Although the intensified Israel-Gaza crisis is only weeks old, I already find myself reading the headlines with some indifference. Death toll somewhere around 600. A school bombed. Hospitals overflowing with the wounded and dying. And breathless reporters in bullet-proof vests continue their digging for the most sensational story. It seems so unreal in my sheltered world. Yet for thousands the hell is all too real. As rockets and bombs rain, families are blown apart. Parents from children. Husband from wife. Brother from brother. Statistics have a way of easing the gruesome reality. “Somewhere around 600” is so clean, as if we’re counting nameless, faceless specimens. Civilian casualties or collateral damage we call it. All in the name of defeating terrorism; in other words, killing people who need Love, people who bear the image of God.
Many Israelis climbed the low, green hills outside the city of Sderot and cheered while watching black pillars of smoke rise over Gaza as a wave of 64 Israeli jet fighters struck again and again. [ . . . ] But underneath the black smoke, the Israeli bombs weren’t hitting just the rocket men of Hamas, but civilians too. With 1.5 million people packed tightly into Gaza’s jumble of cities, towns and refugee camps, it was inevitable that hundreds of ordinary Palestinians would become collateral victims. The Israeli bombardments pounded Hamas strongholds–the Interior Ministry, suspected caches of rockets, hideouts of top militant leaders–but they also caught five sisters asleep at home next to a targeted mosque, kids coming home from school, and a graduation ceremony for police cadets and their proud families.
Why? What will be gained except more hatred? Yet even as I lament the evil of these tragedies, I am sobered by my own tendency toward pride and bitterness.
Lord, have mercy!