Chris Hedges: Letter to the Children of Gaza

At night you lie in the dark on the cold cement floor. The phones are cut. The internet is off. You do not know what is happening. There are flashes of light. There are waves of blast concussions. There are screams. It does not stop.  

‘Children of Gaza’ — Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges
Original to ScheerPost

Dear child. It is past midnight. I am flying at hundreds of miles an hour in the darkness, thousands of feet over the Atlantic Ocean. I am traveling to Egypt. I will go to the border of Gaza at Rafah. I go because of you.

You have never been in a plane. You have never left Gaza. You know only the densely packed streets and alleys. The concrete hovels.  You know only the security barriers and fences patrolled by soldiers that surround Gaza. Planes, for you, are terrifying. Fighter jets. Attack helicopters. Drones. They circle above you. They drop missiles and bombs. Deafening explosions. The ground shakes. Buildings fall. The dead. The screams. The muffled calls for help from beneath the rubble. It does not stop.

Night and day. Trapped under the piles of smashed concrete. Your playmates. Your schoolmates. Your neighbors. Gone in seconds. You see the chalky faces and limp bodies when they are dug out. I am a reporter. It is my job to see this. You are a child. You should never see this.   

The stench of death. Rotting corpses under broken concrete. You hold your breath. You cover your mouth with cloth. You walk faster. Your neighborhood has become a graveyard. All that was familiar is gone. You stare in amazement. You wonder where you are.

You are afraid. Explosion after explosion. You cry. You cling to your mother or father. You cover your ears. You see the white light of the missile and wait for the blast. Why do they kill children? What did you do? Why can’t anyone protect you? Will you be wounded? Will you lose a leg or an arm? Will you go blind or be in a wheelchair? Why were you born?  Was it for something good? Or was it for this?

Will you grow up?  Will you be happy? What will it be like without your friends? Who will die next? Your mother? Your father? Your brothers and sisters?  Someone you know will be injured. Soon. Someone you know will die. Soon.  

At night you lie in the dark on the cold cement floor. The phones are cut. The internet is off. You do not know what is happening. There are flashes of light. There are waves of blast concussions. There are screams. It does not stop.  

When your father or mother hunts for food or water you wait. That terrible feeling in your stomach. Will they come back? Will you see them again? Will your tiny home be next? Will the bombs find you? Are these your last moments on Earth?  

You drink salty, dirty water. It makes you very sick. Your stomach hurts. You are hungry. The bakeries are destroyed. There is no bread. You eat one meal a day. Pasta. A cucumber. Soon this will seem like a feast. 

You do not play with your soccer ball made of rags. You do not fly your kite made from old newspapers.      

You have seen foreign reporters. We wear flak jackets with the word PRESS written on it. We have helmets. We have cameras. We drive jeeps. We appear after a bombing or a shooting. We sit over coffee for a long time and talk to the adults. Then we disappear. We do not usually interview children. But I have done interviews when groups of you crowded around us. Laughing. Pointing. Asking us to take your picture. 

I have been bombed by jets in Gaza. I have been bombed in other wars, wars that happened before you were born. I too was very, very scared. I still have dreams about it. When I see the pictures of Gaza these wars return to me with the force of thunder and lightning. I think of you. 

All of us who have been to war hate war most of all because of what it does to children.

I tried to tell your story. I tried to tell the world that when you are cruel to people, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, when you deny people freedom and dignity, when you humiliate and trap them in an open-air prison, when you kill them as if they were beasts, they become very angry. They do to others what was done to them. I told it over and over. I told it for seven years. Few listened. And now this. 

There are very brave Palestinian journalists. Thirty-nine of them have been killed since this bombing began. They are heroes. So are the doctors and nurses in your hospitals. So are the U.N. workers. Eighty-nine of whom have died. So are the ambulance drivers and the medics. So are the rescue parties that lift up the slabs of concrete with their hands. So are the mothers and fathers who shield you from the bombs. 

But we are not there. Not this time. We cannot get in. We are locked out. 

