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How Gaza’s children are preparing for Israel’s invasion of Rafah I Close Up

As an Israeli ground assault on Gaza’s last ‘safe zone’ looms, two children in Rafah brace for it.

“We’re afraid people will resort to killing each other for food,” 11-year-old Husam says as he recounts his daily battle to secure basic necessities like food, water and sanitation in Rafah during the Israel-Hamas war.

Husam is one of more than 600,000 children who have sought refuge in the city, the designated “safe zone” in southern Gaza. But since March, the Israeli government has threatened to extend a military invasion there, too, casting a shadow of fear that has been building for months. “A person’s psyche wears out with fear. It’s a slow death” Husam says as he reflects on what lies ahead.

Known as “’Gaza’s Isaac Newton” for his ingenuity, Husam has conjured up a makeshift electrical system using two fans that he picked up at a scrap market. By wiring them together, he created a rudimentary but functional source of power that lights up the tent where he and his family have been living since they fled Gaza City.

Meanwhile, Najwa navigates her days with a mixture of fear and determination. As she draws pictures of planes streaking across the sky, she shares what she’s learned from war: At the age of nine, she’s able to recognise the distinct sounds of different aircraft and grasp the concept of safe passages. Despite the pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty, Najwa finds moments of respite in playful imaginings, closing her eyes and envisioning the comfort of her own bed.

As global leaders implore Israel to refrain from invading Rafah, citing the humanitarian crisis facing millions of civilians trapped there, it’s children like Husam and Najwa who dare to dream of a future free of conflict. In Husam’s own words: “We want to live in freedom and safety like other children around the world.”

Watch No Refuge for Rafah’s Children for a poignant portrayal of the challenges Gaza’s children face as Israel’s ground offensive in Rafah looms.



Director: Tierney Bonini

Producers: Antonia Perello, Ruwaida Amer, Ahmed Al Shayah

Cinematographers: Salah Alhaw, Mahmoud Al Mashharwai

Editor: Antonia Perello

Writers: Tierney Bonini, Donald Cameron

Sound Mixer: Linus Bergman

Music Producer: Hussam Aliwat

Senior Editor: Donald Cameron