Pic of Gaza 6yo dressed up as journalist takes Twitter by storm
— JoMa Sommarstrom (@ekmathia) July 31, 2014
Yazan Hilliss is only 6 years old, but he probably has more to tell about the war in Gaza than any of the journalists working there. And as he told a Swedish radio journalist Johan-Matthias Sommarström this is what he is going to do when he grows up.
As Sommarström tells, the boy approached him outside his hotel and said: "I am a journalist. I am reporting on what is happening here, this is my flak jacket.”
Wearing an old black garbage bag which he tied around the belly and chest, Yazan had to borrow Sommarström’s helmet reading TV to complete his “reporter look”.
“I'm wearing a helmet and journalist clothing. I want to be a journalist when I grow up, I'll take pictures,” Yazan told Sommarström.
This is when the Swedish reporter took a picture that in just few days received close to 8,500 retweets on Twitter, on the moment of this publication. Nearly 4,500 people added the photo to their favorites.
“For a moment he shone with pride. His friends were laughing happily and dancing around him. He got a little embarrassed and then I took the picture,” Sommarström told Swedish Radio.
That day, July 31, they talked more, and Yazan shared his story.
“Yesterday and the day before I saw the rockets hit the port,” Sommarström quoted Yazan in his story published on Sveriges Radio website.
Yazan comes from Shejaiya, one of Gaza's poorest and most crowded neighborhoods, which was targeted by Israeli rockets.
Now he and his family live in a construction site after they fled their home in the middle of the night without belongings. His uncle's house was destroyed when it was hit by a missile from F-16 planes, Sommarström reported.
They boy said he was not afraid of loud explosions anymore as they have become a part of everyday life in Gaza.
But he also admitted to Sommarström: “When I go to bed I cannot sleep, the sound of rockets makes me wake up all the time.”
"For me the picture is a powerful example of children's strong will to survive," Sommarström told Sveriges Radio. "He has seen us journalists go in and out of the hotel, he has seen that we survive. I think that in his pretend play he wants to be like us, someone who survives."
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry said casualties have reached 1,830 killed, including 398 children. The death toll includes 207 women and 74 elderly people, Dr Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said.