Maybe it’s her smile, her sparkling eyes or the crown of pink flowers that she proudly wears in the photo. Perhaps it was her calls to the emergency services, her little girl’s voice begging to come and save her, injured and stuck in a car, the only survivor among the collapsed bodies of her loved ones. “I’m so scared, please come…”
Maybe it’s a mix of all of these. Still, the world was shocked by the tragic end of Hind Rajab, 6 years old, whose body was found after several days of searching on Saturday in a car riddled with bullets.
One life less in Gaza. One among many.
The world was turned upside down, but Hind Rajab’s life was no more worth than those of the thousands of Palestinian children killed since the start of the war in Gaza.
It was worth no less than that of the two hostages freed from the clutches of Hamas early Monday morning in an Israeli military operation in Rafah.
It was worth just as much as that of the 67 Palestinians killed by the airstrikes intended to cover the advance of the soldiers who went to extract these two hostages from the building where they were held prisoner.
All human lives are equal. At least, that’s what they say, even if it’s sometimes a little difficult to believe it, since the conflict rages in the Middle East.
For the Palestinians crowded into Rafah, the operation to free the hostages was terrifying. In the middle of the night, under aerial bombardments, they were convinced that the ground invasion announced by Israel had begun. Refugees were petrified, others quickly packed their bags, ready to evacuate. But to go where?
The border town is now home to half of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents. The worst off live in tents made with the means at hand. They have already been thrown on the roads several times. Rafah is their final destination. To the south, Egypt has reinforced its border, determined not to let anyone in. And now Israel is asking them to evacuate again. They have nowhere to go. Nowhere to escape this cursed war.
They are exhausted, they are hungry and they are trapped.
Benyamin Netanyahu brushes aside the condemnations of the international community, including those of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Mélanie Joly, who considers this new forced evacuation “unacceptable”. The civilians of Rafah, she recalled Monday, are “mothers, children, they are people who have names, who have their own stories; In short, they are human beings”1.
The Israeli Prime Minister assures that the invasion of Rafah will only take place after an orderly evacuation of civilians, but does not deviate from his war objective: to free the hostages still held in Gaza and to eradicate Hamas, once and for all .
It is obviously the atrocities of October 7 which explain Israel’s determination to pursue the members of Hamas to the bottom of the last tunnel. That day, 1,200 Israelis were raped, tortured and massacred.
Attacked in this way, any other government on the planet would also have responded forcefully. Israel saw it as an existential threat, which had to be eliminated at all costs. However, although the Jewish State denies it, this price resembles an implacable collective punishment inflicted on all Gazans.
In the Gaza Strip, entire neighborhoods have been razed. Universities and hospitals were bombed. Doctors lack everything; they sometimes have to treat the wounded on the dirty, cold floor. Humanitarian aid is trickling in. So far, 28,000 people2 were killed; mothers, children, people who had names, their own stories.
If at least Israel was guaranteed to live in peace, after having eradicated Hamas. Rather, it risks getting bogged down in the ruins of Gaza, as the United States got bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq after September 11.
Do we really believe that from destruction will spring harmony between peoples? In the short term, the Jewish state could dissuade out-of-breath fighters from taking up arms again. But in the more or less long term, so much suffering will only fuel extremism. If Israel succeeds in eradicating Hamas, another radical group will rise from its ashes. And he will have the knife between his teeth.
Hind Rajab’s remains were found alongside those of his aunt, uncle and three cousins. A few meters away, we also found the ambulance that had been dispatched to the scene, or at least what was left of it: a twisted hulk of scrap metal.
On board, the two paramedics had no luck. The Red Crescent claims that it had nevertheless obtained the green light from the Israeli army before carrying out the rescue operation inside this combat zone, in Gaza City.
You should know that Hamas uses ambulances to transport weapons and launch attacks. Maybe that explains the mistake that killed the little girl. Through its conduct, Hamas endangers ambulance workers and civilians in distress. Worse, he endangers all Gazans, whom he uses as human shields.
We must also remember that it was Hamas which started this war, undoubtedly hoping for a devastating response from Israel. He got it. But he does not bear sole moral responsibility for what is happening in Gaza. The Jewish State has a duty to better protect all these lives which are certainly worth their salt, but which, too often, are lost.
1. Read “Netanyahu’s plan is unacceptable, says Mélanie Joly”
2. The number of 28,000 deaths in Gaza comes from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health.