On Humiliation, and Gaza's Dying Children

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Occupation Channel: Opinion Views: 2888

A six-year-old Palestinian girl from Gaza was killed by Israeli fire on 12 June. "Medics say the girl was decapitated by a [tank] shell," Associated Press (AP) reported the next day. The Israeli military said the soldiers opened fire in retaliation against "militants launching rockets into Israel". AP dispassionately elaborated that, "Gaza militants fire rockets and mortars into Israel almost daily." The story of a few lines ended with another corroboration of the claims made by the Israeli military: "The shelling occurred near the border where militants fired 30 rockets into Israel on Tuesday."

This is not another tirade about dehumanizing media reporting in which the death of innocent Palestinians is so often blamed, one way or another, on the "militants". Neither is the evoking of this freshest tragedy - the child victim is later named Hadeel Al-Smeiri - intended to underscore the daily crimes committed by the Israeli military against Palestinians in the occupied territories, crimes that largely go unnoticed, buried in the not-so-important news items, nor to accentuate cold-hearted assertion that the Palestinians are to blame for forcing Israel to carry out such tragic "acts of retaliation".

The story struck me as significant beyond its value in attempting to analyze mainstream reporting or the way it highlights the callousness required to defend the decapitation of a six year-old as necessary retaliation. For equally disturbing is the fact that Palestinian factions fail to see in Hadeel's death a compelling argument for unity: rather, they carry on with their political sparring as if they have the luxury of endless time while helpless Palestinians are victimized daily, an ordeal that is followed by no serious repercussions save the firing of useless rockets that fuel yet more Israeli retaliation, thus justifying the slow genocide and the starvation of the imprisoned Palestinians of Gaza.

Some Palestinians, especially those in Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas's camp, are still struggling with their sense of priorities.

The BBC's Jeremy Bowen wrote on 11 June: "The humiliation of June 2007 [when Hamas took over Gaza] will not easily be forgotten by Fatah's people. For the last 12 months the suggestion that they should try to end their argument with Hamas has been guaranteed to get a testy response from senior figures close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas...One of his senior ministers exploded with such fury whenever I asked him about it that his voice sent the dials on the BBC's recording equipment hurtling into the red."

Reading the above I wondered if the minister would respond with such intensity if Bowen sought his views on the murder of Hadeel or on the fact that the minister's own people are caged, not only in Gaza, but large parts of the West Bank, behind Israeli military barricades, electric fences and security walls?

If the minister fails to appreciate the misery of Hadeel's generation, maybe he should take a few minutes away from his busy schedule to browse some of the grim data on the daily victimization of Palestinian children. Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, visited the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on 9 June. The poorest of Gaza's slums, it is where the uprising of 1987, unsurprisingly, broke out. "To witness the impact of the current blockade on the children of Gaza firsthand was a daunting experience," Kaag said. "This situation must end."

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "as of 26 May, 64 children had been killed in the conflict since the beginning of the year - more than the total child death toll for all of 2007. Fifty-nine of the deaths were in Gaza and another four victims were Israeli children." 

Bowen wrote: "The fighter who emptied his Kalashnikov into the desk of Mohamed Dahlan, until that day the Fatah strongman in Gaza, yelled 'this is the fate of traitors like the scumbag Dahlan' as he pulled the trigger, and it was recorded and put on television for all to see." The minister finds it difficult to forgive such an action by Hamas, conveniently forgetting reports in the US media - Vanity Fair to be more precise - that Dahlan headed a US-Israeli plot to carry out a military onslaught against the democratically elected government in Gaza. The plan was botched because of Hamas's pre- emptive take-over of the Strip.

Consider this: UNICEF reports that, "across the West Bank some 600 obstacles to movement - and the barrier separating the West Bank from Israel - make it difficult for children to attend schools, patients to go to health centers and families to see each other...the closure regime is tightening even for UN humanitarian operations".

Yet the minister, and many like him, find Hamas's violence in June 2007 the pinnacle of humiliation. Puzzling, indeed.

What is more humiliating, I wonder: the sight of Dahlan's office chair filled with bullet holes, or Palestinian mothers, elders and children lining up before an abusive group of trigger-happy Israeli soldiers, jeering in broken Arabic every racist word they can conjure.

Meanwhile, recent news reports spoke of assurances made by Abbas to the anxious Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that his offer of dialogue with Hamas would be conditional. Why condition talks among brethren while allowing Israel endless benefit of the doubt in stretching out a meaningless "peace process" while allowing its army to kill children like Hadeel at will?

Perhaps Abbas, and the angry minister in the BBC report, are confused about the Palestinian state Israel tirelessly promises. "The future Palestinian state must be established according to Israel's security needs, including supervision of border crossings and the disarming of militants," reported Haaretz, referring to comments made by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. So much for sovereignty.

The Israeli paper went on to report: "Israel says it intends to keep major settlement blocs in the West Bank under any future peace deal with the Palestinians and that its network of roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank helps to prevent attacks on Israelis."

Even if the Israeli promise of statehood ever actualizes it has apartheid written all over it.

Palestinians need not pay much attention to Livni's futile visions. They should focus their energies on unifying their ranks for nothing compels more fury than their disunity, and nothing is as humiliating as their reliance on Israeli and US arms and money to keep their own brethren in Gaza starved and browbeaten.

