PROTECT THE CHILDREN OF GAZA by Eddie Whyte

  Eddie Whyte is an elected union representative for Fagforbundet otherwise known as theNorwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (NUMGE). Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he has been living in Norway for the last 25 years. He is a member of the union’s National Executive and one of the union’s Ambassadors to Palestine

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Left to right: Eddie Whyte, Jamal Basala and Samir Alnahhal

Two years ago, I travelled to Gaza as part of a Norwegian trade union delegation. We met ordinary people like you and me who want to live in peace. Parents who want the best possible life for their children. Young people who dream of being able to work, travel, meet other young people and experience what the world has to offer.

The same evening we arrived in Gaza, two people were killed in an Israeli drone attack. Unfortunately it was nothing unusual. The people of Gaza have been under Israeli occupation since 1967. The latest Israeli offensive is yet another attempt to crush a besieged, civilian population. It is the third such massive onslaught in five years.

 Gaza is roughly one-tenth the size of County Antrim and has three times the population – it is one of the world’s most densely populated areas. People live literally on top of one another, building upwards, as there is no room to build outwards hemmed in as they are on all sides.

Nearly 1.8 million people are trapped there surrounded by closed borders in what many call the world’s largest outdoor prison. The vast majority are refugees from Israel’s previous military campaigns of 1948 and 1967 in which the Palestinians were forced from their own lands in what Israeli Professor Ilan Pappe describes as the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

 The Israeli blockade is now in its 8th year and denies Gaza’s people all the basic necessities that we all take for granted – food, water, electricity, medical and educational materials – and that was before the recent Israeli attacks.

When the Israelis launch their drones and jet bombers into Gaza airspace they are fully aware that there is no place for Gaza’s civilian population to hide, no place to escape to, no bomb shelters. So far we have almost three hundred dead, two thousand injured and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes.

An estimated 80% of the dead are civilians, many of them children. Following the horrific murders of four children from the Bakr family on the Gaza seafront, Human Rights Watch called for an international inquiry into the illegal targetting of civilians.

My trade union colleague Norwegian Dr Mads Gilbert who recently returned to Gaza to provide medical aid to the injured has stated publicly that the Israelis are using internationally proscribed weapons in their ongoing offensive. Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) munitions cause deep lacerations, which he has found on the bodies of killed and injured Palestinians.

 This is not a war. It is a military onslaught on a people unable to defend themselves. Gaza has no army, no navy and no airforce.  The average age of the population is sixteen. Israel, one of the worlds most advanced armies and a leading military power is attempting to bomb the world’s largest refugee camp into submission. It stinks of genocide.

How long can the international community sit on the sidelines and watch the continual targeting of a civilian population? The Israeli ground invasion will lead to even more innocents being injured and killed. It seems Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is in it for the long haul.

The Israeli Dirty War is part of his political power play where innocent Palestinian civilians are the victims. Netanyahu is under pressure from his own cabinet and party ranks – the one trying to be more hawkish than the other.  Dead Palestinians are mere pawns in their internal power games. They want blood and they want it now.

 The demonisation of the Palestinians by public figures in Israel is not widely reported in the international media and yet it is such an essential part of the Israeli political psyche. Recently Ayelet Shaked a parliament member for the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.”

 The attack on Gaza must cease immediately. The civilian population must be given international protection, the Israeli blockade must be lifted, the supply lines to the hospitals opened and the protection of the the civilian population guaranteed. The international community needs to take a stand on the Israeli onslaught on Gaza and the plight of the Palestinians. We need to protect the children of Gaza.

