How Does A Child See War?

If a picture says a thousand words, I shudder to think what they might be in the case of this image of a Palestinian family captured by an Associated Press photographer.
(AP Photo/Hatem Omar)

The image was taken by Hatem Omar near the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. They're running past a building as it burns after an Israeli air strike – one of dozens that have left at least 315 people dead in the last three days.

Most of the dead have been members of the militant group Hamas, which runs Gaza, but the U.N. says at least 50 have been civilians.

What caught my eye in this photograph was the child, being quickly ushered away from the destruction by her frantic mother and her visibly distraught father.

The girl looks absolutely complacent. As flames and smoke rise behind her and her mother tries to shield her ears from the sounds of warfare, she gazes indifferently at the camera.

Maybe the photographer caught her in a fleeting moment of calm?

She can't be much more than 5 years old... In that short life, is this normal? Do total destruction, carnage and chaos not faze this little girl?

Or will the scars of war emerge later, when she's old enough to convert the internal grief into external rage? Will she seek revenge, or will she seek peace?

This photo doesn't say 1,000 words, it asks 1,000 questions. But it answers one. People often ask how the vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East can continue, generation after generation...

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.