Over a 1000 Palestinians dead in the past 18 days of conflict, the news caster announced with a deadpan face. The statistics might not be big enough to scare, after all what is a mere thousand, when hundreds die every day. In a typical day, a couple of hundreds meet gory death somewhere in Middle East or Asia, if the terrorists are in the mood. For instance in the recent strike on Mumbai by terrorists (BBC prefers to call them gunmen; they are terrorist if only they hurt US or Brit citizens), within a span of 72 hours some 183 people lost their lives. Or in any of those car-suicide-blasts in Baghdad, 50-60 people getting blown away in bits is not uncommon. So, when one looks at 1000, somehow that does not seem all that much. After all, how many hundreds died when F16s dropped cluster bombs on Bosnia, just so that President Bill Clinton could divert the attention from the Monica Lewinsky affair (if one believes Michael Moore).
But that’s the trouble with statistics, they can look alarming or innocuous simply by the comparison one makes. Thus, compare the 1000 deaths in Gaza to the hundreds that die every day across the globe it doesn’t seem much. Now, think of your own personal loss, death of a close relative or at a close friend’s home. Picture now, a 1000 fathers, a 1000 mothers, a 1000 children, and a few thousand others wailing and beating their breast in anguish. Imagine the pervasive drops of tears that refuse to subside. Consider the anguish and the pain that a single traumatised family goes through. And suddenly this 1000 becomes depressing.
Honestly, I can’t really decide who is right or wrong (and that is not because I want to be politically correct), because every time there was a terror attack on India, I really wanted a couple of individuals to die in Pakistan, whom where the whole attack emanated, for every death of an Indian. Similarly, the Israelis must be feeling the same when those Katyusha rockets keep landing on its soil day after day. It is self-defence, every Israeli politician, journalist or analyst reminds us.
But is it a fair war, the puny (but gritty) Hamas fighting against the mighty modern Israeli army? There are drones overhead, there are missiles being fired, hundreds of sorties by F16 and other bombers. Quite like the devastation of Afghanistan by the Americans, Gaza is being turned into Stone Age by the Israelis. There is a crippling blockade, people are dying of hunger and sickness and now they have to contend also with bullets zipping through from the soldier’s rifle and the bombs landing over their heads. Whatever might be the provocation; no country or individual must be allowed to strike with such force and vengeance.
Yet, who will stop the Israelis, thanks to the constant support from the US governments; they have scant regard for anyone else. Even Ban Ki Moon’s appeals have fallen on deaf ears, and the country has ignored the call for cease-fire.
At times I wonder at the irony of the whole situation, Israel was created by the Zionists as the bastion for all the Jews that faced malevolent aggression at the hands of Nazi Germany lead by Herr Hitler. But sadly, Palestine and especially Gaza seems like a modern Auschwitz camp, only bigger and more populous. The wounds of the Second World War haven’t healed as yet, as the descendants of all those Jews that perished seem to be in no mood to relent and thirsting for revenge. Thus, the casualty figure won’t stop at 1000, it keeps going higher even as I write this or you read.
Somehow, Mahatma Gandhi’s words come to my mind at the moment, ‘an eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind’. I see his warning turning true in Gaza. I just hope and pray that it stops. Let not human lives be turned into mere statistics that are read out by news casters with a deadpan faces.