17 Responses to PROTECT THE CHILDREN OF GAZA by Eddie Whyte

  1. paddykool July 20, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Jeez!! That was an emotive , emotional piece. I know the Jews were treated harshly and obscenely by Hitler’s legions but this treatment of the Palestinians is a deal from that same oscene deck. The human animal at it’s blood curdling worst. Shooting fish in a barrel ,just about sums it up .
    We all know there are “just wars” that sometimes we have to be manipulated into taking part in , but I cannot see the justice in using the modern weaponry of war which distances the killers miles away from the blood and bones of their destruction. In this case , as was pointed out , it would be like fencing in the County Antrim and simply blasting the hell out of it with missiles.
    On humanitarian terms alone we should be on our feet and telling our politicians tp get off their fat arses and make some noise about this important thing .They’d rather yap about flags and marching as talk about the stinking smell of genocide .
    The silly bastards!

    • Norma wilson July 21, 2014 at 10:50 am #

      It’s the question that brought a conservative journalist and a far-left TV host to agreement: who is to blame for the civilian deaths in Gaza?

      “I see on the news every night lots of reports, and it’s very sad, we all feel horrible about them, of Palestinian civilians who are dying, including children,” said Bill Maher on his HBO show “Real Time” on Friday. ”Nobody seems to ask, ‘Whose fault is that mostly?’”

      Maher laid the blame at the feet of Hamas.

      “I feel terrible for a Palestinian child who dies,” Maher said, “but if it’s your father, your brother, your uncle who’s firing those rockets into Israel, who’s fault is it really? Do you really expect the Israelis not to retaliate?”

      “I don’t think you can understand the conflict without reading Hamas’ charter,” chimed in Daily Caller senior editor Jamie Weinstein. “[The charter] calls for not only the destruction of Israel, but the murder of Jews generally.”

      At multiple points, the audience cheered suggestions that Hamas was in the wrong, including when one panelist quoted conservative Charles Krauthammer’s piece which noted that the Israelis use missiles to protect their civilians, while Hamas uses civilians to protect their missiles.

      “If the Hamas people had the opportunity, they would kill the maximum number of Israelis, which would be all [of them], and Israel has the opportunity to kill way more [Palestinians] and they do not,” Maher said.

      “There’s no question that if Hamas, as you said, could, they would wipe Israel off the map,” Weinstein agreed.

      Maher took things a step further, saying that the Israelis consistently triumph over Muslim adversaries because of a Jewish belief in science.

      “Jews have, I think, 155 Nobel Prizes, Muslims have two,” he said. “That seems like kind of a big advantage for team Hebrew.”

      The show came a day after Maher sent out a tweet comparing Hamas to “a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u.”

      Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

      • Jude Collins July 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

        Norma – Bill Maher (Irish background there, obviously) is notorious as a right-wing broadcaster who appeals to the worst in human nature. This is the old trick of blaming the victim. How many Israeli casualties have there been in the last two weeks, say? How many Palestinians? By claiming that Hamas uses civilians as a shield for their weapons, the Israelis are conceding that yes, there are lots of innocent civilians in there but we’re going to kill them just the same. I like you, Norma, but you really need to open your heart a bit and look at who’s suffering here.

  2. Iolar July 20, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    The Israeli Destruction Force is hard at work given the ongoing evidence of the slaughter of men, women and children. Doctors are reporting that they are treating children injured by rockets fired from tanks. The slaughter of innocents is planned, organised and executed with an Israeli mandate. The slaughter is not consistent with the actions of a professional, disciplined army, navy or air force. There is an immediate need for an International Peace Keeping force to prevent further slaughter and to indict the war criminals.

  3. Norma wilson July 20, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Two sides to every story! If Israel wanted to put an end to this problem, she could in 60 sec flat.
    Norma

  4. Norma wilson July 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    “And lo, it came to pass that Europe became Eurabia out of a fear of being Islamophobic, racist, far right, anti-Muslim bigots.”
    Norma

  5. Peadar MacGhabhain July 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    Latest report from Gaza, the massacre of innocents continues, it is well to remember this war crime is fully supported and funded by AMERICA and endorsed by the EU

    Professor Mads Gilbert, who is tending the wounded in Gaza, has written to Channel 4 News with an account of the effects of the Israeli shelling on Saturday night.
    The professor, who is from the clinic of emergency medicine at the university hospital of north Norway, is working in Gaza’s Shifa hospital, where the wounded are being taken.

