Jerusalem: letter from Sister Mary - 499th child killed

 A new school year began this past month, but some children didn't make it back to their classrooms. At the School of Joy in the Bethlehem area where 50 mentally challenged children are taught in four levels, only 37 of the students returned. Thirteen of their classmates, could no longer afford transport to the school. Their parents had either no car, could not afford gas or public transport to send their children back to a school their children loved and one in which they grew in knowledge, self-confidence and self-esteem. Knowing these children, I know that there are some very sad children in the Bethlehem area. That seems like a sad story and it is, but put into the perspective that 487 children did not return to school because they where dead is a shocking reality of life for children in the Palestinian towns and villages. 487 children are the size of an entire student body in many private schools throughout Europe and the United States. The number of children who have been killed by the Israeli army and the circumstances of some of their deaths is truly hard to believe. There were school children killed while sitting in the back seat of their parent's car; killed because they were out riding their bikes, children killed because they didn't understand Hebrew or deaf children who couldn't hear what was being said and children killed because they threw stones at huge tanks. Stones just bounce off tanks, but bullets go straight through children or explode inside them. On September 24 another child was missing from his classroom. Muhammad Ayisa Hamden, fled his home with other members of the house when they heard Israeli tanks, vehicles, a bulldozer and an Apache helicopter approaching his residential area. He knew people were often buried alive if their home was targeted. He stood at a distance with a group of children as they watched some of the adults attempting to prevent the demolition of three houses. As if to distract the adults, the Israeli force fired upon the children and Mohammad was hit in the neck. 159 children have been shot directly in the head or neck. Of the 488 children now dead, one hundred of them had not yet reached their tenth birthday. 487 were deliberately killed by the Israeli soldiers. As if to teach me on how the others died, on same day that Muhammad died, Dana Iesa, a little three-year-old, lost her chance of ever attending school when an early morning Israeli shelling attack in her Gaza neighbourhood was brought about by numerous tanks and jeeps, also incorporating cover from apache helicopters. Dana, a child with no previous medical problems had been in good health until she entered a state of shock when the Israeli forces began shelling the houses around her home. Due to the intense shelling an ambulance was unable to reach her house quickly enough and Dana was dead upon reaching the hospital at Died al-Balah City. She became the 499th child killed in these past three years. By the time you read this, the number will probably be 500. If you think this is all in the name of "security" for the people of Israel, there are 27 reserve pilots who just recently refused to take part in any more aerial attacks on populated Palestinian areas and they signed a letter describing such activity as "illegal and immoral." Sister Mary is an Ursuline nun working in Jerusalem

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