Israel turns Gaza into children’s graveyard
Ang Bayan interviewed Comrade Coni Ledesma to get the views of the Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC) of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on the situation of children in Gaza amidst Israel’s relentless and indiscriminate attacks. According to various news sources, Gaza has become a graveyard for children, where children compose at least 40% Palestinians killed.
Ang Bayan (AB): Following the NDFP SOPC’s most recent statement on monitoring and ensuring the rights of children in armed conflicts, what is the NDFP’s stance on the ongoing occupation and human rights violations in Gaza?
Coni Ledesma (CL): The NDFP has always stood for the right of the Palestinian people to their land. The war now being waged by Hamas and the Palestinian people is a war of liberation.
What is happening now in Gaza is genocide. What the Israeli army is doing is a violation of International Humanitarian Law.
And the tragic thing about this is that children are the greatest victims of this war. The estimate is that about 40% of the victims are children. And that is not counting the newly born babies in incubators who died because of lack of fuel—fuel that Israel has not allowed to be brought to Gaza.
The war in Gaza kills the future Palestinian people. But the Palestinian people are resilient. They have been waging their struggle for their return to their homeland for over 75 years now. The bombs may kill hundreds of them, but hundreds more will rise and continue their struggle.
AB: What are the parallels and differences of the situations of Filipino and Palestinian children in armed conflict?
CL: The Palestinians have been driven off their land. In a way, there is that similarity with the Lumads who have had to leave their fields and homes because they have been driven out by the military. Like the Palestinians, the Lumads and others who are in the Philippine countryside are being bombed. The Palestinians are victims of Israeli bombs and the Filipinos in the countrysides of bombs from the reactionary army.
The difference in the situation is that all the people in Gaza are targets of Israeli bombings, strafing and arrests. They are ordinary citizens whose homes are being destroyed and whose families are being killed. In the case of the Philippines, it is those in the countrysides, where the people are suspected of supporting the New People’s Army, that are targets of the bombing, not the people in the cities.
AB: What steps are the NDFP taking to bring these gross and grave violations to light in the local and international arenas?
CL: The NDFP has issued a statement condemning Israel’s aggression. The Special Office for the Protection of Children has also issued a statement condemning the killing of children. The CPP has issued several statements condemning the aggression.
Aside from that, NDFP forces in the Philippines and abroad join the different demonstrations condemning Israel’s genocidal war.
AB: What should children’s rights advocates, human rights defenders, freedom-loving citizens and revolutionaries in the Philippines and around the world do amidst the escalating Zionist attacks on the people and children of Palestine?
CL: First of all, I would suggest holding information sessions to inform the general public about the reasons behind Israel’s war against the Palestinian people. To talk about the history of the Palestinians being driven out of their homes, of Nakba. There are still many people who believe that Israel is the aggrieved party. They do not realize that it is the Palestinians whose land has been taken away from them and who live in occupied territory.
Then, I would call on all freedom-loving people, not only in the Philippines but in the world, to join the demonstrations calling for an end to Israel’s aggression. It is the united voices of the people of the world that can make a difference in this war.