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Who Are We? Humans, Or Savages

It’s been over a month, since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. According to an article published by CBSN News Foreign Editor Tucker Reals titled Why did Hamas attack Israel, and why now? Hamas was motivated to attack Israel, due to its long-building anger over Israeli policy, which includes recent acts of violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Most importantly, this is due to the mistreatment of Palestinians and the expansion of Israeli settlements. Regardless of how this war started, we know how it will most likely end. It ends with the families on both sides being torn apart and destroyed by the mass murders and kidnappings of innocent civilians, with no relation to the Hamas-Israel war. As stated by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "The legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people… nothing can justify these acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians."

The Palestinian people have dealt with a great deal of suffering already, in a short amount of time. One of the most vulnerable people affected by this war is the children. In an article titled How are Palestinian children affected by the Israel-Hamas war? An Aljazeera writer explains how the Hamas-Israel war has caused children as well as families to live in poverty-stricken circumstances, wherein they’ve lost their access to necessities including food and water. It’s also reported that the death toll of children and other civilians continues to be on the rise. One example would be the number of deaths that took place on a particular Wednesday October 11, 2023, when Aljazeera reported, “the death toll in Gaza reached at least 950 Palestinians, including 260 children, with the Palestinian Health Information Center reporting that 10 percent of the 3726 people injured were children.”

Aside from deaths and kidnappings, the war has also harmed interpersonal relationships. According to an article titled, The Israel-Hamas War Is Making Americans Question Their Relationships, Editor of Times Magazine Belinda Luscombe reports about a woman named Marina who spent much of her life in Israel, and now lives in the United States. Marina once had a dear friend, whom she met through her husband, who was also best friends with her friend’s husband.

The two women had been through a lot during their time together as friends. They’ve been to each other’s weddings, they spent holidays together, they’ve even had children together of the same age. These two women once had a decade of fond memories together, until the war happened that changed everything. When the war started, Marina’s friend stopped communicating with her and when she finally did, she expressed anger and hurt, due to the posts that Marina was posting on social media that gave a negative representation of Muslims.

Feeling confused, Marina attempted to explain herself, “Nothing [I’m posting] is about Muslims and nothing is about the Arab culture,” she says. “I only talked about Hamas.” Unfortunately, it didn’t change anything, and things even got worse from there. Marina’s friend explained to Marina that she couldn’t support the Israeli government’s actions, and Marina tried to explain to her friend that this had nothing to do with politics. She was telling her that babies were killed, and her relatives’ lives were being threatened, but that wasn’t enough to fix anything.

Marina’s friend eventually created a post on social media which horrified Marina. Afterwards, Marina had a breakdown at work and started crying. She also expressed her feelings of hurt and heartbreak when she states, “This is a girl who I think is the most amazing, wonderful, has such social intelligence, emotional intelligence, and for her to put something that evil—it broke me, it completely destroyed me.” Deteriorating mental health is also a terrible consequence, affecting people in this context.

The American Psychological Association released a statement regarding the Hamas-Israel war, and they’ve explained that consuming too much violent negative content in the media, can harm a person’s mental health.

They explain how fear, anxiety, traumatic stress can cause a negative effect on a person’s well-being mentally long-term by saying, “Psychological science tells us that fear, anxiety and traumatic stress have long-term effects on health and well-being. These impacts are also being felt by people around the world who have families and friends in the region, as well as those concerned about the effects of war everywhere.”

Finally, physical health concerns have a major negative impact on civilians because of this Hamas-Israel war. In an article titled The Humanitarian Health Effects of the Israel-Hamas War Among Civilians in Gaza, Humanitarian Health expert Paul Spiegel talks about the greatest health concerns that would affect civilians in Gaza in a Q&A interview he did with the medical school organization Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He states, “The complete blockade of Gaza does not allow for the importation of basic lifesaving services like water, electricity, food, and medical supplies into a densely populated and circumscribed area. Combined with the bombing, a massive number of civilians being displaced, and attacks on health care facilities, this is a toxic brew for epidemics, exacerbations of existing illnesses, and increased morbidity and mortality.”

In conclusion, these considerations lead to the imperative question: who are we? Are we human beings or savages? This war that no one asked for, is causing severe damage to everyone that’s involved. It’s causing innocent children to die, it’s causing innocent people to be kidnapped, it’s causing friends and family to turn against each other, it’s causing mental health to be affected negatively, it’s causing physical health to be affected negatively, and it makes you wonder why do we let ourselves be this way? No matter which side wins in this war, it’s humanity that loses in the end. If we’re not careful, we’ll slowly lose everything that makes us human, and what will be left of us then? A person’s political beliefs shouldn’t triumph over moral beliefs. Our differences shouldn’t blind us to our similarities.

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