Blood, tears of children in Gaza should prick world's conscience

Israeli tanks head towards the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel on Thursday, October 12, 2023. [AP photo]

The gory images of crying children with bloodied faces, others on stretchers, some on rusty hospital beds fighting for their lives, while others agonising under the extreme pain of lost limbs or damaged organs should awaken the damp conscience of any person with an ounce of human feelings.

The world seems to have lost its humanity and now the unfettered powers and growing knowledge of man has turned him into a destructive beast.

As parents in the rest of the world sit with their children joyfully admiring their dreams, those in Gaza are worried that their children might not survive to see the gifts of the following day. Mothers carrying kids soaked in blood and others hugging lifeless bodies of their children should shock anyone with a heart.

Every person with an iota of humanity should ask themselves; what crimes have those innocent souls committed? According to UNICEF a child is killed in Gaza every 10 minutes by a bomb ostensibly meant to neutralise an enemy that is not known to children. By the 28th day of the indiscriminate bombardments, it is reported that over 3,600 children have been killed in Gaza.

However, the world watches as the children are maimed and killed with tight lips and half-hearted statements. Our barren collective conscience is a testimony of our lost values towards concern for the weak and oppressed in society.

It is disheartening to hear some leaders of the so-called “civilised worlds” supporting the ruthless and brutal bombing of children in the name of self-defence. It is equally appalling to justify such inhuman actions which defile the very principles with which actions on self-defence were built on. Self-defence, as the exception to the prohibition of waging wars, is premised on preserving the fundamental right to life of the victims. Ironically, the lives of harmless and defenceless children are taken in Gaza in the guise of self-defence.

The civilised world should refuse the notion that International Law is interpreted and applied at the behest of the world powers. The unreasonable invitation to accept the selective application of justice and human rights to different races and people should be vehemently rejected.

No amount of open denial of this awful abuse of human dignity should sanitise the wrong and lead to blind acceptance. The wanton destruction of civilian residences, refugee camps, hospitals, schools and religious centres with impunity can’t be a justification of self-defence. This disproportionate use of force against the weak and oppressed poses a great threat to humanity and deserves our collective condemnation.

Cognisant of the destructive effects of anger during armed conflicts, the world, under The Geneva Conventions, agreed upon specific principles to guide the behaviour of warring parties. The International Humanitarian Law clearly prohibits attack of civilians, children and non-combatants at the point of high emotions in conflicts. 

As the cries of the Gazan children get fainter under the unbearable oppression, the world should know that no country is safe, and the international laws remain mere pronouncements selectively applied and interpreted by the powerful nations. The continuous indignation and humiliation of the weak is apparently crystalising as a common international practices and rules of engagements only agreeable to the powerful nations in the events of conflicts. 

The world should be gripped by the atrocities and ask; How many more children must lose their lives for the world to act and stop the madness? It is sad that these children were born in a world that normalises injustice. The biggest indictment of humanity is that the world could not protect them.

As the senseless killings persist, we should reflect on the words of Malcom X 40 years ago, “It is agonising reminder that the fight for justice knows no borders and we must stand united in solidarity with all oppressed peoples anywhere around the world.”

…. Or else humanity will perish under the rubbles of inaction, hypocrisy, fear and senseless greed just like the Gazan child under the oppression.

-Mr Mohamud is a human rights lawyer and governance analyst. [email protected]