Destruction in Gaza captured through the lens of nine-year old war correspondent

The once clear sky became cloaked in an ominous darkness, mirroring the terrifying uncertainty gripping our hearts. The impact felt devastating. It tore apart buildings and shattered our sense of normalcy and stability.

  • 3 months ago
  • March 11, 2024
6 min read
Nine-year-old Lama stands at a refugee camp after being displaced from her home in Gaza City following Israel's counteroffensive. | Photo courtesy Lama Abu Jamous Nine-year-old Lama stands at a refugee camp after being displaced from her home in Gaza City following Israel's counteroffensive. | Photo courtesy Lama Abu Jamous
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Lama Abu Jamous, a nine-year-old Palestinian girl, is not like other children her age around the world who play, have fun, and go to school. Instead, she ha been displaced by the war in Gaza. Lama has taken on an incredibly difficult task; she has become a journalist. Her stories do not revolve around school news, competitions, or games that matter to children her age. Rather, she has become an amateur war correspondent, gaining millions of followers between all her social media accounts. She tells stories of war in Gaza and the dreams of children that were demolished, along with their homes.
background information
The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on Israel on October 7, 2023, with hundreds of gunmen infiltrating communities near the Gaza Strip.
About 1,200 people were killed, while the Israeli military says more than 200 soldiers and civilians, including women and children, were taken to Gaza as hostages. Since then, Israel mounted a counteroffensive, invading Gaza to eliminate Hamas. The citizens have paid the heaviest price. More than 30,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed and more than 68,000 wounded since the war began, according to the Gaza health ministry.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — When war broke out in Gaza, I heard the shelling close to my home. Filming in my room, the audio picked up the sound of deafening explosions. As I captured the moment, my number of followers increased, for which I feel grateful. As a nine-year-old journalist, I love what I do, publishing photos and videos of Palestinian children. I want to share their stories with the world.

[Lama Abu Jamous gained millions of followers on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok when the war broke out in Gaza. She films from inside Gaza Strip, sharing the stark images and stories of children.]

The children suffer most in this war. They face lack of food and water, displacement, and bombardments. Behind the lens, I tell a story of loss. Gaza was once home – a place of peace and security where our dreams flourished. In an instant, everything came crashing down as war ravaged our land.

Read more stories from the Israel-Gaza war at Orato World Media.

War in Gaza shatters stability for countless children

Before [the invasion] I lived a happy and stable life in my serene and beautiful home in the heart of Gaza City. At peace, my life felt secure; I was immensely happy. Inside my house and in the city streets, it felt like a haven where dreams could flourish, and hope soared.

We went to school, visited relatives and friends, and frequented the parks. Yet, destiny had another path in store for [the children of Gaza]. The horrors of war erupted with an intensity that shook the foundation of our existence. It descended like a tempestuous storm, engulfing everything in its path.

The once clear sky became cloaked in an ominous darkness, mirroring the terrifying uncertainty gripping our hearts. The impact felt devastating. It tore apart buildings and shattered our sense of normalcy and stability. In that moment, my family had no choice but to leave our beloved home and take the risky path towards Khan Yunis.

The trouble did not stop when we arrived. When Khan Yunis came under attack, it forced us to flee again, this time heading toward Rafah in search of a place for refugees to make our lives a little less miserable. Yet, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, we encountered even greater suffering. The tent that serves as our shelter fails to protect us from the extreme cold and unfavorable weather. The rain falls mercilessly on us, and the cold penetrates our bones.

Young Gazan journalist losing family members to bombing

In Rafah, my family and I have suffered in every way possible: lack of electricity, water, food, and everything else we may need. The people displaced in Rafah remain in desperate need of assistance that never reaches us. Some people end up sleeping on the streets for lack of a tent. In my short life, I have witnessed so much: stories of loss and heartache that could shatter the most resilient spirits.

Among these stories, one left a lasting impact on me. I met a young boy who tragically lost his family, leaving him with only his father and grandmother. Children like him suffer the pain of loss and face an incredibly challenging ordeal, leaving them isolated and vulnerable.

Lamawears a helmet and press jacket. She has become the youngest journalist sharing news from Gaza. | Photo courtesy of Lama Abu Jamous

Another story that deeply affected me is that of my own aunt. Inside at home, they fell into a targeted area. Tragically, my beloved aunt, her husband, and their children Malik, Baraa, and Salem all died. These are people I cherished and enjoyed spending time with. I wish to return to my beautiful city and to the things I loved, like my school, the parks, and the swimming pools. However, all these places became targets of bombing, even those sheltering displaced people. It feels like they demolished our hope and dreams when they demolished our homes. My beloved city lay ravaged by destruction and ruin.

Nine-year-old Lama Abu Jamous pleads for international solidarity

Today, we simply wish to persevere and for a quick end to the war. Amidst all the bombing, displacement, and killing, we feel that no one stands with us. Through all the chaos, I kept filming, and my audience grew with each harrowing moment. While our dreams have shattered, in my heart our spirit remains unbroken as we strive to rebuild what we lost and restore peace.

Donning my helmet and bulletproof vest like any professional war correspondent, people watch by the millions. I started doing journalism several years ago, when I recorded my first video with my cousin’s help. When my father saw the enthusiastic reaction I got, he supported me in sharing my content online. Soon, seeing people’s stories and sharing their experiences became a part of my life.

Now, [as the war rages on in Gaza], I share the plight of those affected by this merciless and indescribable conflict. I depict the urgency of finding swift resolution to restore peace, alleviate suffering, and pave the way for a brighter future.

My message to the world comes in the form of a plea: work towards ending the war and bring peace to Gaza. We long for the day we can go home. I ask for the unwavering support of the global community, standing in solidarity, to bring an end to the unimaginable suffering of this devastating war.

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