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Collateral Damage

I first learnt of the English word ‘collateral’ when I was reading about Oklahoma Bomber, Timothy McVeigh, in April, 1995. When McVeigh was told that among 168 people killed nineteen were children, he said that was ‘collateral damage’, not his intended target.

The next person who frequently used the word was Barack Obama during his presidency. He approved, not sure, how many drone attacks to kill Jihadists worldwide. The media always reported the number of innocent people – men, women and children – killed in every attack. Obama would invariably respond, ‘Sorry, that was collateral damage’, meaning no blood on my hands.

Obama’s predecessor Bush Jr. had only two specific targets: Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussain. Media, CIA, and White House failed to report the exact number of casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq: killed, maimed, displaced, taken to Gitmo and, above all, the destruction. It was all ‘collateral damage’ – unintended casualties.

The world is now horrified at what’s happening in Gaza – the media call it ‘genocide’. Netanyahu is approving bombing in residential buildings, hospitals, schools, food centers, ambulances, refugee camps, and even mosques. More than 100 thousand have already been killed and wounded, more than two million displaced, and not to mention the gut-wrenching destruction in Gaza. It is reduced to rubble.

From my perspective it is nothing but ‘collateral damage’. Netanyahu is targeting Hamas and Hamas only. Mossad has information where they are hiding. They are everywhere, hiding in plain sight. I am pretty sure, if Hamas surrenders unconditionally today, bombing, killing and destruction would stop tomorrow.

It does not look like Biden understands it. But I am sure Barack Obama and George W Bush do.

About the Author
Tohon is the author of five autobiographical anthologies: My Awakened Soul (2023), Emil Joseph Burcik (2021), Life’s Invisible Battles (2020), The Jihadi (2016), and The Landscape of a Mind (2015), New Generation Publishing, London.