-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Occupation  Channel: Opinion
Views: 2888

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Older Comments:
Salam alaikum,
This article was enlightning. I would like to say to Mr. Chander, just because you do not see muslims posting comments here doesn't mean that we do not care. I for one can personally say that I have written to my government and expressed concern about how my tax dollars are being sent overseas for torture, and for folks killing one another. I read other websites as well, and it seems to me that the American people in general are feeling the same way that I am. People are getting tired of Isreal and supporting their Aparthide system.
Let me also say, that here in Canada, there are churches who have boycotted Isreal. I for one try very hard not to buy anything that comes out of Isreal.
Also, Mr. Chander, you may have a point if you would say that it appears that some Muslims do not care about Palestine. I might would agree with you on that. The Gulf countries are getting richer everyday, and they could do more for the Palestinian people. I see specials on the UAE and other Gulf nations. How they are building up their nations with exotic hotels, islands, etc. and yet people in their region are starving to death, and cannot get good medical care. Yes, that is a shame. But please do not put everyone in the same boat. I read last week that Saudi Arabia did feed some Gazan families. Here in Canada, the Muslim communities do take up money for the Palestenians.
May all of out Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world learn how to love one another, as our last Prophet (saw) loved his companions, and the community. I am convienced that when we start doing that, no one will be able to defeat us.

Salam Alaikum,

Fatimah Muhammad


Sir Chander likes to point finger. Why does NOT he go to palestine and stand in front of a Israeli Bulldozer? It's his responsibility, too.

Instead what he has been doing??? He moved from India to the US (who knows why!!!) and currently donating his wealth to the US politicians so that they can get elected and give money and weapons to Israel for bombing, bulldozing and killing Palestinians...

In addition, Sir chander also drinking scotch while sitting in the USA while millions of poor Indians drinking fecal contaminated water in India and suffering from dirrhea etc... Talk about caring!!!

Sir Chander just have too free time on his hand. I know he turned himself into a COWARD while living the USA. Hence, he will NEVER go in front of Isreali Bulldozer. I suggest he goes back to India and do some humanitarian work before the SCOTCH completely erodes his liver and send him to another unknown dimension where there is no websites and computers to brag (according to his religion called ATHEISM)


It has been 3 days since the article was posted. How many muslims have cared to read and comment on it? Only one muslim (I think he is a muslim) commented.

As I have stated previously and will state it again, the world has no interest in the problems of Palestinians; and even the muslims have no interest left either.

I think muslims should recognize the inevitable -- Israel as a state and live within it under the Jewish/Zionist rule. This will not be the first loss to infidels; muslims have lost plenty of times and replaced by infidels; what is so special about Palestine. Muslims lost Spain; they have adjusted to it. Muslims lost Mughal Empire and adjusted to it. Muslims lost european part of Ottoman Empire in 19th century and adjusted to it. Then they lost the entire Ottoman Empire and Arab countries were ruled by Infidels from England and France; and the muslims got adjusted to them.

No, the the world does not care for Palestinians; and the muslims don't either. Only a few leftists and liberals at colleges and universities do; and they have little or no influence in the halls of power.

I bet they wouldn't do an article like this for those ten of thousand of children killed by Muslims in Darfour. The Hamas have shown an even greater lack of sympathy for their enemies time and time and again. Often they organise a celebration whenever one of them suicide bombs a load of civilians. And they are so useless at running Palestine. It would be far better if the Hamas politicians were replaced by a rubber duck and a headless chicken (they are far less useless).

PEACE- "you like a lot of people just have'nt gotta clue on whats going on in the world, yet you presume to speak for the majority of 'us' , when they push their crooked opinions and adgendas in the mass media..Yes we know WE been humilated and insulted many times over and for centuries by everyone from Abu Lahab to today's sniper."Are you telling us to throw ourself into destruction?" into agree wat u say??
""left the Palestine and Palestinians. The world cannot go on supporting the losing side too long.""

ALLAH (SWT) will proctect us, we Have faith ? Allah is our best protector...if Falsehood is not corrected . . We Mumin (Strong Believer) loves to meet Allah (swt). I see death as a happiness, and life with criminals as a crime
May Allah strengthen our brother faith, take us on the straight path, and accept us. Ameen.

p.s:So we (muslim) really should chill out. For no matter what they plot, ALLAH (SWT) is the best of plotters.


You want to get out humiliation, then learn how to rule, how to run a clean government without an ideology. PLO did a terrible job in governing and in its relations with Israel. Hamas is doing not any better. The Arab countries are too afraid to deal with Israel lest they get into a war and another defeat.

Sorry, ideology goes only so far. And so far, ideology has produced misery.

You cannot eat ideology. If you want to empahsize ideology, then stop crying about your poverty and hunger. You cannot have both ways. You lose some and win some. Muslims won lot of wars for quite a while. Now it is the eclipse of muslim empires. British got used to the loss of their empire. May be Palestinians will get used to it too.

It might be better if Arabs stop calling Palestinians as Arabs; that way Arab world will totally forget Palestine and Palestinians.

Frankly, after 60 years, the world has no symapthy
left the Palestine and Palestinians. The world cannot go on supporting the losing side too long.