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November 20, 2012, Tuesday

Gaza’s heavenly children

Oh Gaza’s innocent infants, little children. For days we have been looking at your photos. Actually, we cannot look at them but pretend to do so. Something is squeezing our hearts. We feel pressed, short of breath and exhausted.

Your straggly hair seems to wave in the deadly winds. How beautiful your hair is. How beautiful your dull eyes that seem to be alive are. What do you tell us in whispers? I am trying to understand.

How good-looking your faces are. Your cheeks can apparently drive away even the traces of death. How curious your expressions are. What do they say about the petrified, blackened and rotten consciences of people? Are you the greatest response to the bombs and bullets of the oppressors?

How quickly you have slipped out of our lives even before your parents can love and caress you to their hearts’ content. When you went away, you left behind a heap of questions for the children of the world. As they look at your innocent faces, they ask their parents at home: “Why are children being killed, mom? Why do they kill the children?”

There is no answer. There is a lump in our throats. What can we say? What should we say?

At first I didn’t have the courage to look at your tender faces. I couldn’t muster the courage. Then I couldn’t hold back any longer. “You must look,” I told myself, “at their heavenly faces.” My eyes were fixed on your straggly hair. How beautiful the hair of martyred infants was. I wanted to caress them. I wanted to smell them as there must be heavenly smells on them. Did I have the courage to do so? Were my hands capable of doing it? We are all guilty.

Then we sought consolation. In paradise, our Prophet will caress that hair, those innocent heads. “The Prophet’s clemency,” I said to myself. Then I pondered if our Prophet would caress the children of Gaza as if he were caressing Qasim, Abdullah or Ibrahim. There, everyone would envy them. They would ask: “Who are they? Who are you whom the Prophet Muhammad, the pride of humanity, has befriended?” And you would reply, “We are the children of Gaza.” You were hand-in-hand, queued up, your tiny bodies, wrapped in small shrouds, were placed next to each other.

With your innocent faces and your heavenly swaddles all lined up, and your expressions that make us question the very meaning of life, you haven’t died in vain. The message you send with your deaths is far greater than the message we give with our words. Like droplets of compassion and pity that revive oases out of deserts of oppression, you send rains of clemency and affection to hearts. You have melted away so much ice from petrified hearts. You have made the egocentric people of our time remember the presence of other people. Your bodies bled, but with it you have made the consciences of other people bleed as well. As we shamefully looked at your faces, so many dry eyes were filled with tears. Like the seeds of wheat sown in soil, you have resurrected as millions. And you have revived us with our true humanness.

If another spring will come to this old world, it won’t come to our petrified hearts. First, compassion, clemency and fairness must come to this world. If the human race is to be revived, humanity must first be revived. It appears this task has been assigned to your innocence.

How can those cruel, merciless, heartless men kill you? Why is it that they don’t feel ashamed? Why are they so fearless? Why don’t they regret what they did? You, the heavenly children of Gaza, have exposed them. You have made the whole world see their supporters. You have revealed how those advocates of human rights, peace and democracy have withered away. They have been caught in the act thanks to your expressions.

You, the heavenly infants of Gaza, have sent tremors to blackened consciences. You have made Muslims who are lured by mundane attractions of this world remember that they are actually in a wretched state and they must regain their awareness of being true believers. You straggly hair and your lively eyes have told us many things. Your deaths will surely be avenged.

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