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Gaza Kids Find Solace in Kite Flying Amid War

Gaza
Photo Credit : Google

The 11-year-old Malak Ayad is a welcome diversion from the horrors of war as he soars a paper kite high in the sky just meters away from the concrete and steel fence that divides the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
“Every day I play with my brothers and cousins with kites next to the Egyptian border,” the Palestinian girl, who was moved with her family from Gaza City to Rafah in the south, said.

“When I do, I feel free and safe,” she added, gently manoeuvering her kite, which she calls “Butterfly”, back and forth across the border with a white string.

Her cousins and friends run along the fence trying, in vain, to get their kites to take flight, but a loud explosion in the distance makes them stop in their tracks.

“Quickly, the (Israeli) bombardment is getting closer,” said Malak’s uncle Mohammed Ayad, 24, urging the children to leave the area.

Malak quickly obeys, reeling in her kite and folding it, then rushes back to a tent where her family is taking shelter in the nearby Khir area.

“Playtime is over. When air strikes begin we run back home,” Malak said, trembling with fear.

The war began with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

The Gaza Health Ministry reports that at least 32,782 people have died as a result of Israel’s retaliatory campaign to destroy Hamas, the majority of whom were women and children.

Malak Ayad and her family are among the 1.5 million people who now reside in Rafah, where Israel has promised to launch a ground offensive in order to further its campaign against Hamas. The majority of these people were displaced by the war.

Malak, who seems content to fly her kite and daydream about life before the war started on October 7, does so in spite of the conflict and the fear that envelopes her.

“My kite flies to Egypt everyday while we are here trapped in Gaza,” said Malak, who wears a bracelet featuring the Palestinian flag.

“I don’t know when we will be able to return home,” she said, adding that her mother told her that her school has been hit by the Israeli army and “destroyed”.

Haitham Abu Ajwa, 34, who is also displaced from Gaza City, said kite flying “reminds me of my childhood”.

He too lives in a tent in Rafah with his wife and two boys, Mohammed, 5, and seven-months-old Adam

Flying kites helps to “free oneself of negative thoughts”, he said, and the border area with Egypt is “the ideal place to expel… the sadness and pain that we feel”.

“In the camps, you cannot feel free or comfortable,” said Abu Ajwa as he helped Mohammed fly a kite.

Dozens of children, some with their families, come daily to the border area in the afternoons to fly kites across the frontier.

Some start up conversations with Egyptian soldiers manning surveillance towers.

When Malak’s kite flew past the watchtower, one of the soldiers called out to her: “Well done, princess.”

The little girl thanked him with a wave and said, “I love Egypt. My wish is to travel there like my kite.”

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