Stop sacrificing children for politics

Five year old Saher, who participated in a World Vision peace-building activity by the beach in Gaza last month, was killed when an Israeli warplane bombed his family home.

Saher and other children had been part of a World Vision event designed to lift the voices of children caught in conflict. They flew kites with messages calling for peace and expressing hope for the future. Another 12-year-old boy who also participated in this event was still wearing his World Vision tee-shirt, when he was critically injured in a separate explosion.

The death of even a single child to further a military or political objective is reprehensible.

The death of even a single child to further a military or political objective is reprehensible.

That is true whether those children are deliberately murdered, as in the case of three young Israeli settlers abducted and killed in June and a Palestinian youth tortured and burned to death in revenge; or whether they are killed by indiscriminate shelling and aircraft fire.

World Vision joins Thunderclap calling for lasting ceasefire

Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ began. Of them, 149 were civilians, and 38 were children.

Almost 400 children have been injured in the retributive violence. The UN estimates that 25,000 children already need psycho-social support after witnessing deaths or experiencing injury or the loss of their homes.

Meanwhile, armed groups in Gaza continue to fire rockets into Israel, injuring civilians. That they choose to do so from heavily populated areas, inviting retributive strikes on civilians, is a cynical misuse of the lives of the people of Gaza.

A World Vision staff member inspects damages to a Child Friendly Space in Gaza. 

Attacks on homes and families which risk killing innocent people, and particularly women and children, should not be condoned by anyone.

Killing of innocents is wrong

If we are to keep our moral compass, the world must make it clear that those firing rockets into Israel and bombing homes in Gaza are doing wrong.

World Vision seeks to serve the most vulnerable children based on universally-agreed indicators of poverty. We have worked in Gaza, where the GDP per person is less than US$3,000 a year, since 2001.

For now, we have had to suspend our work in the current shocking violence. Once it is safe to do so, we are ready to start ‘child friendly spaces’ and psychosocial counselling for children who have been trapped in the conflict, and to support families who are now homeless.

Some people involved in the stand-off in Gaza want to provoke more conflict. Some want to drive their opponents to the negotiating table.

In neither case is the deliberate or careless sacrifice of children an acceptable tactic.

Let it stop – immediately, and for good.