Mervat Rishmawi - Human Rights Consultant: Research, Training and Policy Analysis

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Gaza and the World Cup

Gaza and the world cup

Excuse this stream of consciousness, but I cannot find a way to put these confusing issues in an organised train of thought, and I am not going to try do that….  

The last few days has resulted in close to 200 deaths in Gaza and over 11000 injuries. Less than ten people have been injured in Israel.

While the world is watching the finals of the world cup tonight, the bombardment of Gaza Strip by Israel continues feverishly. If one only changes the TV channel to watch news, as I am doing, one immediately hears as the first item that an extended family of 18 people were all just wiped out in a strike by Israel, on the pretext that the head of the family is the chief of the police. As if this justifies anything. The obvious thing that one should say here is that many of these attacks are war crimes, but the legal analyses and jargon sounds irrelevant here. The fact remains that Israel killed tens of people in cold blood, the vast majority of whom are civilians not involved in any way as “combatants”, using the legal jargon again. Some are very young children, women and very old people. Yesterday, Isarel shelled a centre for disabled persons.

And as I am writing this, the news comes that Germany just scored a goal. I look at the screen and see thousands of people going absolutely wild, and then you see the German Chancellor Merkel jumping with absolute joy throwing her fists in the air. And I watch her and think to myself “while she was watching, did she think to herself: ‘I wonder how the situation in Gaza Strip is now? Did the shelling stop?’”. I wonder if she thought to herself that she must do something about it tomorrow. And now the news comes again that Germany has won the world cup … and again, you see the absolute joy among the Germany supporters, and the Chancellor cannot control her joy. And I cannot help myself but think: Gazans obviously did not watch that. They are busy running away from the shelling and seeking refuge somewhere. Gazans are known to be the biggest football supporters among all Palestinians … but not this time … it is not on their list of priority.

The United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) just announced that it is currently offering shelter to 17,000 people from the north of the Gaza Strip who were forced to flee their houses because Israel announced that it will shell the north of the Gaza Strip. Many of these people are already refugees who had to leave their houses in the several cities and villages which faced similar attacks in 1948. Many of these people left thinking that they will go back to their houses once the situation calmed down. But of course they could not until now as their houses are now in Israel. UNRWA announces that they do not have resources to feed and shelter all these newly internally displaced people.

And at the same time, world Ministers of Foreign Affairs are meeting in Vienna, and Gaza is said to be at the top of the agenda. While Britain and France announced that they want a cease fire immediately, the US said that it wants a ceasefire, but at the same time “understands Israel’s right to defend itself”.

The world cup has ended with a clear winner .... but the situation in Gaza is still not resolved and their are no clear winners. Only losers: thousands of people who are losing their lives, homes, loved ones, and are living in displacement and fear ... and the world is still watching. We watched the world cup on our screens and we have been watching the bombardment of Gaza at the same time ... just as we have watched the total closure of Gaza for over 7 years, people and goods are not allowed in or out. 

when are we going to care ... even half the amount we do for the world cup?


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feeling so sad to read the post. hope God bless Gazans. they, the biggest football supporters among all Palestinians. it was fully unknown to me.
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