Khaled Nabhan, who lost his three-year-old grand-daughter in an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, cherishes her memory on his collar, where he fastens all he has left of young Reem: her earring.
Images of Nabhan made headlines as he embraced the lifeless body of his granddaughter, bidding farewell as he kissed her eyes and stroked her hair and face, calling her the “soul of my soul”, Anadolu Agency reports.
Recounting how his heart ached over Reem’s passing, Nabhan told Anadolu that he was unaware he was being filmed in that moment.
We woke up to the rubble falling on us because of Israel’s bombing of our house in Nuseirat Refugee Camp
Nebhan said, adding that they were trapped under the rubble. While his son and daughter were injured, Reem and her 5-year-old brother, Tariq, had been killed.
Nabhan said he could not let go of the memories he had with Reem, whom he would call affectionately, “my dear, my heart, my two eyes,” and who was a constant source of joy for him while she was alive.
‘Reem, my dearest’
Stating that the attack was carried out at night, Nabhan stated that they were not given any warning before the attack.
Nabhan said, “Reem, she is my darling. My heart is broken. I sleep and wake up and my eyes are full of tears. We lived in the same house with Reem. I used to play games with her every day. I wouldn’t just call her ‘darling.’ I would call her ‘my heart, my two eyes.’ I miss her very much.”
Nabhan regularly visits the graves of his grandchildren in the besieged enclave, now in the seventh day of a humanitarian pause between the Israel army and Palestinian resistance groups.
“Since my grandchildren were martyred, I have been going to their graves. It’s as if they’re sleeping. I ask them, ‘How are you?’ I talk to them. It’s impossible to forget this pain,” he said.
Nabhan holds dear his grandchild’s only remaining earring, kissing it as he mourns her loss. “This is all that’s left of her. Her other earring is missing. I took this as a keepsake and I carry it on my collar.”
He and his grandchildren had made plans for when the Israeli strikes finally subside.
They asked me for bananas, apples and watermelons, but I couldn’t get them. I promised to buy bananas, watermelons and shawarma (kebab wraps) for my grandchildren when the attacks were over. We were going to go to the market together, we were going to buy fruit; we were going to buy shawarma. But we lost them
Describing Reem as “a piece of my life”, Nabhan said: “I always imagined her growing up, going to college and consulting with me when choosing her field of specialisation.”
“I never thought that our children would be bombed. Yes, my heart aches. They filmed me and everyone saw it. I wasn’t even aware that I was being filmed. But there are many others here who weren’t caught on video and whose hearts are burning.”