Middle East

Jul 25, 2014

In the calculus of war, children’s lives not worth much

For children caught in conflict zones, death is but the most extreme consequence; other lifelong consequences are commonly absent from our awareness, writes UN adviser Robert Johnson.

Anne Paq’s photos of the human consequences of Israel’s latest assault on Palestinian people in Gaza jolt our seemingly increasing complacency for the civilian “collateral damage” of conflicts — overwhelmingly women, children and the aged. An estimated 190 Palestinian children have been killed and close to 2000 families have lost their homes to date (in less than three weeks) due to Israeli strikes that are purported to be targeting “militants”.

Paq’s photos reminded me of my scheduled five-day work program in Gaza in early January 2009, cancelled due to Israel’s brutal 23 day devastation of Gaza (Operation Cast Lead), including so many children burnt through to their bones by Israel’s use of white phosphorus (which, like an increasing number of weapons and their usage, does not discriminate between combatants and children). Instead, I was asked to travel to Jordan to meet with United Nations regional office staff. On the day I travelled from East Jerusalem through the West Bank and on to Amman I carried, among other papers, a copy of the day’s local Arabic-language newspaper. Upon arrival in my hotel, international news was broadcasting a lengthy report of an Israeli man badly shaken by a rocket from Gaza landing near his house. The impact had toppled a mug onto his floor and it had shattered — the only physical damage sustained — and the report included a long close-up of the broken cup. In contrast, the newspaper I carried had, on its front page, a photo from Gaza of demolished buildings, with the severed head of a young girl on the ground, decapitated by Israeli strikes. It received no global coverage. I don’t think the cup rather than the girl was being broadcast globally because of sensitivity to the use of shocking imagery that Helen Razer sensibly canvassed yesterday.

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4 thoughts on “In the calculus of war, children’s lives not worth much

  1. Mark out West

    Someone is going to growl at you for look at that Horror Porn

  2. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Robert Johnson appears to be another apologist for Hamas; yet Israel is not attacking the people of Gaza; they are retaliating against the terrorist attacks by Hamas, which started the war.
    Mr Johnson’s concern for the lives of kids is sincere and well regarded, but Israel is not deliberately killing children. Very, very sadly they are the collateral damage of the odious policies of Hamas that holds the residents of Gaza hostage to their aims to destroy Israel.
    Hamas uses residents as human shields; it fires rockets from hospitals and schools to draw Israeli attention; it denies shelter in tunnels to families warned of forthcoming action by Israel, it breaches the cease fire agreed by Palestinians; it continues to lob rockets into southern Israel.
    If you want to see another side of this ghastly war go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqonroORsSA

  3. C3po butsir

    US Fund Israel who kills Palestinian children and has done for the past 40 years.
    If US can still support a country that traps the people of GAZA by sealing off Palestine borders then what does that make them? In turn, Australia supports both countries in everything they do and does nothing to prevent Israel from the continuation of killing children.
    The western world has become a fascist linked state of affairs, entrapping working class as debt slaves and killing off the poor.

  4. Chris Hartwell

    Pedantic, then surely the moral alternative to the wide hammer that is missile strikes would be targeted raids? Not a complete ground sweep mind you – targeted raids by proper operators who are experienced in non-target heavy environments.

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