Michael Major: Think of the children of Gaza

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      The latest crisis in the Gaza Strip is, as it has always been, a polarizing issue. What gets lost in the rhetoric and finger pointing is basic perspective. Mainstream media have not done a good job of giving us a understanding of the situation in a way we can all understand and relate to. It’s easier to empathize with a population under siege if you have something to compare the situation to.

      In terms of size, the Gaza Strip covers an area of 365 square kilometres. It is only 41 kilometres long with a width of between six and 12 kilometres. To put that into some perspective, 41 kilometres is one kilometre less than the distance of a marathon. In terms of area, the Gaza Strip is six square kilometres smaller than the combined area of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam.

      In terms of population, the area I just described has approximately one million people living in it. The Gaza Strip on the other hand has 1.8 million people who call it home. This results in an greater population density than we experience here at home. Gaza City for example has a population of more than half a million people living in 45 square kilometres. The city of Vancouver has 600,000 people living in 114 square kilometres. This makes Gaza City one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

      The Gaza Strip is quite literally surrounded. With the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Egypt to the south, and Israel to the east and north, the civilian population of Gaza has nowhere to escape to, with both Israel and Egypt controlling the movement of goods and people across the borders.

      Try to imagine what it must be like to experience thousands of air strikes and a ground invasion in such a small area while rockets are fired randomly practically out of your backyard. Imagine no power, no water, no food, and no freedom of movement. Imagine walking out your front door only to be in the sights of a unseen sniper. Think about what it means to have Hamas fighters using you as cover in a vain attempt to avoid Israeli bombs. Take a moment and think about what the daily struggle to survive in a war zone must be like. Try to comprehend the terror, horror, devastation, and insanity that the civilian population endures day after day.

      This is a place where the United Nations cannot even prevent their own schools from being bombed and refugee camps offer no refuge from the shrapnel of bombs and tank rounds. Even a hospital, the place where people go to heal and be safe, is still a target. The lines between combatant and noncombatant are so blurry that the heavy civilian casualties we have seen are almost to be expected in such a hellish environment. Those of us who live here in safety must remember when a bomb explodes it does not discriminate.

      Now imagine what it looks like through the eyes of the children. Children too young to hate, too young to comprehend, too young to lose their innocence, and too young to have their empathy drained by the evils of a world they didn’t ask to be born into. What does it say about what this world has become when a 13-year-old boy states his desire to join Hamas from his hospital bed. He was not born with hate—none of us are—it was put upon him by the world he sees everyday. A world he did not choose.

      No matter how one looks at it, Hamas and the Israeli government have the blood of hundreds of children on their hands. The plight of those children should be the concern of the international community not the politics our leaders like to play with every conflict that pops up. Picking sides is not what we pay our elected officials to do.

      Take a moment to walk in the shoes of the children of the Gaza Strip and know that no matter what horrific scenario your mind can conjure, the truth is a thousand times worse than any sane human being could possibly envision. They exist in an inferno that even Dante would find horrifying. I don’t care about Hamas or the Al-Qassam brigades, I don’t care about the Israeli government or the IDF. The only thing I care about are the innocent civilians, especially the children, who did not choose this.

      In warfare there is no right or wrong, just different shades of hell on Earth. If you believe in a deity, thank them that you live here and not in any of the many war zones around our globe, and if you pray, then pray for the civilians in the Gaza Strip, that this war ends as soon as possible.

      Michael Major is a resident of Langley and a veteran of the Canadian Forces.

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      Don't care about pawns

      Aug 6, 2014 at 12:25pm

      "Picking sides" is exactly what people want elected officials to do regardless if the issue is Gaza or tainted beef or healthcare funding. Nobody cares about these kids except as pawns to be sacrificed to Israel, and that applies to all Gaza residents. The Arab governments mistreated them, even when pan-Arabism had a strong propaganda campaign the Palestinians were excluded and simply used as a rallying cry against Zionism. The international community doesn't have the ability to save the children because enough people with influence prefer to see a few dead or maimed on TV. Cry all the tears you want but the children of Gaza will no more be saved that the children of famines or other brutal conflicts.

