TIME

Children Suffer as War Continues in Gaza and Israel

The father of 18-month-old Razel Netzlream, who was fatally wounded during an airstrike, carries her body right before her funeral, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
The father of 18-month-old Razel Netzlream, who was fatally wounded during an airstrike, carries her body right before her funeral, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014. Alessio Romenzi

As Israel and Hamas continue fighting, children on both sides of the border are paying the price

As the conflict in the Gaza Strip and Israel moves into its third week, the impact of the fighting on Palestinian and Israeli children has become a heart-breaking signature of the conflict. Reports from Gaza relay stories of shells destroying civilian homes, killing children sheltering within; of tank-fire killing a five month-old baby; of a naval bombardment on a beach killing four young boys who had been kicking around a soccer ball. In Israel, parents hear the first wail of air raid sirens, grab their frightened children and run for bomb shelters.

After two weeks of aerial attacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the densely populated Gaza Strip – followed by a ground offensive that began last week – the statistics are just as grim as the news reports. UNICEF’s communications chief in Jerusalem, Catherine Weibel, says that according to U.N.’s figures at least 121 Palestinian children under the age of 18 have been killed since the conflict started on July 8, making up a full one-third of Palestinian civilian casualties. Between July 20 to July 21 alone, she says “there were at least 28 children killed in Gaza.”

The conflict, which was, in part, precipitated by the killing of children – first the murder of three Israeli teens in late June and then one Palestinian teen earlier this month – has so far claimed the lives of a further 479 Palestinians and 27 Israelis, according to the latest U.N. figures. But it’s perhaps the escalating toll on innocent children that has drawn the greatest concern from human rights organizations, world leaders and critics of both Hamas and Israel. In a press conference on July 22, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a cease-fire, saying that “too many Palestinian and Israeli mothers are burying their children.” The day before, President Barack Obama said in a press conference that there was an urgent need to “stop the deaths of innocent civilians.”

In response to the outcry over the loss of children’s lives – much of it directed towards Israel – the Israeli military has said that it has gone to extensive lengths to prevent civilian deaths, while psychologists in Israel point out that the conflict has taken a toll on Israeli as well as Palestinian children.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the IDF, tells TIME that Israel has made efforts to “encourage people to leave areas that were potential combat zones” by releasing leaflets, sending texts and making phone calls before the IDF launched its ground offensive. Lerner says that civilians are never the targets. “Some of the targets have been civilian homes that have been utilized for command and control positions by terrorists,” he says.

Bill van Esveld, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, and who is based in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, tells TIME that, “given the fact that more than 50% of Gaza’s population is under 18 years old,” any attacks on the region’s densely packed residential areas are likely “going to harm civilians [and] chances are, given that population ratio, going to be killing kids.”

Given the large, young population in Gaza, experts say that many children are likely suffering from symptoms of trauma, even if they haven’t been physically injured. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that “at least 72,390 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS) on the basis of families who have experienced death, injury or loss of home over the past ten days.” OCHA also expects that number to soar.

Israeli mother and son seen run to a bomb shelter as the siren goes off on July 14, 2014 at the city of Ashkelon.
Israeli mother and son run to a bomb shelter as the siren goes off in Ashkelon, July 14, 2014 . Ilia Yefimovich—Getty Images

So far no Israeli children have been killed in the conflict and there are no reports of injuries. But Israeli activists and researchers report that the conflict has traumatized children on both sides of the walls and fences that separate Gaza from Israel. Hamas has fired 2,000 missiles into Israel, according to the IDF, since the conflict began. Clinical psychologist Yotam Dagan is the international cooperation director at Natal, an Israeli non-governmental organization that treats victims of trauma related to war and terror, and he tells TIME, “It’s not just an Israeli problem and it’s not just a Palestinian problem – children are children are children, everywhere. Whenever hostilities break, you know the fire starts to blow [and] children are the first and the most likely to be affected by the situation.”

“When we talk about psychological trauma it’s like an invisible bullet,” says Dagan, “nobody sees it, but this experience of being near death or being nearly killed or exposed to explosions and rockets falling – or even the fear – it’s like an invisible bullet that goes through your soul, through your mind.”

Irwin Mansdorf, an Israeli psychologist and fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, says that Israeli children exposed to attacks by Hamas are susceptible to “real clinical symptoms as a result of real, distressing events.” According to both psychologists, the symptoms of trauma in children, much like in adults, can include nightmares, flashbacks, detachment, anxiety, depression or acting out and regression.

