Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI November 20 2023, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 8 secs

I realize that for over five weeks now I’ve commented only about Palestinians and the ground realities of Gaza, writes Humra Quraishi

A writer cannot write in a vacuum. And, such wars that tear into humanity dominate one’s writing because one cannot think otherwise. Unfortunately, sincere commentators on human rights issues don’t attend cricket matches in stadiums named after them while rescue teams struggle to save the lives of forty miners trapped in a tunnel collapse over a week ago. Never before has one seen such callous behaviour of the government, nor even the video footage of death and disaster in a war, where even hospitals are not spared.

Helpless we are as mute spectators to the genocide, and all other things going on in the world. We dare not protest because it is banned. All we can do is to cry out in anguish because only tears have the freedom to roll. One is bewildered and disillusioned to see authorities appointed for the welfare of women and children so silent, the forums, the commissions so still as the killings of civilians continue to take place in Gaza.

The list of the dead is endless. Doctors, medical staff, also the journalists, reporters, photographers covering this genocide. In fact, and ironically, on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, 2 November, that just went by, the scale of  violence that  the  journalists are  facing is terrifying, especially in conflict zones and in regions like Gaza, where the Israeli bombardments continue on the civilian population.

I’m quoting here from news reports about the journalists killed in the region: At least 37 journalists have been killed since the war began - the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that these include 32 Palestinians, four Israelis and one Lebanese. Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, Wael Dahdouh lost four members of his family in the Israeli air strikes. His wife Amna, 15-year-old son Mahmoud and seven-year-old daughter Sham were killed, as was his 18-month-old grandson Adam, after following directives to leave northern Gaza for the south, only to come under Israel’s bombardment of the Nuseirat refugee camp where they were staying.

“They take revenge on us through our children,” said Dahdouh upon finding his son’s lifeless body. “What happened is clear. This is a series of targeted attacks on children, women and civilians. I was just reporting from Yarmouk about such an attack, and the Israeli raids have targeted many areas, including Nuseirat. We had our doubts that the Israeli occupation would not let these people go without punishing them and sadly that is what happened. This is the ‘safe’ area that the occupation army spoke of.”

And the 5th November strike on the home of journalist Mohammad Abu Hassir of Wafa News Agency killed him and 42 family members. The Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was standing near the Lebanon-Israeli border on October 13 when he was killed by a missile strike. Reuters journalists Thaer Al-Sudani and Maher Nazeh sustained injuries in the blast. Two AFP journalists, Christina Assi and Dylan Collins, were also injured…the list of the dead, injured, targeted and assaulted journalists is indeed long. A tragic reality of these barbaric times we are living in is that anyone can be  attacked.

I quote here from a news report in The Wire: Journalists from the United States have issued a statement of condemnation against ‘Israel’s killing of journalists in Gaza” and appealed to newsrooms in the West to uphold “integrity” in covering Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians. The statement of condemnation, which was first brought out on November 6, was signed by 1,265 reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world at the last count…It also condemned the biased coverage of the ongoing war and longstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine in the Western media. “We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanising rhetoric that has served to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Double standards, inaccuracies and fallacies abound in American publications and have been well documented,” it added.

So then, here’s a piece of verse written by BARNALI RAY SHUKLA titled Coordinates Unknown from Amity Peace Poems (Hawakal Publishers):

Born in a village/stitched to maps/embroidered with/names that granny/spoke in a language/of salt that mended/her wrinkles to/laugh lines, her cheeks/washed clean by  tears/of something like/happiness, that/memories don’t/lie buried like sons/who fell to mines/in a land altered/by whims,/truce comes later/than greed/but my father/and the holy/ghost still watch/over us, over time,/waiting/for the day/when guns fall/silent, seek/poetry of arms,/embrace a future/not scarred by/bullets.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.