From the war diaries

Day 18: Shooting Children: Kareem Abu Seedo, 15

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13 January 2010

Fifteen-year-old Kareem Abu Seedo left his home on 13 January 2009 to get some bread for a neighbour.
On the way he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.
Kareem’s mother, Rihab, 50, blames herself for letting him leave the house that day.
Al Mezan interviewed Rihab a year after Kareem was killed to see how their family is coping.
       “On 13 January 2009, we were at home in At-Tuffah neighbourhood in Gaza City.
I was lying on the sofa, and I was half asleep when my son, Kareem, came to tell me that he was going out to the bakery.
One of our neighbours had asked him to get some bread.
He told me he wouldn’t be long.
When I woke up properly, I realised that he had left the house.
I’d forbidden the children to go out at all during the Israeli offensive, even though it was quite quiet in our neighbourhood.
I started to panic and I sent my older son, Mahmoud, 25, out to look for him.
”   While Mahmoud was on his way to the bakery, some boys from the neighbourhood came running towards him shouting that Kareem had been attacked.
Mahmoud found 15-year-old Kareem lying on the ground and bleeding from the head.
He managed to flag down a taxi and took him to Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
  Letting Kareem go out that day   When Rihab made it to Shifa hospital she was told that she couldn’t see her son because he was in intensive care.
“I went home again and Mahmoud stayed there in the hospital,” she says.
“When I went back the next day they let me see him.
He was completely still and had something black in the middle of his head.
” The next day, on 15 January, when Rihab was back at home, her son, Mahmoud came over to tell her that Kareem had died of his injuries that morning.
“I started screaming and shouting when he told me,” she says.
“He had asked my permission to go to the bakery.
Why had I fallen asleep?”   As her husband died several years ago from cancer, Rihab has to cope with the loss of her child alone.
“About a month after he was killed, I saw him sitting next to me.
Then he walked around the room as though he was really alive.
He was younger than he’d been when he died; maybe six or seven-years-old.
The next night he spoke to me in a dream.
He said to me, ‘Mum, I’m dead.
’”   Caring for the Other Children Rihab is struggling to put on a brave face for her other children.
“They are still really sad that Kareem is gone.
I think it’s been hardest on Amjad, who is 14 now, because they were so close in age.
When Kareem was killed he kept dreaming about his brother in the night and telling me he’d seen him and spoken to him during the day.
I tried to explain that Kareem had gone to heaven and that we’d see him again there and I think that sort of helped.
I don’t want my children to see me crying so I only cry when I’m alone.
I don’t understand why they killed him.
As he was shot in the middle of the head it must have been deliberate.
Losing my husband was hard, but losing a child is harder.
We’ll never forget what happened.
Nothing can ever be the same.