Letter to the Children of Gaza

Chris Hedges, travels to the border of Gaza, detailing the fear and suffering experienced by the children living there due to constant bombing and deprivation. Despite explaining their plight for years, the reporter feels his efforts have been largely ignored, but continues to share their stories in an attempt to stop the violence.

By Chris Hedges

Children of Gaza – by Mr. Fish

Dear child. It is past midnight. I am flying at hundreds of miles an hour in the darkness, thousands of feet over the Atlantic Ocean. I am traveling to Egypt. I will go to the border of Gaza at Rafah. I go because of you.

You have never been in a plane. You have never left Gaza. You know only the densely packed streets and alleys. The concrete hovels.  You know only the security barriers and fences patrolled by soldiers that surround Gaza. Planes, for you, are terrifying. Fighter jets. Attack helicopters. Drones. They circle above you. They drop missiles and bombs. Deafening explosions. The ground shakes. Buildings fall. The dead. The screams. The muffled calls for help from beneath the rubble. It does not stop. Night and day. Trapped under the piles of smashed concrete. Your playmates. Your schoolmates. Your neighbors. Gone in seconds. You see the chalky faces and limp bodies when they are dug out. I am a reporter. It is my job to see this. You are a child. You should never see this.   

The stench of death. Rotting corpses under broken concrete. You hold your breath. You cover your mouth with cloth. You walk faster. Your neighborhood has become a graveyard. All that was familiar is gone. You stare in amazement. You wonder where you are.

You are afraid. Explosion after explosion. You cry. You cling to your mother or father. You cover your ears. You see the white light of the missile and wait for the blast. Why do they kill children? What did you do? Why can’t anyone protect you? Will you be wounded? Will you lose a leg or an arm? Will you go blind or be in a wheelchair? Why were you born?  Was it for something good? Or was it for this? Will you grow up?  Will you be happy? What will it be like without your friends? Who will die next? Your mother? Your father? Your brothers and sisters?  Someone you know will be injured. Soon. Someone you know will die. Soon.  

At night you lie in the dark on the cold cement floor. The phones are cut. The internet is off. You do not know what is happening. There are flashes of light. There are waves of blast concussions. There are screams. It does not stop.  

When your father or mother hunts for food or water you wait. That terrible feeling in your stomach. Will they come back? Will you see them again? Will your tiny home be next? Will the bombs find you? Are these your last moments on earth?  

You drink salty, dirty water. It makes you very sick. Your stomach hurts. You are hungry. The bakeries are destroyed. There is no bread. You eat one meal a day. Pasta. A cucumber. Soon this will seem like a feast. 

You do not play with your soccer ball made of rags. You do not fly your kite made from old newspapers.      

You have seen foreign reporters. We wear flak jackets with the word PRESS written on it. We have helmets. We have cameras. We drive jeeps. We appear after a bombing or a shooting. We sit over coffee for a long time and talk to the adults. Then we disappear. We do not usually interview children. But I have done interviews when groups of you crowded around us. Laughing. Pointing. Asking us to take your picture. 

I have been bombed by jets in Gaza. I have been bombed in other wars, wars that happened before you were born. I too was very, very scared. I still have dreams about it. When I see the pictures of Gaza these wars return to me with the force of thunder and lightning. I think of you. 

All of us who have been to war hate war most of all because of what it does to children.

I tried to tell your story. I tried to tell the world that when you are cruel to people, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, when you deny people freedom and dignity, when you humiliate and trap them in an open-air prison, when you kill them as if they were beasts, they become very angry. They do to others what was done to them. I told it over and over. I told it for seven years. Few listened. And now this. 

There are very brave Palestinian journalists. Thirty-nine of them have been killed since this bombing began. They are heroes. So are the doctors and nurses in your hospitals. So are the U.N. workers. Eighty-nine of whom have died. So are the ambulance drivers and the medics. So are the rescue parties that lift up the slabs of concrete with their hands. So are the mothers and fathers who shield you from the bombs. 

But we are not there. Not this time. We cannot get in. We are locked out. 

Reporters from all over the world are going to the border crossing at Rafah. We are going because we cannot watch this slaughter and do nothing. We are going because hundreds of people are dying a day, including 160 children. We are going because this genocide must stop. We are going because we have children. Like you. Precious. Innocent. Loved. We are going because we want you to live. 

I hope one day we will meet. You will be an adult. I will be an old man, although to you I am already very old. In my dream for you I will find you free and safe and happy.  No one will be trying to kill you. You will fly in airplanes filled with people, not bombs. You will not be trapped in a concentration camp. You will see the world. You will grow up and have children. You will become old. You will remember this suffering, but you will know it means you must help others who suffer. This is my hope. My prayer.

We have failed you. This is the awful guilt we carry. We tried. But we did not try hard enough. We will go to Rafah.  Many of us. Reporters. We will stand outside the border with Gaza in protest. We will write and film. This is what we do. It is not much. But it is something. We will tell your story again. 

Maybe it will be enough to earn the right to ask for your forgiveness





14 responses to “Letter to the Children of Gaza”

  1. gene Avatar

    The Israeli Nazis are specifically targeting Palestinian children (and women) with the aim of exterminating the Palestinians as people. At least 1500 innocent Palestinians, including more than 5000 children have been massacred by the Jewish Nazis in the current Genocide in Gaza. At least 13500 children are unaccounted for and missing. The UN Secretary Guterres said: Israeli Jews have turned “Gaza into a graveyard for children.”
    Norman Finkelstein accurately said Israel is worse than Nazi Germany and South Africa under Apartheid. The violence against children and women coupled with dehumanizing the Palestinians by U.S.-Western media and paves the way for injustices and mass murder.

