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Who will advocate for the voiceless children in Gaza?

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The international community’s passivity in the face of sophisticated munitions targeting Palestinian children is a shameful chapter in history

“The cries of the Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me. What I don’t understand is why the cries of Palestinians sound different to you all. We cannot lose our shared humanity, Mr. Chair.” These words belong to Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in the U.S. Congress, who loudly said she “will not be silenced” during her speech on Tuesday on the House floor as she criticized Israel’s atrocities in Gaza and called for U.S. lawmakers to back a cease-fire.

Tlaib’s poignant remarks also served as a response to attempts by U.S. Democrats to censure her pro-Palestinian stance.

The stifling of freedom of speech on the matter has become prevalent, with journalists facing dismissals, academics encountering threats and blacklisting emerging as a trend for those advocating against the targeting of Gaza’s children.

Gaza has endured over a month of indiscriminate Israeli bombardment, resulting in the tragic loss of more than 10,000 lives, predominantly women and children.

In the face of the colonial-settler military’s oppression in Gaza, not only is the right to life stripped away from Palestinian children, but freedoms of speech, press and opinion are also curtailed by the extension of the same colonial-settler ideology in the Western world. Despite these restrictions, a grim reality unfolds on social media, revealing the live documentation of an ethnic cleansing against the children of Gaza.

The cries of children, as Tlaib says, are the same, regardless of ethnicity or background. So, it is important to note that all civilian lives must be protected in every conflict.

The international community’s passivity in the face of sophisticated munitions targeting Palestinian children is a shameful chapter in history.

“Since Oct. 7, we have been subjected to genocide, killing, displacement and bombs falling on our head in front of the whole world,” a group of children said in a “press conference” in front of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Tuesday.

“We came to Al-Shifa Hospital as a safe place after we were repeatedly exposed to bombing. We were surprised that we were once again exposed to death after the occupation targeted Al-Shifa Hospital,” the boy who was acting as the “spokesperson” said. “We came to shout as children, urging you all to protect us. Stop the death. We want life. We want peace. We want a trial for the killers. We want medicine. We want food. We want education. We want life.”

Listening to these children, one cannot escape the realization that a generation is growing up in despair, questioning the efficacy of calls from influential adults to halt Israel’s attacks. The suffering in Gaza, particularly that of children, is beyond words, prompting contemplation on whether this is a deliberate strategy to sever Palestinians’ ties to their land, reminiscent of Israel’s destruction of olive trees, an ancestral link to the Palestinian ancestral lands. In the end, by destroying the elements that make a land home, you destroy the future of that land as well.

In 2014, in a controversial post on Facebook, the then-member of the Knesset Ayelet Shaked, who also served as a justice minister in 2015, posted the text of an article by the late Israeli writer Uri Elitzur that referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes.”

“They are all enemy combatants and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

When this is the mindset of a former justice minister, then it becomes very normal for another minister to see nuking Gaza as “an option.”

This is precisely what Israel’s heritage minister, Amichai Eliyahu, said recently. Eliyahu, a member of the far-right Jewish Power party, made the comment in response to a question during a radio interview. “Your expectation is that tomorrow morning we’d drop what amounts to some kind of nuclear bomb on all of Gaza, flattening them, eliminating everybody there,” the Radio Kol Berama interviewer said. “That’s one way,” Eliyahu responded.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was on another tour of the Middle East, where he also visited Ankara and met with Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

“We are working very aggressively on getting more humanitarian assistance in Gaza. And we have very concrete ways to do that. And I think we’ll see in the days ahead that assistance can expand in significant ways,” Blinken told reporters following his meeting with Fidan.

“Look, we know the deep concern here for the terrible toll that (the bombing in) Gaza is taking on Palestinians – on men, women and children in Gaza, innocent civilians – a concern that we share and that we’re working on every single day,” said Blinken, who was seemingly disturbed by the imagery coming out of Gaza.

Whether the U.S., a firm supporter of Israel, will take concrete steps to address humanitarian concerns is one thing. It is, however, another issue that Tel Aviv’s violent policy against Palestinian children will, indeed, become a political burden on the Biden administration in the coming days.

If Blinken aims to fulfill a historic and ethical responsibility, he must heed the call from his Turkish counterpart Fidan for an immediate cease-fire to safeguard the lives of Palestinian children. Meanwhile, Turkish leadership has actively pursued diplomatic solutions, offering a guarantorship model, mediating hostage situations, providing humanitarian aid and keeping the issue alive in public opinion internationally.

The question lingers: If the most powerful nations fail, who will advocate for the oppressed children in Gaza? Is being killed or displaced their only option?

Source: Daily Sabah

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