He now lives with Inas. But he has little desire to play, she says. He speaks little, except to ask where his sister Saly is.
With information from Reuters.
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