“Before moving to the house that you are seeing now, we lived in a tent for around two years. During that time, we realised exactly what it feels like to be a displaced person with no home. We did not get used to living in a tent. It took us a long time to adjust, as we used to live in a big house with most of the things we needed.”
“My brother, Ibrahim, was the first to be injured, sustaining injuries in his waist. Mom screamed out, so Dad went to check on her, and picked up my brother. They left the house, or what remained of it, and Dad was screaming, ‘My son is injured. We need an ambulance.’ The Israeli soldiers were still in the area. They answered his screams with laughter and then shot more bullets, so that Dad was injured, as well as my mother. My father was left lying on the street and Ibrahim was lying next to him. My mother crawled until she reached my siblings and me where we were hiding behind a wall. We saw the Israeli soldiers approaching and shooting at Ibrahim, and Dad told us later that he had died.”
More than four years later, Omsiyat is still torn apart by regret. Though very young, she feels guilty about the death of her brother because she failed to help him.
“When my Dad, Mom, and Ibrahim were injured, I stood there, unable to do anything, though I am the oldest of my siblings. I cannot forget what happened and I feel so much pain whenever I remember that I did not try to help. The idea that my help might have done something, in some way or another, to rescue my brother never leaves my mind, and it causes my stomach to ache. Maybe if I had tried to pull Ibrahim away from the Israeli crossfire, he would still be alive.”
“Omsiyat suffered so much after the death of her brother and the destruction of our house. It took us a long time to settle into our new life in the tent, and then in the mud house, as neither could compare to the house we used to live in and what I used to provide for my children. My child was executed, my house was destroyed, and I turned from being a father who provided the best he could for his family to a father who is incapable even of providing a suitable house for his family. Days pass by meaninglessly. This how we all feel. Even psychotherapy sessions could not help us to get over this. My wife, children, and I share an indescribable feeling of oppression.”
“Dad installed an internet line in the tent and bought us a computer. He also replaced most of the electronic devices we used to have in our house, but unfortunately he could not build a new house because he did not have enough money. UNRWA built us this temporary house and told my Dad recently that they are planning to demolish it to build a new permanent house. We are preparing to go back to living in a tent.”
The family will live in a tent again until UNRWA finishes building the permanent house. “Although I know from experience how harsh it is to live in tents, the idea of going back to the tent does not worry me. In comparison to what we have been through, tents seem luxurious.”
“I can see no beauty around me and I am no good at drawing anything but warplanes, tanks, and funerals. I used to love drawing landscapes. All I drew in my paintings were flowers, butterflies, and trees. Now, when I intend to draw a flower, I automatically draw a tank, a tent, or a destroyed house.”