Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘War’ Category

When Israel went on a military rampage during its 22-day air strikes and artillery attacks on Gaza, it largely singled out residential neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools and U.N. buildings on the pretext of targeting Hamas fighters.

But John Ging, director of operations for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), based in Gaza, kept insisting there were no Hamas fighters anywhere in the vicinity of U.N.-run schools or warehouses.

“What we have regretted in the past is that we have not been given a hearing to answer,” he told reporters Monday.

He charged that most of the allegations made by Israel were “unsubstantiated, unfounded – and continue to be repeated.”

Perhaps his strongest indictment of the Israelis was reflected in his response to a question on military tactics: “We don’t, in a civilised world, shoot the hostage to get to the hostage taker.”

But in reality that was what the Israelis were doing in Gaza, says an Arab diplomat, echoing Ging’s comment.

“The Israelis violated every single international convention governing the rules of war and the treatment of civilians,” he told IPS. “Their military excesses can, in no way, be justified.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who praised Israel at a press conference in Jerusalem last week, describing the Jewish state as “a responsible member of the United Nations”, apparently had second thoughts when he saw the devastation caused in Gaza.

Standing outside a U.N. compound that was destroyed by Israel, Ban told reporters Tuesday: “I am just appalled. Everyone is smelling this bombing still. It is still burning. It is an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations.”

Despite pleas from the secretary-general, Israel bombed U.N.-run facilities, including schools and warehouses, on four different occasions.

One of the bomb attacks on the UNRWA compound took place on the same day Ban arrived in Israel.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the final tally read: 1,314 Palestinians killed, including 416 children and 106 women; 5,320 injured, including 1,855 children and 795 women.

In comparison, the number of Israelis killed included four civilians and nine soldiers, along with 84 injured.

And according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the buildings destroyed included 4,100 residential homes (with 17,000 damaged), 20 mosques, 25 educational institutions and medical facilities, 31 security offices, 16 government buildings and 1,500 factories and shops.

The Office of the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator pointed out that 16 health facilities and an equal number of ambulances were destroyed or damaged during the 22-day conflict.

Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS: “The scale of the devastation is such that Israel and its supporters are unlikely to be able to bury or bulldoze it out of the collective conscience of the world.”

There have already been calls to bring war crimes charges against Israeli leaders, she pointed out.

Although the formal wheels of international justice may grind slowly, citizens are not waiting.

“Trade unions in different parts of the world are calling for a boycott. Israel’s fruit shipments are rotting in its warehouses as importers in Scandinavia, Jordan and the UK cancelled orders,” she said.

In an open letter in the London Guardian last weekend, Israeli citizens themselves called on world leaders to impose sanctions against their own country: “This is the only road left. Help us all, please!”

Although a ceasefire has been declared, said Hijab, Gaza’s torment and siege is not over and the U.N.’s “We the peoples” are likely to remain mobilised until justice is done.

Speaking from Gaza, Ging told reporters that the population in Gaza remains shell-shocked, traumatised and living in real fear.

Asked about the “most outrageous” incident he had witnessed, Ging said: “The dead children.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations is expected to lead international efforts to rebuild Gaza.

But Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the external affairs commissioner of the 27-member European Union, was quoted as saying that the EU would not fund reconstruction as long as Hamas was in control of Gaza.

Humanitarian aid, however, would be provided without any conditions, she added.

Hijab told IPS that “it is almost as though there are two different worlds, with the mainstream media, European and U.S. leaders, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon living in one world.”

And in the other, she said, are the leaders of the Third World, the president of the General Assembly (Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann), and millions of outraged citizens.

D’Escoto has taken a very strong stand denouncing the United Nations as ineffective in taking any action against Israel.

Hijab said the former parrot the Israeli line about Israel’s need for protection while the latter exchange U.N. reports and eyewitness accounts of the destruction and damage to thousands of homes, schools, hospitals and civilian infrastructure.

They also share photographs of phosphorous shells showering white flame on unprotected civilians; read about the killing of entire families among the thousands of dead and wounded; and respond with horror to the reports of women whose legs have been shorn off by new kinds of weapons, she added.

