Chris Hedges: The Death of Amr

Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed over 13,000 children. Amr Abdallah was one of them.

Amr Abdallah. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

By Chris Hedges 

On the morning Amr Abdallah was killed, he woke before dawn to say his Ramadan prayers with his father, mother, two younger brothers and aunt, in an open field in southern Gaza.

“It is You we worship and You we ask for help,” they prayed. “Guide us to the straight path — the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked Your anger or of those who are astray.” 

[Listen to this article, read by Eunice Wong.]

It was dark. They made their way back to their tents. Their old life was gone — their village, Al-Qarara, their house — built with the money Amr’s father saved during the 30 years he worked in the Persian Gulf — their orchards, their school, the local mosque and the town’s cultural museum with artifacts dating from 4,000 B.C. 

Blasted into rubble.  

The ruins of Amr’s home. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

Amr, who was 17, would have graduated from high school this year. The schools were closed in November. He would have gone to college, perhaps to be an engineer like his father, who was a prominent community leader. Amr was a gifted student. Now he lived in a tent in a designated “safe area” that, as he and his family already knew, was not safe. It was shelled sporadically by the Israelis. 

It was cold and rainy. The family huddled together to keep warm. Hunger wrapped itself around them like a coil.

“When you say ‘Amr’ it’s like you’re talking about the moon,” his uncle, Abdulbaset Abdallah, who lives in New Jersey, tells me. “He was the special one, handsome, brilliant, and kind.”

Amr in Gaza. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

The Israeli attacks began in northern Gaza. Then they spread south. On the morning of Friday, Dec. 1, Israeli drones dropped leaflets over Amr’s village.

“To the inhabitants of al-Qarara, Khirbet al-Khuza’a, Absan and Bani Soheila,” the leaflets read. “You must evacuate immediately and go to shelters in the Rafah area. The city of Khan Yunis is a dangerous combat zone. You have been warned. Signed by the Israeli Defense Army.”

Families in Gaza live together. Whole generations. This is why dozens of family members are killed in a single air strike. Amr grew up surrounded by uncles, aunts and cousins.

The villagers panicked. Some began to pack. Some refused to leave.

One of Amr’s uncles was adamant. He would stay behind while the family would go to the “safe area.” His son was a physician at Nasser Hospital. Amr’s cousin left the hospital to plead with his father to leave. Moments after he and his father fled, their street was bombed.

Amr and his family moved in with relatives in Khan Yunis. A few days later more leaflets were dropped. Everyone was told to go to Rafah.

One of the leaflets dropped over Amr’s village. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

Amr’s family, now joined by relatives from Khan Yunis, fled to Rafah

Rafah was a nightmare. Desperate Palestinians were living in the open air and on streets. There was little food or water. The family slept in their car. It was cold and rainy. They did not have blankets. They looked desperately for a tent. There were no tents. They found an old sheet of plastic, which they attached to the back of the car to make a protected area. There were no bathrooms. People relieved themselves on the side of the road. The stench was overpowering.

They had been displaced twice in the span of a week.

Amr’s father, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, fell sick. The family took him to the European Hospital near Khan Yunis. The doctor told him he was ill because he was not eating enough.

“We can’t handle your case,” the doctor told him. “There are more critical cases.” 

“He had a beautiful house,” Abdallah says of his older brother. “Now he is homeless. He knew everyone in his hometown. Now he lives on the street with crowds of strangers. No one has enough to eat. There is no clean water. There are no proper facilities or bathrooms.”

The family decided to move again to al-Mawasi, designated a “humanitarian area” by Israel. They would at least be in open land, some of which belonged to their family. The coastal area, filled with dunes, now holds some 380,000 displaced Palestinians. The Israelis promised the delivery of international humanitarian aid to al-Mawasi, little of which arrived. Water has to be trucked in. There is no electricity.

Amr in Gaza. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

Israeli warplanes hit a residential compound in al-Mawasi in January where medical teams and their families from the International Rescue Committee and Medical Aid for Palestinians were housed. Several were injured. An Israeli tank fired on a house in al-Mawasi where staff from Médecins Sans Frontières and their families were sheltering in February, killing two and injuring six.

Amr’s family set up two makeshift tents with palm tree leaves and sheets of plastic. Israeli drones circled overhead night and day.

On the day before he was killed, Amr managed to get a phone connection — telecommunications are often cut — to speak to his sister in Canada.

“Please get us out of here,” he pleaded.

The Egyptian firm Hala, which means “Welcome” in Arabic, provided travel permits for Gazans to enter Egypt for $350, before the Israeli assault. Since the genocide began, the firm has raised the price to $5,000 for an adult and $2,500 for a child. It has sometimes charged as much as $10,000 for a travel permit.

Hala has offices in Cairo and Rafah. Once the money is paid — Hala only accepts U.S. dollars — the name of the applicant is submitted to Egyptian authorities. It can take weeks to get a permit. It would cost around $25,000 to get Amr’s family out of Gaza, double that if they included his widowed aunt and three cousins. This was not a sum Amr’s relatives abroad could raise quickly. They set up a GoFundMe page here. They are still trying to collect enough money.

