Photo of children playing Viking games in the city center at York, England. Sadly, for Safa and other young victims like her, living in a volatile region denied them the safety and security that enables playing games in the street.
An excerpt from Rory McCarthy's piece in today's Guardian:
"First came an explosion in the street outside. Then the sound of a single rifle bullet slicing through the sky in a sharp crack and into the apartment directly above the home of Raed Abu Saif, the same apartment into which his young daughter Safa had just gone. It was Saturday afternoon, about 4 p.m.
"Abu Saif hurried upstairs and found, lying on the floor of the front room, Safa, aged 12. There was a hole in her chest where the bullet had entered and a hole in her back where it had exited. It took her three hours to die.
"Outside in the district of Zimmo Square, at the eastern edge of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip, there was by now a heavy Israeli military presence, with tanks and troops and the sound of fighting raging. It was too dangerous for ambulances to reach the apartment and too dangerous for Abu Saif to head out on foot with his daughter. Instead, he fetched bandages, closed the wounds as best he could and held her in his arms as she bled.
"She said she was in pain, that she couldn't breathe," he said. "A few minutes before she died she told me to stop squeezing the wound, she couldn't breathe. I was just touching her hair. Then I saw her eyes roll up. I felt her heart. It was not beating."
"From a piece of cloth the family fashioned a white flag, which Abu Saif's mother carried. His wife, Samar, went with them out into the street carrying Safa's corpse. An Israeli tank was parked a little way off and shone its lights at them. Twice the tank fired in the air over their heads, they said, until eventually they gave up and turned back for home to spend the night in the flat, the family and six other children and Safa.
"Only yesterday morning did Abu Saif finally manage to cross safely out of the fighting and to a hospital morgue, where his daughter's body was prepared for the funeral. But Safa's mother and siblings were still in the house, surrounded by fighting and unable to join the mourners. The roofs of nearby buildings were still dotted with Israeli soldiers. It was from there the bullet that killed Safa was fired, the family believe.
"By some estimates the Israeli military operations mounted over the past five days have left more than 100 Palestinians dead, among them many civilians. For Saturday alone the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights put the number of dead civilians at 49; Reuters news agency said Palestinian medical officials put it at about 60. Two Israeli soldiers and one civilian in the town of Sderot were killed. Even measured on Gaza's often brutal scale of violence, that is a gruesome toll."
This poem is dedicated to Safa and all the innocent victims:
felled by a stray bullet
intended for no one and everyone;
fired in anger,
fear and frustration
at the impasse
leaving too many innocents
dead or wounded.
In Gaza that's the same fate,
with few doctors
and limited medical care:
access difficult, if not impossible.
Their appeals for help
met by a hail of bullets.
If they're lucky,
weapons aimed over their heads,
as they duck and dodge,
bullets ricochet against tanks and walls.
who have lost their humanity
prevent even the dignity
of proper last rites
for a family united in grief.
Where is the outrage?