In their home in the western Gaza Strip, Mohammed Daoud, 36, was finally able to calm his 5-year-old son, Tamim, and convince him to go to sleep despite the sounds of Israeli missiles falling around them.
Mohammed did not know, at that moment, that Tamim would eventually fall asleep on his lap, though never to wake up.
On May 10, 2023, an Israeli warplane targeted a residential building in Al-Rimal neighborhood, west of Gaza. The house belonged to the Khaswan family.
When the missiles struck, everybody who was inside that house was killed.
Though such tragedies are routine in Gaza, people were struck with the news that a little child, in a neighboring house, had also died: Tamim.
The little boy didn’t die from the explosion itself or shrapnel but as a result of a panic attack during the strike. He died of fear, as his heart simply gave in.
“We heard the bombing at our neighbors’ house. The glass in our house was shattered and all the rooms were filled with gas,” Tamim’s father, Mohammad, told The Palestine Chronicle.
“Tamim screamed at the top of his lungs, and then he fell silent. I thought he was just afraid of the sound of the bombing, like any other child,” he added.
After half an hour, Tamim told us that he could not breathe, and he had a stomach ache. I tried to calm him down and put him to sleep on my lap because he was very attached to me. Indeed, Tamim fell asleep, but he never woke up.
Mohammed told us that Tamim had health problems and he underwent heart surgery. Tamim’s doctor recommended that he should avoid any effort or strong emotions.
“Tamim’s condition was not lethal, many people suffering from the same problem live long and have children. But they do not live in a war zone,” Mohammed told us, breaking into tears.
Mohammed tried as hard as he could to save his son.
He carried him to the hospital amid the falling missiles with the only hope of saving his son’s weak heart.
“I carried him to the hospital. They tried to resuscitate his heart, which had stopped already,” Mohammed told us.
They also put him in intensive care, but after a few hours they called me to tell me that he did not make it.
Mohammed told The Palestine Chronicle that his son was happy to go to school every morning, at the ‘Candy Kids’ kindergarten.
“Tamim loved disassembling and reassembling things. When I asked him about his dreams for the future, he always said that he wanted to grow up to be an engineer,” Mohammed told us.
Tamim was an innocent child who did not deserve to die of fear.
Unfortunately, the latest Israeli war on Gaza shattered his dreams.
A Message to the World
Tamim was not lucky enough to live in a place where children could enjoy their childhood.
He is one of the 24 Palestinian children who were killed by Israel since the beginning of the year, according to Defense for Children International in Palestine.
Tamim’s father told us that he wanted to send a message to the world through The Palestine Chronicle: Please save other children who live in Gaza and have the same health issues as my son.
“There are many children in the Gaza Strip who suffer from the same problem as Tamim,” he told us.
I don’t know how their fragile hearts can survive these repeated and brutal wars.
Mohammed is still grieving, and he cannot help thinking about what life would have been if Tamim was still alive, disassembling and reassembling his toys, his head filled with beautiful dreams.
Nada Al Kahlout is a Gaza-based freelance writer. We Are Not Numbers contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.