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Having the conscience of witnessing savage child murders is intolerable

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    I WRITE as a parent to express my heartbreak and devastation at the killing of children in Gaza. I am appalled by the UK Government’s inaction and continued support of Israel’s war crimes.

    Life will never be the same for us as parents. Nor will it be the same for our children.

    Seeing the brutality that Israel has showcased for the world to watch has changed our lives forever. We can never unsee the harm and complete annihilation in Palestine. Perhaps I am naive, but never in the darkest of nightmares did I think humans in this day and age could inflict such cold, barbaric attacks on children. Never did I believe that I’d be represented by a UK Government that has made me complicit in the murder of children.

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    You might have seen the video, the one of a man, disoriented and scrambling through the rubble where a building used to be. He was asked “what are you doing?” He replied: “under the rubble, my children, they are under the rubble”.

    In what world is that phrase normal? In the world of Gaza.

    I asked my daughter what she needed to feel safe. She said, her family, her squishie, her books and her fairy lights. Can you imagine what a Palestinian child would say? I don’t imagine they’d get much beyond bringing back relatives who have been killed.

    When my children asked why we were protesting, I said because the children of Gaza have no voice so we have to be their voice so the world can hear them. My children felt empowered, in love with the might they believed they had to save their fellow children. It’s dire but I have to keep the hope alive. When I explained to them that the children of Gaza have no water, no food, no electricity, do you know what their biggest concern was? How will they read their books? My children have never been hungry, they don’t know what that means, my children are rarely cold in their own homes, they don’t know what that means, my children have never been thirsty, they don’t know what that means. My children could only relate to the sadness of not being able to read books at night.

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    Our children are deeply affected by what is happening. We don’t have the privilege of shielding them from these atrocities; we have friends who have lost every generation and member of their family to this genocide. Every morning, my little girl comes in and asks “how are the strong Palestinians today, mum? Are the children alive?”

    It takes everything I have to lie to her. “Yes, my darling, they are strong. Yes, my sweetheart, the children are alive”. I can’t even write this without tears.

    One day she asked me where the children that have died are now. I told her they are in heaven, dancing, playing and eating four ice creams a day. A firm favourite memory for my kids is being on holiday and eating three ice creams in one day! Nothing tops that when you’re little. My eldest then asked to see their faces, their houses. I asked her why? She said so I can know them and they can see me in heaven. A house is not just bricks and mortar, it is a place that holds us, tells our story. How do I tell her that their faces are bloodied, that their houses are rubble? How do I tell her, that is not their story, that was not how their lives were meant to end?

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    We cannot let this be the story of Gaza. We cannot bear this on our conscience. We cannot let our children grow knowing that we let this happen.

    My last thought. I saw a sign amongst the teddies left at George Square by Parents for Palestine. Each teddy to hold up the life of a child who once was in Gaza. The sign said: “Dear children of Gaza, I hope I can look you in the eyes when I see you in Jannah (heaven). You are the very best of us.”

    On that note, I hope that, given the opportunity, our elected representatives will vote with their conscience and vote for an immediate ceasefire.

    Saima Sheikh


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