Michael Major: Think of the children of Gaza

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.

Comments (14) Add New Comment
Don't care about pawns
"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.
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Karen
Wow! Thank you for writting this Mike. Lets hope this war stops soon. Poor kids
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Julia
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.
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Poor
bastards caught between opposing forces every bit as brutal as those of WW2
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Forest
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.
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If Israel wanted genocide...
... 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.
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Forest
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.
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MD
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.
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karen
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.
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MD
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.
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ISWG
Forest... Yes, there were no Israelis before 1948. There were no Palestinians ever, but the name came up in 1967 when another hero, Arafat, decided to create some history. Let's remember that the entire area was full of Jews and Arabs... for thousands of years. Let's recall that in 1948, the area was divided into Israel and Jordan, to give Jews a homeland where they could be left alone to thrive.

Arabs living in the area were given a choice to become part of the new country or leave. Just as Jews in what's now Jordan either left or had their homes taken. Those people fled to Israel. Those trying to flee to Jordan weren't allowed. That's an internal Arab conflict that became Israel's fault.

Gaza, if it was stolen from anyone, was stolen from Egypt in 1967. Call it what you like. It was then returned entirely, with ZERO Jews/Israelis left behind, in 2006. ZERO. ISRAELIS. IN GAZA. 2006. NO. OCCUPATION. Is that clear?

Gaza, instead of building a nation, the biggest trading partner of which would've been Israel (notwithstanding that Israel continues to be the biggest supporter in AID, FOOD and MEDICAL SUPPLIES to Gaza (google it. It's true)... while other gazillionaire Arab countries build tall buildings and fake islands and ski slopes in the desert... instead of building a thriving nation, they destroy 3,000 greenhouses left behind by the Jews and build terror tunnels and launch relentless rocket attacks.

You see to miss the point that Israel just wants to be left alone, and if its Arab neighbours would recognize its right to exist and would stop those attacks, all of this violence would be over in an hour. Arafat had that at the table and turned it down.

This nitpicking of Israel's tactics which result in civilian casualties is a little crazy. Not just because there isn't a single country in the world that would fight a war like this, but because they're criticized for any single casualty caused. Hamas has admitted they out civilians in harm's way, but Israel is the bad guy.

I'm curious how "selective" the US army would be if Mexicans were lobbing rockets from Tijuana into San Diego. Northern Mexico would be blown back into the 15th century, not a single American paper cut, tens of thousands of dead Mexicans, and nobody would for a moment thing "jeez, they could've been more selective with their bombing and warn people and text messages.
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How come...
...nobody seems to give a shit about the horrors going on not too far from where a few Gazans are being killed... to where tens of thousands of innocent people are being killed... or a little further where Christians are being forced to pay money, leave, raped, murdered and/or all of the above. Christians in Iraq are facing unspeakable horrors, yet we'd rather bash on Israel. The true anti-semites of the world must love it, their chance to dance in the streets blaming Israel, kill the Jews, Hitler was right...all the godsawful shit, while two blocks away they're happily murdering Christians or fellow Syrians.

But no, it's all about Israel.

I get it if you're over there and brutalizing your fellow man.. let's kill and go crazy and blame the Jews! It's great! But around here... where the implications of radical Islam reaching us is truly horrifying... no, let's keep making it about Israel.

I suppose Israel and Jews are easy targets as they've been targeted like that for so long, but I gotta tell you.. when the climate changes, they're outta here. They know the deal; it hasn't been that long and they learned their lesson and they don't let anyone forget it. Witness the European Jews currently fleeing.. seems like 1932 all over again.

We're fortunate enough around here because let's be honest, Jews around here are peaceful and add an awful lot to society. It's not in our best interest to scare them away. Europe traded 6 million Jews for 20 million angry Arabs, and look where it's gotten them.

You know what, let's make it clear... we're lucky to live in a country where we can voice our opinions and not fear repercussions. At the very least, all of you bashing Israel and blaming them entirely for the poor misery of the Palestinians... ok, fine, you're wrong but you're entitled to your opinion. But how about this... while you bash Israeli policy, how about throwing in a few words about how this isn't at all about Jew hatred. I'm not so sure everyone will believe it, but it's better than nothing. Because if you look at the protests going on all over the place, people like you who innocently want nothing more than to protest Israeli policy are finding yourselves marching next to some truly scary people... who, once they're done with the Jews, plan to come after you.
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History
"The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine

Seems that there have been Palestinians for at least 2500 years.


@ How come ...

This story is about Gaza. Hence no discussion of other atrocities around the world. And no, it is not Jew hating to disapprove of how Israel is treating the Palestinians.
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Not the Whole Story
Gaza is one of many places were children live in fear. Syria, Uganda, any black male under the age 30 living in the United States, children growing up in third world conditions on indian reservations in Canada.

This article feels like it could come from a Wikipedia page all facts no solutions, this isn't your best. Step up .... bring a solution and have opinion.

Julia .... nice to know you feel lucky to live in Canada .... guess middle class life style feel good :)
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