« Give us today our daily bread » in Gaza

« We have become desperate in our daily search for bread, in what has now become the primary mission of our lives, stripping us of our humanity and dignity. We pretend not to care about the Israeli missiles flying over our heads; what matters, we tell ourselves, is feeding our families. But we’re lying to ourselves. (testimony of a Gazan published in the Israeli media +972, December 6, with the evocative title: « Surviving one day in Gaza means facing the danger of the next »).

The news from Gaza is increasingly chaotic and crazy. Never before in the history of war have so many appalling images reached us in real time. In the face of unspeakable horror, it’s hard to stand back. Faced with the apparent failure of the Israeli offensive in northern Gaza, after 2 months of massacres of civilians, observed live, but also of Israeli losses In the meantime, it seems that the Israeli army has provoked further violence against civilians after the week-long truce, this time also in the south of the Gaza Strip, by means of an AI program that replaces and multiplies the human task of finding targets, with no concern for « collateral » casualties.

As if the blood of Israeli soldiers had to be redeemed by the blood of Palestinian children and women, in torrents. No, they’re not plastic dolls. Or these images showing raids on men stripped of their clothes, civilians according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Those who have returned testify todetention conditions worthy of Abu Ghraib. We thought it was a thing of the past: no.

In our defense, proudly seated in front of our screens, we applaud the bravura declarations of our political elites in favor of humanitarian corridors and other good intentions, while the same elites supply the executioners with heaps of weapons. In any case, with the repetition of horrors, it becomes commonplace, as with those video games we cherish so much, and we grow weary.

The figures no longer mean anything, and others are being proposed that double, even triple, the official ones we’re basing ourselves on, even though we know it’s virtually impossible to carry out a « count » in the current chaos.

Of the 14 hospitals still more or less standing that I announced in the previous post, only 4 appear to be functional. With corpses decomposing and garbage piling up, the waters are severely polluted. Flies, rodents and other disease vectors are also out in force, and epidemics are here to stay. Diarrhoea is ubiquitous, and cases of typhoid fever and possibly cholera (other water-borne diseases) have also been reported. Lung infections are compounded by skin lesions and diseases. Famine, which is still very much with us, is making these populations even more vulnerable, even more destitute, and so on. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, on December 11, some 19,000 people were killed, 70% of them women and children (around 7,500), some 51,000 were injured and more than 10,000 were missing. The WHO (December 8) laments: « the population is being forced into a horrible scenario in which the whole of civil society is collapsing ».

Without an immediate end to this extreme violence, accompanied by large-scale health and humanitarian aid, believe me, the current figures are a joke compared to what awaits the people of Gaza.

« Give us this day our daily bread ». Yes, but not for everyone.

Christophe de Brouwer
Honorary full professor and former chair of the School of Public Health at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. (December 15, 2023)

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