Amr in Gaza. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

Once Palestinians get to Egypt, the permits expire within a month. Most of the Palestinian refugees in Egypt survive on money sent to them from abroad. 

Amr awoke in the dark. It was the first Friday of Ramadan. He joined his family in the morning prayer. The Fajr. It was 5 a.m.

Muslims fast in the day during the month of Ramadan. They eat and drink once the sun goes down and shortly before dawn. But food was now in very short supply. A little olive oil. The spice za’atar. It was not much.

They went back to their tents after prayers. Amr was in the tent with his aunt and three cousins. A shell exploded near the tent. Shrapnel tore apart his aunt’s leg and critically injured his cousins. Amr frantically tried to help them. A second shell exploded. Shrapnel ripped through Amr’s stomach and exited from his back.

Amr stood up. He walked out of the tent. He collapsed. Older cousins ran towards him. They had enough gas in their car — fuel is in very short supply — to drive Amr to Nasser Hospital, three miles away.

“Amr, are you okay?” his cousins asked.

 “Yes,” he moaned.

“Amr, are you awake?” they asked after a few minutes

“Yes,” he whispered.

They lifted him from the car. They carried him into the overcrowded corridors of the hospital. They set him down. 

He was dead. 

Amr in death. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

They carried Amr’s body back to the car. They drove to the family’s encampment.

Amr’s uncle shows me a video of Amr’s mother keening over his corpse.

“My son, my son, my beloved son,” she laments in the video, her left hand tenderly stroking his face. “I don’t know what I will do without you.”

They buried Amr in a makeshift grave.

Amr’s Burial. (Abdallah Family/ScheerPost)

Later that night the Israelis shelled again. Several Palestinians were wounded and killed.

The empty tent, occupied the day before by Amr’s family, was obliterated. 

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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16 comments for “Chris Hedges: The Death of Amr

  1. April 8, 2024 at 14:50

    This is a good example of why I will NEVER vote in a federal election. Those with any chance of election are child-killers. And don’t give me that crap about Biden is better than Trump or democrats are more virtuous or whatever the latest excuse is. They kill children–that’s all I need to know.

    • Horatio
      April 8, 2024 at 19:36

      You speak my views perfectly, Rosemary!

  2. CaseyG
    April 8, 2024 at 13:21

    So Israel—murdering, murdering, murdering—–is that your purpose? Well, you have been murdering Palestinians and throwing them out of their own nation since Nakba in 1948. Coming up on 76 years of murder—-and yet so many act as if WHY has this happened to Israel? Hamas attacks you and Biden sends in even more murderous supplies. America, you are as despotic as Israel….Lies and lies and yes— so murderous you are, just like Israel .More and more and more money for murdering, Genocide Joe—- and Netanyahu, the creature with no soul. Sadly, your murdering is affecting all LIFE on this planet. I wonder how long LIFE o this planet can exist——how soon will Earth become a mirror of that other desolate place—-Mars?

  3. Carolyn/Cookie out west
    April 8, 2024 at 12:53

    Heart-felt condolences to the family of beautiful Amr. He was the same age as my grandson 17. So tragic . . . If only funds could come to get his family out of Gaza to Egypt. Why aren’t the rich countries as Saudi Arabia helping?

  4. Larry McGovern
    April 8, 2024 at 12:46

    Multiply 1 (Amr) by 13,000 other children, and then spring into action, if you haven’t already. Let us not be carbon copies of the general German population before and during WWII, standing on the sidelines.

  5. LeoSun
    April 8, 2024 at 12:19

    “We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.” Marcel Proust“

    ……… Exhibit A-Z: Israel “Makes It Rain,” LEAFLETS advising of “Kill Zones” disguised as Safe Zones, consequently, another *“MURDER OF ONE,” AMR. One of Thirteen thousand (13K) children targeted, eliminated, annihilated; it’s beyond f/f.u.b.a.r.; and, By Design!!!

    …….. * “I can remember being eight years old & having infinite possibilities. But life ends up being so much less than we thought it would be when we were kids, with relationships that are so empty and stupid and brutal. If you don’t find a way to break the chain and change in some way, then you wind up, as the rhyme goes: a murder of one, for sorrow.” ADAM DURITZ/COUNTING CROWS (“Murder” is a term used to refer to a group of crows. The band’s name, Counting Crows; &, a line from this song are both references to an English divination rhyme that came from an old superstition).”

    AND, AMR ABDALLAH’s young life, GONE! And, AMR “feathered by the moonlight,” may he rest in eternal peace,

    “I walk along these hillsides in the summer ‘neath the sunshine,
    I am feathered by the moonlight fallin’ down on me,
    I said I walk along these hillsides in the summer ‘neath the sunshine,
    I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me,
    I said I will walk along these hillsides in the summer ‘neath the sunshine,
    I am feathered by the moonlight fallin’ down on me,
    I said I will walk along these hillsides in the summer ‘neath the sunshine,
    I am feathered by the moonlight. Change, change, change, yeah.”

