Gaza is bleeding again! More than 159 killed, the majority of the casualties are women and children, about 400 injured and many of those in transition from life to death. Beginning from the death and abduction of three settlers, followed by revenge killing of a Palestinian and then rockets fired by Hamas into the Israeli settlements and finally the knee-jerk reaction of Israel resulting in dozens of deaths and injuries. Contrary to Israeli claims, according to the UN, 77% of the dead are civilians, not Hamas members.
So far, Israel has made around 750 aerial hits in the last three days in the densely populated Gaza strip. They claim that Hamas has fired over 400 rockets but surprisingly no Israeli has been killed so far, nine injured and several treated for “shock.” You would expect a better aim from a battle-hardened organization like Hamas. Well, what can you say? War is as much about superiority in propaganda as it is about locking horns in the actual battlefield. As of now, Israeli troops have entered Gaza and are ready for a ground assault. So far, about 4000 residents of Gaza have fled in the face of an impending assault. “All our ground forces are ready; we have been training for this. We will exploit our ability the moment a decision is made to do so,” said a senior Israeli military official.
But why is it happening again? The biggest reason is that Palestinians refuse to relinquish their claim for a Palestinian state. So, as long as there is resistance from Palestinians, death and destruction will be forced upon their homes by Israel.
Aside from the war of words, there is an enormous human cost that residents of Gaza are paying:
“A group of young men, their homes without electricity, had gone to watch the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and the Netherlands at a small beach cafe – a basic place offering little more than a canopy and a generator – when they were hit with an Israeli missile.”
“It was 1.25 am. I was in the living room drinking coffee with my wife. The three children were in the bedroom. I can’t tell you if it was two missiles or three,” he said, his face pale and drawn, still stunned that his family had survived a strike that killed eight of his neighbors, including four women.”
Are We Feeling their Pain?
We, Pakistanis, have always had an affinity with Palestinians and we have supported the Palestinian cause since the creation of Pakistan. However, this time there seems to be not many ripples caused in Pakistan following the Gaza crisis. Maybe it’s because it’s Ramadan, people are more involved with the motions of this blessed month, concentrating on various aspects of their Ramadan routine and of course, preparing for Eid.
What’s expected from us is to at least make some noise, right? Mainstream media including the newspapers and electronic media outlets are the primary organs for making noise. But the coverage of this crisis is scant. It is the media’s responsibility to inform people about what’s going on. If they can engage the nation in the movements and activities of Veena Malik, they can surely raise concern and support for Gaza crisis.
While foreign publications are doing extensive coverage of the crisis, most of the Pakistani newspapers and TV channels – save a couple – ran one or two stories on various inner pages. As usual, there is lip service from our government in the form of canned statements condemning the brutal acts of Israel.
“Pakistan is deeply concerned at the recent escalation of violence and loss of lives in Gaza. Pakistan condemns Israeli aggression and supports the international community’s efforts in bringing about a cessation of unilateral Israeli strikes killing Palestinians, including women and children.”
In the past, for example during the Gaza crisis of 2012, there was considerable activism observed among the civil society. Various religious and political parties staged demonstrations and rallies in support of the Palestinian people. A group of Pakistani hackers attacked several Israeli brand websites and took control of them. A group of students in Lahore expressed solidarity in the form of a rally, where a banner carried this message:
“When you go to sleep at night 1.6 million people in Palestine stay awake to stay alive. Join our peaceful demonstration in Lahore, Pakistan to voice your protest against the brutal killings and a violation of humanity.”
As reported in The Express Tribune, According to Rasul Baksh Rais, a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences,
“the vacuum in coverage of international events by the Pakistani media – electronic media in particular – reflects a lack of integrity, professionalism and training by media organizations. With respect to the Gaza attacks in particular, Rais stated that it is a major news story in terms of peace in the Middle East and human suffering but the Pakistani media predictably remains focused on its internal issues such as policing political actions and parties.”
Are we getting so encumbered by our own problems that we have stopped caring enough about the plight of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world? Going about with my daily life, I often feel that way. How about you?