    1. Rick Avatar

      The world is waking up to tragedy of the Palestinians, world opinion is shifting in support of them, the US and Israel are becoming more and more isolated has the UN Security Council vote on a ceasefire shows, 14 to 1 against the US in favor, with the US using its veto power to kill it.

  2. JR Avatar

    May Allah grant you people Saber
    And end this un fair war

  3. rosross Avatar

    Palestine Aches
    The dead have silent teeth and empty throats,
    they have no voice with which to speak, to cry
    of all the horrors they have seen and been and
    known; to call for justice, freedom from the
    power of those who kill to claim what is not
    theirs, the land of others, who suffocate children
    in waves of dust and shredded metal moments,
    where blood and tears and destiny are driven
    deep into the waiting earth; dressing broken
    fragments of their lives, their souls, their
    hearts, that costuming of evil which war does
    primp and posture into place, for those who
    are the victims, for those who cannot speak,
    and for whom the only hope can be for others,
    that their throats are not empty, their teeth
    are not silent, their words are not crushed
    beneath the boot of evil and injustice and
    military might, and that in the darkened
    quietness of this awful, suppurating wound,
    their only hope is that the voices of the living
    will be speaking out for those who lie strewn,
    fleshed like scattered crops, in that harvest
    which bleeds and grieves and slowly seeds
    the fields of future justice in aching Palestine.

    1. Stephen Berk Avatar
      Stephen Berk

      In a previous war, a U.S. war — I don’t remember which one; there have been so many, the same kind of disproportionate massacring of civilians was going on. Someone, I believe in the press, called it “warture,” a word combining war and torture. That is what the Israelis are now inflicting on the Palestinians. There is no good excuse for it. One doesn’t drop bombs on children and hospitals and people’s little hovels because it is necessary war strategy. Doing these things to vulnerable populations including women and children, non-combatants, is not excusable. It also hurts the perpetrators. They too will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, and those with any sensitivity at all will suffer from strong feelings of guilt. I remember many of the guys who came home from Vietnam suffered for years, and many still do, because they hate what they did in that war, which was partly against a civilian population. Centuries ago wars were composed of armies fighting one another in fields. Civilian populations were mainly left alone. But beginning with the First World War and increasingly down to the present, wars are fought against unarmed, wholly vulnerable civilian populations. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is inflicting that kind of war on the Palestinian population.

  4. Elias Avatar

    Ya Allah, turn the tide against the innocent souls in Palestine

  5. Jannah Avatar

    The holocaust massacre of Palestinians and the rape of the land of Palestine must stop!
    Zionists of Israel and of the complicit world leaders must be put to account! They are murderers, the worst of criminals the world has ever seen! And for what? To rob the Palestinians’ lands and oil reserves!

  6. me, again Avatar
    me, again

    The zionist nazis will never be able to come back from this. They will never be able to ‘brabd’ themselves into the victim that they have portrayed themselves. They will never be able to excuse this. Those who support the genocidal maniacs – politicians, doctors advocating for destruction of hospitals in Gaza, lay people, the weapons companies, the people who put the bombs and ammo together, those who did the paperwork for such hideous trade, the media – have shown themselves for who and what they are. Any so called leader of the do called democratic world that spews human rights and blah blah fucking blah, can go to hell. You’ve shown what these words mean to you… Empty vessels to show moral superiority.

    The zionist Nazi state is digging a chasm size hole to bury themselves in. I say good riddance.

  7. Anil Kaul Avatar
    Anil Kaul

    Whilst you write and draw attention to the killing of innocents there remains hope. Your writing and the pain you express on behalf of the children, women , elderly people, who like us all are trying to exist and find some meaning in life. I commend you for your courage as it has become difficult for journalists to express their views without condemnation from those who wish to silence us all.
    Whilst you continue to speak for the oppressed, those who line all human beings deserve a chance in life….their remains some hope for our civilisation.

  8. Frank Avatar

    This tragedy is only possible with the collaboration of the treacherous Sunni Muslims

  9. Gene Avatar

    President Putin had an arrest warrant issued against him by the U.S.-West-controlled International Criminal Court (ICC) for bringing children out of Ukraine warzone. By contrast, Israeli Netanyahu is praised by the ICC and U.S.-Western regimes for murdering more than 5000 Palestinian children and babies. In fact, many heads of Western states visited Netanyahu and assured him of their unconditional support. More than 17,000 unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israel in cold blood. The UN Secretary General Guterres said, Israel has turned “Gaza into a graveyard for children” and unarmed civilians.

  10. […] LETTER to the CHILDREN OF GAZA chris hedges […]

  11. Stephen Berk Avatar
    Stephen Berk

    The Israelis should have a look at their own Holy Scriptures that say something over forty times, “Be kind and generous to the stranger among you.” The word “stranger” means the one who is not of your ethnicity and practices a different faith. Israel, of course, is a purely secular state. But it is full of observant Jews, Orthodox and otherwise. Do they ever try to take to heart the meaning of these words? Or are they just for ritualistic reading from the Torah on the Sabbath? If they took their own Scriptures seriously, they might make some effort to treat the Palestinians with some degree of equanimity. The Hebrew prophet Micah says: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God.” But today’s Israel, the wholly secular state, has abandoned any attempt to live by such words. Israel is full of rabbis and observant Jews. What if they were to actually take seriously the words of their own Scriptures? Maybe those who do could pressure their leaders to put an end to the ugly massacres they are now conducting against a people who have been in their land mostly longer than they have.