Reporters from all over the world are going to the border crossing at Rafah. We are going because we cannot watch this slaughter and do nothing. We are going because hundreds of people are dying a day, including 160 children. We are going because this genocide must stop. We are going because we have children. Like you. Precious. Innocent. Loved. We are going because we want you to live. 

I hope one day we will meet. You will be an adult. I will be an old man, although to you I am already very old. In my dream for you I will find you free and safe and happy.  No one will be trying to kill you. You will fly in airplanes filled with people, not bombs. You will not be trapped in a concentration camp. You will see the world. You will grow up and have children. You will become old. You will remember this suffering, but you will know it means you must help others who suffer. This is my hope. My prayer.

We have failed you. This is the awful guilt we carry. We tried. But we did not try hard enough. We will go to Rafah. Many of us. Reporters. We will stand outside the border with Gaza in protest. We will write and film. This is what we do. It is not much. But it is something. We will tell your story again. 

Maybe it will be enough to earn the right to ask for your forgiveness.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is host of the show The Chris Hedges Report.

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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28 comments for “Chris Hedges: Letter to the Children of Gaza

  1. Hamid Nakhaie
    November 11, 2023 at 18:22

    When I watch the news and pictures of what is happening to children in Gaza from where I am, very far, it disturb me so much. But I cannot express my feelings and thoughts with words. By reading your letter I realized that there are some beautiful people like you in this world whom I can share my feelings and thoughts with.
    Thank you so much.

  2. doris
    November 11, 2023 at 08:39

    Thank you for expressing what is in the hearts of many as we watch the evil empire slaughter innocents by the thousands. Sticks, stones, and makeshift rockets against a nuclear-powered, multi-billion dollar military is NOT a war! It’s a massacre. A massacre we’re powerless to stop, but will continue to try and stop.

  3. torture this
    November 11, 2023 at 08:25

    We know Israelis can raise a ruckus when they don’t like something–witness the demonstrations against Bibi’s “stay out of jail” protests in the last few months.
    They’ve given up their objections to collaborating with nazis to the point of emulating and supporting them.
    Obviously, genocide is fine with them as long as they’re the perps.
    The meaning of “The Holocaust” is being erased, day by day.
    It was just an example of what ideological gangsters do when they want something that belongs to someone else.
    And, they’re giving up any right to sympathy from anyone.

  4. Henry John
    November 10, 2023 at 22:26

    I really don’t know why I’m losing the ability to cry when reading this. I’ve cried so much and yet it does no good. I’ll match in Manchester again tomorrow but feel useless knowing even that act of calling for humanity to stop this genocide is likely to be hijacked by politicians and media, who only know hate and greed. I’ll say God bless and take care Chris, though can’t understand how there can be a God. I’ll hug my grandchildren, with a certain amount of guilt that I am able to do that but be assured that they will be educated to understand what cruel deeds these people have done and maybe their generation can see those responsible held to account and punished

  5. graeme pedersen
    November 10, 2023 at 22:10

    This article really paints a picture of something people in a war free environment (NZ) can’t even imagine. It disgusts me to think of the people in the states, many of them with duel citizenship, who proclaim to be the worlds best at “everything” can stand by and even support thisGenocide. Which it surely is. Supporting by supplying the backup and of the weapons used agains the Palestinians

  6. ray Peterson
    November 10, 2023 at 21:59

    Yes, Kathleen, they call themselves Christians, Chris has
    called them “Christian Fascists” (see his book so titled),
    but of course they are not at all Christian, infinitely
    far from it.
    They all are followers of the lie, “weeds” (Mt.13.30) evil’s
    offspring; and they do what Herod did: “slaughter the innocents”

  7. WillD
    November 10, 2023 at 21:59

    Reading this article, I wanted to put Joe Biden, Netanyahu and all the other western leaders who support and condone this barbarity in the streets of Gaza, with their families – to experience first hand what they are allowing to happen, and which they could so easily prevent.

    I’d like to put them into the villages in the Hebron that are being terrorised by the Israeli settlers, and I’d like to put them into the makeshift mortuaries with all of the dead bodies – broken and whole. I’d like them to see and hear the suffering of the wounded and dying, and I’d like them to explain to the children and orphans why their parents died.

