Fighting for the right to walk
The Israeli attack may be over but Gazans continue to
live in torment, their human rights ignored:
troubles have somehow been relegated, if not completely dropped from the
mainstream media's radar, and subsequently the world's conscience and
consciousness. Weaning the public from the sadness there conveys the
false impression that things are improving and that people are starting
to move on and rebuild their lives. But nothing could be further from
the truth. Since the conclusion of Israel's war last year, the
Palestinian Ministry of Health declared that 344 Gaza patients have
reportedly been added to the swelling number of casualties.
Samar in her wheelchair about to play with her toys
Mahmoud Abd Rabbu and his house
Khaled Abed Rabbu, once a young father of four is a precise living
example, such an eloquent paradigm of what no human being ought to
endure in this world laden with international human rights
organizations, mediators, advocates and diplomats.
His house was completely destroyed, as were two of his little girls.
He buried 7 year old Soad and Amal, just two, soon after burying any
hope that Samar his 4 year old daughter's future would be any less
According to an IslamOnline report, Khaled's wife, Kawthar lined up
the children in front of their house in the Jabaliya refugee camp,
holding a white flag.
Four year Samar being carried away
A house crumbling to dust
Carrying on with their life with what is left remaining
But their internationally recognized gesture was disregarded by
Israeli forces and the shelling of their home and family commenced.
These miserable events unfolded at Christmastime last year, when the
Rabbu family was reduced by nearly half.
But since then, they, and a disgracefully large number of other such
families, have somehow slipped our minds. Completely surrounded still,
and prevented from ever advancing back to point zero, the Israeli siege
on Gaza is what one must certainly brand the quintessence of barbarism.
Like in December of 2008, the Israeli blockade means that almost
nothing enters or exits Gaza, injured in need of treatment are not
allowed exit nor entrance, as is the case with medical supplies,
medicine, food and almost anything in-between.
With entire neighborhoods pulverized in the attack, concrete is
desperately needed to rebuild the many homes, mosques, hospitals and
other structures that were destroyed.
That too, is forbidden. And so Khaled, like many others, has little
hope that his home, which has now lain in shambles for the better part
of a year, will be restored any time soon.
From September 14 to October 2, 2009, the Human Rights Council will
conduct a session where the office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights will present its report based on the fact finding mission, headed
by Justice Richard Goldstone, conducted after the Israeli attacks.
Nearly eight months after the bloodletting of Operation Cast Lead, a
34-page report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was released
on August 13, pressing for a lifting of the Gaza blockade.
The new report, which will be presented along with Goldstone's report
in September, lays out the many incomprehensible details of how the
Israelis battered the Strip, one of the most impoverished and the most
densely populated piece of Planet Earth. The details were laid out,
chastising Israel for snubbing the most basic norms of human decency:
Ambulance tried to reach Khalid’s house
"Under the Universal Declaration of Human rights, everyone has the
right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his
country, and everyone has the right to seek asylum. Such calls were
ignored, and the borders of the Gaza Strip remained closed throughout
The right to health of children, set out in Article 24 of CRC
(Convention on the Rights of the Child), is of particular concern in
United Nations agencies, Ministry of Health officials and health NGOs
report that rising poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, compounded
by the conflict, have increased the threat of child malnutrition. In
January, UNICEF said that 10.3 percent of Gazan children under five were
The report continued on, expressing concern that the only export
allowed out of Gaza in nearly two years was 13 large truckloads of cut
flowers, fully recognizing that the siege was in direct response to the
Gazan people exercising their right to elect the Hamas Government.
From the denial of food to medical supplies to housing to clean water
to education to any basic sense of what is called the 'highest
attainable standard of physical and mental health' according to the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
Israel managed, as the report concluded, to deny pretty much every last
One has to wonder, and even after so many years of witnessing such
amazing ingenuity when it comes to tormenting the Palestinians, does the
Israeli Government, and further, does the Israeli public feel any sense
of shame, remorse or even the slightest embarrassment when the most
basic norms of human behavior must be laid out in so elementary a
fashion, reminding and then re-reminding them that it is a fundamental
human right to have access to something as basic as food and clean
This is a thought that Khaled must ponder from time to time. It is
sure that life has been no cake-walk for Khaled, but perhaps this last
year has been the most trying of all. Two little ones lost, homeless,
and his third of four children struggling to walk in a Belgium hospital.
Samar, his four year old, was supposedly one of the lucky ones on
that day, for she survived, and was one of very few that escaped to
safety through Egypt's sealed border.
But she has two bullets lodged in her tiny spine, so deeply embedded
that Belgian surgeons cannot remove them. So now she is paralyzed, her
body propped up and supported by a vibrant pink and purple back brace,
like a fairy's suit of armor. Chances of ever walking again are grim.
Just two or three short years after graduating from a crawl, and now she
will most likely be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life, even
though her doctors and her mother say that she is desperate to walk
And so it seems to be the sad case that this exhaustive 34-page
report failed to mention, or perhaps it may be until this point that a
clause has never been drafted, declaring the universal right for every
little girl and boy to walk.
- Third World Network
The writer is an author of
several books and editor of PalestineChronicle.com.