“When I wake in the morning the first thing I do is remember my
children
.  I come and sit outside and picture them where
they used to play. I don’t want to go out and interact with other people
anymore. I largely stay inside the home”

 

Iman and Talal Hamdan
standing in front of a picture of their killed children Hiya, Lama and Ismail.

Talal Hamdan,
47, and Iman Hamdan, 46, are quietly contemplative about life since the loss of
their three children Haya, Lama, and Ismail. The children were aged 12, 10, and
5 respectively, when on the morning of 30 December 2008 an Israeli F-16 dropped
a bomb in the area they were walking in Beit Hanoun, killing all three. The
children were walking with their father to a nearby rubbish site to drop off
household waste when Israeli forces targeted the area. The children were the
youngest of the couple’s children, and they have not had any other children
since the attack.


Though none of
the previous three years have been easy on the couple, for Iman the hardest
period was directly after the attack, when she found herself in deep shock.
“After the death of my children I could not cry, I did not have the space to
properly mourn them,” says Iman, “but when I finally became alone. I couldn’t
stop my tears.” Iman believes the shock of the incident has greatly increased
her physical health problems, which include severe back and leg pain. “I barely
sleep at night, maybe two hours during the day,” says Iman. Her grief is
compounded by the experience of losing her father, brother and two cousins all
on the same day during the first intifada.  


Talal’s life
has also been completely changed since the death of his children. “When I wake
in the morning the first thing I do is remember my children. I come and sit
outside and picture them where they used to play,” says Talal. “I don’t want to
go out and interact with other people anymore. I largely stay inside the home.”
Talal had a very close relationship with Ismail, “he would beg me to take him
everywhere with me and so I would take him, we were always together.” Relating
how the memory of his children is so painful, he gives an example of the time
he was sick and needed to go to the hospital, “this particular hospital was the
one the children were transferred to before they died. When I walked in the
memory of my three children lying dead next to each other came back to me and I
started to cry. The doctors first thought I was afraid of injections, my family
had to explain to them what had taken place, and why I was so upset. In the end
I couldn’t stay in the hospital for the treatment.”


Contemplating
the approach of the upcoming anniversary, the couple speak about how they will
face it. “On the day of the anniversary I will try to keep myself busy to avoid
thinking about it too much” says Iman, “but I don’t visit the graves, I
couldn’t bear it”. The couple now have young grandchildren living with them,
one of whom is named Ismail after their killed son. “We try our best to make up
for our loss with Ismail, we go up and see him and spend time with him every
morning,” says Talal. 


Before the
attack Talal had worked in construction. He tried to return to work after the
attack, but nerve damage in his legs and arms as a result of the attack have
left him unable to continue working. The family now survive on UN food aid and
help from their two sons.


Regarding the
future the family has hopes and apprehensions. “We are always afraid that an
attack will take place again resulting in more deaths in the family. I am always
calling my daughters to tell them to take care of themselves and the children”
says Talal. “I hope that peace will prevail and that we will return to calm
eventually. Most of all I hope that other children are not killed in similar
incidents. I can understand when adults are killed during war but I cannot
understand when children are killed.” Regarding the family’s legal complaint
following the death of their children, Talal is positive. “I expect it to be
successful, my children were not militant and there were no military targets in
the proximity.”              


PCHR submitted
a criminal complaint to the Israeli authorities on behalf of the Hamdan Family
on 21 July 2009. To-date, no response has been received.

 

 

————–

 

The series of narratives:

 

29 December 2008: Balousha Family

 28 December 2008: The Abu Taima family

– 27 December 2008: The Al
Ashi Family.