US-PALESTINIANS-RIGHTS-BUCKET CHALLENGE

It was not long ago when videos showing people pouring a bucket of ice over their heads became vogue in social media. Known as the Ice Bucket Challenge (others stylize it as #ALSIceBucketChallenge), this campaign aims to raise awareness for the plight of patients inflicted by a nerve illness called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and generate money to pioneer researches about the disease. But in a crisis-torn territory such as Gaza where a lavish supply of water is an extravagance and a stable supply of electricity (a must-have if you want chunks of ice doused over your head) a luxury, the Ice Bucket Challenge is not an easy challenge to deal with. Taking inspiration from the concept of the online craze, a university student from Gaza initiated the Palestinian brand of the Ice Bucket Challenge where, instead of an ice bucket, one has to have a bucket of rubble. The goal of the so-called Rubble Bucket Challenge is not to gather monetary donations but to take cognizance of the humanitarian crisis which presently plagues the region of Gaza.

The depressing situation in Gaza is a matter of transcendental importance and one that should warrant the attention of the international community. In recent statistics, more than 2,000 people were killed and around 475,000 people were displaced in Gaza, not to mention over 10,000 people were injured. The indiscriminate firing of rockets and missiles in residential areas is the culprit behind the increase of the death toll. On the one hand, Israel points their fingers to the Hamas and blames them for their unguided rockets which hit civilian homes within Gaza. Hamas, on the other, accuse Israel of launching air strikes which led to the death of so many Palestinians. We know that both parties have their own goals to achieve and interests to protect. While Israel wants to restore peace in the country by calling for the demilitarization of the Hamas and stopping them in launching rocket fires, the Hamas wants the blockade of Gaza be lifted and Israeli aggression be thwarted. But in so doing, the civilians have borne the cumbrous brunt of the tense conflict.

Israel and Gaza have been engaged in wars before. They have signed truces and agreed with several ceasefires but all have been ephemeral. The ceasefire which was agreed upon by both parties in 2012 ended last July 7 when Hamas fired rockets after a 20-month hiatus. Basing from historical precedents, it can be said that the prospects for the immediate resolution of the cross-border conflict are grim. The future might be bleak indeed but Egypt acting as the intermediary between the two parties can be seen in a positive light. All hope is still not lost if the parties could pull off a series of consultative deliberations and come up with a comprehensive peace framework which is long-term in scope and all-inclusive enough to address the conflicting demands of the warring entities. This may be an onerous task as this will more likely go in a very tortuous trail, but this enduring issue is a race against time: lives are at stake and rights can be arbitrarily violated.

With the proliferation of social media usage, the Rubble Bucket Challenge has successfully sent a potent message to several people from various parts of the world. The use of rubble from infrastructures crushed by bombs in lieu of water carries with it a grievous message that transcends from the archetypal realities of the cyber-sphere to the appalling realities of our time. Monetary donations, though it can help the internally displaced, are not capable of bringing back to life innocent souls who, along with their bodies, were shattered by deadly air strikes. As a viral trend, the Rubble Bucket Challenge does not seek popularity for the sake of making its proponents well-known to the celebrated world of likes, tweets and shares. It does, however, seek to engender interest and consciousness to people about what it feels to live, as a child, a mother or a student, in a region where there is no assurance of peace, life is always under threat and bombings are a daily occurrence like the rising and setting of sun. Those who valiantly accepted the challenge wish to remind us that ours is not a utopian world; that this is a world which we can fully understand only if we stop thinking passively about the needs and concerns of others who might be grieving due to a loss of a loved one or struggling to survive in a distant war-ravaged land.

Image Source: The Jakarta Post