During the bombardment and military incursion on Gaza at the end of 2008 and early 2009, one of the most widely reported incidents was that of the tragedy that befell the Samouni family in the village of Zeitoun.

Up to 49 members of this family were killed, according to the Daily Telegraph, “mostly women, children and elderly. They were instructed by Israeli soldiers to congregate in a house which was subsequently shelled by the Israeli military. Others were shot while telling the soldiers that they just had children inside, and some while under instruction to move from one building to another.

The Red Cross were denied access by the Israeli military to the injured and killed in the Samouni house for several days. When they eventually were allowed access, among the injured and the corpses that they found, were children by or under the corpses of their dead mothers.

The tragedies in Zeitoun were singled out amongst many atrocities by the UN Goldstone report, which accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A subsequent initiative to provide the Samounis with a community centre and a school was announced by the family and the Trade Not Aid initiative, the latter led by Ken O’Keefe. The initiative was looking for donations of school and community centre supplies, and Hope and Play contributed the full complement of requested English Language books on the condition that we would also match them by Arabic language books. These were purchased in the UK for delivery by the Trade Not Aid mission.

Due to unforeseen events and a hijacking of most donated goods, the Trade Not Aid consignment was not delivered. After (and often despite) police intervention, the goods were recovered, and we undertook ourselves to deliver the books that our own donors had donated. These were taken into Gaza by one of our founders, Iyas, in June of 2012.

Once in Gaza, it transpired that the entire school programme had not commenced. With no Samouni school to deliver the books to, we decided to donate the books to another school in Gaza (all are in need), and to use the same amount of money pledged to purchase much needed clothing that the Samounis had identified as a priority for their children.

As a result, books were donated to a school in Gaza…

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And clothing was donated to the Samouni children.

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