    I have to say, AMR, instantly, reminded me of another young son, Aaron Swartz (26). It’s NOT just GAZA’s youth being tracked, targeted, murdered. AND, NOT only in war; but, year after year, tracking, targeting, leading one off the cliff, by the powers that be, rules the day. It gets worse, the killers in high places are never held to account for the deception, destruction, & death, they deliver.

    “There’s blood in the water. Don’t drink the water.”

    ….. “The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz was a child prodigy, an Internet pioneer and an activist who refused to back down – even when the feds tried to break him.”

    United States v. Aaron Swartz

    …. “The case was scheduled to go to trial in April, and if he lost, Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison. Rarely did he talk about the mental and financial toll his legal battles had taken, so it was difficult even for those closest to him to know how much it was weighing on him. Two days after leaving the conference, however, he made a definitive statement that United States v. Aaron Swartz was at least one battle he was no longer up for fighting. On [JANUARY 11, 2013], almost exactly two years from the day he was arrested, Aaron Swartz ended his life by hanging himself in his Brooklyn apartment.” The Rolling Stone 2.15.2013

    * “A Murder of One,” Adam Duritz w/Counting Crows @ hxxps://

    TY, Chris Hedges, CN, et al., “It’s not where you are; but, what you do there that matters.” Keep It Lit. Ciao

    • LeoSun
      April 8, 2024 at 14:44

      ….p.s., “The band’s name, Counting Crows arrived @ per a line from this song: “WELL, I dreamt I saw you walkin’ up a hillside in the snow, casting shadows on the winter sky, as you stood there COUNTING CROWS: ‘One for sorrow. Two for joy. Three for girls; and, Four for boys. Five for silver. Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.’

      Well there’s a bird that nests inside you, sleeping underneath your skin; yeah, when you open up your wings to speak, I wish you’d let me in.”

      ….. p.s.s., “If you don’t find a way to break the chain and change in some way, then you wind up, as the rhyme goes: “A murder of one, for sorrow.” ADAM DURITZ/Counting Crows

      Thank You, CN, et al.

  6. MLF
    April 8, 2024 at 10:43

    Words are totally insufficient to describe the depths to which humans have devolved. The shame is upon us all.

    • C. Crown
      April 9, 2024 at 12:21

      Exactly, I read these accounts in honor of their lives, but each one I read I am sick to my stomach, my head aches, my very soul seems on fire. I tried to help one family in Gaza City. It wasn’t enough of course. I fear they probably no longer live. Where is the good in the world??

  7. Charles E. Carroll
    April 8, 2024 at 10:35

    Evil we are! Free Palestine!

  8. Barbara Raskin
    April 7, 2024 at 10:38

    Amr’s passing is the saddest (except it isn’t) latest reporting on the loss of life in Gaza. Thumb through geo-politcal history and we (those of us who dare) are witness’s to humanity’s cruelty toward one another. It is absolutely soul-crushing. There are just few words to describe the shame of who we were, who we are and where we will inevitably end up.

    • Helga I. Fellay
      April 8, 2024 at 10:58

      Re: “describe the shame of who we were, who we are and where we will inevitably end up.” I take exception to the word “we.” I am not ashamed of who I am, and I am guessing there are many millions of people who also have no reason to be ashamed of who they are. I mean the people who have never in their lives hurt, or tried by hurt, anyone intentionally. In fact, there are many compassionate, empathetic people in the world who dedicate their lives to helping others. We don’t deserve to be lumped in with the evildoers, the supremacists, the cultists and the evil doers. It’s not “humanity” nor “we” who are causing all this needless suffering. It’s they.

      • Barbara Raskin
        April 8, 2024 at 17:02

        Dearest Helga,

        First, read oral histories of people who have survived genocide and war since the beginning of recorded history, secondly, read Leo Sun above.

        “Many of us ask ourselves,
        What would I do if I was alive during slavery?
        Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid?
        What would I do if my country was committing Genocide?
        The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now”

        Aaron Bushnell

        • Em
          April 9, 2024 at 10:25

          I was going to say Bravo!
          In order to stay on the correct side of the ‘woke’ I’ll limit my comment to: Glad for the fact there are individuals who dig deeper, with more ‘critical reasoning and thinking’!
          We, all of us, are of one community: humanity.

  9. Lois Gagnon
    April 7, 2024 at 09:57

    Words fail. Tears flow. This must stop and the perpetrators brought to justice. What the hell have we become?

    • Em
      April 8, 2024 at 09:04

      Evolution IS the constant state of becoming, and as far as homo-Sapiens are concerned, it is definitely NOT becoming!
      If I had any tears left and was still literally able to cry, I’d be dehydrated, while drowning in the sorrow of what “we have become”!

Comments are closed.