The Wounded Girl in the Gaza Strip: The

Need for a New Approach
• by Ranga Kalugampitiya
• - on !"#"#$%
A new& article publi&hed on 'ahoo on
(uly $)* #$% had an image of a little girl of about one year old+ She wa&
na,ed and wa& lying on a diaper which &eemed to ha-e .u&t come undone+
She wa& being held by eight to ten caring hand& clad in white glo-e&+ She
had -i&ible wound& and blood &tain& on her body+ /er little face wa& turned
upward and wa& &eemingly focu&ed on the face of a per&on to whom two of
tho&e hand& clad in white glo-e& belonged+ She had an e0pre&&ion on her
face which 1* a& a father of another little girl of her age* am &till trying to
decipher+
The caption identi2ed her a& a wounded 3ale&tinian girl who wa& being
treated at the emergency room of a ho&pital in Gaza 4ity in the northern
Gaza &trip+ The title of the article read 51&rael launche& military o6en&i-e
again&t /ama&-ruled Gaza Strip+7 1 8uic,ly glanced through the article to
learn more about the little girl* but there wa& no mention of her in the
article+ So* all 1 could 2nd about her wa& what the image and the caption
pre&ented+
Who could thi& girl be9 4ould &he be a commanding o:cer* or at lea&t* a
&oldier* of the /ama&9 1 don;t thin, &o becau&e &he loo,& a little too young
for that+ 1n that ca&e* could &he be the daughter of a commanding o:cer of
the /ama&9 Well* 1 don;t thin, &o either* becau&e had that been the ca&e*
that would ha-e been mentioned in the title of the article it&elf and a
&igni2cant portion of the article would ha-e been de-oted to the &peci2c
detail& of* or at lea&t* &peculation& about* a po&&ible retaliation by the
/ama&+ 4ould &he be a &pecial child who appear& on the face of the earth
e-ery 2-e-hundred year& or &o and who i& prophe&ied to be the &a-iour of
the community &he i& part of9 1 don;t thin, &he ha& been &peci2cally
identi2ed a& a future &a-iour of the a6ected party* a& had that been the
ca&e the di&cour&e created by the article would ha-e been an entirely
di6erent one+ 1 mean* there i& de2nitely a chance of the little girl being a
potential &a-iour of the community that &he i& part of* but that chance i&
not di6erent from the chance of any child born on the face of thi& earth
being a potential &a-iour of a group of human being& or the entire human
,ind+ Then who i& &he9 Well* the only an&wer that 1 can thin, of i& &he
i& nobody+ At the mo&t* &he i& .u&t a human being who i& pre&umably
unaware of what i& going on around her and who i& &maller in &ize in
compari&on to her fellow human being& who act li,e they ha-e e-ery right
to determine her future+
<ne could argue that 1;m o-erempha&i&ing an i&olated tragic e-ent and that
1 need to* in&tead* loo, at the broader picture that thi& tragic e-ent i& part
of+ <ne could argue that 1 need to loo, at broader 8ue&tion&: What i& the
root of the 1&rael-3ale&tine problem9 To whom &hould the Gaza &trip belong9
What are the factor& that ga-e ri&e to the late&t confrontation& in the Gaza
&trip9 Who ha& what &ort of &upport from whom in the international
community9 =oe& 1&rael ha-e a right to e0i&t9 =oe& 3ale&tine ha-e a right to
e0i&t9 Who want& war9 Who want& peace9 Who i& right9 Who i& wrong9 1;m
&ure that the&e are -ery important 8ue&tion& that need to be an&wered in
the be&t po&&ible manner* but 1;m not &ure if they beat the &ingle 8ue&tion
that 1 thin, i& of central importance+ That 8ue&tion* which 1 ha-e not been
able to put into word&* i& the one that the ba>ed e0pre&&ion of thi& little girl
po&e&+ The e0clu&i-e attention that &ociety pay& to what it con&ider& the
5broader 8ue&tion&*7 in my -iew* only re&ult& in thi& other 8ue&tion being
completely ignored and creating a &pace in which the ,ind of treatment that
thi& little girl ha& recei-ed could be .u&ti2ed in &ome way or another+
Thi& other 8ue&tion i& arguably one that i& cleare&t and mo&t ob-iou& only
to tho&e human being& who are of the &ame 5calibre7 a& thi& little girl+ ?ut*
ala&* we the grownup& do not &pea, their language* and a& a re&ult* we do
not ha-e acce&& to the cleare&t -er&ion of the 8ue&tion+ /owe-er* thi&
