A year has passed since the fourth massive and devastating attack on Gaza since 2006, from the Israel forces… I’ve always been an activist, driven by injustices in the world, and never more so than by the genocide being perpetrated on the Palestinians, living under siege in their own land, the borders closed, kept on a starvation diet by Israelis blocking deliveries of food, medical supplies, water, electricity, rebuilding materials, educational supplies… schools and hospitals being deliberately bombed…. this was not a war between military adversaries but a systematic genocide where the vast majority of casualties were defenceless civilians; the casualty figures paint the stark picture…in the 51 days of bombing last July, one Israeli child was killed, and 551 Palestinian children….one child killed is one too many, but the disproportionality of this conflict is devastating.
How do we live with the knowledge of what happened, and what continues to happen before the eyes of the world? (never mind that the strictly controlled western media does not in any way carry the full story). What do we do with the feelings of powerlessness, when we feel helpless….all we can do is add our voices, show our solidarity, spread the word.
Last Friday I travelled down to Dublin with my good friend Jackie McKenna, to take a very small part in the PalFest Ireland’s event “NO MORE – Dublin Remembers the Children of Gaza”
On the Friday night we went to a presentation by Dr Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who has worked in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza over the last 15 years…a truly remarkable man. Those two hours were a roller coaster of emotions…it was inspiring, harrowing, uplifting, horrifying, heart breaking…the theatre was full, and not a dry eye in the house. What shone through was the dignity, pride, resilience and indomitable, steadfast courage of the Palestinian people…and the humanity of volunteers like Dr Mads, who go to help, to witness and to show solidarity with them.The following clip was a short talk by Mads after one of the theatrical performances for PalFest Ireland. Sadly, I wasn’t able to go to those, but this 16 minute clip gives a picture of his work there.
Dr Mads has now been permanently banned from entering Gaza, and as he wrote in his new book, ‘Night in Gaza’, “When a pen, a camera and a stethoscope are seen as security threats, we know we are dealing with a regime that is afraid of the truth, and that believes power confers rights”.
No one can forget the images of seven small boys playing football on the beach in Gaza, and the deliberate Israeli shelling that killed four of them, from the one extended family. I won’t post the harrowing photos, just this iconic image from Amir Schilby, of Jewish Voices for Peace.
The three friends who were playing with them,, and who were injured with broken bones and abdominal shrapnel wounds, are traumatised by their loss, and cannot go back to the beach…..In their words: “The beach was our favourite playground”…”We used to play on the beach and go fishing together. I don’t know what we’ll do now.” The traumas inflicted on innocent children will reverberate for generations.
On the Saturday, PalFest Ireland created a family Fun Football event to champion the right and freedom for all children to play freely on the beach…
There was some beautiful face painting done by Katie Burkenshaw, and a wonderful magician and balloon man, Simon Toal, who captivated the children there……and me too, he was excellent!
Jackie and I had worked with Manorhamilton children, making and decorating paper boats…boats to represent freedom, the right of Palestinian refugees worldwide to return to their homeland, and the international humanitarian aid boats that are still being prevented by Israel from reaching Gaza, and the boats of the fishermen prevented from making a livelihood by the Israeli gunships curtailing their rights to fishing fields.
Black clouds were rolling in when we tried to launch the paper boats…the tide was so far out that we tried to float them on a pond, but the wind was blowing them over and capsizing them…
…so we later took many boats to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin.When we got there, we were approached by a member of the Public Works Dept, and feared that he’d stop us launching the paper boats for Gaza, but we explained what we were intending, and luckily Jackie had had the foresight to bring a fishing net to take the boats out afterwards, and the P.W. man gave us his blessing…and a good chat!
Once again, the wind was separating the boats and sinking some, and so the remaining 100 or so undecorated boats were taken to be decorated in youth workshops run by Stewart…..the word spreads.
This is a short clip showing the Family Fun day….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inzP7QxwsBI&feature=youtu.be
And lastly, but far from least, a Huge Thank You to Eimer Murphy, who brought me a piping hot coffee when my feet were totally soaked with cold sea water….a life saver! So many people working away quietly behind the scenes…every one a vital part of the event. We will never forget. Together we speak out.