Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The World Watches As Gaza Burns

I can understand why so many people choose not to follow the news. Being oblivious to the pain and suffering of people so far removed would allow one to work, play and live psychologically unencumbered. But I am one of those who has to follow the news - in the past, staying informed was part of what I had to do for several reasons, partly educational and professional, now it's become a part of who I am.

So I am often haunted by horrific accounts of the injustice, turmoil and violence brought upon the innocent through the actions of humankind. And the images that stay in my mind are often the faces of the most defenseless - children caught in the middle of a strife they cannot comprehend. Be it the beseeching big eyes of the nameless Rwandan child on Time magazine way back then, or little Mohammad al-Dura's final moments as he huddled by his father amidst gunfire. God only knows how many other innocents suffer, robbed of a childhood, or are taken away in violence.

The continuing crisis in Gaza bothers me for many reasons - now I have to contend with new images to add to my already burdensome gallery of conscience. When people accuse the Israeli military of being baby killers, I do think, given the facts on the ground, it's a literal assessment of the reality.

It is difficult to rationalize the continuation of a mission with an aim of "preventing rocket fire capability" when it's still not achieveable after 19 days and nearly 1000 Palestinian deaths (most of them civilians, and over 300 of them children). By comparsion, deaths incurred by the Israelis through Hamas rockets is a handful (but apparently a handful too much in the unjust scale of human life value). The disproportionate death ratio should be evidence enough that the "weaponry" arsenal of Hamas is limited and out-dated, compared to the Israeli arsenal, which is the best and modern weaponry available (obtained from the US).

Depending on where you stand, the Israeli attacks can be viewed as an act of defense in response to rocket attacks, or an illegal act under international law, which requires the occupier (Israel) to maintain responsibilities and obligations to the people (Gazans) it is occupying; that is not do all the things Israel did prior to the attacks.

But one would be hard pressed to argue that Israel's defense argument is still valid given the situation unfolding - Israel has now committed blatant criminal acts, for example, through the use of chemical weapons (Human Rights Watch has reported that Israel is dropping them into Gaza's dense residential areas) and the preventing medical personnel from carrying out their duties in evacuating the wounded (Red Cross found barely alive children next to their dead mothers in a village).

Israel has argued that the continuation of the sporadic rocket fire is justification enough to carry out the war, never mind the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their miliary actions. But to expect Hamas to stop their attempts at defense when faced with Israel's relentless onslaught is farcical. Like it or not, Hamas is the democratically elected representative of the Gaza people - it is their duty to protect the citizens.

Someone (I would expect the more powerful nation) has to be the one to say enough is enough - but Israel has refused to step up to its obligations to be a responsible nation. What bothers Israel most is that Hamas is even attempting to fight back, posturing and showing defiance in the face of death. What Israel fears by withdrawing would be Hamas declaring a victory, by virtue of having survived the onslaught.

Israel desires an outright psychological defeat in the minds of the Palestinians more than anything else - but it fails to understand that a people with nothing to lose, have nothing to fear.

A Palestinian child, when asked by a reporter why he chose to throw stones at an unseen enemy, and not run to cover when the Israeli air strikes began, replied that it was pointless to run when the bombs would reach him faster than wherever he could run to.

1 comment:

Safiyyah said...

As Salaamu Alaikum Sis:

Those images of the children are haunting, Ya Allah.

BTW, if I were you, I'd turn off the Google Ads - some of them are, let's say, un-Islamic, lol!

I'll put you in my feeds. Thanks for stopping by at my blog :)