by Samia Khoury of Jerusalem
Today I had a short break from the news and the TV set as I joined Sabeel for a special service held at the Dominican church for the people of Gaza. This church where Yousef and I celebrated our wedding, fifty four years ago, has become a symbol for special prayers held by Sabeel. The occasions have been many and seem to be endless. Iraq Syria, Palestinian prisoners, and now the people of Gaza for a third round of invasions.
No words can describe the brutality of what is happening in Gaza. With the sophisticated media nowadays, nobody can claim ignorance of this genocide. We watch TV day and night and see bodies torn apart and people lifting children from under the rubble. We also prayed for the Christians of Mousel in Iraq who are being evicted from their homes or killed. Not much different from the action of the sophisticated army of the only democracy in the region shelling a defenseless population under siege. Thanks to Mr. Bush and Blair for starting this war in Iraq and which, ever since, had created havoc in the region and more refugees. It also brought about all sorts of radical movements that are to the advantage of nobody but Israel, as the world turns a blind eye to how it has been systematically dispossessing the Palestinians ever since 1948. The barbaric war on Gaza is another Nakba.
Despite the grave tragedy and the massacre of whole families in Gaza totaling to over 660 until this evening and thousands injured and homes demolished we find the reaction of the UN and the US not up to the gravity of this beastly invasion. In fact it is unbelievable when the US president claims that Israel has the right to defend itself, instead of having the courage to force Israel to lift the siege on Gaza and to withdraw from the occupied territories. This sounded like the understatement of the year when an occupying force needs to defend itself from the occupied. And what makes the Israeli narrative more ridiculous and nonsensical is the claim of all spokespersons that Gaza is not under occupation, and that Israel withdrew from it completely eight years ago. Really did they? Who then controls this hugely condensed area whose population is mostly from refugees evicted in 1948?
The people of Gaza have been under siege for the last seven years, with no access to land, air or sea. So is the world surprised that they had to be creative and innovative in finding means to liberate themselves from this big prison and all the brutality of one attack after the other while the world was simply watching without taking any action. Enough is enough. Those people could not wait any longer for the wishy washy stand of the brokers of peace, the UN or the Arab leaders and took matters in their own hands. And at this stage it seems that all the Palestinians are behind them in their right to resist this brutality, despite the high price they are paying with human lives. But for a desperate population the cry ends up being either freedom or death. Is anybody listening? Just envisage your own domestic animal cooped up in a small area, and felt cornered how ferocious it can be and what damage it would do to be able to get out, and you might end up being its first victim. The people of Gaza are human beings, who deserve a dignified life.
Mr. Kerry wasted his time and energy like his predecessors in trying to forge a peace that could not be possible while Israel continues to flout all agreements and UN resolutions as well as international law. Indeed as long as Israel can maintain the status quo and get away with it by being above the law, why should it bother to heed to the UN, Mr. Obama or Mr. Kerry? They are all irrelevant as far as Israel is concerned. But now they got a taste of the suffering that they have inflicted on others for years. Would these mothers and wives losing their loved ones make a difference, or will they become as arrogant as their leaders and more aggressive and revengeful and increase the loss of lives on both sides?
In his homily, Patriarch Sabbah said that there is a need for the transformation of leaders with a change of heart, and a change of vision whereby all humans are equal and all people deserve to have their own freedom and sovereignty, and to live in dignity, and security. As I shook hands with the Patriarch, the Bishops and the clergy after the service I told them I was hoping the doors of the heavens were open to hear our prayers. It is indeed going to take much more than our prayers to bring an end to the atrocities and massacres in Gaza.