Think Of Us When You Are Warm: Rebuilding Gaza, Or Maybe, Mournfully, Not
A U.N. photo from last year showing hungry Palestinians awaiting emergency food in their ravaged neighborhood near Damascus, said a U.N. official to skeptics, "is an exact replica of reality. I can understand why that reality would beggar belief. But in the 21st century, such a scene exists."
Astoundingly, yet more bad news for Gaza: Officials with the U.N.'s Relief and Works Agency say a program to rebuild homes for some 100,000 people left homeless by Israel's 50-day war last summer will be suspended at the end of the month because world donors have reneged on funding promises made last fall in Cairo, coming through with just $135 million of a pledged $720 million. This profoundingly disheartening proof of the world's indifference to "an avoidable tragedy" comes as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, as well as Syria and Lebanon, face conditions regularly described as "catastrophic" - huddled in rubble and tents, battered by winter storms, floods, mud, severe shortages of food, fuel, water, power and any materials that might provide shelter thanks to ongoing Israeli and Egyptian blockades, and struggling to keep their children alive. Last week, a fifth infant died of the cold; his father looked at him, he said dazed, and "he was frozen."
Meanwhile, Israeli continues to block entry into Gaza by U.N. war crimes investigators who are thus banned not just from speaking to Gaza's victims, but from even seeing the devastation within which they attempt to live. Surreally, Israel likewise continues its demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, leaving yet more homeless, cold, wet and hungry. Palestinians who have sought refuge elsewhere fare little better: Last week, thousands marched from their harsh makeshift camps in Syria to protest, "No To Martyrdom By Hunger." Earlier, Syrian actor Ehab Yousef had ingeniously adopted the First World ice-bucket trope to his own sorrowful purposes: In a widely circulated video, he stripped down, buried himself in snow, and challenged President Bashar al-Assad to “come out from your hideout and show support for the people who are dying in refugee camps” by spending a night with his children there, bitterly adding, “Think of us when you are warm.” Assad failed to show. The world has failed to show. To show, and help even a little, go here or here.
Gaza in the rain
Syria in the snow