KNOW THEIR NAMES
Ahmed was the guy who cheered everyone up, had a joke to defuse a tense situation. Nobody can believe he’s gone.
Gaza City – Ahmed would always call and check up on his friends and family, his cousin says wistfully.
His dream was to set up a dental treatment programme for the elderly, Jihan Sabakhi wrote on Facebook about her cousin.
“All those wishes were gone in the blink of an eye… leaving hearts bleeding for his loss.”
Israel, Jihan wrote, “destroyed the dreams of a young man who just wanted a future for himself in Gaza”.
The last thing Ahmed’s family heard him say was the Shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith that a dying person recites, as he moaned in pain from under a wall that had collapsed on top of him.
When the Israeli missiles started raining down on the neighbourhood where the family lives, he was asleep upstairs, having spent the evening laughing and joking with his parents and little sister Judy.
“The night he was killed, we were sitting together chatting and joking and eating watermelon seeds, He played with his little sister Judy’s hair,” his mother said, recounting that while Ahmed had been joking and cheerful as usual, there was a sense of foreboding even in his jokes.
“He said: ‘Give me some seeds before I am martyred, quick!’” she choked with emotion. “It was as if he was saying goodbye to us.”
When the bombing collapsed the wall of Ahmed’s bedroom, his family was frantic, trying to get up the stairs to see if he was still alive. Finally, they managed to crawl into the upper level through a window, but it was too late.
Ahmed died that night, October 10. He was only 24.
The aspiring dentist had just graduated from dental school and was known for begging his friends to let him fix their teeth for free – because he needed the practice.
Just a cleaning, he would wheedle the resistant ones, promising them that they would have movie star teeth by the time he was done.
“With Ahmad, we would sit and dream, talk about his ideas for the future – they were always about building a project, a dream, a successful future,” his close friend and cousin, Ahmed al-Sabakhi said.
“He didn’t like to see me sad, he would always try to make me laugh. He was kind of like that with everyone, really one of the kindest hearts in the family.”
By the fourth night of Israel’s relentless bombing of Gaza, Ahmed was becoming a bit pessimistic, a major change from the cheerful, loving son, brother and friend everyone around him was used to.
His mother still weeps over his loss and remembers how he seemed to know he would die in the constant bombardment.
She is not alone, there is still disbelief when you talk to people who knew Ahmed; nobody can believe that he is no longer.