Some Israeli children are also dealing with being displaced from their homes. Roni Taronski, 12, is seeking refuge – along with her mother, grandmother and aunt – in a boarding school about 11 miles (18 kms) south-east from her home in Kibbutz Mefalsim, which is only a mile from the Gaza border and has become a target of Hamas rocket fire. “It’s not that we don’t want to go, everybody wants to go home,” she tells TIME. “We’re not allowed. Our houses are [like] a military base right now.” When asked how she’s feeling so far away from home, Roni says she’s homesick. She then adds, “I’m really scared.”

In Gaza, Samira Attar, a 13-year-old girl from the Beit Lahia neighborhood, is among the 100,000 Palestinians who are now displaced and seeking refuge in an United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, where her mother, Souad, says the sound of shelling keeps the family awake at night. “I hate this school,” Samira tells TIME. “I want to play with my cousins and sisters and live normally like others.”

Twelve-year-old Shahd Majed lies on a bed in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, her leg injured by shrapnel from a shell or bomb that exploded near her house on July 21. “I hate the war,” she says. “I want it to end please. I want to return to normal life. Please let us live.”

-with reporting by Hazem Balousha / Gaza

TIME russia

Dutch Minister Says E.U. Is Imposing New Sanctions on Officials Over Russia’s Actions in Ukraine

(BRUSSELS) — Dutch minister says EU is imposing new sanctions on officials over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

TIME indonesia

Jakarta Governor Widodo Wins Indonesian Election

(JAKARTA, Indonesia) — Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, who won the hearts of Indonesians with his common man image, won Indonesia’s presidential election with 53 percent of the vote, final results from the Election Commission showed Tuesday.

The numbers were released shortly after his opponent, former general Prabowo Subianto, declared he was withdrawing from the contest, saying there was massive fraud during the election and that it was unfair and undemocratic.

Widodo, a former furniture maker known widely as “Jokowi,” had maintained a slim lead of about 4 percentage points in unofficial “quick counts” by polling agencies released after the July 9 election.

But Subianto, who has declared assets of $140 million and was on his third bid for the presidency, repeatedly claimed that polling firms with links to his campaign showed he was ahead.

“We reject the 2014 presidential election which is unlawful and therefore we withdraw from the ongoing process,” he said.

There were no immediate reports of violence. About 100 Subianto supporters held a peaceful protest about 300 meters (300 yards) from the Election Commission building in downtown Jakarta, chanting “Prabowo is the real president” and holding banners saying that the commission should stop cheating.

The building was surrounded by thousands of policemen to maintain security after a particularly nasty presidential campaign. It was the first election that pitted two candidates directly against each other since the Muslim majority country of 240 million emerged from the long and brutal Suharto dictatorship 16 years ago.

Supporters of both men used social media for personal attacks, and Subianto’s supporters led a smear campaign against Widodo, spreading rumors he is not a Muslim.

The commission was to formally declare the winner later Tuesday evening.

Final results showed that Widodo won 70,997,859 votes, or 53.15 percent of the nearly 133 million valid ballots cast, while Subianto won 62,576,444 votes, or 46.85 percent.

Voter turnout was 70.7 percent.

TIME World

Watch The Queen’s Guard Perform The Game of Thrones Theme Song

Part of changing the guard at Buckingham Palace

+ READ ARTICLE

A YouTube user captured the moment recently when the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace played the theme song from the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

According to the British Monarchy’s website, the music played at the Changing of the Guard “ranges from traditional military marches to songs from films and musicals and even familiar pop songs.” (h/t Rolling Stone)

MORE: Hodor from Game of Thrones Launches Thrones-Themed DJ Tour

WATCH: This Game of Thrones Cover Brings Winterfell to The Bayou

WATCH: This 80s Remix of The Game of Thrones Trailer

TIME Turkey

Transsexual TV Reporter Becomes Turkey’s Face of LGBT Rights

In Turkey, legislation does not discriminate against transsexuals, but the country has a long way to go when it comes to LGBT rights, advocates say

+ READ ARTICLE

Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread and activists hope to make the country an example of respect towards the LGBT community.

Michelle Demishevich, a prominent LGBT rights activist, is the country’s first transsexual TV reporter. While Turkey’s gay and transgender communities enjoy better rights than their counterparts in most Muslim countries, her achievement is rather unique.