    He writes: “The last night was extreme. The ‘ground invasion’ of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying – all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent.

    “The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza’s hospitals are working 12 to 24-hour shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads. They care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans.

    “My respect for the wounded is endless, in their contained determination in the midst of pain, agony and shock. My admiration for the staff and volunteers is endless. My closeness to the Palestinian “sumud” – or steadfastness – gives me strength. But, in glimpses, I just want to scream, hold someone tight, cry, smell the skin and hair of the warm child, covered in blood, protect ourselves in an endless embrace – but we cannot afford that, nor can they.
    ‘Lakes of blood’

    “We still have lakes of blood on the floor in the emergency room, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out, the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.

    “More than 100 cases came to Shifa in the last 24 hours – enough for a large, well trained hospital with everything. But here, there is almost nothing: electricity, water, disposables, drugs, operating room tables, instruments, monitors, all rusted and as if taken from museums of yesterday’s hospitals. But they do not complain, these heroes. They get on with it, like warriors, head on, enormously resolute.
    “And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now: salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down on the shores, the roaring F16, the sickening drones and the cluttering Apaches.

    “Mr Obama, do you have a heart? I invite you, spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa. Disguised as a cleaner, maybe. I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.

    “Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.

    “But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another ‘dahyia’ onslaught on Gaza.

    “The rivers of blood will keep running in the coming night. I can hear they have tuned their instruments of death.”

    • Norma wilson July 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      And not a word about the poor Israelis?
      I do feel for all innocent children, women, of all walks of life.
      But still I hear nothing, the silence is deafening for the Israelis.
      How sad, and you are supposed to be brought up in the Christian faith.
      If some one was firing rockets at me continuously, I would put a stop to it. PRONTO.
      Who ever is feeding you this information it is wrong.
      You are all prejudice against the Jewish people, why, quite simple, their religion is real and it is threat to you’s .
      But don’t worry, they have God on their side, for they are the chosen people.
      Are you seriously telling me, you agree with the people who blew up the Twin Towers?
      Well maybe you are, and I am the one who is being naive, maybe their is a secret communique between all terrorists, bedfellows.
      I hope America is reading these blogs, her special friends from Ireland, and the same in Boston, who not that long ago, was blowing up innocent people.
      Norma

      • Jude Collins July 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

        Norma, Norma. I always think we should try not to fall out over politics or anything else – life’s too short. If you feel I’m blinkered and biased, here’s a highly-respected English journalist. Give him a read and a think… http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/the-true-gaza-backstory-that-the-israelis-arent-telling-this-week-9596120.html

        • paddykool July 21, 2014 at 8:34 am #

          As usual .Jude , there’s always a more mundane backstory..It’s never wholly about “morality” or right and wrong .In this case, at base it is land acquisition and fear..The Jewish people were rammed into this position after World War Two and as Planters who ‘d already suffered with pogroms themselves were prepared to fight at all costs to maintain what had been given/stolen for them. Ireland had its planters…America had its planters …Australia had its planters…South Africa had its planters …It’s an old story we all know well and we all know what happens.People are given another people’s land by a controlling empire building government or country to consolidate the original theft .It never ends well .

