Oct 19, 2009
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Actress Mia Farrow speaks out for Gaza's children

Oct 19, 2009

By Patrick Moser (AFP)

JERUSALEM — Actress Mia Farrow headed back to the United States on Sunday 18 October haunted by the image of a young girl who spoke in a tiny voice of the destruction of her home and the death of her loved ones in the Gaza war.

Photo: AFP

"There was fear on her face and she spoke in a tiny voice... of the injustice," the 64-year-old actress said in an interview with AFP as she wrapped up a week-long visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories as goodwill ambassador for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF.)

She said she'll never forget the face of the 12-year-old who told her "about about when her house was destroyed, the people who were killed."

Farrow also recounted visiting a Gaza hospital where "doctors had to make the agonising decision to release babies of only one kilo (2.2 pounds) because there weren't enough viable incubators and they can't get spare parts in."

Gaza is under a crippling blockade Israel imposed after the Islamist Hamas movement violently seized power in the impoverished, overcrowded Palestinian territory in June 2007.

In December 2008, Israel launched a devastating military offensive in response to Gaza rocket fire. About 1,400 Palestinians, hundreds of them non-combatants, and 13 Israelis died during the 22-day onslaught.

"If there is one overriding impression it is how profoundly leadership has screwed up in this region, in Israel and in the Palestinian territory and at what cost to the most vulnerable, the children, the elderly, the innocent," said Farrow.

Farrow also visited the Israeli city of Sderot, which has borne the brunt of the rockets attacks from Gaza, just a few kilometres (miles) away.

She said she heard of children in Sderot not being able to sleep at night, waking up in terror.

"Fear is fear and you don't want children living in fear. But there is a huge difference between Sderot and what happened to the people of Gaza.

"I would say the response was pretty excessive, against all international laws and common decency," said Farrow, who wore a UNICEF T-shirt.

She pointed out that Sderot has bomb shelters and warning sirens, and had far fewer casualties.

In Gaza on the other hand, "the people had nowhere to go. The attacks were by air, by land and by sea. This is unimaginable, you have a population of 1.5 million people in absolute terror," said Farrow.

While the deadly Israeli offensive devastated Gaza, Palestinian militants fired home-made rockets that did comparatively little damage.

In Sderot, Farrow was shown some of the Palestinian rockets that slammed into the city. "I looked inside the rockets, it was mud, just mud."

Yet, she appealed to Palestinians to stop the attacks on Israel.

"Every rocket that's fired erodes your own standing. Don't do it, you're losing the moral high ground.

"They have been wronged, but that's overlooked because they fired rockets. I don't know if people really understand how relatively insignificant these rockets are, but how immense the publicity they triggered, anti-Palestinian publicity."

Once a fashion model, Farrow has appeared in more than 40 films, including 13 in which she co-starred with Woody Allen, with whom she had a 12-year relationship.

A high-profile advocate for children's rights and the mother of 14 -- 10 of them adopted -- Farrow has visited several conflict zones, including Sudan's Darfur region.

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