Yesterday evening we had the honour and utmost pleasure to hear Mohammad Omer, a 22-year old Palestinian journalist, watch in horror the video clips he presented and listen in awe to his heartbreaking stories. One of them was about a little boy called Ahmed who’s family was made homeless by the Israeli army by having bullozed their home together with all belongings and was donated a tent which most certainly does not fend off wind and cold temperatures … but that is all they have now. Mohammed had asked the little boy about his BIGGEST wish … and Ahmad’s answer was “to drink a glass of cold mango-juice”!
I felt as if someone had hit me in my stomach … how MUCH I would like to bring him as many glasses as he wants … and much much more.

In this context I remembered another true story which happened some years back in Gaza … with a little boy who’s name coincidentally was Ahmad as well.

Ahmad was five years old and the eldest son of one of the countless very poor families. His father was unemployed and at home and as there were a number of mouths to be fed, nothing which was not bare necessity was to be found in their home. Toys for the children were out of the question and something they could only dream of.

Then one day, an uncle of Ahmad had returned from a trip and what he brought as gift was like a dream come true, like something from another star and brought a bright sparkle to Ahmad’s otherwise sad eyes. Ahmad was in seventh heaven and the happiest camper ever when his uncle handed him a BIG RED FIRE ENGINE TRUCK to play with!

Ahmad would never let this most precious toy out of his eyes and even took it to bed with him, hugging it during sleep … it was the ONLY toy he ever possessed and for nothing in the world he would allow it to be harmed or even touched by anyone without his permission – he was happier that ever before in his young life! Everbody loved to watch Ahmad to play, to see the happiness in his eyes and smile on his face … he was like transformed and for a short while his little world appeared to be in perfect order. That was till the day disaster struck … the Israeli army decided to invade Gaza for the umpth time.

The day had started like any othe day and Ahmad was thinking of nothing else but his BIG RED FIRE ENGINE TRUCK and what wonderful games he would play … when all of a sudden tanks started to show up and the horrifying sound of shelling was heard. It got closer and closer to their home. There was a crowd of people on the streets, panic and screaming and Ahmed felt an impending danger coming his way. All he could think of was his precious toy. What followed soon after that, he will certainly never forget …

Huge caterpillars with gigantic shovels started to appear and got closer and closer … and the unimaginable happened. The family ran out in panic and with them Ahmed in order to safe their lives and not to be killed by the coming down concrete slaps. There was no time left to take the truck.

Later this day people would see Ahmed sitting on the rubble of their home, bitterly crying, digging with bare hands looking for his precious gift, the only one he had ever owned. It was somewhere under the rubble, crushed. After a while Ahmad pulled out one piece shiny red plastic … and understood. He would never play with his beloved toy again .. he had lost it for ever.

I saw a picture of Ahmed back then … it absolutely broke my heart and left me with tears running down my face. How much would I have loved to buy for Ahmed a new, shiny BIG RED FIRE ENGINE TRUCK, to see him happy, his eyes sparkle with joy! I wonder if the operator of this D-9 (caterpillar) thought for ONE second of the lives he destroyed, on the agony he caused … of the dreams of a little boy he had shattered, the pain and despair he caused. I wish HE had a little five year old boy himself – and had read this story, and what he had done!

Would he have understood? I doubt it …


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