A heavy storm, darkening the skies, raged on. Only that it just wasn’t any ordinary rain-soaked storm. This storm, nebulous and gaudy as it appears, was a conglomeration of phosphorus, iron and other elements. Its nucleus was filled with destructive metals that annihilated anything on impact. The little lights it emits on impact, were glowing with the bitter rays of terror, sending any nearby living thing and non-living thing into a world of total oblivion. The process of releasing such storm into a particular area was known as shelling. To further reinforce the tremulous and horror-filled satisfactions of the shelling, large metallic birds were hovering just overhead dropping their own savage versions of the phosphorus-filled pellets raining over Gaza. This was called air strikes. If a 6ft fellow had bothered to jump, he might catch one of the numerous flying birds, but who was measuring their heights when everybody was scampering for safety where there was none. Houses were rumbling to the ground. Armageddon!, chaos!, helter-skelter! didn’t even come near to describe what was going on in Gaza. Who was bothered to describe it anyway?
He was on his way out of Gaza with some friends to take refuge nearby, before he would join a maternal uncle in Pakistan when their journey was cut short by a wandering bomb from Israeli forces. That they were waving white flags, like supporters in football stadium, was no concern of the bomb. Just like the swimmer, who with his last breath flounders ashore from perilous seas, might turn to memorize the wide water of his death, so Ibrahim Amir Ashour, 15, the tall, athletic and handsome son of Mohammed Ashour; the only son and pride of his family, turned to look at the mangled and lifeless bodies of his co-bombed neighbours. His was not in good shape either. His round head full of black wavy hair, straight and almost flawless nose, complemented by dazzling blue eyes and small lips can best be described as a grotesque mask. They had just been hit by a wayward phosphorus-laden missile. His right leg was in the ditch where they had impulsively dived to evade the wicked bomb; his lifeless left arm just was about 10 centimeters from where he was miserably groaning in pains. Each laboured breathing was gradually snuffing the life out of Ashour.
Grown to a quick 6ft at just 14 years, coupled with his well-formed limbs had given Ashour the attributes of a fine footballer. Ashour’s interest had mainly been football and the Teachings of the Prophet. His maestro footballing skills in school had earned him the nickname ‘The future of Gazan football’. Though not a good philosophy student, his mind sort to delve into what little knowledge of philosophy he knew. With the laborious efforts of a man trying to lift a multistoried house, Ashour’s mind began to ask some unanswerable questions. ‘Why this universal cruelty of Nature?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Why such an unfortunate fate and endless grief for innocent victims, often used as shields, at the hands of unsympathetic and ravening beasts?’ And like a miser, eager in anticipation, but thrifty in spending, the answer to these questions kept eluding Ashour.
A week ago, his mother and sisters had been reported dead from a bomb attack that occurred at the school where they sought refuge. His father? Nobody knew of the whereabouts of his father. The patriarch of the Ashour family was nowhere to be found! That was unheard of. But Ashour could clearly recall the heaviness in the eyes of the relief workers that came to tell him that his father could not be located at that moment, though he might have crossed over to Pakistan. Their mortal efforts at trying to uplift his spirit had achieved exactly the opposite. Ashour knew better.
Three weeks ago, when the conflict between the Hamas militia and Israeli forces had escalated beyond all reason, bombs randomly fell in Ashour’s village as rain would fall during the rainy season. Mothers were forced to flee, leaving behind suckling babies. Fathers ran leaving behind helpless families. Everywhere one went to was overfilled with decaying bodies of humans and animals. Blood was literally and figuratively overflowing in the streets of Gaza. Houses that hitherto had been gloriously basking in the riches of their owners were reduced to rubbles. The charred remains of burnt cars and motorcycles were all testimonies of the destructive powers of the bombs. It was as if a large and unidentifiable wheel had passed through Ashour’s village smothering anything within it’s reach. The excuse given by the Israeli authorities had been that Ashour’s village was swarming with terrorists. And to prevent themselves from future attacks, the terrorists needed to be wiped out at all costs, including Ashour’s village. Ashour remembered clearly that he had one day happened upon his uncle, Sallah, rearranging bombs with some two discreet faces in his sitting room. And when the sensitive Ashour had asked what they were for, his uncle had brushingly told him that they were meant for carrying out ‘Allahs will’. It had been only his uncle and about three others. But that doesn’t translate to the whole village being swarmed with terrorists. Or was it? ‘Moreover’…
A bomb exploded just a few feet from where Ashour’s helpless body was engaged in it’s reminisce, and it tossed some dismembered body parts into the air. Ashour’s was one of them. Thus ended the life of Ibrahim Amir Ashour. The future of Gazan football. The pride of his family. Handsome Ashour. His tragic end was just like that of over 2,000 innocent souls caught inbetween the wheels of fighting raging on in Gaza three weeks ago between Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian militant groups.