&hould not pre-ent u& from trying to under&tand what the 8ue&tion i&+ 1n my
-iew* we can begin to under&tand thi& central 8ue&tion by a&,ing a couple
of &imple 8ue&tion&: What ha& thi& little girl done to de&er-e the ,ind of
treatment that &he ha& recei-ed9 4an &he tell a 3ale&tinian from an 1&raeli*
or an 1&raeli from a 3ale&tinian9 4an &he tell an 1&lamic from a 4hri&tian* or a
4hri&tian from an 1&lamic9 =oe& &he de&er-e to ha-e any &tain& of blood on
her other than tho&e &he had when &he came out of her mother;& womb9
=oe& &he ha-e any clue a& to what the political and"or religiou& belief& and
a&piration& of the people around her are9 Are her little body and mind
&trong enough to with&tand the ,ind of pre&&ure that &he ha& been &ub.ect
to9 1& &he at lea&t old enough to &tand on her feet* let alone 2ght for the
cau&e that the leader& of her community are committed to9
The fact that the&e &imple 8ue&tion& are not e-en rai&ed in a &igni2cant
manner in the current global di&cour&e on political -iolence indicate& the
e0tent to which we a& a global human &ociety ha-e become ane&theti&ed to
political -iolence in general+ @or a ma.ority of the reader& of the concerned
new& article* the image would repre&ent yet another tragic incident that i&
part of a broader political conAict+ The ab&ence of a &pecial di&cour&e on
what the image in 8ue&tion repre&ent& &how& that to many* the incident i&
nothing more than a u&ual ca&e of political -iolence+ The fact that there wa&
no mention of thi& little girl within the new& article indicate& the a&&umption
that &he i& merely yet another -ictim of the conAict+ <f the %B reader
comment& li&ted for the image* &ome comment& had referenced the little
girl in the image* but the ma.ority of the comment& had no mention of her+
Tho&e comment& that had completely ignored her were mainly per&onal
opinion& regarding the 1&raeli-3ale&tine conAict+ The recurring ,eyword& in
tho&e comment& were 1&rael* /ama&* and the CSA+ An e0tremely di&turbing
comment among them read* 51t would really be better if the picture of the
,id abo-e had more blood on her+ Alot D&icE more blood+ And maybe a
mi&&ing arm or leg+ ?oy* that would be a hoot+ /ahahaFFF7
The &en&e of indi6erence* e-en in&en&iti-ity* with which the image &eem& to
ha-e been recei-ed by the reader&hip indicate& a collap&e of the di&tinction
between the -ictimi&ation of a thin,ing indi-idual Geither ci-ilian or militaryH
and the -ictimi&ation of the little girl in the image+ 1n the current di&cour&e
on the 1&raeli-3ale&tine conAict in particular and political -iolence in general*
the little girl i& 2r&t and foremo&t a member of a particular camp* a &tatu&
that immediately 8uali2e& her a& a potential -ictim of the longe&t &tanding
conAict of human hi&tory+ She ha& ab&olutely no idea a& to what i& going on
around her &imply becau&e &he i& new to the world+ She i& at the heart of
the conAict becau&e &he wa& born to parent& who happen to be in the area
a6ected by the conAict+ Thi& little girl who cannot e-en properly &tand on
her feet clearly 5&tand&7 in the line of potential -ictim& of the conAict+ 1n
thi& &en&e* there i& no di&tinction between an indi-idual who i& e0perienced
in the conAict and thi& little girl who i& fre&h not only to the conAict but to
the world+ There i& &omething clearly wrong here+
Thi& nuanced nature of the conAict that the concerned image bring& into
light* on the one hand* reiterate& the call for the protection of human right&+
<n the other hand* it point& to the urgent need to de-elop an approach that
goe& beyond the con-entional human right& approach and pro-ide& &pecial
protection to children li,e the little girl in the image who are right at the
heart of a gi-en conAict but who ha-e no &ta,e what&oe-er in that conAict+
1n my -iew* &uch an approach i& ab&olutely nece&&ary not only to en&ure
the protection of the children caught up in a conAict but al&o to try to brea,
the -iciou& cycle of hatred behind a gi-en conAict and &tart to de-elop a
la&ting &olution to it+
Posted by Thavam

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