    I’d like this all to happen with the cameras of the whole world on them, in real-time, for all to see.

    Then I’d like to lock them up, and throw away the key.

    • Valerie
      November 11, 2023 at 11:31

      A very fitting retribution Will.

  8. Dan A Goldstein
    November 10, 2023 at 20:38

    Good on you, Chris Hedges, and I commend you for your bravery, past and present. As for me, I might’ve anticipated concurring with UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres’ condemnation of Israel for its massive violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza. But now, amazingly, I find myself standing with FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron as he insists Israel must stop killing women and children in that imprisoned territory.

    Let Macron, regardless of his many faults, be only the first leader of a major western power to condemn the slaughter, enabled as it is by US taxpayers. Of course, I’d never expect Joe Biden or “my own” US Senator Tammy Baldwin to demand what they clearly should:

  9. November 10, 2023 at 20:09

    Chris, do you know of this exquisite poem by Joseph Fasano? That and your article tore at my heart.

    Words Whispered to a Child Under Siege

    No, we are not going to die. The sounds you hear knocking the windows and chipping the paint from the ceiling, that is a game the world is playing.

    Our task is to crouch in the dark as long as we can and count the beats of our own hear on my heart and I’ll lay mine on yours.

    Which one of us wins is the one who loves the game the most while it lasts. Yes, it is going to last. You can use your ear instead of your hand.
    Here, on my heart. Why is it beating faster? For you. That’s all. I always wanted you to be born and so did the world.

    No, those aren’t a stranger’s bootsteps in the house. Yes, I’m here. We’re safe.

    Remember chess? Remember hide-and-seek? The song your mother sang? Let’s sing that one. She’s still with us, yes. But you have to sing without making a sound. She’d like that.

    No, those aren’t bootsteps. Sing. Sing louder. Those aren’t bootsteps. Let me show you how I cried when you were born. Those aren’t bootsteps.

    Those aren’t sirens. Those aren’t flames. Close your eyes.
    Like chess. Like hide-and-seek.

    When the game is done you get another life.

  10. Robyn
    November 10, 2023 at 19:06

    Thank you, Chris. Such a moving letter, such compassion, such eloquence.

  11. Rafi Simonton
    November 10, 2023 at 16:44

    Permanent PTSD

    A friend of mine, a senior investigative reporter, had been a war correspondent. He described it as knowing you have no way to defend yourself, seeing constant suffering and death, the seemingly random destruction such that you or those immediately around you could always be next to get blown apart. It shatters the soul, becoming permanent PTSD. Years later a sudden loud noise, a bright flash, the sound of airplanes overhead will trigger uncontrollable bodily shaking and intense fear.

    What happens when millions of people, including little children in their formative years, face the same for decades with no relief whatsoever? As the Wobblies say, “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you–that’s the responsible, very real, very human basis for all actions, foreign and domestic. Not bloodless, abstract “policies.”

  12. Lois Gagnon
    November 10, 2023 at 16:12

    Thank you Chris for speaking to the children. Those that manage to survive this genocide will be severely traumatized. How much blood shed and human suffering is enough for the empire managers who have conveniently fallen silent except for their pathetic mantra “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Apparently, Israel’s victims have no right to defend themselves. No victims of colonialist violence have any rights except to roll over and die. Die is what this empire and its Middle East base of operations under the guise of a Jewish homeland need to do.

  13. CaseyG
    November 10, 2023 at 14:45

    Thank you Mr. Hedges. Thank you for speaking the truth when so many in America refuse to see the truth.
    I am so sorry for all of he ugliness which comes from colleges, from American Jews and even some Jewish people who refuse to see the Palestinians as fellow humans.And how disgusting so many elected ones have been in condemning what the GOP and even Dems have said of Rep Talib in her truths. Sadly, in America , what Israel says is what people believe and so many who despise Palestine. Palestine remember was attacked in 1948— and land stolen and people driven out of their homeland with so many many murdered in the Israeli rampage of 1948.
    Biden, Blinken and Netanyahu—-where is your humanity?

    • jean mckay
      November 10, 2023 at 22:37

      You speak eloquently for many of us. Thank you.

