By: Motasem A Dalloul
Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip -Every year, children wait for March 21 to buy beautiful presents to their mother, but for Bayan al-Najjar, 14, from Gaza, the situation is different.
Bayan’s story started when the Israeli occupation targeted her family house during the 51-day Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
“I lost my mother in that attack,” Bayan said, “my sister and one of my brothers were wounded and our house was completely damaged and we became homeless.”
Since then, Bayan was obliged to take the role of the mother at her house. “I take care of my sister Sarah, 8, Yasser, 9, and Abdullah, 11,” she said. “I make shopping for the family, prepare food and wash clothes.”
In addition to all of these missions, like all other children, Bayan goes to school and does very well. She is one of the five toppers in her class. She writes poetry and likes acting, as well as playing the guitar.
Day of sadness
Since the start of March, Bayan and her brothers and sister have started to save their pocket money in order to mark the saddest day in the year for the family.
“On Friday, we [Bayan, Sara, Yasser and Abdullah] gave the money we saved to my father and asked him to buy a small tree to offer it a present to my mother on her day,” Bayan said. “We came together and accompanied my father to the neighbourhood’s cemetery to celebrate Mother’s Day.
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March 21 is the saddest day in the life of Bayan’s family. “We visited my mother’s grave,” she said, “we cleaned it and planted the tree and the flowers and read a chapter of the Holy Quraan beside it and went back home without her. Our daily life without a mother started again.”
Israelis targeting mothers
During the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, the Israeli occupation killed around 2,260 Palestinians, including more 550 were children and 299 women. Meanwhile, more than 11,000 were wounded and 1,500 children were orphaned.
At least142 Palestinian families had three or more members killed in the same incident, for a total of 742 fatalities.
More than18,000 housing units were destroyed in whole or part and 73 medical facilities and many ambulances were damaged. This is regardless to schools, mosques, universities and other facilities.