The number of dead may astound us, but what happens after the initial shock? Do we mobilise? Do we take action? No, because numbers mean very little. It is the personal stories that touch our hearts. And it was the stories of Palestinian children Dr Mads Gilbert recalled treating in Gaza that truly touched mine. He tells countless numbers of them, all have become fused into what remains a blur, a blur of which unbelievable suffering and strength coincide resulting in the subtle tear that runs down my cheek as I sit in the audience.
SOMETHING STRUCK ME
I have been to many meetings, debates, talks, protests before. So I like to believe I’m fairly strong or independent. I’ll go to these talks on my own and take what I will from them, sometimes motivation, sometimes absolutely nothing, but there was something about today’s talk that fixated me, moved me. I was not broken down, but that one subtle tear said it all.
Walking back through the beautiful streets of Kensington I realised I cannot stay quiet about Palestine anymore. Gilbert spoke of people who questioned him as a doctor over speaking out to end the bombing of Gaza. The decision that stood before him was whether to appeal for more aid, or for the bombing to stop. He witnessed the suffering, the lack of equipment and he knew the logical answer was to appeal to put an end to the bombing.
WHAT I’VE GOT TO DO
I started fundraising for the only children’s hospital in Gaza for one reason only: because every child deserves access to the healthcare they require, especially in Gaza, a place where it is most needed and hard to access due to the siege. Today I realise that fundraising is not enough. I must tell you of their plight and strength. Maybe this way we can encourage a means to an end of their suffering.
60% of Gaza’s population are children. Gilbert described the children he met. The ones who suffered from malnutrition due to Israel’s siege on Gaza.
“Hunger is a weapon of mass destruction”
It has been three years since Israel launched “Operation cast lead” also known as the “Gaza war”. How can this be defined as war? 13 Israelis killed. 1314 Palestinians killed. I don’t like to talk statistics or numbers. But a couple which I feel the need to point out.
EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE DEATHS WERE 100% AVOIDABLE had Israel not broken the ceasefire (lasting from Aug-Oct 2008) conveniently on the 4th October: the day of Obama’s election where all news coverage was on him.
280 SCHOOLS IN PALESTINE WERE DESTROYED. Not one of them rebuilt. There is a lack of resources due to Israel’s siege.
I DO NOT PITY THE CHILDREN OF GAZA, I ADMIRE THEM
Children are the hope. Dr Gilbert spoke of resilience. He spoke of the young children of Gaza who had no shoes, shivering, as they welcomed Gilbert inside their broken homes. He spoke of their smiles, their innocence, their desire to play games. He spoke of one young boy he treated, he lost his arm. That young boy learnt to redress his own bandages three times a day. He spent his time walking around the wards, speaking to other patients, giving them inspiration, refilling water glasses, making sure the patients were warm after all the windows of Al-Shifa hospital were taken out by the impact of the bomb blasts.
Their courage is nothing less than breathtaking. These children are stronger than I could ever dream of being. I can’t imagine what they go through every single day. I can’t explain to you. I just remember seeing the pictures Gilbert showed from his visit to Gaza. Their smiles made me smile. It was not the plight of the children that brought a tear to my eye, it was their happiness.
I will never pity the children of Gaza. I admire them. I stand in solidarity with them till they have the freedom they deserve.
YOU CANNOT DESENSITISE A CHILD
This isn’t about politics or religion. This is about children. This is about peace. You cannot desensitise a child. You cannot reason a child’s death because it was a child of Hamas. Organisations like B’TSalem or journalists like Amira Hass will agree with me.. I have no personal attachment to Palestine. The reason I support the people because I see them suffering. It is simple.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Dr Gilbert said silence is a form of compliance. I agree. It is wrong to ignore something we could potentially change or help. We do not need to dedicate our lives to the cause. The small things count, Dr Gilbert points this out as he demonstrates wearing hand knitted solidarity mittens and a hat. It can even be fun.
Remember the lost ones. But remember too the ones who can still be helped. Stand in solidarity. Do not pity, for they are the strong ones. We are here to help get peace and justice.
Hold our governments to account! We are all responsible for this, with both domestic and international issues. The Guardian have recently reported of British government officials raising concerns of the treatment of Palestine’s child prisoners. Make sure their concerns are answered. We are all capable of raising awareness, through not only media platforms but social platforms: twitter, facebook so send out a message of hope today!
Sorry for the plug in but
Donate some money to Al-Dora children’s hospital: www.justgiving.com/rima-amin
I wish to avoid the politics. I wish to avoid the arguments. I want the world to remember the history but look at the current situation. Look at what we can achieve today, to help the children tomorrow. It does not matter which religion you are, or which country you are from. This is a human perspective. Every person with a heart can relate. Yes, the situation in the middle-East is far from being sorted but that does not mean we should ignore the help it’s people need.
Thank you for reading.
Peace and Love.