This year, some of Gaza’s graduating students will not have a chance to celebrate because, very simply, they are no longer with us, leaving behind nothing but their family’s sorrow and grief. What these students did not know is that the Israeli occupation will not only cut short the waiting period for the results of their high school exams, but that it was going to hand out their martyrdom before they get a chance to earn their high school diplomas.
Gaza – On July 15, the Education Ministry in the unity government announced the results of the General Secondary Certificate exams after it had postponed doing so for several days hoping the war would end. But the media in Gaza refrained from publishing the results.
The celebrations of a number of graduating students were muted and lacking joy because of the ubiquitous specter of death surrounding them and the large numbers of injured and dead people. Announcing the results of the General Secondary Certificate exams reignited the grief in the hearts of those whose loved ones were supposed to graduate high school this year but received their martyrdom at Israel’s hands before they had a chance to receive their high school diplomas.
Even though the media in Gaza boycotted the results of the General Secondary Certificate, they showcased stories of student martyrs who would have gone on to attend college and study what they desired, had they survived.
“Thank God, I finished my high school exams completely and I pray to God to grant me success after studying hard and I ask you to pray for me and all the students.” The young man who wrote these lines is now gone. He will not have a chance to bask in academic success. A few days ago, a huge explosion in the Gazan sky turned out to be a missile fired at the al-Batsh family home; a massacre that claimed 18 martyrs including student Ibrahim Majed al-Batsh.
Ibrahim scored 55 out of a 100, which means he passed, but the music of the famous Abdel Halim Hafez song “Wehyat Alby,” about the joy of academic success and graduation, will not be played in his home and he will not step foot on any of Gaza’s campuses. The bereaved family has opened its doors to receive condolences despite all the doors that have been slammed in its face. Yousef al-Batsh, a relative of the two student martyrs – Yehia and Ibrahim, recalls some of his memories with them. He tells Al-Akhbar: “Yehia and Ibrahim were full of life and were eager to go to college but with the war on Gaza, they have received a much higher degree than a high school diploma.”
Ibrahim al-Batsh befriended three other students on the journey of their martyrdom, they are Yehia Alaa al-Batsh, Tarek Mahmoud al-Hajj and Imad Odeh. Israeli missiles put an end to their youthful adventures. They will not fall in love, as young people in college do, and their diaries will remain empty, unwritten.
A number of students [in Jerusalem] hung signs that read, “I dedicate my success to Gaza” and “Missiles of the Resistance, bring us good tidings.
Bilal Abu Yousef is another student with a sad story. Bilal received a score of 95 out of a 100 on the religious section of the exam. Despite this high score, there were no signs of joy on his face because his brothers were killed in the war. Bilal tells Al-Akhbar: “My two brothers Mohammed and Ahmed died and I am now receiving mourners instead of well-wishers,” adding: “Despite all this pain, we ask the Resistance forces to continue on their path and not allow anyone to turn Gaza into a game.”
In solidarity with the student martyrs, the highest ranking students in Gaza did not receive diplomas. They checked their scores online, but Al-Akhbar was able to get a statement from Rana al-Buhaisi who came in second place in the Gaza Strip. She told Al-Akhbar, “My happiness is mixed with the pain of our neighbors and friends who have been affected by the war… The ululations of joy will not ring high in my home because our neighbors lost their homes and loved ones.”
The scene was repeated in Jerusalem. A number of students there hung signs that read, “I dedicate my success to Gaza” and “Missiles of the Resistance, bring us good tidings.”
Yesterday, Gaza was supposed to live the joy of celebrating the academic achievements of its students, instead, the day passed quietly, without much fanfare. Blood is still trickling on its streets and school doors are shut, except to host refugees. Gazans replaced the roses and sweets of happy occasions with cautious movement under the Israeli planes hovering over them in the Gazan sky, except for some fireworks that were set off, as though sparring with the occupation’s planes.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.