Gaza: The Children Killed in a War the World Doesn't Want to Know About

Nayef Abu Snaima says his 14-year-old cousin Jihad had been sitting on the edge of an olive grove talking animatedly to him about what he would do when he grew up when he was killed instantly by an Israeli shell.

He says he clearly saw a bright flash next to the control tower of the disused Gaza international airport, occupied by Israeli forces after Cpl Gilad Shalit was seized by militants on 25 June. "I went two or three steps and the missile landed," said Nayef, 24. "I thought I was dying. I shouted 'La Ilaha Ila Allah' [There is no God but Allah]."

When Jihad's older brother Kassem, 20, arrived at the scene: "My brother was already dead. There was shrapnel in his head. Nayef was shouting 'Allah, Allah'. The missile landed about four metres from where Jihad had been standing. There was shrapnel in his body as well, his legs, everything. He had been bleeding a lot everywhere."

Jihad Abu Snaima was just the most recent of more than 37 children and teenagers under 18 killed [out of a total death toll, including militants, of 228] in the operations mounted by the Israeli military in Gaza since 25 June, according to figures from the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights (PCHR).

Of these, the PCHR classifies 151 as "civilian", although beside non-combatants and bystanders, that total also includes militants or faction members not involved in operations against Israel at the time for example those deliberately targeted in Israeli air strikes because of their involvement in previous attacks. The Israel Defence Forces have always maintained that being under 18 does not automatically exclude a person from taking part in action against them.

Read more: Gaza: The Children Killed in a War the World Doesn't Want to Know About

We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam

The Pope's remarks were dangerous, and will convince many more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic

But the old myth of Islam as a chronically violent faith persists, and surfaces at the most inappropriate moments. As one of the received ideas of the west, it seems well-nigh impossible to eradicate. Indeed, we may even be strengthening it by falling back into our old habits of projection. As we see the violence - in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon - for which we bear a measure of responsibility, there is a temptation, perhaps, to blame it all on "Islam". But if we are feeding our prejudice in this way, we do so at our peril.

Read more: We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam

'No justice' for Palestinian crime victims

Human rights group claims 90% of police investigations end in failure

The farmer was lying on the blood-soaked earth with crows circling above him when his son found him. Saber Shteia, 74, was battered by four settlers in his olive groves and left to die. As his son, Thourri, and another farmer loaded Mr Shteia on his donkey, he muttered, "They have killed me".

The attack happened outside the village of Salem in the West Bank, which is under the jurisdiction of the Israeli police. Despite the severity of the attack, the police were reluctant to investigate and questioned Mr Shteia when he awoke in hospital only because of pressure from Israeli human rights groups. The investigation, like most Palestinian complaints about settler violence or crimes against them, led nowhere.

A new report by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din ("There is a law") published last week estimates that 90% of all police investigations into crimes against Palestinians end in failure. The group monitored police activity in the West Bank for one year and found that the investigations were stopped because police did not have enough evidence or could not identify those responsible. The report found that the files were thin and basic police procedures were not carried out.

Read more: 'No justice' for Palestinian crime victims

Making Israel take responsibility

... [W]e see that hafrada (separation) is the Zionist form of apartheid, so we argue that Israel should be treated like the old South Africa.

Our campaign is gaining momentum. Recently, several Irish cultural events rejected Israeli embassy sponsorship and Irish trade unionists prevented use of Dublin trams for training staff of the projected tram system between West Bank settlements. But this is only the beginning. This campaign, part of a world-wide effort to help Israelis overcome their dysfunctional denial of responsibility, will cease only when Israel conforms to International Law.

Read more: Making Israel take responsibility

Gaza's darkness

Gaza has been reoccupied. The world must know this and Israelis must know it, too. It is in its worst condition, ever. Since the abduction of Gilad Shalit, and more so since the outbreak of the Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately.

Nobody thinks about setting up a commission of inquiry; the issue isn't even on the agenda. Nobody asks why it is being done and who decided to do it. But under the cover of the darkness of the Lebanon war, the IDF returned to its old practices in Gaza as if there had been no disengagement. So it must be said forthrightly, the disengagement is dead. Aside from the settlements that remain piles of rubble, nothing is left of the disengagement and its promises. How contemptible all the sublime and nonsensical talk about "the end of the occupation" and "partitioning the land" now appears. Gaza is occupied, and with greater brutality than before. The fact that it is more convenient for the occupier to control it from outside has nothing to do with the intolerable living conditions of the occupied.

In large parts of Gaza nowadays, there is no electricity. Israel bombed the only power station in Gaza, and more than half the electricity supply will be cut off for at least another year. There's hardly any water. Since there is no electricity, supplying homes with water is nearly impossible. Gaza is filthier and smellier than ever: Because of the embargo Israel and the world have imposed on the elected authority, no salaries are being paid and the street cleaners have been on strike for the past few weeks. Piles of garbage and obnoxious clouds of stink strangle the coastal strip, turning it into Calcutta.

More than ever, Gaza is also like a prison. The Erez crossing is empty, the Karni crossing has been open only a few days over the last two months, and the same is true for the Rafah crossing. Some 15,000 people waited for two months to enter Egypt, some are still waiting, including many ailing and wounded people. Another 5,000 waited on the other side to return to their homes. Some died during the wait. One must see the scenes at Rafah to understand how profound a human tragedy is taking place. A crossing that was not supposed to have an Israeli presence continues to be Israel's means to pressure 1.5 million inhabitants. This is disgraceful and shocking collective punishment. The U.S. and Europe, whose police are at the Rafah crossing, also bear responsibility for the situation.

Read more: Gaza's darkness

Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.