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Gaza by Numbers! Part 1

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Numbers have always best told the story of the lives of people in that part of the Arab world called ‘Occupied Palestine’, where millions have been imprisoned in their own homeland for the past 70 years, their lands and homes stolen by strangers, forced to flee and encamped in neighboring nations as refugees-for-life.

But before we get to the telling tales of Nakba 2023 by Numbers, we need to look at Gaza from a distant Caribbean perspective.

First of all, never mind all we’re hearing from those who don’t know better, massacring and imprisonment of human beings ‘In The Name of God’ is like claiming to have a license from God to commit mass murder and genocide, to pave the way for the return of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, nothing happening now between the Israelis and Palestinians has anything to do with the Egypt and Israel, Palestine and Jordan – even the Ethiopia – referred to in The Bible.

That history affects what’s happening today in different ways, but the worst is through manipulation of religion to commit ethnic cleansing in the name of God – by whatever name.

The world respects Jewish religion as much as it respects Islam and Christianity, never mind which has more faithful flock, but just as Human Rights and other principles agreed to by member-states of the UN, Palestinians have no religious or human rights ensured of protection by the rest of the world, for all of the past 75 years.

Why? Because Israel today behaves like it is a war machine established to wipe-out Palestinians from the face of Palestine.

The numbers are staggering and impossible for the average Caribbean Community (CARICOM) citizen to immediately understand – like that Gaza is the most populated place in the world, with over 2 million people squeezed into 365 square-kilometers, or an area just around half the size of Saint Lucia (616 square kilometers).

Half of Palestinians in Gaza are under 18 and the entire population has been living under Israeli occupation for 56 years (since 1967).

Over 70% of Gazans have been living off daily food handouts from UN and other international aid agencies, over 70% of the dead and wounded were elderlies, women and children – of which 30% were children.

Besides, most Palestinians in Gaza have several times been victims of Israeli attacks said to be aimed at Hamas militants, but always taking more civilian lives.

At the same time, over 490,000 Israeli settlers occupy Palestinian lands through forced occupation by mainly military means.

Hamas and other armed groups have taken the fight to Israel since Arab states failed, yet again in 1973, to overcome the Israeli response.

But on October 7, the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur attack on Israelis on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Hamas launched an unprecedented attack, obviously long in the making, that – for the very first time – resulted in more Israelis dead and injured on the first day than ever before.

It was an audacious attack that the world condemned for its human costs, but Palestinians have suffered such attacks for all their lives, forever paying higher casualties.

Today, every Palestinian in Gaza and the Occupied West bank mourns for a dead family member, in some cases entire families wiped-out in minutes by bombs, as seen today on TV coverage of Gaza.

The Israeli response has been both overwhelming and brutal, with astonishing hellish results, with statistics of death unrivaled and unsurpassed in comparison by any recent war, including America’s against Iraq and Afghanistan.

A few hours after Hamas launched the ‘Flood of Al Aksa’ operation attacking Israel by land, sea and air, first reports were of 40 Israelis killed, 700 wounded; after the first 14 hours, 198 Palestinians were reported killed, with 200 Israelis dead and 1,100 Israeli citizens wounded; then, after the first 24 hours, 350 Israelis were killed, including 26 soldiers and 1,860 wounded — but the number of Palestinians dead almost tripled to 560, with 2,900 wounded and 130,000 displaced.

By the end of the first week, the death, destruction and displacement was altogether hitherto unprecedented, as Israel reported it had dropped 6,000 bombs on 3,500 targets in Gaza, resulting in 2,277 Palestinians killed and 8,614 wounded, among them over 700 children.

After the first week too, over 137,000 Gaza residents were displaced, tens of thousands seeking refuge at UN schools and shelters, while Israelis evacuated from border areas were sent to hotels and the IDF enlisted 300,000 reserve soldiers for an all-out invasion of Gaza.

By the second week (October 21) over 4,600 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis were reported killed; and three days later on UN Day (October 24), the numbers stood at 5,087 Palestinians, of which 2,055 were children and 1,119 were women – plus at least 35 UN staff.

The Israeli response has continued for two weeks, including an attack on a hospital that took 500 lives in one night, while the world talks.

Israel forced relocation of one million Gazans to the south, only to be bombed on the way and on arrival.

In this the last standing vestige of Apartheid after the fall of South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1980s and 1990s, both sides – Palestinians and Israelis -have suffered holocausts of different proportions.

The world has responded with understandable shock and awe at the deadly parameters of the Israeli response’s effect on civilians and children, in a war that Prime Minister Benjamin Netyanyahu says is a final move to eradicate Hamas and obliterate Gaza, with every Gazan treated as a Hamas supporter.

The result has been that after attacks on hospitals and health services, schools and humanitarian shelters, neighborhoods and communities, on UN Day, there was no safe place in Gaza, with the Israelis continuing to use water, food and fuel and as weapons of war, forcing average citizens (who can find) to drink salted groundwater.

On UN Day, over 56% (170,000) of residential units and buildings in Gaza were destroyed; churches, hospitals, schools and UN shelters have been bombed, ambulances were still attacked, more health workers are killed, as death, destruction and displacements continue.

Gazans and Palestinians in Ramallah (Occupied West Bank) continue to die, with over one million children already displaced, while Israel’s Western backers continue to arm and grease its war machine, yet asking Israel and Hamas to ‘observe the rules of war’.