By Susan Schwartz, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
The horrors and injustice of Israelâ€™s occupation of Gaza has outraged the humanitarian world. Often the story of suffering is best writ small. The impact of occupation on one person can limn the entire situation in the sharpest light.
Gaza has been called the worldâ€™s largest outdoor prison. Here is the story of one of its prisoners.
Farah Abu Halima was a pretty and smiling three year old girl with a smile as big as she was and a head of curly hair. Before Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in late December of last year, Farah enjoyed her family and friends and enjoyed life despite the occupation. She had the resilience that all Palestinians have plus the added resilience that is a part of childhood.
During Operation Cast Lead Farah was severely burned around her mouth, her abdomen, and her right leg when she was struck by White Phosphorus used by the Israelis. The use of White Phosphorus against civilians is in clear and direct violation of international law. It is permissible only when used as a smoke screen against advancing armies. White Phosphorus is a metal, and it reacts aggressively with moisture in the body. It then uses that moisture as a path through the victim. It does not merely burn: it destroys the tissue and bone in its path.
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) sent a fact finding expedition to Gaza earlier this year to investigate Israelâ€™s use of White Phosphorus against civilians. They found that the use White Phosphorus was a widespread policy. Israelâ€™s denials have run afoul of the facts.
During the attack her home was destroyed and her family, with the exception of her grandmother, were killed.
Farah has finally arrived in the United States with her grandmother for medical treatment. This has been accomplished through the auspices of the Palestine Childrenâ€™s Relief Fund (PCRF), and the two are now with their host family in San Diego where the doctorâ€™s visits and probable surgery will take place.
Even her departure from Rafah in Gaza was fraught with delays. She and her grandmother had an earlier departure scheduled but were thwarted by the Egyptians.
Farah has made her initial doctorâ€™s visits. Their chief concern – and the site of the probable surgery – is her lower abdomen and part of her leg. Farahâ€™s small stature makes total skin grafting as a solution impossible. The surgeons will use a procedure known as tissue expansion.
A spokesperson for the PCRF San Diego Chapter has told the following to The Muslim Observer:
â€œThree-year old Farah has endured the unimaginable, both physically and emotionally, due to the Israeli bombing of her home in Gaza last January. She lost her mother, several aunts and uncles and her grandfather. She also suffered severe burns to her lower abdomen, upper thighs, and chin and chest from the white phosphorous bombs. She is fortunate to be here through the efforts of the PCRF to undergo medical treatment, and she will hopefully continue to develop normally as a result of the efforts of the surgeon, doctor Batra, and her host family Suha and David Gazal. Considering what this little girl has endured, Farah is very playful, personable, and is in high-spirits.â€
Readers may follow Farahâ€™s progress by accessing the PCRF site at: www.pcrf.net.