Cherish the people of Gaza

8 Feb, 2024 | children, Gaza, Palestine, Vrede en oorlog

In October last year, I wrote an opinion article entitled “Stop the violence in Gaza and Israel.” In it, I expressed how shocked I was by the horrific attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas on 7 October and called for the Israeli hostages to be released. I also called for a ceasefire, water, food and humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza and a permanent peace solution.

Since then, the situation has become catastrophic. More than 25,000 people have now been killed, according to Martin Griffiths (UN aid coordinator), including two mothers every hour. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, at least 10,000 children have been killed. Two-thirds of those dead are said to be women and children. This horrific war in turn has led to responses from the Houthis on the Red Sea, in turn resulting in attacks in Yemen by the US and the UK with support from the Netherlands. A chain of violence ensues.

Many people in Gaza fled to Rafah on Israel’s advice at the start of the war. However, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant recently announced his intention to continue the military campaign there. This would be terrible, given the huge number civilians (approximately one million) living there.

Peace SOS is in contact with a family in Gaza who, before the war started, provided vegetables to needy people in Gaza with Peace SOS assistance. They are a man and his pregnant wife, and a young child. The man and the woman had lost each other while fleeing, but thankfully they have found each other again. However, the man recently revealed that he is extremely worried about his wife’s upcoming delivery. He typed the following message to me:

‘I am very worried. There is less than a month left until my wife gives birth, and unfortunately there are no hospitals qualified to perform a Caesarean section, and there are no capabilities, so I am very worried and helpless.

This man’s wife is not the only one pregnant and struggling in Gaza. The Dutch NOS website also features a video: “Sabrine from Gaza is very worried about her delivery.” The video also features a doctor who is a refugee himself. He speaks out about the many women in Gaza who miscarry or lose their newborn babies because of the extreme conditions.

When I hear these stories, I think about the time when I myself was pregnant and had a baby. I stroked my belly regularly and wore a heart necklace to give love to the baby, paid extra attention to my diet, went to the midwife regularly and the baby’s father and I were busy decorating the baby’s room. Mothers in Gaza deserve the same opportunities so that their babies, too, can be born safely.

The Netherlands is dropping pallets loaded with medical supplies, but this is not enough given the enormity of the destruction going on in Gaza. What is needed first of all is a permanent ceasefire, water, food and humanitarian aid, and a lasting peace solution, as I argued a few months earlier. Psychological care for the people of Gaza is also needed. Reconstruction is required.

Let us work for a culture of peace and, above all, see each other first and foremost as human beings. Whether we live in Gaza, in Israel, in Yemen, in the Netherlands or anywhere else. Let that be the basis for peace negotiations. Now we are seeing years of spiralling trauma and violence. Let us turn this into a spiral of healing and peace.

Together for world peace: A world where all children can play.


May-May Meijer


Photo: A girl in Gaza inspecting her destroyed home. The photo was sent to us by our contact person in Gaza.

This article was published in Dutch Koester de mensen in Gaza on the Joop BNNVARA website on 6 February 2024