Oh This World, I Have the Right: Gaza's Kids Seek A Voice Amidst the Chaos
When freelance journalist Dan Cohen posted this selfie in Gaza, he titled it - per Likud rhetoric - "The Greatest Threat to Israel." It was re-tweeted many thousands of times.
A severe winter storm dubbed Huda this week brought ever more suffering to the long-suffering residents of Gaza, especially the over 100,000 people left homeless by last summer's Israeli assault - an assault whose aftermath former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk has just declared “catastrophic...a form of massive state terror directed at the entire population of Gaza.” The storm, added to existing hardships in Gaza, has prompted Palestinian authorities to declare a state of emergency.
Huda unleashed heavy cold rains that caused widespread flooding, brutal winds and hail in Gaza, along with snow and even colder temperatures for Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon. With a still-blockaded Gaza having received less than 2 percent of an estimated 5 million tons of materials needed to rebuild, between 100,000 and 170,000 Gazans still lack adequate shelter and live huddled in tents, rubble or half-demolished homes. They also lack power - because Gaza’s sole power station was bombed by Israel last summer - and fuel, because the Israeli-Egyptian blockade continues.
Desperate to stay alive, residents turned to lighting candles, fires and unsafe stoves. Deaths soon followed: a two-month-old died from the cold in her family's damaged home, an eight-month-old died in a fire caused by a faulty heating stove in a refugee camp, a young fisherman froze to death, two children, three and four, died in a fire caused by wiring neglected in the power crisis, two teenagers died in a fire started by candles, another infant just froze to death.
And yet. Life, inconceivably, goes on. Sometimes, even hope does. An array of organizations work with Palestinian children in shelters, schools and refugee camps, trying to keep them not just alive, warm and fed, but convinced that they matter, that they have "the right for the world to hear our words." Help here, here, here, here, here, or here.
The approaching storm in the battered neighborhood of Shojae’a.