How Will We Remember?

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Palestinian children gather with candles during a ceasefire in Beit Lahia, Gaza, on 25 May 2021. Photo credit: Fatima Shbair.

Do you remember what you were doing last year at this time?

It probably wasn’t huddling for cover after repeated air strikes because you were being used as a human shield by your local terrorist group.

This photo by Fatima Shbair taken for Getty Images was one of the winners of the World Press Photo Contest (2022). It is a forlorn image of Palestinian children huddled around a makeshift table with candles. And with candles in their hands the photo records only the silence under a sea of carpets as if the children were playing in their living room, as children are want to do, spreading blankets over tables and chairs and using their imagination.

Their living room however was in the ruins, and their imagination would have to be greater than the disaster that had befallen them. When, we ask under our breath, will this ever end?

Last year I wrote in Between Terror and Torment:

It is a wicked calculation that Hamas is counting on when they use their own civilian population as human shields while it indiscriminately fires missiles on Israel.

Each side merely wanted to blame “the other.” I really don’t care who started what, since the object of suffering are those caught in between terror and torment.

Do You Remember?

Wikipedia records the events of last year:

“An outbreak of violence in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict commenced on 10 May 2021, though disturbances took place earlier, and continued until a ceasefire came into effect on 21 May. The crisis was triggered on 6 May, when Palestinians began protests in East Jerusalem over an anticipated decision of the Supreme Court of Israel on the eviction of six Palestinian families…

On the afternoon of 10 May, Hamas gave Israel an ultimatum to withdraw security forces… by 6 p.m. When the ultimatum expired without a response, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched rockets…

As a result of the violence, at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, had been killed (including at least 7 from friendly fire). In Israel, at least 13 people had been killed, including two children… As of 19 May, at least 72,000 Palestinians had been displaced. Around 4,360 rockets had been fired towards Israel from Gaza, of which 680 landed within the strip, and over 90 percent of rockets bound towards populated areas were intercepted by the Israeli defences.

On 18 May, France, along with Egypt and Jordan, announced the filing of a United Nations Security Council resolution for a ceasefire. Egypt mediated a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which came into effect on 21 May 2021, ending 11 days of fighting.”

Unfortunately…

“On 16 June 2021, incendiary balloons were launched from Gaza into Israel, which the Israeli Air Force responded to with multiple airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, causing fighting to resume.”


How will we Remember?

In times of violence we may remember to pray in an age that so belittles prayer and mocks those who say they are praying. Nevertheless, for those who trust in the Sovereignty of God, we may remember to pray for peace, for the practical needs of those caught between, and may give practically to the needs of refugees and victims of war.

For those who regularly remember Jesus through the bread and the wine of communion, we are called from the dislocation of a dis-membered world into being re-membered. In this we are able to remember the goodness of God, and empowered to be His ambassadors of reconciliation.

And we may remember with photos: The World Press Photo Contest recognizes the best photojournalism and documentary photography. This year’s winners were chosen from 64,823 entries taken by 4,066 photographers from 130 countries.