GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Nour Salha was 15 years old when he saw an Israeli missile reduce his home to rubble, killing his mother and four siblings.
On Jan. 9, 2009, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, a warplane shelled Nour’s home in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. His mother Randa, two brothers Diyaa, 14, and Bahaa, 4, and sisters Rana, 12, and 15-month-old Rula were killed.
“When I first heard the boom, I thought it hit an empty area, but I immediately saw our home going down,” Nour said.
Two years have passed since the attack but Nour is still struggling to recover from the shock of collecting his family’s body parts.
His father Fayiz says he still remembers his children playing that night, squirting water at each other before they went to bed.
“It took the Israeli forces only a blink of the eye to end a story of a happy Gazan home.”
Fayiz was left with two daughters, Ruba, 12, and Rasha, 9, in addition to Nour who is now 17.
Fayiz says he tries to teach Nour to love life, but his son prefers to remain silent, spending most of his time at his computer or walking alone.
He tells his son that Palestinians will one day realize their dream of freedom and statehood, and says he planted a garden on the site of the family’s destroyed home to try and give his surviving children hope.
While tending their garden, the family discuss the current events in Tunisia and Mohammed Bouazizi.
Bouazizi torched himself in Tunis when police stopped him selling fruit and vegetables to earn living. The incident sparked a wave of protests across the country that eventually toppled the regime of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
Fayiz told his children, “We can do much more without setting fire to ourselves.”