Gaza’s children will not forget

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As Israel withdraws its ground forces from Gaza “to defensive positions” outside the Gaza Strip there are already obscene calls for Israel to re-engage so that Israel may “finish the job” and “go all the way” by demilitarizing Gaza, purging the 360 sq. km strip of its native Arab inhabitants and reoccupying it. Nearly 1,900 Palestinians have been killed and at least 500,000, who are already refugees, have been internally displaced once more as a result of 29 days of implacable Israeli attacks. Parts of Gaza have been emptied, with entire neighborhoods eradicated as though they had never existed. From space the Gaza Strip was captured veiled in black, with Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment glowing bright — the widespread pockets of shelling luminous amongst the darkness, like blazing sulfur. If this is what was witnessed from space imagine what horrors the people of Gaza will see on earth as the dust settles.

Citizens of Gaza’s southern town of Khuza’a who fled unwavering bombing campaigns describe harrowing scenes of bodies lining the streets, children being kept in ice cream freezers as morgues could no longer accommodate the dead, and tell of being deliberately targeted by Israel, some narrowly escaping with their lives.

In one incident, reported by 15-year-old Akram al-Najjar to Human Rights Watch, after Israeli soldiers found more than 100 people huddled together in one house, they were all forced out: “The first one to walk out of the house was Shahid al-Najjar. He had his hands up, but the soldiers shot him. He was shot in the jaw and badly injured, but he survived. Two of the people in the house spoke Hebrew and asked the soldiers why they shot him, and the soldiers said that the rest of the men had to take our clothes off before we walked out.”

In another eye-witness account in Khuza’a, the Israeli military had trapped at least 32 people in a home and then prevented the Red Cross from evacuating them before then shelling the area. After they moved to a neighbor’s house they sought refuge in the basement where they found families already inside. “By that point we were 120 people, 10 men and the rest women and children,” Kamel al-Najjar told Human Rights Watch. After dawn, without warning, Israel struck the house, killing three people and wounding 15 others.

The toll this war had on Gaza’s children has been “catastrophic” according to the United Nations. At least 429 children have been killed in this latest Israeli onslaught, and those who have not been buried have had their innocence entombed, another casualty in this war against all things daring to live and resist in Gaza. “I watched the missile falling on my home. My home burned. It burned all my toys, clothes and my room. I think I will not survive,” a nine-year-old girl from Rafah told a UNRWA counselor.

Gaza’s children were robbed of hundreds of blissful mornings, from witnessing the sun rising to kiss the earth as they sit restless, listening to the reassuring pulse of their parents’ voices, tasting the sugar of happiness from their smiles. Some will no longer feel their mother’s soothing arms rock them still into the night, nor see the inspiring glimmer of hope, like constellations, dancing in their father’s eyes, nor will they hear stories told by their grandparents of golden sunsets in Palestine bleeding into mornings — and when the homes are rebuilt there will be corners of emptiness inside that had once been filled to the brim with the laughter of a sibling or cousin, as they sat amongst flat bread and plates of labneh, za’atar and olive oil.

Israel has forced the children of Gaza to lay flowers atop headstones, and watch helplessly as coffins that are filled with not only their most beloved family members, teachers, neighbors, and friends but also their most treasured memories, lullabies, lessons learned and those that will never come, descend into the belly of the earth. Their lips will memorize and form prayers for the dead and the stars that defied the siege, that flickered freely high above them, will be snatched from their skies. In so many interviews after countless attacks we hear Palestinians, both young and old, say: “Israel has stolen everything beautiful in our lives,” and Israel’s barbarity continues to reaffirm this sentiment.

Yet despite the blood soaking the dirt beneath the feet of mourners, despite this cataclysmic butchery and theft, Palestinians continue to resist. Israel has attempted with all of its militaristic might to remove not only the Palestinian will to resist but to extract Gaza, the land and the identity, from the Palestinian character as a whole, by way of the siege — but it is a part of Palestine as much as one’s heart is a part of the body.

Gaza is Palestine. So long as a single voice remains in Gaza calling for resistance, for an end to the siege and the greater occupation, come what may, Israel will answer for the destruction of villages, the arbitrary detention of children, the normalization of indefinite detention without charge or trial for political prisoners, the detainment of asylum seekers, the racism that has become part and parcel of the occupation. Israel will answer for its culture of impunity.

The children of Gaza will not forget the people and the land that Israel has snatched from them and so long as a single flag stands amongst the rubble, so long as a single voice cries for justice, despite the sounds of drones buzzing up above, the people of Palestine shall endure.

