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Gaza War Cemetery 

The Palestinian gardeners trim the immaculate lawns. Blood red Bourgainvilleas climb the limestone walls. The British are good at death. My eye through the camera focuses on many of about three and a half thousand gravestones caught by the name, the unit or the inscription chosen by the family. 3,217 of these fell in WW1 and were joined by 210 brothers and sisters from round the pink world in WW11. The family of Private Alfred Crittle, Royal West Kent Regt 19th April 1917 said ‘to see his face, to hear his voice, what would we give’.

Alongside lies Rifleman Norman Victor Crouch 8th Battn. Hampshire Regt and his folk chose ‘faithful until death’. They later receive this as do all the next of kin:- ‘He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, by giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom.

Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten

He took his last breath during the Third Battle of Gaza on the 2nd of November 1917 as did at least another two hundred men and women on that same day.

On that same 2nd of November 1917 Arthur James Lord Balfour, Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had this little letter typed and sent to Lord Rothschild:-

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet. "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour

Edwin Montagu - Secretary for India, the only Jew in the cabinet and a man against the Zionist project, had warned that this policy would prove disastrous. It was at his insistence that the last clause of this declaration be inserted. As this small piece of paper stirred the first sigh of a whirlwind to follow and with it the suffering and hatred of the nakba, the decomposition of its unwitting agents began in Gaza. Had they given up there lives ‘that others might live in freedom’ or was this subversion of the Arabs another planned and devilish move on the twisting path to endless war?



Sleep peacefully Private Crittle and Rifleman Crouch. You are safe within the enclave of the Gaza strip and among 1.3 million Palestinians who share their remaining 200 square kilometres with you. An electric fence defends you from the encircling armour. Overhead the F16s tear the sky for half the hours I stand with you. Sleep quietly in the reassurance that the head-up cockpit displays, made by BAe, have been ‘incorporated’ by Straw and thus the stamp of Albion is above you. The ethical foreign policy of Cooke holds sway so the flight of four that passed just now are not bombing Port Said but ‘taking out’ the resisting grandson of the man who carved your fine gravestone and just a few ‘collaterals’ on the side.

60 k to the north an old friend of Margaret’s (1) is creaming up for a yachting trip though this ex-Mayor of Westminster is down on her uppers. The sweat of the dairy farmer and the cream of the cow have been sold as loss leaders at a price less than water. The mangetout of Kenya were flown by Boeing and with Arab oil to join the other 70,000 items your successors need for their survival. But the millions made have melted as magic in this Mediterranean sun.

Ariel sits not on her shelves but in the air conditioned office up the road. He is planning with no ‘road map’ how your Palestinian brothers can be freed – of their land and here and there their lives. They prove themselves resilient and patient so in spite of their unimaginable oppression, they stay their ground as you Crittle and Crouch held yours. How can they yet be ‘transferred’ to those Arab lands where brothers fester in the camps?

The Chairman sits within the sad ruins of his compound in Ramallah. The webs have been woven so thick around him by those very powerful allies past the euphemistic check points that its hard to spy his place upon this wicked chess board in the sun.

To the East Mordechai Vanunu sits in his seventeenth year of solitary confinement thanks to Anglo-Israeli ‘co-operation’ and not so far from a firework kit of WMD which would do nicely for a Guy Fawkes night in Saudi and in Syria.

To the East democracy comes. Today the BBC (that happened ere your passing) reports one American killed and two wounded. Two ‘others’ were killed. Their skin was brown and blood of lesser worth so ethnic/national origin got no mention. Many ‘others’ lay in dirty morgues and were only counted by their kin and by Jazeera. Humvees hum and Black Hawks hover so how soon will Chalabi be king?

In all those Arab capitals to East and West and South the dollar signs are dancing. Incestuous King, Prince and President have made their beds with Uncle Sam and oil his parts. They prostrate themselves before the Prophet but follow not his words. Its unwinding for them too as honour does among the thieves.

Your blighty was the embryonal aircraft carrier in which sits one Anthony Blair. This Anglo servant of the Anglo-US Axis is suffering some well deserved discomfort which no Texan barbecue can cure. His heart is bound to race as the corpse of poor Kelly hangs about him. His blood brother cross the briny blusters with Stars and Stripes draped about the caskets and his corporation. These brethren both are with their Prescotts,Hoons and Perles and safe by three and six thousand miles from any killing.

‘Shun!’ Sergeant Crittle and Corporal Crouch. We have a war to win for the people of peace and all those little ones. I’ve conscripted the zealot, the Hoon and the clown, the Bushes, the Feifs, the Cheneys and crooks. They are privates below us who will dig and trudge as they’re told. You Tommies oft said all peoples got asses or ar...oles for leaders and now you will see. The straps of the packs will bite deep in the shoulder as the sand rubs red in the crutch. ‘Put your bloody gas masks on and blind yourselves with sweat you scum! Don’t you know these f…. towel heads have gas’. ‘You’re slacking Prescott you lard, it’s the slammer for you!’ ‘Stand easy Crittle and Crouch, this nightmare of soldiery has marched into a mire’.

This is the eleventh hour. The Judaeo-Christian Armageddon beckons for those in love with blood and chaos. They stoke the fires of hatred against the Muslim cousin by easy talk of terror and dispense it in great measure. The central tenet of each of their three monotheisms is ‘love thy neighbour’ but how these ‘leaders’ forget that in their scheming and the screaming. Come law and reason at this last eleventh hour. Hear the surgeon who says ‘Do your best to heal and not to harm’. And in remembering the many millions keep for them ‘all that is dear to us’. ‘Bugler. Sound Reveille lest West walks to World War III in sleep’.

David Halpin FRCS

(Words 1332)

1. ‘Lady’ Shirley Porter, daughter and heiress of Jack Cohen. Currently still owing £36 million in fines to Westminster City Council.

May 2004. Finally settled fine for £11 million! ‘One law for the rich and another law for the one who steals a tin of baked beans from Tescos’.

And a lad called Mubarak was battered to death by a psychopathic cell mate in Feltham Youth Gaol. He had been involved with drugs. He was remanded in prison - over three months, for stealing a packet of disposable razors.