The “Peace on Earth” message of Christmas has perhaps never felt more poignantly unachievable as the world watches the Israel-Palestine war unfold.
On 8 December 2023, in a media release issued by the United Nations, the UN Secretary General said that: “More than 17,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed, including more than 4,000 women and 7,000 children.”
The UN media release went on to state that tens of thousands had been injured and many were missing. At that point, some 339 education facilities, 26 hospitals, 56 health-care facilities, 88 mosques and three churches had been hit. Over 60 per cent of Gaza’s housing had reportedly been destroyed or damaged and 85 per cent of the population displaced.”
The UN Secretary General added: “The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs … nowhere in Gaza is safe.”
The UN media release further stated that people were running out of food, “with the World Food Programme (WFP) reporting a serious risk of starvation and famine. WFP’s own food stocks are running out and in the north of Gaza, 9 out of 10 people have spent at least one full day and night without food. Gaza’s health system is collapsing while needs are escalating, with just 14 out of 36 hospitals still functioning … Of these, three are providing basic first aid. Many patients are being treated on the floor and without anaesthetics, while unsanitary conditions in shelters and insufficient water supplies are leading to more respiratory infections, scabies, jaundice and diarrhoea.”
The UN Secretary-General said he condemned unreservedly the brutal terror attacks unleashed against Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups on 7 October. “There is no possible justification for the deliberate killing of 1,200 people, he said. At the same time, he added, “the brutality perpetrated by Hamas can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. International humanitarian law is binding on all parties equally at all times, and the obligation to observe it does not depend on reciprocity.”
The UN has since reported that “some 1.9 million people, or the vast majority of the enclave’s population, are estimated to be displaced in Gaza. Injured children dealing with the loss of loved ones have been forced to move again and again. Where do children and their families go? They are not safe in hospitals. They are not safe in shelters. And they are certainly not safe in the so-called ‘safe’ zones.” The UN describes these zones as …“tiny patches of barren land, or street corners, or half-built buildings, with no water, no facilities, no shelter from the cold and the rain and no sanitation”.
The UN Secretary General has stated that “Gaza has become a graveyard for children.”
Hearing of the plight of children in Gaza, Fremantle resident Grainne McCabe —who has worked professionally with the effects of trauma—decided she would not to give in to despair. Instead, she would raise money through UNICEF to help the suffering children by rowing 20 kilometres on her stationary rowing machine. A friend then suggested she should perhaps change her online description of the challenge. She should mention she has multiple sclerosis and is permanently in a wheel chair.
Grainne aimed to raise $500 and has now raised over $7000.
Do listen to Christine Owen’s podcast interview below with Grainne McCabe in which she talks about her Irish background, her work as a clinical social worker, her MS and her joy at being able to help the children of Gaza.
If, like Grainne, you would also like to contribute to help the kids in Gaza, please go to this UNICEF link.
* By Dr Christine Owen
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