Many of you met the Awajah family through my film “One Family in Gaza,” telling their story from the 2009 attack on Gaza, in which their home was destroyed (the destruction began while they were still in their home) and their 9-year old son, Ibrahim, was shot at close range and killed.
When the family started rebuilding their home in 2012, the kids wanted the new home to be built with two doors.
“Two doors, Daddy,” the kids insisted, “So that when the Israelis destroy the home again, we can run away.”
Here is the Awajah family’s new home after the 2014 attack on Gaza. Complete with the escape door:
Below, are Kamal and Wafaa Awajah on the rubble of their twice-destroyed home. (Wafaa told me she had not cried at this second destruction of her home. Until this day, when I asked her to tell me about what happened.) :
And–hanging laundry on the ruins–a reminder of the resilience of Gaza:
This is 3 year old Ibrahim Awajah. He was named after his brother who was killed at age 9 in the 2009 assault on Gaza. Little Ibrahim has lived in tents and amidst rubble most of his young life. His family’s home was destroyed before he was born (the same day his brother was killed) and their newly rebuilt home was destroyed this past summer.
At breakfast one morning, he said (out of the blue): “The Israelis shot me.”
When he saw my startled look, he repeated it: “The Israelis shot me.”
“You’re the 2nd Ibrahim,” his father Kamal quickly corrected him. “It was your brother that the Israelis shot, not you.”
In this tiny child’s self-narrative, he heard his family talking about how Ibrahim was shot, and, since he is Ibrahim, he believed it must have happened to him…
At night, Kamal made a bonfire outside the caravans that the family received just the week before I arrived, next to the rubble of their home:
The young children fell asleep by the firelight, and were then transferred into the caravans. (Kamal called me a few days after I left Gaza to tell me that the caravans were destroyed in last week’s storm. They are back in the tent.)
Here is 17-year old Omsiyat rocking her little brother to sleep, while 5 year old Lulu tries to fall asleep:
Nothing signifies “boyhood” so much as boy chasing puppy in play. But this 9-year old boy (Diyaa) is chasing his puppy past the giant crater left by an F16 bomb behind the tent where the family is now living:
Kamal and Lulu walk down into the crater, demonstrating its depth:
We had a birthday party for Diyaa, who turned 9 years old. The kids made seesaws out of the rubble and lumber:
And, in the midst of trauma and heartache, there is love. Kamal gives little Ibrahim a kiss, from the rubble of their home: