Hospital Ships Needed to Save Gaza's Children
Wavell Palestinian camp, Baalbec, Lebanon
The statistics are just beginning to be analyzed--by UN agencies and a myriad of NGO's whose mandates include salvaging young lives from the nearly incalculable ravages of the five-week (and counting) Zionist aggression upon Gaza. It is of course the third aggression in six years against the 1.8 million Palestinians, sardine-canned into what is increasingly referred to as history's largest open air prison, but the outcome this time is looking particularly cruel and grim.
As the Netanyahu regime announced (on 8/10/14) that its attacks on Gaza would continue, increasing numbers of obscene calls--for Israel to "finish the job" and "go all the way" etc.--are floating in the Zionist state's public echo-chamber, emanating from such figures as the Knesset's deputy speaker, who advocates driving Palestinians into the Sinai desert and resettling Gaza with Jews.
In Khuza'a "the Israeli military had trapped at least 32 people in a home and then prevented the Red Cross from evacuating them before shelling the area," reported Lebanese-American journalist Roqayah Chamseddine. Hoping for safe haven, the people in the house sought refuge in the basement of a neighbor's home, where they found additional families already inside.
"By that point we were 120 people, 10 men and the rest women and children," Kamel al-Najjar recalled for Human Rights Watch.
After dawn and without warning (no polite leaflets or knocks on the roof apparently), Israel struck the house, killing three people and wounding 15 others.
The toll of the war on Gaza's children has been "catastrophic," according to UN agencies. At least 450 have been killed, and those not having their physical bodies buried have found their innocence entombed. It is another casualty in the war--a war against all things daring to live and resist in Gaza. According to Chamseddine:
"Israel has forced the children of Gaza to lay flowers atop headstones, and watch helplessly as coffins that are filled with not only their most beloved family members, teachers, neighbors, and friends but also their most treasured memories, lullabies, lessons learned and those that will never come, descend into the belly of the earth. Their lips will memorize and form prayers for the dead and the stars that defied the siege that flickered freely high above them will be snatched from their skies."
Increasingly it is being heard from Gazans that "Israel has stolen everything beautiful in our lives," and Israel's barbarity confirms this sentiment.
Middle East analysts point out that it is difficult to recall a time in modern history when there has been so much sustained slaughter of this region's civilian population, with more than two-thirds of the victims being women and children. For the past year, UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations have lamented a simple reality--that there is not a sufficient level of international aid to save lives and treat those in need of emergency and longer term medical care.
But now something is changing.
The horrors we have just witnessed, especially with respect to traumas inflicted on children, is producing, as should be the case, a major and rapidly growing international focus on salvaging young lives. Descriptions and evaluations of the consequences of Gaza wars are being published and urgently discussed. Some analysts and government officials, including Pentagon planners, are calling for a 'Medical Marshall Plan,' to save Gaza's children. One proposed first step is the dispatching of a humanitarian support group of hospital ships that would sail to Gaza without further delay.
What can and must be done, by the United States and other countries with the naval and medical capacity to do so, is to organize a Hospital Ship flotilla to break the siege of Gaza, to anchor offshore, and to begin caring for the medical needs of all, with a special focus on children and their psychological well-being. Call it a Mercy Mission. Initially it could include the following countries--all well known for their hospital ships with up-and-running medical staffs: the USA, UK, France, China, Russia, Spain, Argentina, and Australia. Within this group of nations are ships with hundreds of patient beds and fully stocked pharmacies. Moreover, it is a group not likely to be interfered with by those who have imposed the inhumane blockade of Gaza (and of course it even includes some of their collaborators in the region), but perhaps most importantly, every country on the list possesses one or more hospital ships that are fully staffed and available to act.
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