      7 14Rating: -7


      Aug 6, 2014 at 12:40pm

      Wow! Thank you for writting this Mike. Lets hope this war stops soon. Poor kids


      Aug 6, 2014 at 12:41pm

      Great article. So sad what some people espcially kids have to see ans go through. We are so lucky to live here in canada. Hope things settle there soon.


      Aug 6, 2014 at 12:45pm

      bastards caught between opposing forces every bit as brutal as those of WW2

      12 9Rating: +3


      Aug 6, 2014 at 1:47pm

      Thank you for accurately describing the crowded fish tank that the Palestinians are confined within. For the Israelis, it's just like shooting fish in a barrel; a genocidal pursuit.

      If Israel wanted genocide...

      Aug 7, 2014 at 12:16am

      ... they could obliterate all of Gaza in an hour and there'd be nothing left. In fact, if Hamas had the weapons Israel has today, there'd be no Israel tomorrow. You can accuse Israel of many things, but genocide isn't one of them. In fact, they seem to go out of their way, warning civilians of impending attacks. To blame them for casualties when the innocent people are purposefully put in the line of fire by their leaders makes no sense at all.

      By the way, when Israel took over Gaza in 1967 from EGYPT and the west bank from JORDAN, there was no such thing as a Palestinian... but I guess that's a different discussion.


      Aug 7, 2014 at 9:44am

      The so-called "warnings" that Israel is giving to Gaza - but unfortunately not to the U.N. schools they've destroyed with hundreds of people inside - has been mere minutes (if at all). One widely used tactic of "warnings" has been "roof-knocking", in which Israeli bombers drop small bombs on the roof of a house (the warning) and then return 4 minutes later to obliterate it. Regardless, the warnings do not provide comfort for the Gazans. Can you imagine someone phoning your home and announcing that you have 5 minutes to get out before they bomb it? In fact, this tactic just illustrates the terror that Israel is capable of. (And since they have such strategic ability, why bomb the homes of civilians at all?)
      As for the comment regarding "no such thing as a Palestinian" (and the description of "thing" is interesting), that's just the usual stupid and garden-variety perversion of historical fact. Palestinians have lived in the region for thousands of years. ironically, there was no such "thing" as an Israeli until 1948.

      7 9Rating: -2


      Aug 7, 2014 at 10:53am

      Don't care about pawns
      "the children of Gaza will no more be saved that the children of famines or other brutal conflicts"

      There are literally tens of millions of adults alive in Eastern Africa right now who, as children, were saved from famines in the 80's.

      There are literally tens of thousands of Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan.

      It isn't always hopeless, even if it seems like it is.

      7 9Rating: -2


      Aug 7, 2014 at 10:58am

      The children and grandchildren of holocaust survivors are now committing their own genocide. The perpetrators should be punished for war crimes. Do not buy products made in Israel.

      9 8Rating: +1


      Aug 7, 2014 at 11:06am

      If Israel wanted genocide
      "In fact, they seem to go out of their way, warning civilians of impending attacks"

      Then the IDF bombs the shelters that these "warnings" direct these people to go to.

      You would think a professional and well equipped military like the IDF could avoid hitting a building that they had been warned, sometimes as many as fifteen times, was a civilian shelter

      If I warn you I am going to hit you if you stay where you are, and then come and find you and hit you, it doesn't make me a humanitarian.

      Does the Government of Israel want genocide? No, that is a gross overstatement

      Does the Government of Israel give a flying fig about dead civilians in Gaza or the West Bank?

      Not at all, not any more than Hamas cares about dead Israelis.

      This constant spin of "Israel good, Hamas bad" is such drivel, and only makes sense if you change where you put the moral and ethical goalposts.

      Israel has a "right to defend itself", but if Israel builds homes on land no one in the world supports their claims to, so they can "change facts on the ground", but Palestinians just have to suck it up...and remain under military occupation.

      The Government of Israel likes to use religious history to buttress their claims to territory, theirs and others.

      Maybe the Government of Israel should review the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" part of that history.

      It doesn't say take thirty eyes or thirty teeth for one eye or one tooth, but last week, the IDF killed 1800 civilians to avenge 60 dead soldiers.

      8 9Rating: -1