Occupied Lives: My Son Ayoub
instant I remember him, I keep calling his name in the house, looking for him
everywhere… Ayoub… "
picture the day before he died
Adila Ahmad Yussef
Asalia, 44 years old, is the mother of Ayoub, a 12 year old child killed by an
Israeli drone while running after a puppy on his way to school. As she recounts
the incident, Adila tries to speak between her tears.
Ayoub was the
sixth son of the Asalia family, one of nine brothers and five sisters. Adila
speaks of him as a helpful child: "Whenever he had time he stayed with me
in the kitchen, and helped me make the bread, do the dishes… He was funny,
always telling jokes and everybody loved him". She remembers that every
Friday, he would dress in his best clothes and make fun of his brother Husam,
15 years old, who wears just small shorts:"Don’t you think that I look
smarter and more handsome than my brother?"
morning, 11 March, Ayoub was getting ready to go to school. He was taking extra
lessons before his normal afternoon shift and had to be in class at around 7 am.
He made jokes with his aunt in the kitchen, and asked his mother if she could
buy him some new sandals since his were threadbare. Walking on his way to
school, he passed his cousin Wafi, a 5 -year- old boy who was playing with a
puppy. The dog got scared as Ayoub passed and ran away. As Wafi started to
complain, Ayoub ran after it to catch it and bring it back to Wafi.
Abdallah Mohamed Asalia, a relative who lives in the house close to the scene,
remembers. “I was looking through the window watching the boys when I heard the
sound of a drone followed by a big explosion.” She moved away from the window
and when she went back there was a wounded boy with his face to the ground. The
neighbors rushed to see who was injured and thinking it was Ayoub they called
for Adila to come. When she first arrived she didn’t recognize his clothes. She
looked for Ayoub with the ambulance men and as they didn’t find anyone else,
she thought that he must have already gone to school and the ambulance left the
scene. However, at that moment Kalthum remembered that she had seen Ayoub
running after the dog and that he wasn’t at school when the bombing happened.
With a few neighbors, they decided to continue the search while Adila went back
to the house to do some house works.
called an ambulance back to help them look for Ayoub, and as a paramedic was
looking between trees and bushes, he found half a body of a young boy. Kalthum
can’t forget the image of the amputated body, just bones and bloody open flesh
left. The neighbors went to look for Adila while the paramedic covered the
lower part of Ayoub’s body. Remembering back, Adila doesn’t remember the order
of events. Just that she cleaned Ayoub’s face, full of sand and blood, cried a
lot, prayed for help, talked to him, cried, went to the hospital, prayed.
Sunday morning, Adila cannot make breakfast for her children. She is afraid to
"face a hole" when she looks at the table with her children gathering
around it without Ayoub."It’s too difficult". The family has been
traumatized by the attack. "We are scared to go out, and find a part of
Ayoub’s body on a tree, in the street, in the garden. Since the attack, we all
sleep in the same room, with all the children because we are afraid."
her story saying "how can a child face a rocket?" She wants to think
about all Palestinian children and "wants them to enjoy safety, security,
and freedom". In the Gaza Strip, between 10-12 March 2012, one other child
was killed and twenty were injured.
There were no
fighters in the area at the time of the attack. The targeting and killing of a
child, a protected civilian, is a war crime, as codified in Articles 8(2)(a)(i)
and 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Adila and her husband Amir Asalia, with tow of their children Faraj
and Eymad and one of their grand children Abdel Rhaman.