'Mr. Secretary General, have you heard of Code Red?'
15-year-old Israeli teen Uriah Hatzroni sent a letter to UN Secretary General Guterres, describing life under the rocket threat from Gaza; 'In the summer, when children like myself should be playing, enjoying games, being with friends, we're huddled in shelters, and the world has abandoned us,' he writes.
Uriah Hatzroni, 15, from Moshav Yated near the Gaza border, wrote a moving letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, describing what life is like for him under the threat of rockets from the strip.
"It is now (the) summer holidays, when children like myself should be playing, enjoying games, being with friends. Instead, we have been in shelters and inside, afraid to go out in case a rocket is fired or an incendiary kite sent towards us. Mr. Secretary-General, children deserve to be outside playing, not in bomb shelters!" Uriah wrote.
"In recent months, my family and I had no (quiet) day and no (quiet) night! Just 'Code Red.' Mr. Secretary-General, Have you heard of 'Code Red'? This is the warning we receive when rockets & mortars are fired at us. Did you know that we have 15 seconds (!!) sometimes even less to find shelter. Fifteen seconds separating life and death!"
In a letter sent for Youth Day, which the UN marks on August 12, Uriah noted that "My friends and I, thousands of children and teenagers, living in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, have lived in protected areas for years."
"Not the ones that the UN resolution refers to, but those that are meant to protect me and save my life from rocket attacks, mortar shells, terrorist tunnels, and recently balloons and firebombs launched from Gaza, which is controlled by the internationally recognized terrorist organization Hamas," he went on to say.
"Often, the protected space, which (is) supposed to make you feel safe, becomes the exact place where deep fears and anxiety are floating," Uriah wrote.
He explained that "While you are huddled with your family or friends in the protected space, listening to the horrifying sound of the rocket hits or the siren searing through the air, your mind can not stop wandering about members of your family or friends who may not (have) found a hiding place and are in danger. You wonder about what the missile might destroy when it will hit the ground. You pray with all your heart for luck."
"Mr. Secratery-General," the teenager wrote in his letter, "in the last (few) months—in fact even years—this has become routine for thousands of children like myself living in the south of Israel, with the terrible fear that at any given moment the silence may be disturbed by the shelling of missiles. The sense of anxiety and deep insecurity permeates even the strongest of us."
Uriah stressed that "what hurts no less is the fact that we, children of Israel, feel that the world, including the UN, (has) abandoned us, as if our rights, our future, is somehow less worthy or not important."
The teen concluded his letter with a hope for a better future. "My friends and I will continue to believe and dream that the day will come when the walls of hatred will become bridges of friendship and coexistence, in which the children of the entire region, Israeli and Palestinian, will experience a beautiful, good and safe childhood," he wrote.
A copy of the letter was also sent to Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and to UN Special Envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov.