THE EDITOR: Yesterday marked World Children’s Day, celebrated every November 20 to promote the welfare of young people around the globe.
Ordinarily a date in which diplomats engage in bilateral meetings, official events and international conferences, this year Children’s Day assumed a more personal meaning in light of the tragic events of October 7.
At dawn on October 7, Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel and by sunset had brutally slaughtered 1,200 Israelis and foreign citizens. In addition, around 240 were abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip, where they are still being held six weeks later. The abducted include entire families, the elderly – and 34 children, ten of them younger than five years old, including a nine-month-old baby.
Take a minute to think about that. Thirty-four children. Some mere babies or toddlers.
As a father I cannot stop thinking about the parents back in Israel whose sons and daughters are not with them today. Mothers and fathers who have no idea where their kidnapped children are in the Gaza Strip. Aunts and uncles, siblings and grandparents, all wondering, and hoping, and trying not to let despair overwhelm them or diminish their efforts to raise awareness, the only weapon left in their fight for their loved ones' freedom.
Parents who survived the massacre on that horrific day have come forward to share their anguish and talk about the questions that keep them up at night: Who is feeding my children? Are they cold? Were they injured during the kidnapping, and, if so, are they receiving medical care? Who calms them, terrified as they must be? Being held in a dark and a dank tunnel, are they wondering why am I not there to comfort them?
These innocents, one as young as nine months old, were pulled from their beds and "safe rooms," dragged over the border, and secreted in hiding spaces across the Gaza Strip. Several witnessed the brutal murders of their parents and siblings before being taken.
It is time for every one of us to raise our voice and demand that the children be brought home today.
There is no reason to hesitate. A call to release abducted young people is not a political act. There can be no doubt that under international law, kidnapping innocent civilians is a war crime, while taking children is an offence against humanity itself.
World Children’s Day was yesterday, but your voice is even more important than ever. Do not forget the children kidnapped to the Gaza Strip. Join the call for their immediate release. Help us bring them home now.
TT and Caricom