          What usually happens is the original native inhabitants are demonised as some kind of “savages” or “snakes” by the incoming planters. there is always a racist element stirred up …should it be customs or colour. . It always ends with the vanquishing of the original population…the theft of “sacred” lands … ancient burial sites or whatever and the destruction of the original inhabitants culture.
          The red Indians of America ended up in reservations of the poorest land where their culture was eradicated ..when gold was discovered in those Black Hills of Dakota, it didn’t matter if they were sacred ..all that mattered was making money…It was the same when oil was discovered in Texas …the land was soon cleared of any native inhabitants…Families were driven off the land.
          .
          The arab culture is similarly being demonised too.
          Like the people living in Ireland ,they are not all terrorists ..we are not all terrorists.Things are much more complex than that . At base though, we are all just people…. getting up in the morning to make the best fist of it for our families ..The focus should be away from the cynicism of politicians and the aggression of the military and should be purely on the families , especially the children who are being killed out of a simple racist hatred that has been cultivated ..

          . It all comes down to land and hatred.

  6. Norma wilson July 20, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    I am not falling out with you Jude, or any one else! Thank you for the information tag?
    Were would you have the Israeli people go?
    Have they not a right to exist? Does it not mention in the Bible Israel, have these people not suffered enough, persecuted all their lives.
    I watched the Jewish people being trailed out of their homes in Gaza, my heart ached for them.
    Why does the rest of the world turn on the Jews so violently, why, why.
    Every one has a right to voice their opinion, my sympathies is with Israel.
    I was told some of the comments in Belfast yesterday was disgusting, saying that they did not gas enough of them, and they should get more ovens.?
    Who talks like this, and to watch the Dail yesterday being lead by the nose by Gerry Adams, is frightening, and I mean frightening.
    Should all whites get out of America, Australia, New Zealand.
    I know I am coming across racist, and that is the last thing I want.
    But just suppose, the same situation happened here, and we were treated like the Jews??????
    Norma

  7. Norma wilson July 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Aljazeera, to-night , Palestinians dancing and rejoicing, happy???????????
    Switched on and off, capture of one Israeli soldier, come on.
    Morma

  8. Ceannaire July 20, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Norma, you keep saying that the Jews are God’s chosen people.

    Not any more. They threw it back in His face many times. Your Bible, from where you get your information, tells us about it often. And then Jesus came along and changed everything – utterly.

    He didn’t have anything nice to say about the Jewish spiritual leaders at the time. They are not chosen – they are people. Just like the Palestinians.

  9. paddykool July 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    Norma .This is not about putting down the Jews.it is not about tin -hatted conspiracy theorists who think that Jews are controlling the world’s finances and media, and all of that .Two of my personal heroes , Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are both from jewish backgrounds . I enjoy their creativity, not because they are from Jewish familys.
    The background is not what is in question here. As you know , all this talk about “god’s Chosen People ” and all the rest of it means very little to someone like myself who doesn’t even believe in the existence of the god that all the claptrap is talked about . People can believe anything they like .It doesn’t make it any more real or true. People can tell themselves anything and believe anything.
    It’s not about any of that for me . It’s very simple agression for me and it is being fomented just as it is here in ireland by small groups of bigoted , racists for their own ends. It’s happening right out on our own streets so we have a fine example to compare with. We know how it actually works on the ground because we are all still struggling with it here. It all starts in the same way.Like i said , it starts with some form of Plantation and grows from that. After a few generations if there is no integration the us and them scenario raises its ugly head and the conflict begins .We are struggling with a peace settlement here that was predicated by a hundred and more years of mismanagement and the resulting terror . In that respect Gaza is way behind the curve .Everyone knows that firing missiles will only get you lots of dead innocent people. They need a cessation of violence and aviable peace process. They also need to realise that they are not dealing with some demonic force but only frightened innocent people and their children.

  10. paddykool July 21, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Jude ,I ‘ve just come across this short instructional animation piece which may cut through some of the fat…. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152987268819196&fref=nf

  11. Keith July 21, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    All western countries have been forever tarnished with their indifference to what has been taking place in Gaza. Britain and America are more concerned about getting at Russia over the loss of innocents on the Malaysian Airliner than anything taking place in Gaza.. They’re not so quick to round on Israel. Even in death the Palestinian people are treated as second class.

    Those who elect these bastards please think again next time!!!!!!