Finding the appropriate title and engagement of the treatise under discussion was as troublesome and herculean as trying to picture the gruesome, battered and mangled lifeless bodies scattered across Gaza as a result of the aftermath of Israelian bombings of some parts of Palestinian-controlled Gaza. This was because the inhuman rate at which lifeless bodies filled some towns in Gaza at the aftermath of Israeli bombings of 8th July to 10th August, 2014, was not a poetic sight that could readily be painted even by the most famed poet. The thought kept recurring at the innermost depths of my heart, but sadly, couldn’t take on the garb of expression. Fortunately for me, ineffable Providence readily provided Tammy Koroye, a diligent and ardent spectator of unfolding events in ongoing Israel-Gaza crises, as well as a good commentator. His indepth research provided the backbone of this piece. And by a stroke of luck, I happened upon Marie Corelli’s ‘THE MIGHTY ATOM’, a popular 19th century fictional work from which the title of this piece is heavily indebted to. Corelli’s novel told the tragic, brief and moving story of an unhappy, sensitive boy whose upbringing, in the absence of a mother who has been driven to desert him, was at the hands of his despotic and unsympathetic father. In Lionel, the novel’s tragic-hero, like the casualties of the Israel-Gaza conflict, I had clearly seen man’s inhumanity to man expressed and the obvious helplessness of man against such inhumanity. Like Lionel, the victims of the Israeli bombings were just what they are: collaterals. The unfortunate fate of ‘little atoms’ at the hands of ‘mighty atoms’. The ‘mighty atoms’ being represented by the world major super powers.
It wouldn’t be surprising that the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict would turn out a huge elephant project. Reason being that the UN being a plaything of the world super powers, can only have indictment powers at the whims of such super powers. The insidious encroachments and all-pervading schemes with which the affairs of the world are being decided by the super powers would make the Mission’s work a past time affair. Every toing and froing in the world today, as we all know, is the manipulations and initiatives of the mighty atoms. Why? Because the little atoms have natural resources within their geographical enclaves which they can’t control, left for them so to do. At what cost? Crises after crises. The current Israel-Gaza conflict; The Arab Revolution; The Afghan ISIS massacres; The Syrian crises and a whole lot of other world crises have that underlying character of the struggle for the control of world oil. And sadly wedged in the roller-coaster destructive effects for the control of world oil are the hapless, helpless and hopeless third world countries. All hopes of edging out and mopping up the super powers nursed by third world countries, appear frankly unimaginable. Why? Because all the ongoing crises are for the major ‘good’ and ‘benefit’ of such third world countries.
The purportedness of international humanitarian law to question acts of war crimes peddled by the world super powers is just a sheer waste of resources. The international community proved to be no community at all when it came to averting one of the greatest tragedies which history is leading: the infamous Rwandan Genocide of 1994. At best, the international community connived with conspirators to help perpetuate war crimes in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. The international community implicitly sanctioned the evil activities of key players in the Rwandan Genocide of ’94. According to the International Panel of Eminent Personalities on the Report of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and Surrounding Events (IPEPRRG), set up to look into the inglorious Rwandan Genocide of ’94, “the key Western members of the United Nations Security Council knew that a major catastrophe was imminent in Rwanda, yet did nothing to avert it; that with a relatively modest military effort, the catastrophe might have been averted entirely, yet this wasn’t done; and that once the genocide began, it was still possible as at then to possibly minimize the appalling destruction, yet this was never done.” Your guess is as good as mine, in trying to decipher why the necessary steps to deter the Rwandan genocide or minutely reduce the number of casualties were not taken. Carefully, and in an utter state of perplexity, I sadly began to connect the dots in the ongoing Gaza conflicts with another appropriate precedent, the Rwandan Genocide of ’94. I began to see the height of wickedness that would reduce man to the basest of animals.
As more and more conflicts arise in the world, plunging the world deeper into the throes of oblivion, as a result of the unruffledness and wickedness of world super powers, it is trite that nations should turn to the one and only Almighty Atom. The Mightiest of all Atoms, who unlike other unfeeling atoms, is all good and all loving. He understands everything better. His ways are all wise and eternal. He remains the only one able to put out such misery and suffering as there is presently. Nature wears the most serene and noble aspect; it seems good to live; good to hope; good to be even the smallest atom in the divine and splendid order of the universe when a nation acknowledges the existence of the Supreme Being; the Mighty Atom, God.
This piece is dutifully dedicated to the true heroes of the ongoing Gaza conflict. The ill-omened ones of the world, whose fates are decided by unsympathetic and despotic ones. May God receive their souls in his bosom and grant them eternal rest. Amen.
BY TAMI KOROYE AND ARIKOR COLLINS.