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. “Child’s Play: Parents in Gaza Grapple with the Horrors of Israel-Hamas Conflict

The Names Written on Children’s Bodies Speak to the Fears of Gazan Parents Amid the Israel-Hamas War As the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues in the Gaza Strip, parents of the region have resorted to a desperate measure as a way to protect their children: writing identification numbers on their arms. The painful image began circulating on social media at the start of the latest round of violence in the region. Photos show vulnerable children with sticky notes, pens, and other markings placed on their arms. In some cases, the numbers were written in Arabic. In others, it was English. Parents are writing these numbers on their children as a way to convey their fear. The numbers serve as a form of identification if a child becomes hurt, killed, or lost due to the violence. As Nadine Darwish Hamad told Middle East Eye, a London-based news outlet, “I wrote my son’s name on his arm in case I find his body one day.” This fear is rooted in the recent violence that is ravaging the region. Since the start of 2021, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into Israel, while the Israeli military has retaliated with hundreds of air strikes. Both sides have suffered civilian casualties, with more than 200 dead in Gaza and 11 in Israel. Sadly, this isn’t the first time Jamal has seen this type of symbolism. According to The Guardian, people living in Gaza and the West Bank have also written their names on their hands during previous rounds of violence. These stories and images are reminders of the trauma that children in the region continue to experience. Despite ceasefire agreements and the halting of Hamas rocket launches, the memories — and the insecurity — will remain. Parents in the region can only hope these interventions will help protect their children against the violence. Unfortunately, as Nadine Hamad put it, “This is my life now.”