GAZA — Layla Ghandour, an 8-month-old girl with sparkling green eyes, was in the arms of her grandmother when a cloud of tear gas engulfed them at the protest in Gaza on Monday. The child inhaled a draft of acrid gas that set off a rasping cough and watering eyes. Hours later she was dead.
The story shot across the globe, providing an emotive focus for outrage at military tactics that Israel’s critics said were disproportionately violent.
Yet within hours the family’s story was being questioned. Doctors said Layla had suffered from a congenital heart defect that, one suggested, might have caused her death. Then the Israeli military issued claims, unsupported by evidence, that it held information that disproved the family’s account.
The controversy underscored the power of images of children in the most wrenching conflicts of the Middle East. Photographs of Layla’s mother, Mariam, clutching her daughter’s limp body in a Gaza hospital ward have become a potent political symbol, like those of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian infant whose body washed up on a Turkish beach.
But like many such symbols in the Middle East, a small but intense tragedy of people living chaotic lives in turbulent times has become fodder for competing narratives.
The day after Layla died, her father strode from a centuries-old mosque after funeral prayers, his daughter’s body wrapped in a Palestinian flag and held aloft, as a crowd jogging behind him chanted slogans about Israeli blood lust. Officials with Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, circulated a photograph of the smiling child.
For the Ghandour family, it was the second personal devastation in two years. Two years ago, Mrs. Ghandour’s first child, Salim, suffocated after a candle toppled over in their bedroom during one of Gaza’s frequent power failures. The flames burned Ms. Ghandour and killed her son, who was just 26 days old.
The pressures of life in Gaza — a poverty-stricken, crowded enclave that has been under an Israeli blockade for the past 11 years — contributed to the swirl of events, and decisions, that swept the infant girl to the perilous front line of Monday’s protest.
suffocate /sʌ'fəkèit/ を取り上げます。『ジーニアス英和辞典第5版』(大修館) によると「息の根を止める、絶やす、死なせる、息苦しくさせる」といった意味があります。『ケンブリッジ英英辞典』をみると “to prevent something or someone from improving or developing in a positive way” あるいは ”to (cause someone to) die because of not having enough oxygen“ と定義されていて、物や人の息の根を止める様を指す語であると見て取れます。
suffocate は「苦しませる」という意義を持つ ”suffer“ (「下に」“suf” と「運ぶ」“fer” で “suffer”) と、ラテン語で「喉仏、のど」 といったニュアンスのある ”faucēs“ が結び付いたもので、「喉を苦しませる」から「息の根を止める、絶やす」といった意味合いを含むようになったと推察できます。