I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask “Mother, what was war?” -Eve Merriam.
In the besieged territory of Gaza, a teenager committed suicide after losing his mother in the aftermath of a missile attack. Standing in the debris of a building, a ten-year-old girl is screaming aloud and telling the world “hey, I am only 10 and I don’t know what to do, I am just a kid”.
Fast forward, under the rubbles of a bombarded structure, a bleeding woman desperately hugging her boy while nearby her three daughters are lying dead. Somewhere, a terrified man is cuddling his months-old baby in a hospital knowing that his wife and 3 daughters left for heaven. In the Gaza strip, people are sleeping in one room with their children so that they do not die alone.
Those who left us are the martyrs, but those who survived are the children of war who will carry the legacy of apartheid, genocide, and systematic racism in their minds, hearts, and flesh. These are the children of war. They are paying the price of washing blood with blood.
According to the United Nations Genocide Convention, committing any of the following acts come under the ambit of genocide; inflicting mental and physical harm to the group members; killing members of the group; forced measures to stop births.
Genocide also includes deliberately causing systematic damage to the group in which living conditions are catastrophic in part or in whole, and intentionally transferring children of the targeted group to another place.
The bombardment in Gaza is wreaking both physical and mental havoc on the Palestinian Children. Their parents are dying in front of their eyes. Their community is being perished. These children are vulnerable to the core with no resources available. Their life is akin to death because of the damage that has been inflicted in the name of defense.
The picture is quite clear; three out of five conditions are meeting the criteria of genocide. As for now, this world has seen five waves of genocide in Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia and the sixth one is unfolding in Palestine.
Read more: Why Israel is able to suppress Palestine
Rights of children as per international law
While there is a blatant violation of the rules of war, it is pertinent to mention here that what International Humanitarian law says about the rights of children during wartime.
In the Geneva Convention children are given special protection because of two reasons a) Children are the most vulnerable part of war outcomes b) taking no part in hostilities. Following are the rights of children of war that are accepted universally.
Children are part of the civilian community; hence, they enjoy the special status of protection under the ambit of international law. This also implies moral integrity, respectful life, right to life. And also physical safety along with freedom from coercion, humiliation, and torture.
Special protection from the war hostilities is given to newborns, children under fifteen years old, and mothers of children under seven. The law states that the above-mentioned class of people has special access to international safety zones and hospitals.
Article 17 of the convention granted special permission to evacuate children and expecting moms from the besieged territory on an urgent basis. Alas, in Gaza none of the protocol is being followed. Children are dying in the wombs and the blockade is created by Israel’s bombardment.
Under article 50 of the convention, it is prohibited to change the family status of the children by the occupying power. Quite ironically, there is no family for a lot of children in Gaza.
Article 50 of the Geneva conventions enacts that hospitals and other relief-oriented institutions must function properly to give special care to children and it is the responsibility of the occupying power.
Israel has no morality
UNESCO in its special report states, “When we study the nature of the psychological suffering of the child who is a victim of the war, we discover that it is not the facts of war itself – such as bombings, military operations – which have affected him emotionally; his sense of adventure, his interest for destruction and movement can accommodate itself to the worst dangers.”
The ground realities, however, are portraying a state of dystopia in Gaza. There is no morality and all the Machiavellian principles of brutal realism are being showcased to their best. For Palestinians, Nakba is forever.
According to Al-Jazeera, 58 Palestinian children are dead by now. These innocent souls are living under the besieged sky of Gaza, and at the mercy of the enemy who does not pay any heed to international humanitarian law.
Israel repeatedly states that it is in war, albeit refuses to uphold the principles of war. This again proves the fact that Israel is running parallel on the principles of apartheid and genocide.
To sum it all, Palestinian children are paying the price of their freedom by living in a systematically Zionist racist state whose only goal is to eradicate the whole Palestinian race.
Indeed, nationalism is the most lethal weapon of present-day international relations. It pays no heed to international laws and liberal values. A Palestinian child of war says it all, “God will help us, HE will settle the score”.
The author is a freelancer and can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.