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Khalid and Reem, ‘the Soul of My Soul’

Radiance News Service

Nov. 30: Khalid and Reem, grandfather and granddaughter were inseparable. Reem’s grandfather was her whole world. Her favourite game, pulling his beard, and he pulling her pigtails. “I’ll let go”, she says, “if you let go.” Now, Khalid just can’t let go of his little Reem. Finding his way through the wreckage of their house, he picks up a doll – “This was Reem’s doll”, he says. The family was asleep when an airstrike brought down the house in Southern Gaza last week. He woke up screaming for his children and grandchildren, struggling to walk through the dark and the wreckage to find them. They were buried under all the rubble.

Maysa’s two children, Reem and Tariq had slept in her arms that night. Maysa and her sister barely survived. She felt something heavy collapse on her chest and on Reem, who screamed. Maysa says she said her final prayers, and she woke up to the news in the hospital that her three-year-old Reem and five-year-old Tariq were gone – their final days lived in a war they were too young to understand. With their father abroad working, they lived with their grandfather, Khalid who played with them and doted on them. They kept asking for fruit, but there was no fruit due to the war. “I could only find tangerines”, he tells the camera, as he holds a tangerine that Reem never ate. He has pinned her earring close to his heart on his coat.

The video of Khalid holding Reem’s body for the last time, kissing her eyes and hair has spread across social media like wildfire. People have drawn and painted the scene in their own ways, some with Khalid and Reem staring at the al-Aqsa mosque, others with the caption “From the river to the sea”, and yet others, with the iconic olive branches surrounding them.

In another clip, where Tariq and Reem are shrouded and ready for burial, he fixes Tariq’s hair “as he used to like it.” Sharing a birthday with his granddaughter Reem, he called her “the soul of my soul” in Arabic – the soul of his daughter, his soul. The images have left many viewers heartbroken, as the cost of the occupation continues to steal childhoods in unimaginable ways.

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