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Who Decides Where My Home is?

A safe Haven – for who?

The Israel-Palestine conflict dates back to the end of World War I when the British defeated the Ottoman Empire. Palestine was occupied by a Jewish minority and an Arab majority; with the British takeover, tensions grew between those two groups as well as against the British. In 1948, at their wits end, the British withdrew and Jewish leaders declared the creation of the State of Israel. 

While Israel was created as a safe haven for the Jews who faced persecution in Nazi Germany, it ironically has led to the persecution of the many who originally inhabited the land. In Arab dominated Palestine, this was a recipe for disaster that had been the norm for British colonisation. The subsequent wars and conflicts that have arised from this have only resulted in trouble for civilians. According to Refugees International and the United Nations, there are almost 7 million Palestinian refugees around the world, due to the conflicts that have run over 7 decades now. Following the creation of Israel, approximately 4 million acres of Palestinian territory was taken over by the newly formed state, engulfing over 400 cities in the territory which were either decimated or repopulated by a majority Jewish people.

A map illustrating how the state of Israel has been taking over the Palestinian territory over the years after Israel’s statehood. Blue - Israel Green - Palestine Image credit: Aljazeera

Since October 7th 2023, Israeli and Western media has called the current situation a war against Hamas, a militant group that heads Palestine. It is important to ponder, however, who was this war against for the last 75 years? This “war against Hamas” has killed few of their members and more of ordinary Palestinian people. In the result of the war, the UN reports that over the 4 months of the current conflict, more than 27000 Palestinian have already been killed with more than 70000 left injured. The daily death rate is around 250, highest recorded in the 21st century.

In the debate of who does the land belong to and who belongs to this land, one might slowly question what is a homeland? One could argue that it is the place you are born in or the place you were brought to as a child. Where is home? What is home? Who decides where one’s home is? Many shift the blame on God while others argue it is the international government. For most colonies and war affected areas, the perpetrator of this convoluted idea of home has always been a “First World Country”, however. 

In this dire situation, people in the Gaza Strip are left hopeless and stranded with even the borders being closed off. On the southern front, the border has been closed off by Egypt, in the fear of mass migration of Palestinians, while the other crossings have been closed off by Israel themselves. The atrocities know no bounds as innocent civilians are the ones mostly being caught in the crossfire, people have families, friends and parents. Hospitals, schools and almost all other institutions have been decimated in the war torn areas. Children are having to face the brunt of the atrocities as they are more acutely in danger of malnourishment and dehydration, with the long term possibility of developing psychological conditions such as PTSD. In videos that have surfaced in the internet it is appalling to see the condition of these children where some are seen to be innocently saying that their only dream is to eat some sugar. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) primary investigation has shown that as of February 8, 2024, at least 85 journalists have been killed in the conflict. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in conversation with Reuters and Agence France Press said that they will not guarantee the safety of journalists operating in the Gaza Strip. Despite not being seasoned journalists, the Palestinian youth have repeatedly taken to social media platforms like Instagram to report the devastation live. Few among them are 22 year old Plestia Alaqad, 24 year old Motaz Azaiza and Bisan Owad.

The displaced find themselves in foreign lands, left to fend for themselves. In the age that children should be in schools, they are having to beg for their lives, living each day as if it was to be their last.

Written by Nilabja Das

Activity that accompanies this news report

After students read this news report, ask them to write a letter to a child in Gaza.

Students can share words of hope and inspiration, tell children in Gaza about their interests, likes and dislikes, their home and its history, or write about anything else they like.

To give students an idea of what they can write, you can show them Vaidehi and Meenakshi's letters as examples of what other students have written.

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