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Archive for September 12th, 2013

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All faiths rest peacefully here together, Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Hindu soldiers from Germany, Australia, France, Greece, Turkey, Britain and India, shaded by well maintained trees and divided only by greenery, The-WAR CEMETERY in Gaza is a place of quiet solitude in a city fearing the worst and suffering a tightening siege. Row after row of soldier some ” known only to god” , many in their early twenties,  some with personal inscriptions lie forever together, away from home, away from family as a last reminder to one more consequence of war.

The first world war or the great war as it was known was also known as the “war to end all wars”….., yet 100 years later the allied forces are again contemplating  war. … more death, more separation , more “War Cemeteries”

Perhaps a sombre walk around a cemetery like this, to look at and actually see the men ( We also saw one womans grave) , their ages , their inscriptions, would open the eyes of the war mongers………

Via “Asmaa al-Ghoul for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse Posted on May 2nd …
“These soldiers came to fight alongside the Allied forces against the Ottoman Empire during World War I in 1914-1918. They fought in three major battles, the largest being the battle of Wadi Gaza, as well as the Mantar battle. The battlefield was their final resting place. They were buried in the cemetery established by the coalition forces, known as the “Commonwealth.” The Gaza War Cemetery includes nearly 4,000 tombs, in addition to a smaller English cemetery comprising 750 graves. It is located in the center of the Gaza Strip in the region of al-Zawayida. According to the cemetery’s archives, battles were fierce due to the resilience of the Gaza-Beersheba defense line at the time.”

Some of the tombstones bear the Shahada — the Islamic declaration of faith — while others have Hindu statements engraved on them,others have the star of David and christian crosses.

A group of 22 graves of Canadian soldiers from the international peacekeeping forces takes up the eastern corner of the cemetery, among palm seedlings. These forces came to settle the war of 1956 that was waged by France, Israel and Britain against Egypt. The soldiers were killed between 1959 and 1966. These are the newest graves in the cemetery.

Not far from the Canadians’ graves are the tombs of Indian soldiers who fought in World War I. Among them is the resting place of a dozen Muslim soldiers who are buried without tombstones, according to Islamic tradition. Moreover, there are 25 Hindu soldiers who are also buried in one place without tombstones; instead, there is just a banner with text in ancient Sanskrit. There is also one grave for a Christian Indian soldier.”

We came across one tombstone marked ” Sister Annie Gledhill, a religious sister who died in October 1918 aged 43. The youngest dated tombstone seems to be a young boy of 17….., sons, brothers , friends. Interspersed around the graveyard are  inscriptions such as the one on the tomb of the United nations emergency force which reads”

In memory of our beloved soldiers who lost their lives in the cause of peace”

or the inscription on one soldiers headstone reading ”

let none forget, how vast the debt, we owe to those who died”

or more persoanlly

” Cherished memories of our happy, dearly loved youngest son.”

The cemetery keeper is  Ibrahim Jarada,  76, who was awarded member of the British Empire,  during a ceremony in Gaza in 1994. He has been quoted as saying:

“Five Jews are buried here. Moshe Dayan, when he was the defense minister, tried to exhume the bodies under the pretext that they did not belong here due to their different beliefs. I, however, strongly objected and told him that he should contact the cemetery’s management in the United Kingdom, but I will not give him [access to] any bodies. Death is human, and here we are bound by humanity, which must be respected.”

Although , Ironically, the War Cemetery here in Gaza, is the only place in Gaza of quiet serene and green peace, Lets , as Mr. Jarada says, “Be bound by humanity” and find another way…….. WAR WAS NOT THEN AND IS NOT NOW THE ANSWER!

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