In the video above, reported by the AFP, the activist talks about the fight for LGBT rights in Turkish society.

TIME World

Plus-Size Parking Spaces in China Spark Accusations of Sexism

CHINA-SOCIAL-GENDER-TRANSPORT-OFFBEAT
Mall manager Yang Hongjun in front of cars parked in pink spaces in front of the Dashijiedaduhui, or World Metropolis centre, in the seaport city of Dalian, July 7, 2014. The parking spaces are distinctive: marked out in pink, around 30 centimetres wider than normal, and signposted "Respectfully reserved for women". Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images

Mall managers said women had trouble with navigating standard width spots

Extra-wide parking spaces outside a mall in China designed for women have sparked a debate on social media in the country over allegations of sexism.

The mall, located in the northern Chinese port city of Dalian, has 10 spaces with an extra 30 centimeters marked in pink outside the main entrance that were provided after women had trouble parking in the standard basement slots, managers said.

“We just wanted to make things easier for women, who make up most of our customers,” said manager Yang Hongjun, a woman herself.

China’s official line is that of gender equality—Mao Tse-tung said that “women hold up half the sky”—but in reality, sexism persists in the country. Beijing police said in a microblog last year that women drivers “lack a sense of direction” and often “hesitate and are indecisive about which road they should take,” Agence France-Presse reports.

Driving for both men and women is a perilous endeavor in China, where in 2012, 60,000 people died on the roads.

[AFP]

TIME #MH17

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: Family Bumped From Flight

Debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shown smouldering in a field July 17, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine.
Debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shown smouldering in a field July 17, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine. Pierre Crom—Getty Images

"We were supposed to be on that flight"

While the family and friends of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are searching for answers, another family is counting their blessings.

Barry and Izzy Sim, along with their baby son, had planned on boarding the very flight that later crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. But when they arrived at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the couple were told there were not enough seats on the plane for all of them. Instead the family switched to a later flight with KLM airlines.

“We were supposed to be on that flight,” a visibly emotional Izzy Sim told the BBC, after learning that their original flight had crashed. “There must have been someone watching over us and saying ‘you must not get on that flight.’”

All 298 aboard the flight were killed in the crash. Of those aboard, 154 people were from the Netherlands, 27 from Australia, 43 from Malaysia, 12 from Indonesia, 9 from the United Kingdom and others from Europe, the Philippines and Canada, according to a statement from Malaysia Airlines.

“You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach,” said Barry, describing his reaction to the news that the plane had crashed. “We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going.”

But Barry, originally from Scotland, said the family was still planning on flying to Malaysia, despite the tragedy. “In my mind, lightning never strikes twice in the same place so I am still philosophical that you get on the flight and you go about your life,” he said. “I know my wife doesn’t feel like that. Probably the last thing she wants to do now is fly, especially to Kuala Lumpur.”

Clutching her baby son, Izzy explained, “We are very loyal to Malaysia Airlines and we always want to fly with Malaysia Airlines.” But, “at this moment we are so glad to be [booked] on that KLM flight rather than that Malaysia Airlines flight.”

[BBC]

TIME World

Reporter Sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Angela Merkel in This Cringe-Worthy Video

It's the thought that counts

+ READ ARTICLE

In honor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 60th birthday, a German TV reporter serenaded her with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday, Liebe Bundeskanzlerin (Dear Chancellor)” during a press conference at the European Council building in Brussels, Belgium.

No other journalists seemed to sing along with Udo Van Kampen, Brussels correspondent for ZDF.

“I should have sung along, then it would have been better,” Merkel said, the Associated Press reports. “But thank you.”

So far, she said she has received flowers and champagne from her colleagues attending a European Union summit, though arguably, Germany’s World Cup win on July 13 was the best birthday present she got.

 

TIME World

‘Yo’ App Retooled to Alert Israelis of Missile Attacks

A gag app that allows you to say "Yo" to your friends has been repurposed to potentially save lives

+ READ ARTICLE

The “Yo” app was developed as a joke. Download the app, tap on a friend’s name, and they’d get a message from you saying “Yo.” It’s that simple. In fact, the app was created in eight hours and released on April Fools’ day just so people would know it was a gag.

But Yo has a new application that’s no laughing matter. Developers in the Middle East are using the app to warn Israelis of possible attacks from rocket fire; users following the handle “RedAlertIsrael” will get a “Yo” at the same time the country’s sirens go off.

One person’s gag app is apparently another’s survival tool.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser