Filmed during the 2014 siege of Gaza, which left 507 children dead and 3,598 wounded, ’Born in Gaza’ follows a group of young children growing up in a war zone.
’We were eight kids on the beach. We came to play football’ states Hamada, 13. Then the shelling started. Four boys, all aged between nine and eleven, were killed. Motasem, 11, and Hamada were wounded. ’I may need to go abroad for surgery’ states Motasem. ’I have shrapnel in my back, hands and legs’. But worse than the physical injuries are the psychological ones. ’I tell my mom every day I want to die,’ confides Motasem. ’A few days ago, I tried to jump from the balcony but my sister held me.’
Another of the children wounded during the siege was six year old Bisan. Her house was bombed, killing her parents and leaving her badly burned. Now she needs to go abroad for surgery. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Bisan finds it increasingly difficult to communicate. ’She does not talk to us about what happened,’ states one of her friends. ’If anyone asks, she gets mad.’
Udai, nine, and Rajaf, 13, are also struggling to cope with the deaths of relatives. Udai saw his older brother blown to pieces by a bomb. ’The largest piece of him left was this size’, he says, making a small gesture with his hands. Rajaf’s father was one of the six ambulance drivers and 13 paramedics killed rescuing people during the offensive. ’We never thought he would be bombed in the ambulance’.
’The situation is really complicated. We have a war every two years’, states 13 year old Mohamed. ’I often think about our situation and I never see the end.’ It’s estimated that 400,000 children in Gaza are in desperate need of psychological help. And the violence seems self-perpetuating. Traumatized by what happened on the beach that day, Hamada dreams of revenge. ’I want to join the resistance and make justice for my cousins.’