There is a story in the bible, in the book of Genesis to be exact, that tells of when Abraham pleads with God for the wicked city of Sodom. The story, common to both Jewish and Christian belief, tells of how God told Abraham of his intention to wipe out the city “because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grievous”.
Abraham asks a crucial question: “Will God sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” What if there are fifty righteous people? “Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked (…) Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
The pleading turns into a negotiation. Each time Abraham names a figure, God replies that he will spare the whole place for the sake of that number of good people. The figure becomes smaller as Abraham tests God’s patience. What if there were 45 righteous people? 40? 30? 20?
“For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
A month ago, members of the terrorist group Hamas (a group that has as its aim the destruction of Israel) committed a heinous attack on innocent Israeli civilians. One thousand four hundred persons lost their lives on the day of that brutal attack.
Such a vile and inhuman massacre can only be condemned in the harshest of terms. No civilized person could rejoice in such wicked acts.
As it is, Hamas operates out of the Gaza Strip – a surface area approximately the size of Malta yet hosting four times as many people.
The Palestinians have been living in a state of occupation and control by Israel.
Not everybody in Gaza is a member of Hamas, far from it. Israeli intelligence puts Hamas’ military force to be about 30,000 fighters. That is a little over 1% of the population in the Gaza Strip – one person out of every 100 is a Hamas fighter.
Israel has reacted to the deplorable Hamas attack by waging war on Gaza and the citizens who live there. After one month of this war, 70% of Gazans have been displaced. South Gaza is now reaching the population density of New Delhi.
- 10,300 Gazans have been killed.
- 4,200 of the dead are children.
- 1,300 more children are believed to be buried in the rubble of destroyed buildings.
The UN Secretary-General Guterres said: “The nightmare in Gaza is more than a humanitarian crisis. It is a crisis of humanity.”
“Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children. Hundreds of girls and boys are reportedly being killed or injured every day,” Guterres added. “More journalists have reportedly been killed over a four-week period than in any conflict in at least three decades. More United Nations aid workers have been killed than in any comparable period in the history of our organisation.”
Nobody is denying the right of the State of Israel to self-defence. Self-defence under international law should be proportionate.
International law is also abundantly clear about civilians. Civilians should never be targeted. Civilian buildings should never be targeted. Israel is toeing a fine line here. The siege of Gaza and tightening of control of essential supplies is a borderline war crime.
What is proportionate retaliation? How can the deaths of thousands of children ever be justified? Is not the loss of human life, any human life, deplorable?
How long can the attacks and massacres of the innocent be justified by pointing fingers at the criminal terrorist organisation hidden in their midst? Israel seems intent on obliterating Gaza because one in every 100 persons is a Hamas fighter.
Citizens of Gaza have long suffered because of the association with Hamas. Between 2008 and 2023, Hamas and Israel waged four wars. 5,620 Palestinians in Gaza lost their lives. The civilians now have to incur the wrath of an angered nation.
While the international community struggles to come to terms with definitions such as “proportional retaliation”, “military objective”, and “self-defence”, children are being killed in the thousands, and an oppressed nation is once again brought to its knees.
Israel is busy playing God in Gaza. Defying all appeals of humanity. In the face of all that is just, it is engaging in an exercise of blind retribution.
No amount of righteous people will be enough to spare the Gazan population from their wrath. And the children keep on dying.