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator. She tweets @roqchams and writes 'Letters From the Underground.'

Comments

Just one thing dear - "the people of Palestine shall endure" is the wrong attitude - it is a self defeating attitude - no good.

true story :-
My sister - the washing machine broke down - she told her husband & that she was now washing by hand - no washing machine appeared - this went on for a few weeks - she endured & endured & endured - feeling neglected & betrayed by the lack of care - her husband was feeling towards her hardship - she told me her story.
I told her to place the baskets of unwashed clothes behind the front door & the minute he arrived home from his day of business dealing - to explain that there were no clean clothes & insist that they must go to the laundrette immediately.
She did what I told her.
They did not go to the laundrette - but the very next morning a new washing machine arrived at the front door.
endure is the wrong word

The United Nations, Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch all say that Israel has committed war crimes by targeting civilians.
Israel's collective punishment of Palestinians is also a war crime.
"Over 150 international legal experts - including 2 Former United Nations Special Rapporteurs on human rights situation in Palestine - have signed a a declaration stating -
Israel has targeted civilians
Israel has inflicted collective punishment on the Palestinians
These are War crimes
The matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court - ICC
Indeed, a french lawyer filed a complaint with the ICC on July 25 2014 on behalf of the Palestinian justice minister.................................................................
.............................................................................
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is worried........as show by the fact that he has asked the U.S for help in avoiding war crime charges.

Well my dear, it definitely looks like the good guys are going to win here.
Poor old Proudly Captain Dreadful Bibi Netanyahu ....didums, didums, man !

Poor Iran - OPULENT WEALTH
Saudi Arabia - OPULENT WEALTH
It behooves a government - no matter how dictatorial - to GIVE TO THEIR PEOPLE - or the people will have them overthrown.
Therefore it is safe to assume that the House of Saud is there by popular demand.
BECAUSE THEY FEAR THEIR PEOPLE:- ONLY!

Sorry this comment was meant for Raafat Majzoub......a thousand pardons Ma'm.

Paul is a man I know.
He purchased a nice, solid brick house in Carnarvon Street Brunswick, Victoria & proceeded to renovate it so as to make it to his comfort & liking.
In the process he almost demolished the house.
Indeed when the renovations were finished, everyone was in a state of - not disbelief, but shock. Everyone has their own version of comfort. We believe that Paul may have been an impoverished peasant in a former life & could not shake that influence.

What I was wondering is this, where does the money come from to continuously play the WAR GAMES in the Middle East ?
I had a look at images of Lebanon - compared with the whole of Australia, Lebanon is exceptionally wealthy ?
Money to burn......

So Gadi where were the children and their families suppose to go go if Gaza has neen under siege for seven years by your terrorist, ethnic cleansing, land thieving army?

And you have the audacity to think that any right minded, rational Palestinian will blame Hamas for your war crimes? Are you serious? Is this what they teach you?

Gadi, no one believes your lies anymore dear. What's happening in Gaza is genocide and your leaders are to blame. The settler are to blame. And those like you, who dehumanize even Palestinian children, are to blame. You are monster

As every partial view of a conflict your half trues are nothing but full lies.Not only the Gaza children will remember historic lies thanks to you but israeli children will also remember historic truth which is that the parents of those innocent Gaza children tried by any criminal possible way to murder every child in Israel while you and people like you kept silent. The true tragedy of Gaza is that it is kept hostage to a nazi an totalitarian movement like Hammas
whose sole interest is to implant sharia law in the region with utter disregard for the interest of palestinians. They are not a part of palestinian liberation movement and justifying their murderous actions as part of palestinian interest is a lie . Everyone knows Hammas and its mother branch the Muslim Brotherhood goals. What is happening now in Gaza resembles what happened in Nazi Berlin in 1945 where a bunch of idiotic fanatics self illuminated with racist ideology drove to the death of hundred of thousand of civillians.In Gaza it is racist religious fanatics that are lidding palestinians to die. And you, with your criminal silence of Hammas true nature is nothing but as guilty as they are.Don´t think that the rest of the world is ignorant. It may be a fatal mistake.

The tragedy is not that the children of Gaza will not forget but the children in Israel will not forget either that the parents of Gaza children tried to
commit a new genocide with them.But the idiotic,one sided view of this
conflict in which children are placed in the path of destruction planned
by Hammas with utter disregard for palestinian interest,whose only goal
is to install sharia law in the region,only leads to willing lies and distortion.
What is happening in Gaza reminds me of the last days in nazi Berlin when
a bunch of crazy illuminated people, there witnh a racist ideology and here
with a racist theology led and is leading to the death of innocent.

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