Growing up, all I ever really wanted to be was a lawyer. In my innocent eyes, it was the way in which I could save the world. Before knowing what it really meant, I believed that the pen was mightier than the sword and that speaking well would help you solve any problem
I finished high school in 2008. At the time, I had applied to study a double degree in law and social enquiry. I had planned out the subjects I would study, even the Masters program I would complete to specialise in international human rights law.
In that same year, just weeks before universities would start offering places, Israel began a deadly operation against Gaza. This operation was known as Operation Cast Lead. With air strikes and ground operations lasting about 3 weeks, the Israeli occupation’s military managed to kill over 1400 people. 85% of these were civilians – mostly women and children. Approximately 10,000 civilians were injured, thousands of homes destroyed and much of Gaza’s infrastructure reduced to ruins.
I remember watching the world react to these crimes against humanity. I held my breath and wished for the world to take action – there would be sanctions on Israel, surely. Anyone using chemical weapons and raining white phosphorous on civilians would surely pay the price. A country launching missiles at civilians with absolute precision would have to face the anger of the world.
But it never came.
I remember learning that the Israeli military started raining hundreds of thousands of leaflets down on Gaza. These ‘warnings’ told the people that air strikes were coming. That they would destroy anything that contained any weapons or ammunition. The people of Gaza were warned to leave their homes. Then the warnings came telling them that any home with an escape tunnel would be destroyed, so they should leave. Then the messages just told people to leave.
People were receiving the same message via phone calls. Through the radio.
I was terrified. I was safe in my parents home in Sydney, and I was terrified. I couldn’t imagine how the people of Gaza felt. Couldn’t imagine how they had coped through this psychological warfare. It was bad enough that they were being attacked… but the leaflets. They were evil on a whole other level. They killed me.
I expected the world to do something. It never did. Schools were attacked. UNITED NATIONS schools that were used as bomb shelters were attacked.
I kept expecting something to happen, but it never did. Israel had total control over the people of Gaza and blocked access to food, medical supplies and basic services in a total breach of international humanitarian law and nothing. Fucking. Happened.
I was disgusted. I had watched the UN, powerlessly waste its breath. I remember when the United States blocked a UN ceasefire proposal. It was vetoed around the same time that Condoleezza Rice made this statement:
The United States is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza. We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there. The ceasefire must be restored immediately and fully respected. The United States calls on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.:
That was when I died inside. That was when I lost it. I changed my university application to move out of law and into medical science. I didn’t have it in me to deal with such blatant lies and disregard for human life. I couldn’t deal with the arbitrary labelling violence as either the work of martyrs of acts of terrorism, depending on whatever worked for whoever was in charge.
Following the 2008/09 war, a UN Fact Finding Mission, known as the Goldstone Report found, in summary, that the Israeli government had FUCKED UP.
The situation today.
I don’t purport to be a political expert. But anyone can see history repeating itself. Hundreds of rockets have been fired into Gaza. Over 40 people have already been killed in the last two days. These are civilians, including 12 children. Not militants. Just people who are trying to live their lives. 400 have been injured. Houses destroyed. As always, Gaza is also firing missiles (48) back at Israel, but as usual, there are no casualties. Let’s remember, Gaza has been under a blockade since 2007. These are a surrounded people. But of course, Israel sits under the guise of ‘self-defence’. I don’t know how an oppressor can ever claim that. It’s like the Pharaoh attacking the Jewish slaves and claiming it was to defend his nation. An eerie reminder that attacks are coming from God’s people – the poster children of freedom from oppression.
40,000 Israeli reservists have been called to in, ready for a ground offensive.
“The death and injury to children caused by Israel’s military offensive on Gaza demonstrates serious and extensive disregard of fundamental principles of international law,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Israeli forces must not carry out indiscriminate airstrikes in densely populated areas that fail to distinguish between military targets, civilians and civilian objects.”
Do you want to guess what the US response has been this time? Just guess.
I fear for the people of Gaza, during this holy month of Ramadan, who are living through this unimaginable turmoil. I don’t know if it’s my Arabic heritage, but all I can think about is the fact that it is sheer luck that I live in Australia. It is sheer luck that I can be warm tonight after having a had a warm meal. A tiny change in my parents history could have meant that I was there with them. Through this bond, I am there with them in heart and mind alone.
For those of you who will tell me that Israel is acting in self-defence, I don’t believe that you can act in self defence after oppressing a people. These attacks by Israel have been consistent over the last few years. But let us pretend that I will accept the self-defence argument. Self-defence needs to be proportionate. The attacks by the Israeli’s are not proportionate.
If this situation wasn’t so serious, it would be a joke.
It’s insane that this is happening. We can’t sit by and watch, silently. The world’s silence condones the actions of the Israeli terrorists who do just that – terrorise.
Imagine if it was flipped around. If the Palestinians had killed that many Israelis. There would be an all our war – with troops deployed from around the world to defend them – wait… I… I feel like that sounds oddly familiar.
What makes the Palestinians the terrorists in this situation? How is it that one group of oppressed people are the victims and require our financial and military support, but another group of oppressed people are terrorists.
This is overwhelming.
In much the same way that I, as a Muslim woman, am expected to apologise for the misguided actions of other Muslims, I expect to hear the Jewish community’s condemnation of Israel’s terrorism on Gaza and wider Palestine. I expect people to put their hands up and say ‘no. We do not support these actions. These actions do not reflect our faith or our values’, in the same way that I condemn the killing of innocent people in the name of Islamic terrorism which spits in the face of Islamic values.
Tonight, as you crawl into bed, remember that across the ocean, a people are being destroyed, little by little. Remember that this densely populated stretch of land is being showered with air strikes. In the very least, read about it. Talk about it. Think about it. Appreciate the life you get to live and pray, whether or not you are spiritual, for the end of the unnecessary loss of life around the world.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected at this time. I pray that this situation eases. That the people of Gaza can at least observe the holy month of Ramadan without more war and destruction.
Want to keep up to date with new posts?