What is the story of “The Lion of Gaza” Hamza Abu Halima?

Gaza- “Despite his injuries and being handcuffed, Assad remains a lion,” is one of many comments in which people brag about an injured Palestinian youth with his hands handcuffed and his body exposed Yes, he is looking with sharp eyes in front of a heavily armed Israeli soldier. Gaza city.

Over the past few days, a photo of a young Palestinian man arrested by occupation forces in Gaza City has spread like wildfire. He is seen naked, with injured legs, and an Israeli soldier sitting on a chair, handcuffed behind his back.

People close to the young man say, “Maybe this soldier wanted to break him by publishing the photo, but his appearance expresses all the meaning of heroism (..) Hamza was a hero in front of an aggressive and cowardly soldier.”

The owner of the photo is Hamza Khamis Abu Halima, “the heroic son of the Shujaiya neighborhood,” as many of the comments that flooded social media platforms described him.

picture story

Last December, occupation forces attacked the house of one of Hamza's uncles in the “Yarmouk” area of ​​Gaza City, where he had fled with his family from the al-Shujaiya neighborhood in the east of the city. The intensity of the battles and violent raids targeted entire residential squares in this neighbourhood, causing a huge loss. There has been an abundance of killing and destruction since the Israeli war on Gaza began on October 7 last year.

Hamza's cousin told Al Jazeera Net, preferring not to reveal his identity, that occupation soldiers arrested Hamza after he was hit by shrapnel in his right leg during an attack on the house. They stripped him of his clothes and took him away from “Yarmouk”. ” area, in the east of the city, to the “Palestine Stadium” in the west.

Occupation forces arrest civilians in Gaza
Israeli occupation forces arrest civilians in Gaza (social networking sites)

The occupation forces, who penetrated deep into the city by land, turned the “Palestine Stadium” in the al-Rimal neighborhood into a detention and investigation center, and their soldiers captured numerous photographs and video clips of Palestinians of various ages. Published on social media platforms. And the group, naked, handcuffed and blindfolded, surrounded by tanks and vehicles. Army.

The occupying forces subjected Hamza to a rigorous interrogation for about 4 hours before releasing him. According to his cousin, “The Israeli soldier is a fool, and this photo will not break Hamza the way he wanted, but it will remain immortalized in his memory, reflecting his pride and courage.”

Al Jazeera Net tried to talk to Hamza himself, but his cousin did not like it and said that “he is fine, but he does not want to talk to the media out of fear of his family members.”

killing and displacement

Shortly before his arrest, occupation forces killed Hamza's sixty-year-old father, Khamis Abu Halima, and his brother's wife, Saqr, and her two children, Khamis (6 years old) and Haya (3 years old).

Hamza and many of his family members refused to demobilize and leave Gaza City to areas designated as “South of the Gaza Valley” by the occupation forces. According to his cousin, “he is facing severe psychological pressure, and fears for his family members living in Gaza City or choosing to leave it for the south.” He commented on the photo spread of him He refused to do so, and he was surprised by the widespread resonance it had, despite the fact that almost 40 days had passed since it was taken without his knowledge.”

Local and international estimates indicate that approximately two million Palestinians no longer exist in their homes or residential areas, and have been forced to flee, whether within a city or to the south of the Gaza Strip, and among them Most live in tents and shelter centres. , resulting in crimes and Israeli expulsion warnings.

On the other hand, Hamza and his cousins ​​and several million Palestinians in Gaza City and the northern areas of the Gaza Strip decided to hold firm and not flee to the camps and cities of the southern Gaza Strip, and they are facing enormous pressure. As a result of the Israeli policy of killing and starvation.

lion of gaza

Activists on social media platforms widely circulated a photo of Hamza posing in front of an Israeli soldier, and his friend Muhammad Sukkar wrote in a post accompanying the photo on his Facebook account, “Despite injuries and despite being handcuffed… The lion remains a lion. This glimpse of steadfastness and defiance in the face of a cowardly enemy is enough to make you proud… Dear friend Hamza Abu Halima.”

On the same post, Muhammad Abu Nasr commented, “For history, this photograph will remain an icon, a symbol of perseverance and defiance, and a witness to the crimes of this entity.”

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