Helplessness on Gaza hangs like the sword of Damocles

The entire human race is being tested once again over the inhumanity on display in Gaza. It was disheartening to see India refusing to abide by the plea for ceasefire at the UN
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in a morgue in Khan Younis, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. (File Photo | AP)
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, in a morgue in Khan Younis, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. (File Photo | AP)

“The war will end. The leaders will shake hands. The old woman will keep waiting for her martyred son. That girl will wait for her beloved
husband. And those children will wait for their hero father. I don’t know who sold our homeland, but I saw who paid the price.”

—Mahmoud Darwish

The situation in Israel seems almost surreal, akin to a plot line from a dystopian novel. How could it be that a group of government officials would give a directive for Gaza’s hospitals to be vacated, especially when they are tending to the needs of hundreds of injured?

It’s as if the entire human race is being tested once again. When I browse the internet on Israel-Palestine, I’m flooded with countless articles discussing the historical complexities of the conflict, its root causes, the ongoing military operations in Gaza, the origins of Hamas, and the grandiose statements made by presidents, prime ministers and international organisations. As I reflect on these elected leaders, all I see are men—men driven by ego, men who appear naive, and men who sometimes seem oblivious.

But amid all of this, my thoughts turn to that grieving mother who has just lost her child or grandchild, the newlywed who has been suddenly separated from their spouse, the 5-year-old who craves not just food but the comforting touch of a loved one, the father who desperately searches for his missing daughter, and the Palestinian student studying in the US with no way to reach home. It’s in these moments that I find myself deeply saddened by the fact that, for some, it’s all about power and politics.

While news channels are often filled with debates conducted by experts in the fields of politics and diplomacy, discussions about peace often seem elusive.

 What seems to matter most in these debates are the statements made by elected leaders, political parties, and ministers, and the topics revolve around economics, military, geopolitics, and power plays. In contrast, social media has something else to say. Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook showcase the heartfelt pleas of ordinary people from all corners of the world, crying out for peace and urging the restoration of essential services like electricity, water, and internet in Gaza. Seeing those posts and stories on social media, I wonder, why a woman sitting in India cares about the conflict in Palestine. It’s because she saw the genocide in her neighbourhood, Sri Lanka, where lakhs of her fellow Tamilians were trapped and killed in Mullivaikkal. And that helplessness as a mute spectator hangs like a Damocles’ sword of guilt.

The distressing images we see from this war are deeply unsettling. It’s difficult to even imagine the immense suffering that people caught up in it are enduring. This conflict serves as a stark reminder of how the actions of powerful leaders and countries can take away the very lives of an entire population. They shamelessly seek support from other leaders and nations, with the aim of perpetuating this never-ending cycle of war and strife. Many governments, people, and regimes are playing a part in this conflict, contributing to the violence. This war isn’t just a test for Gaza and the Palestinian people; it’s a test for all of humanity. It reveals that we’re not as scared of violence as we should be. We seem to have forgotten the immense loss of life during World War I and II and the widespread destruction we caused.

For the first time, we are confronted with the grim prospect that an entire race is being wiped out—specially children, as the war rages on. What were once thriving communities now lie in ruins, reduced to dust similar to the sad lines from late Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish poem mentioned at the beginning.

 People in Palestine are facing a nightmarish predicament, forced to make heart-wrenching choices between a slow, agonising death or a life that’s barely recognisable, devoid of basic necessities like clean water, food, and electricity. It is heart wrenching to hear that more children were killed in 21 days in Gaza than in conflicts across 20 countries in a whole year since 2019.  The cries for help from the international community echo worldwide, but the relief and aid that’s dispatched struggle to reach all those in need.

Within this landscape, hospitals, doctors, and caregivers are painfully scarce, unable to provide the necessary care and support required in this humanitarian crisis. The most painful realisation is that the suffering and despair of these innocent civilians go unnoticed by a world that seems to have turned a blind eye—specially India by abstaining to vote in United Nations.

Despite the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of a ceasefire resolution in Gaza, it’s disheartening to acknowledge that the leaders in charge remain steadfast in their refusal to abide by this plea for peace. Instead, they continue to issue orders that endanger the lives of countless civilians, all under the banner of combating terrorism in the Middle East. The despair and frustration of those trapped in this living nightmare continue to go unanswered, painting a bleak picture of the world’s collective response to this ongoing tragedy.

“In war none of us feel that they are dead if they feel pain.” How truly contemporaneous is Darwish’s poems.



Member of parliament and member of the Standing Committee on Communications and IT

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