A Letter to the IDF

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Boy killed by Israeli bombing in Gaza

I cannot pretend, and no reasonable human being with any degree of respect for the sanctity of life can pretend, that there is any rationalization that can justify 257 children being killed in a conflict in which the other side has a showing of 14 total casualties.

Boy killed by Israeli bombing in Gaza

Dear IDF,

I want to see how you call this a case of human shields. I definitely don’t have the imagination for it.

Investigations are pending, but on January 5th, IDF soldiers shelled a house in Gaza City, killing 30 people. That’s not an unusual occurrence; in the course of this brief conflict, over 770 Palestinians have been killed, a third of them children. Every time I check the news, the death toll seems to have jumped by another hundred human souls. But the house they shelled this time was not an ordinary house. It was different from the countless abodes the IDF has inexcusably bulldozed since its inception or fired into in recent days with allegations of hidden weaponry.

According to the UN and the Red Cross, witnesses say that this is a house where civilians were actually sent by the IDF for the purpose of seeking shelter. Every time any organization has questioned the IDF thus far regarding the unthinkable death toll in Gaza (including the 250 percent rise in child deaths since the ground offensive began), it’s been the same bland story: Hamas was using them as human shields, blame it on Hamas. I’m not even going to get into how absurd and hypocritical that assertion is. I’m not even going to get into how stupid you have to be to think that you can fire into one of the world’s most densely populated regions – barely twice the size of Washington D.C. where 1.5 million people are stuffed into a cradle of poverty and desolation because you walled them up there – and not expect that you might end up with some civilian casualties on your hands that are in fact your fault, especially when you allow no resources for shelters to protect those civilians from your attacks, nor ample medical care to treat them in the aftermath. And if I don’t run out of imagination, I’m going to pretend that in 2005, when the Israeli Supreme Court passed a ruling banning the use of civilian shields, the IDF didn’t object and argue for the right to maintain practices which involved sending innocent Palestinian civilians, often children, to negotiate with or demand surrender from suspected militants. I’ll even pretend that some of those “shields” weren’t harmed or killed in the process.

But what I cannot deceive myself about is the fact that for four days after the January 5th incident, the IDF prevented Red Cross ambulances from coming through to help the more than one hundred victims of the shelling and allowed dozens of those innocent people to die. What I cannot dismiss with my imagination is the knowledge that not only is it Palestinian civilians who are being murdered and maimed left and right, but even the international aid organizations that are trying to help them, so much so that the UN, Red Cross, and other humanitarian organizations are actually halting their operations for security reasons after being shot at by IDF soldiers.

I cannot pretend, and no reasonable human being with any degree of respect for the sanctity of life can pretend, that there is any rationalization that can justify 257 children being killed in a conflict in which the other side has a showing of 14 total casualties.

The January 5th reports are not yet confirmed, and the IDF’s guilt in the situation remains unclear to “objective investigators”. The IDF, of course, has flatly denied the allegations. If the endurance of this conflict hadn’t already rendered me pretty cynical, I might be praying right now that the situation has not gotten so bad that the IDF can seriously get away with firing into a self-designated shelter full of innocent people, killing 30 of them, without the global community being up in arms beyond the typical empty condemnations – but I know that it has gotten away with much worse. I would pray that there’s an explanation for this that will not lead me to believe that this is turning into another easy genocide the world will look away from and only have the courage to bemoan ages after the fact, but it’s already getting there, and only our objections can steer history in a different direction.

“He died hungry,” said Masouda al-Samouni as she spoke of her infant child, a victim of the Jan. 5 shelling.

This was the same lament of Lady Rubab, the wife of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), as she wept 1400 years ago for Ali al-Asghar, her 6-month old child who the enemy forces murdered as he withered from thirst and hunger. As commemorators of that tragedy, it is incumbent upon us and Muslims worldwide to oppose the brutalities in what Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah has called “the Karbala of today”.

Therefore, I am praying for an end to the silence, to the tearless eyes, to the apathy.

I am praying for the child who asked his mother: “Mama – why don’t the Israeli soldiers think before they shoot people?”

To that little boy, and to every oppressed soul in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere, I have this to say:

Labbaik. I am here. The IDF’s fascist restrictions might be keeping foreign journalists as far from reporting on its brutalities as possible, but we – the ordinary peace-lovers of the world, those of us who regard your right to life as precious as our own – hear you, and we will make sure that your cries do not go unheard by the world at large.

Rubab Zaidi is a senior at Lewisville High School in Dallas, Texas. She is interested in writing about domestic and international current affairs.

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