Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Babies Freeze in Gaza

It got cold in Georgia last week.  We pushed our thermostat up, bought an extra little space heater for our sun room and mostly stayed inside where it was warm.  It also got cold in Gaza, twice as cold and the freezing temperatures did not stay outside. Five babies froze to death.

One month old, two months old, three months old, five months old, and eighteen months old.  And all dead.  But, what are five babies to Israel?

Why should the Jewish state care about the death of five non-Jewish babies even if the State of Israel is responsible for their deaths? Israel’s attitude is, if the people of conscience around the world are bothered by the death of a few babies, then let them rescue number six and number… no telling how many.  But, to do so they will have to get around Israel’s blockade of electricity, heating oil, medicines, food and construction materials from entering Gaza.  However, people of conscience will try. Other people have been cleaning up Israel’s mess for almost a century now.  

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last summer destroyed 18,000 homes and left 100,000 people homeless and living in rubble. 

Article 32 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, states:

A protected person/s shall not have anything done to them of such a character as to cause physical suffering or extermination.

Even the most mundane physical abuse is thereby forbidden by Article 32. 

Yet, since Israel’s bombardment of Gaza last summer, families are forced to live in damaged houses. Many people sounded the alarm as to what would happen if repairs where not immediately done. Severe winter storms came as predicted.  Heavy rains blew into houses without roofs or walls and soaked the floors. Then the temperature dropped to 4 degrees, With Israel having cut off the electricity for 16-18 hours every day, parents simply could not keep their children warm. 

Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said that money for aiding Palestinians is running out:

The consequences of suspending the program would be dire as Gaza’s 1.8 million people struggle to recover from last summer’s fighting… The conflict damaged or destroyed more than 96,000 homes, more than double the original estimate…. More than 14,000 people driven from their homes live in schools run by UNWRA, while others live in makeshift shelters or prefabricated housing or homes so badly damaged that they are exposed to the elements.[1]

It was obvious to anyone willing to see that if something were  not done before winter,  people were going to be very cold and some, especially old folks and the very young, were going to die.  But, who cares? Not Israel, and not our government.  These were real children, loved by real mothers and fathers and who had a God given right to be protected and kept warm.  

One and a half year-old Fadi Qudeih died on Tuesday, January 6th. His home had been demolished during Israel’s attack on Gaza this past summer.

On Friday, January 9th,  two-month old Rahaf Abu-Assi  died following the drop in temperature.

Salma Al-Masri froze to death in Beit Hanoun on Saturday, January 10th. He was three months old.

Dying on that same day, January 10th, was  baby Adel Al-Laham, one month old.

Sami Abu Khesi found his son, Wadle, dead of hypothermia on January 15th. He was five months old

None of this seems to be significant enough to make the evening news in the U.S. media.  Americans are ignorant of what is happening in Gaza even when it’s being done with the support of our government and money. We are committed to our ignorance.

I can’t imagine watching my grandchildren growing cold to the degree of freezing to death. Add to that, the knowledge that the situation causing their death was deliberately planned and executed, would be more than I could emotionally handle.

So, OK civilized people, Gaza needs help.  And so far, over 5.4 billion dollars have been pledged to rebuild what Israel destroyed. However, less than 1/1000th of needed materials have been allowed by Israel into Gaza.[2]   

To the person, our Senate votes to support Israel. What if five babies freeze to death? They are not the children of our governmental leaders.  I feel sorry for the suffering families of Gaza.  I feel even more sorrow for those of us who allow it to happen.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                January 27, 2015

[1] Astrid Zweynert,  U.N. says Cash to Repair Gaza Homes Will Run Out by the End of This Month.   Reuters.com.  January 22, 2015
[2] Mondoweiss,  Dan Cohen, Living in the Aftermath: Palestinians in Gaza Struggle under the Seige to Rebuild,    Mondoweiss, December 3, 3 2014

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