Source: http://www.alternatives.ca/article4413.html
Date: Wednesday 21 January 2009

Picture: http://usera.imagecave.com/markyannone2/YannoneBlog11/GazaRuins1.jpg

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Feast of the Sto. Nino
Mk: 10:13-16

Today is the Feast of the Holy Infant Jesus popularly known in the Philippines as the Feast of Sto. Nino. As we celebrate this Feast we commemorate the mystery of the Incarnation when God humbled Himself, stripped Himself of divine glory and splendor, and became human being in all things except sin. Like any other human being he was conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a human child who was under the guidance, protection and care of Joseph and Mary he “grew in body, age, wisdom, grace and holiness before the eyes of God and man” (Lk 2:52).

As we celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Nino we are called and challenged:

  • To be humble like a little child. As Jesus warns: “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14:11). “Verily I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). The greater you are, the more humble you should behave, then you will find favor with the Lord” (Sir 3:18). “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34).
  • To recognize, respect and protect the dignity and human rights inherent in every child, children and youth of today especially those who are threatened or victimized by hunger and malnutrition, sexual abuse, war, domestic violence, forced labor and various forms of manipulations and exploitations. Jesus, fearing that everybody will abuse them because “the basest men delight to trample upon the humble” (Mt 18:6), warns: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of God” (Mt 10:10-11). “Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in my name receives me, and whosoever receives me, receives not me, but him that sent me” (Mk 26-37; Mt 18:5).
  • To progress in wisdom and to grow daily in our faith and works of love. Every disciple is called to moral and spiritual maturity and perfection. Every follower is called to the fullness of Christian life and perfection of charity. Like Jesus may we advance not only in body and age but most importantly, in wisdom, grace and holiness.

To make our celebration more meaningful and fruitful, let us strive to be humble; cleanse ourselves of pride, arrogance and vanity; welcome, love and serve Jesus in the least, last and lowest in our society; and, lastly, imitate the children in their nothingness, lowliness and dependence before God.

Useful Articles:

This photograph showing a starving Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture won Kevin Carter the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

Facts About Children and Poverty

Health Care and Nutrition

  • Measles, malaria and diarrhea are three of the biggest killers of children – yet all are preventable or treatable
  • More than 30 million children in the world are not immunized against treatable or preventable diseases
  • 95 percent of all the people who get polio are under the age of 5
  • HIV/AIDS has created more than 14 million orphans – 92 percent of them live in Africa
  • Six million children under five die every year as a result of hunger

Education

  • 134 million children between the ages of 7 to 18 have never been to school.
  • Girls are more likely to go without schooling than boys – in the Middle East and North Africa, girls are three times more likely than boys to be denied education
  • For every year of education, wages increase by a worldwide average of 10 percent
  • Educated mothers tend to send their children to school, helping to break the cycle of poverty

Exploitation

  • In the last decade, more than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict
  • More than 300,000 child soldiers are exploited in armed conflicts in over 30 countries around the world
  • 2 million children are believed to be exploited through the commercial sex trade
  • Approximately 246 million children work
  • 171 million children work in hazardous conditions

Pause and Reflect:

And what are we to say of increasing violence against women and against children of both sexes? Today this is one of the most widespread violations of human rights, and tragically it has even become a terror tactic: women taken hostage, children barbarously slaughtered. To this must be added the violence of forced prostitution and child pornography, and the exploitation of children in the workplace in conditions of veritable slavery. Practical steps are needed to try to stop the spread of these forms of violence. In particular, appropriate legal measures are needed at both the national and international level. If, as I have often stated in previous Messages, the dignity of every person is to be recognized and respected, the difficult task of education and cultural promotion must be faced. One element, in fact, absolutely must not be lacking in the ethical and cultural patrimony of the human family as a whole and of each individual person: awareness that human beings are all equal in dignity, deserve the same respect, and have the same rights and duties.

– John Paul II, World Day of Peace, January 1, 1998, 6

Sources:

Facts: http://www.care.org
Photograph: http://www.flatrock.org.nz
Quotation: Pope John Paul II, World Day of Peace, 1998


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