While the political rhetoric, misinformation and propaganda about the Israel-Palestinian conflict continues, we should not forget the human aspect of the suffering. Let's put faces on a war:
From Times online: "Gaza families eat grass as Israel locks border".
As a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.
“We had one meal today - khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”
Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have seven daughters and a son. Their tiny breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for heat.
“I can’t remember seeing a fruit,” said Rabab, 12, who goes with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top and holed jeans, and her feet are bare.
From CNN: "Aid worker: Gaza blockade lacks all humanity"
I arrived in Israel yesterday to work with Mercy Corps, an international aid organization, to assist the Gazans who are suffering from the conflict and over 18 months of harsh blockades that have left their cupboards bare and their banks empty of cash. (...)
In 2007 an average of 500 trucks a day entered Gaza with food and supplies. In comparison, yesterday, just 36 humanitarian trucks were allowed access to Gaza. With almost the entire population of 1.5 million Gazans dependent on humanitarian assistance, it is obvious that the incoming aid is not even remotely adequate.
We have spent the past 11 days working through Israeli red tape and protocols that seemed to change daily, to secure the permission to deliver food aid. We have a truck filled with rice, cooking oil, canned tuna fish and edible dates that will feed 2,000 people for about a week.
Yesterday the delivery was supposed go through but at 2:00 a.m. we received notice from the Israeli authorities that the delivery was being postponed because it contained edible dates as part of the package.
From AP: "Gaza medics face war's carnage daily"
Few are more exposed to the carnage of Israel's two-week military offensive than Gaza's medics, who number around 400 including volunteers. They work long hours, get little sleep and risk their lives daily. Many have lost friends and family, but the overwhelming workload leaves no time to process what they've seen.
Awaiting coordination with Israel often delays access to the injured, medics said. Some reported finding people stranded in their homes for days, or bodies lying in the streets uncollected.
"Disgusting is not the word," said Shawki Saleh, 24, a volunteer medic at Kamal Adwan hospital. "If it's not a dog, it's rats around the bodies. ... I've been doing this volunteer work for two years but I never imagined I'd see this. Who knows how many people are still under the rubble. We were carrying them out screaming."
In one long workday, medic Haitham Adgheir carried five corpses, saw six more at a Gaza hospital, and his medical convoy took Israeli tank fire that showered a driver with glass.
"My mind is like a video of body parts and injured people," said Adgheir, 33.
Picture courtesy Ismail Zaydah/Reuters