Consequences of Israelís Barbaric Assault on Gaza
Raed M. Sharif
Israel may have pulled out its tanks and troops from Gaza, but the significant physical and psychological scars it caused will remain for years to come. While the physical damage can be overcome in the next few years with financial support from the international community, the psychological damage will take decades and different kinds of resources to overcome. The stories of traumatized and frustrated people of Gaza will continue to be told to remind the world of its shameful silence during the barbaric war and also to remind us of our ethical responsibility after the war.
According to medical and United Nations sources in Gaza, 1315 people were killed and more than 5000 were injured. Of those who were killed in the four weeks of the Israeli invasion, 410 were children under 12 years old, 104 women, more than 200 elderly people, 15 first-aid staff and 4 journalists. The people of Gaza are still discovering more bodies under the rubble and, sadly, in some cases they find entire families who were killed together. According to Al-Jazeera, 13 families of more than five members were killed together during the war on Gaza.
Add to these numbers the tens of thousands of people whose houses were destroyed or had to evacuate their homes. According to the same sources, more than 5,000 houses and businesses were completely destroyed and more than 20,000 partially destroyed. Mosques, schools and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) buildings were not safe as well. Fifty-one mosques, almost a dozen schools and several UNRWA buildings were heavily damaged.
My Father’s Question to You
When telling me about the story of our house, my dad wanted me to ask Americans: how would you feel if, while sitting in the comfort and safety of your house, you receive a phone call asking you to leave the house in an hour? What would you do if there were four families (22 people) living there? What would you tell the children?
My Dad wondered whether your reaction would be similar to his – evacuating our house on January 5 and splitting our family into four groups so relatives and friends could accommodate them. When my family returned after the “ceasefire” they found significant damage to the doors and all windows on the 2nd and 3rd floor were destroyed. They were lucky; at least the house was still standing.
Although terrifying, these numbers do not tell the full story of these war crimes. The scariest and most important part of the tragedy is the medium and long-term biological and psychological impact on the people of Gaza. What kind of life will the children of Gaza have after this direct exposure to some of the scariest, loudest and deadliest state of the art weapons? A friend told me that during the war, instead of playing with their toys and reading their books, like children their age around the world, her 6 and 8 year old kids were guessing whether the last bomb was a tank or F-16 bomb based on the sound and magnitude. After the assault ended her children told her that they “missed” the sounds of the fighting. Is that what children their age are supposed to talk and think about?
What medical problems will the people of Gaza face as a result of weapons prohibited by international law such as phosphoric bombs or depleted uranium weapons? What kind of future is waiting for those who lost most or all of their families? Could this really make Israelis safer?
|A boy stands before a destroyed home in Khan Yunis Refugee Camp, Gaza. The long-term impact of the recent military assault, particularly on young people, is difficult to estimate and frightening. Photo: www.zoriah.net|
What About the Children?
Throughout the Israeli air war and invasion it was extremely difficult to reach my family.After learning that my 40 year-old cousin’s neighborhood was hit by Israeli tanks and F-16s, I phoned her. A mother of three beautiful children, I was particularly worried because she has heart disease.
She sounded very tired, nervous, weak and hopeless and started crying on the phone. This broke my heart and I tried to offer some moral support, the least I could do. While still crying, she told me that she just put her children to bed and that she looked at them and was afraid that she would not see them in the morning.
Given the experience of other Gaza mothers, her fear was fully warranted. Two weeks earlier, a mother like her put her five daughters to sleep in one room thinking that this was the safest place in their house. While sleeping peacefully, a US-made bomb hit the room and the girls, age four to 13, were gone. It took only a minute and that mother was left with nothing but fear, tears and a hopeless heart. What did those innocent girls do? Nothing. They were punished in this barbaric way only because they are Palestinians.
The people of Gaza feel abandoned by the international community, including our Arab brothers and neighbors, because of the shameful silence that allowed the horror to continue.
The people of Gaza have always been supportive of just and fair causes around the world and always provided all the support they could. I assure you that despite the terrible suffering we have experienced in the past and during this recent invasion, we will continue to be the supportive, caring and proud people of Gaza because we are true humans with precious values and beliefs.