    • Skip Edwards
      November 11, 2023 at 22:10

      How rightfully correct you are with your compassionate comment. One would think that the Jewish people living in Israel, many of whom are the descendants of the Jews crucified in Europe by the Germans and others would never allow such inhumanity to occur against others in their name. Palestinians, like the Jews who came before them, will rise up and condemn the Jews to trials before the world’s eyes. Justice will be handed down and, hopefully then, we can all live on this Earth, together, as human brothers and sisters as we were meant to do.

  14. November 10, 2023 at 14:01

    I was reading and envisioning the ongoing insanity so heartfelt and eloquently expressed here, while salty tears from the feeling of anguish, shame, helplessness and burning anger streamed down my face, sitting here in the safety of a Scandinavian country, I’m once more reminded of a thought that struck me a long time ago;

    IS what we’re all witness to with the Palestinian people, just yet more damning evidence for – that what we call ‘Human Intelligence’ – and in THIS particular case – ”Collective Human Intelligence”, is nothing but a sad confirmation of the fact that ‘Human Intelligence’ might turn out to be The Mother Of All Oxymorons? . . .

    Because, what has happened happened in Gaza so far – and is STILL happening – as we speak, is nothing but pure, unadulterated INSANITY, and the diametrically OPPOSITE of ‘intelligence’! . . .

    I fear I’m NOT alone, when stating that I’ve lost hope in our species.

    • Valerie
      November 10, 2023 at 16:21

      I often say Eric, animals are better than humans.

  15. Philip Reed
    November 10, 2023 at 12:29

    Thank you Chris for speaking for all of us . God bless you and all of your colleagues who can sadly do nothing more than document this atrocity that is in plain site before the entire world. Shame,shame on those who are in a position to do something to stop this madness and are doing absolutely nothing.

  16. Refat Rabadi
    November 10, 2023 at 12:04

    I cried already after just reading “Dear Child” without no name ….

  17. BettyK
    November 10, 2023 at 11:34

    Thank you, Chis Hedges, for caring and telling this and other stories. I repeatedly ask myself how can a people who were murdered in a genocide by the Nazis become what they despise. How?

  18. Kathleen
    November 10, 2023 at 10:50

    People who call themselves Christian are supporting this merciless, one-sided “war.” I protest against it and pray for you. It is all I can do and it is not enough.

    • November 11, 2023 at 17:35

      Most especially fundamentalist or evangelical Christians who consider the return of Jews to Palestine to be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, of God’s plan regarding the “end times” allegedly predicted in the Bible, by which the clock has started ticking to the return of Jesus Christ (but not before Armageddon). Thus not supporting Israel is tantamount to standing in the way of God’s plan.

      If God, in the commonly understood sense of the word, and as believed in by Christians and Jews and other theists, is really real and worthy of the name, then God is concerned about the welfare of all people and does not favor any particular tribe or nation or any one particular group of people over others. This includes the United States, and includes Israel. And this includes the Jews, the so-called “chosen” people.

      I would think that God would be very displeased, to say the very least, at anybody who supports Israel in the name of being on the right side of God’s alleged “end times” plan, and cares nothing about the real sufferings of real Palestinian people, including Palestinian children, in the here and now.

      Note: I consider myself to be a Deist, and do not believe the Bible or the Koran or any other alleged revelation from God to actually be such.

  19. richard meitner
    November 10, 2023 at 10:17

    Very sadly, this is entirely true, and with the words you’ve crafted also extraordinarily beautifully expressed. Of course it’s also true that doing so, is all you can do. For me, there is no acceptable option other than to believe that your having do so, IS important..

  20. Valerie
    November 10, 2023 at 09:18

    Thankyou all for your bravery and integrity. May you all achieve your goals.

  21. tim
    November 10, 2023 at 09:18

    dam you made me cry once again.

    • Maura
      November 10, 2023 at 14:10

      The windshield wipers on my eyelids are moving in response to the cries of the children and families who are suffering in Gaza now.
      Propaganda has closed not only the eyes,but the hearts of those who deny the suffering.
      Thank you for your attention and care Chris.

  22. November 10, 2023 at 09:16

    Thank you!

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