I can’t hug my mother in Gaza

One of three children from a single family killed during an Israeli missile strike is buried in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, 29 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

There is nothing worse in life than being glued to the TV screen, watching one’s nation being slaughtered on an hourly basis while able to do nothing. There is nothing more painful in this universe than hearing the tears and cries of one’s mother on the phone and be unable to hug her, to wipe her tears or to comfort her with any words or means. There is nothing more terrifying than living through every night in fear that the coming morning will bring the worst possible news a person can bear, that a member of one’s immediate family has been killed. And last but not least there is nothing more horrible on this globe than something happening to a family member when he or she is barred from returning to his or her family and home.

Like many other members of my community, I wonder what is happening to humanity in the 21st century that makes it deaf to the cries of Gaza’s children and of its entire population, trapped in their open-air prison for more than two years now. Why is this so-called free world blind, deaf and dumb towards these atrocities, again and again?

There must be something wrong when families all over the world gather to celebrate the eve of a new year while Palestinian families remain shattered and scattered. There must be something wrong when five sisters of the Balousha family — Jawaher, Dunia, Samar, Ikram and Tahreer, all children — were buried under the rubble of their home in Jabaliya camp when their home was bombed by Israeli war jets, and no world leader has condemned this barbaric crime. There must be something wrong when Gaza universities, mosques, United Nations and government schools, homes, clinics, ministries and charities are bombarded from US-manufactured and -supplied F-16 war planes on the pretext of stopping the rockets coming out of Gaza. How can the world accept the Israeli claim that this bloodiest of air strikes, the worst in Gaza since 1967, is an act of self-defense against the crude rockets launched by Hamas and other resistance groups?

Does the world ever dig deeper behind the reasons for the launching of these rockets after they were fired so rarely during the past six months of the cease fire brokered in June by Egypt? Does the world know that ending the siege imposed on Gaza’s 1.5 million people, opening the borders and stopping Israel’s ongoing invasions and killings, which were the Palestinians’ three main conditions for truce, have not been fulfilled by Israel? All international and human rights reports released during the past few months confirm this unequivocally. During the truce, 23 Palestinians were killed by Israel and Gaza’s borders remained sealed, and the entire population was starved.

Is this really a war against Hamas and the rockets it launches from Gaza or is it something else? Is the goal of the aggression to bring peace to the people of Sderot or is it to destroy any potential opportunity for peace? And if Hamas and other resistance groups are terrorist organizations because they demand an end to the siege on Gaza and opening the borders for basic humanitarian needs, then doesn’t the near-starvation of a population, the lethal power cuts, the bombing of infrastructure and the killing of hundreds of Palestinians make Israel a terrorist state as well? If Israel has the right to such heavy-handed self-defense exercised against the civilian population of Gaza, how would the world wish the Palestinians to defend themselves and end the siege? And if the world understands that protecting civilians involves the bombing of other civilians by F-16 jet fighters, then how would the world want the people under occupation and siege to defend themselves?

Like the people of British, the US, the UK, and elsewhere, the Palestinians are humans and belong to humanity. The blood of all Palestinians including those in Gaza is just as valuable as the blood of Israelis. If these barbaric acts and this systematic, criminal destruction of a nation are acceptable to the world then Palestinians, as all oppressed people in the world, have every right to declare the death of humanity.

Ghada Ageel is a third-generation Palestinian refugee. She grew up in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza and is currently in the United Kingdom and cannot return to Gaza because of the closure of Gaza’s borders by Israel.

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  • BY TOPIC: Gaza massacres (28 December 2008)