Football solaces grieving children in bombed Gaza

By Ola Attalah, Monday, July 28, 2014

GAZA CITY – Children's shouts emanated Monday morning, the first day of the Muslim Eid holiday, from a U.N.-run school, which is now sheltering scores of Palestinian families displaced by a deadly Israeli military onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

"Pass the ball, Khaled! Hold it, Heba! Goal!" they circled around a small red ball in an UNRWA-run school in northern Gaza Strip.

The displaced children took to the school's playground to catch a glimpse of holiday celebrations amid a relentless Israeli offensive – now in its fourth week - which has left many of them orphaned or homeless

"With this ball, they're kicking away the sorrow," one of Palestinian mothers told Anadolu Agency.

Outside the school, Marwa al-Kafarna, 45, calls out to a street vendor pushing a small wooden cart adorned with balloons and toys.

"These toys would make the children happy," al-Kafarna said. "The new clothes we bought for the Eid are now under rubble," she added.

"The Israeli war has left no space for happiness but we're trying to steal some smiles," the Palestinian mother said.

Israeli strikes continued on the first day of Eid, which Muslims observe every year for three days to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

"We love life and we want to live with dignity," Saad Hamdan, a man in his fifties, said as he pointed at the nearby sight of Gazan women baking traditional Eid pastries.

"The Eid is a gift from God that deserves to prevail over our wounds and pains," he added.

"Israel wants to kill happiness within us, but we will continue to look for smiles even if they're engulfed in rubble."

Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip - which has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006 - from air, ground and sea since July 7.

At least 1035 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6000 others injured in the ongoing Israeli attacks on the blockaded territory – home to nearly 1.8 million people.

Local and international rights organizations have estimated that around 180,000 Palestinians have been internally displaced by the Israeli onslaught.

The Israeli offensive has also left 84 UNRWA installations with damage, including schools and health centers, according to an UNRWA statement on July 23.

Apart from the human toll, Israel also destroyed more than 1960 apartment blocks across the coastal enclave and partially destroyed 22600 others, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Works and Housing.

Israel claims that the military offensive aims at undermining the ability of Gaza's resistance movements to launch rocket attacks.

The Israeli offensive – codenamed "Protective Edge" - is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely populated Gaza Strip - home to 1.8 million Palestinians - within the last six years.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency