Gaza: A mother who lost her three sons in armed operations against Israel with their photos hanging on her living room’s wall mourns their deaths. 58-year-old Umm Iyad is locally known as the “Khansaa of Gaza”. The title is given to her after a seventh-century female Arab poet whose four sons were killed in the Battle of Qadisiyah.
Nawal Abu Hajeela who lives in the Shujayea neighbourhood in the Gaza Strip has marked the framed pictures of her sons with the words “the heroic martyr” before their names. While her three sons killed by Israeli Army, her oldest son, Iyad, aged 41 and father to four died of cancer one year ago.
“This is Adham, 21, who was a member of the Qassam Brigades (the military wing of the Hamas movement), was killed in an operation attack against Israeli soldiers in December 2004,” Umm Iyad told Al Jazeera, pointing at his photo.
“This is Ziad, 26, who was part of the Qassam’s night patrol and was killed in 2007 in an Israeli shelling. I was preparing for his engagement back then. The biggest photograph is of Mohammed, 31, who was killed last week (April 12) in an Israeli shelling at the Gaza border,” she said.
Hardships that Umm Iyad went through:
Married at an age of 15 and raising 10 sons and 1 daughter alone, Umm Iyad got divorced after 22 years of marriage. “When my children were young, my husband worked as a labourer in Israel all day, which added more to my burden,” she said.
She recalled “living in a rented apartment in Shujayea as the hardest part of her life”. Despite the divorce, she said, she was careful not to let that affect her children’s relationship with their father, who had remarried.
Umm Iyad who is a member of the social committee in her local mosque has a good amount of patriotism. She even participated in the first two protests on Fridays on March 30, calling for Palestinian refugees’ right of return.
Umm Iyad now lives with her unmarried sons Raed and Karam; her other four sons live with their families nearby. Battling with her tears, while looking at the photos of deceased sons Umm Iyad said: “They are always on my mind, and I miss them every minute.”