Tales from Gaza IV:“I found my Ukranian wife and son torn to pieces… and my baby’s feet.”
Al-Ayyam Daily Newspaper
12 January 2009
By Asma Al-Ghul
Translated from Arabic By Palestine Monitor
Close your eyes and imagine. Today’s a normal day. Your wife is preparing pastries, your home is warm and your kids are studying.
Today was anything but normal; it was the beginning of a new life. A life that will be spent grieving the loss of a wife and children. Imagine a bomb hits your home and tears your wife and baby into pieces and injures the rest of your family members.
This is the story of Dr. Awni Jarw.
Dr. Jarw is 37 years old. His head is wrapped with bandage and his eyes are distracted when speaking about his losses: “Yousef (Joseph), was 18 months-old. My wife and I had been waiting for him for so long. He brought us joy and love, with his laugh and smile. He filled our home with happiness. But all of a sudden, I found myself searching for his tiny body parts all over my house”, he said.
He continues with this grim task still today. “When looking for the body parts of my wife, I found Yousef’s tiny feet, the lower part of my wife’s body, my baby’s head and hand. I collected them and put them together so that they can be united in death”. Minutes later, the Dr fled his home with Yasmeen and Abdel Rahim, his surviving son and daughter.
Only moments before they had been sitting calmly – then their home was struck by four bombs. “The first passed over me, but some shrapnel penetrated my head. It also hit Yasmeen’s jaw and Abdel Rahim’s face.”
The second headed to the kitchen and struck his wife in her waist, dividing her into two parts, before killing baby Yousef.
Alpena Jarw was 36 years-old and had only recently obtained a Palestinian ID. She was longing to visit her family in Ukraine as she hadn’t seen them for the past 12 years.
When the War on Gaza started, she refused to leave the Strip and her family when foreigners were allowed by Israel to flee. “She was so attached to this place that she refused to leave the house, even if it was located in the targeted zone”, her husband explains.
Abdel Rahim got hit by the bomb behind his ears and cannot hear properly anymore. He started crying, shouting he didn’t want to survive to his beloved and caring mother. “There’s no need to live”, he told his father. “My mother was baking my favorite Russian pastries”, Abdel Rahim said. “The last time I saw her, she was feeding Yousef, sitting on her lap”.
“The most painful for us is that they are now still laying in the darkness of the morgue”, tells Dr. Jarw. “They are not yet resting in peace.” The graveyards of Gaza have long been full after two weeks of unfettered destruction.
When questioned on the bombings, Dr. Jarw testifies he still does not understand why the Israeli air forces targeted his building. “My sadness increases by the day”, he says. “I couldn’t even tell my daughter Yasmeen that her mother and brother died. I don’t have the strength to.”
“After the attack, I ran with Yasmeen and Abdel Rahim, for more than a kilometer away from our home. But it wasn’t enough to be safe. I tried hard to recover the corpses through the Ukrainian embassy and through the Red Cross, but the Israeli army prevented me.”
Dr. Jarw and Abdel Rahim are now hosted at one of his friends’ homes. The desperate father is trying to appear strong any time he visits Yasmeen who is still being treated in Al-Shifa – Gaza’s main hospital.
Yet this man has been ‘affected’, and now spends most of his time repeating to himself
“An 18 months-old baby, laughing, and playing, torn to bits in front of me.”
But with a desperate smile, he added: “Alpena and I have very nice memories together. We first met in 1993, both students at the same University. We returned together to Gaza in 1997.”