The White Kite of Gaza

Mick Mooney
4 min readDec 14, 2023

The young girl, not yet eight years old, paid for the cloth and for the string. The older lady did not want anything for them, but the girl insisted, “My Papa said to buy it, and I must.”

Reluctantly, the lady took the coins in exchange for the ragged goods. She wanted to tell the child to go home, to be safe. But where was her home? How could she be safe anywhere in Gaza?

The concrete dust had covered them both. The hot breeze was strong, and it washed all the streets grey. But the young girl did not notice the concrete dust, not on those around her and not upon her flesh.

Life had turned grey.

There was no colour in all of Gaza except in bursts that the explosions created. Fiery orange, dark charcoal, and then grey as far as they could see around them. Even the deep red blood that covered the bodies of so many, even that turned grey. The concrete of the buildings, now blown into dust, covered the living and the dead.

The young girl turned and ran down the street, over the ruble.

The young girl did not cry. Later, she could mourn. Her father had promised her something, and she wanted to honour his belief. She wanted to do it now, for what he promised they most desperately needed. Despite all the fear and all the hopelessness, she held to her father’s words and his final wish.

The young girl turned the corner, stepped undercover, and went inside a building that no longer had its facade. There, she had laid two sticks. She took the cloth. She had been careful to hold it packed tightly so it was still perfectly white. It had not yet been contaminated. It had not yet been coloured grey. She took her time crafting it upon the sticks to make it have a long tail. Finally, she tied the string to it.

Outside, she heard the sound of jet aeroplanes approaching. Where was there to hide? Where was there to be safe? Soon, the colours of orange and charcoal would explode around them once more. Soon, perhaps, she would follow her father.

The sound of the jet engines vibrated louder and louder as the young girl raced out of the shelter. She held the kite, her father’s kite that she had made. She ran faster and faster, trying to catch the wind, and then she held her breath and released the kite, praying it would catch the wind, praying it would rise up and not fall into the dust — and rise up it did!

She looked behind her and saw her father’s white kite with its long tail — the kite he had taught her to make before the bombings began — rising high into the Gaza sky. She became still and held to the kite, caught in the hot breeze, as it continued to rise higher.

From amongst the ruins all around her, children began to creep out and stand around her. All of them looked up to the sky.

It was only now, looking at the white kite flying free, that the young girl began to sob. She thought of her father, who was alive that morning and now with God.

“Is it an angel?” One of the children asked.

“Yes,” the young girl replied. “It is the angel of hope. It is the angel of love.”

The sound of the jet planes became so loud it became hard to hear each other, but the planes did not deter the young girl from looking heavenward and calling out triumphantly, “Papa! How wonderful your kite! How beautiful an angel you now are!”

And in that brief moment, hope returned to Gaza. In the heart of the young girl, in the hearts of the children around her, and even in the hearts of the broken adults who looked on.

They all stared at the white kite and in their hearts found hope to believe that somehow, despite all the destruction, love would return to them and wash away everything the bombings had turned grey.

“You were right, Papa,” the young girl cried out, “One day, love will return to Gaza!”

The above short story was inspired by Refaat Alareer, a poet recently killed in Gaza. He posted this poem below a few days before he died:

If I must die, you must live

To tell my story, to sell my things

To buy a piece of cloth, and some strings,

(make it white with a long tail)

So that a child, somewhere in Gaza

While looking heaven in the eye

Awaiting his dad who left in a blaze, and bid no one farewell

Not even to his flesh, not even to himself

Sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above

And thinks for a moment an angel is there, bringing back love

If I must die, let it bring hope. Let it be a tale.

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Mick Mooney

Novelist | Filmmaker | Musician. Latest novel: Progress Above All, a sci-fi series