War is traumatizing for anybody, but it's especially devastating to children caught in the crossfire. They are the ones who bear absolutely no responsibility for all the violence, yet they are the ones left with some of the worst physical and psychological scars -- scars they'll carry for life.
As the Israeli army continues its attack on Gaza for the 17th consecutive day, the number of Palestinian civilian deaths continues to rise amidst massive destruction of buildings and property. Israel has employed its full-fledged arsenal to bombard Palestinian residential areas. The latest numbers stand at more than 900 dead and 4,000 injured. More than 280 children have died and approximately 1,480 have been injured since Israel began its offensive against Gaza on Dec. 27, 2008. According to U.N. sources, close to a third of the dead and one fourth of the injured are children. Israel has accused Hamas of intentionally attacking from civilian-populated areas, driving up casualties among non-combatants to provoke anger against Israel. Regardless of this claim, do children have to pay the price?
Below is a chronology of just three days of fighting and its effect on Gaza's children:
On Jan. 6, Israeli soldiers fired mortar shells at a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp. Forty-two people were killed, and Palestinian medical officials said many were children. Israel says Hamas militants had been firing mortar shells from the school, something the U.N. denies.
On Jan. 7, emergency personnel were allowed to enter the Zaytoun neighborhood; previously the Israeli military had kept the International Committee of the Red Cross from entering for four days. Among at least 12 bodies found in one house were four weakened but living children lying next to their mothers' bodies.
On January 8, three brothers were killed from the Hamdoun family: Sami 12, Ali 10, and Mohsen 9. Their televised images have caused outrage in Europe and the Arab world.
In the American media, images from Gaza have been sanitized and when partially shown, they are portrayed as incidental casualties of war. This past Sunday, CNN tried to show "balance" between Palestinian children suffering in Gaza and Israeli families bidding farewell to their sons heading to the front. I'm sorry, but I could not see the balance between the maimed children in Gaza and those shooting at them.
Meanwhile, mounting evidence is emerging that Israel is experimenting with new non-conventional weapons on the civilian population in Gaza. "It is happening again, what we saw in Lebanon two years ago", says Paola Manduca, a genetics teacher and researcher at the University of Genoa and member of New Weapons Research Committee (NWRC), "where Israel used white phosphorus, dense inert metal explosive (DIME), thermobaric bombs, cluster bombs and uranium ammunitions, and experimented with novel weapons and delivery modalities." If this is true, more children are destined to die and to suffer under the watchful eye of the entire world.
For those who care, Jamila al Hayash was playing with her friends on her roof when an Israeli missile struck. Her story is in this video: