Bringing Love to the Children of Palestine

Palestinian ChildThe news from Israel/Palestine (at least the real news, rather than the sterile state-approved variety carried by much of the world’s mass media) is relentlessly grim. The lives of ordinary Palestinians, so dehumanised by racist, biased reporting, are always on the verge of desperation. Israel constantly turns up the pressure, preventing people from travelling to work, restricting supplies of clean water and other basic goods; not to mention daily small-scale violence, and the occasional, astonishing act of mass-slaughter, like Operation Cast Lead almost four years ago.

I report frequently on news from the area (often using the wonderful resource provided by Jews For Justice For Palestinians) – I see no short-term solutions, but the first act must simply be to raise awareness worldwide. But what can ordinary supporters of Palestine do to help? If the political problem is intractable, at least the lives of ordinary Palestinians can be relieved by gestures of love and care. The Palestinians often feel abandoned by the world – with good reason.

It’s currently Ramadan, the fasting period, which is followed by the celebration of Eid. Four Londoners, will soon be travelling to Gaza to volunteer in the Jabalia refugee camp, in which around 100,000 people are squeezed into 1.4 sq km, which makes it among the mostly densely-populated places on Earth. The Israelis, in their wisdom, bombed one of the UN-run schools in the camp during Cast Lead, killing 40 civilians, mostly children. The four will be carrying gifts for some of the children there; at least to give a moment of happiness, as well as a reminder that people outside Gaza do care about the atrocities being perpetrated.

Please support these four Londoners in their journey. They are covering all of their travel expenses by themselves; any donations will go towards Eid gifts for the children of Jabalia refugee camp.

You can donate here: http://gofundme.com/gifts-for-gaza

17 thoughts on “Bringing Love to the Children of Palestine”

  1. Just amazing that people like Tina are trying to help the Palestinians, just by simply making gifts, which will definitely bring a smile to their face. And I agree, it will give them hope, that there are people out there, who care. Inshallah, more people donate, and hopefully they have a happy Eid:)

  2. Heart rending stuff indeed but flawed. (“sterile state-approved” “mass media”???)
    Fact:
    – the IDF did not target nor destroy a school in Gaza during Cast Lead – it did kill 43 people when it fired back at a mortar team operating from adjacent to school. Confirmed by UNRWA.

    – the majority of job Palestinian losses since the 2nd Intifadeh have occurred due to loss of access to Israeli labour market. Palestinians as non-Israelis do not have an inalienable right to work in Israel, anymore than they have a right to work in UK.

    – Almira Hass rightly identifies that the PNA is bankrupt and the PWA is having to buy water. But while there is no disputing this situation, nothing has destroyed the Palestinian economy more than the PNA’s inability to comply with Oslo on one hand and to reform itself to root out corruption on the other. The PNA faces further issues because it is still reliant upon Israel to collect its taxes (what state on earth is reliant upon its enemy to collect its taxes?)

    As for Gifts for Palestinian Children – yes it’s a lovely idea to make them happy. But let’s not forget that the cargo brought in by the Mavi Marmara was either dumped unused in storage facilities or ploughed into the ground (medicines and foodstuffs that were out of date even before they were loaded on the ship!).

    IF people want to help the Palestinians, then work with them to analyse the situation and how to reach a stage where the Israelis seek to build a shared future. Or work with the Palestinians to organise civil administration capable of managing the Palestinian commonwealth, and to end the constant theft by Palestinian leaders.

    Consider this a single 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov bullet costs more than a loaf of bread in Gaza, or the price of a bottle of water. Yet every time we see on our “state approved / controlled” TV demos in Gaza we see fat men firing their AK47’s pointlessly in the air. Each clip of 30 rounds could feed a Palestinian family for several days. Yet we are told they are malnourished.
    If the fat men stopped buying bullets * wasting them then maybe, just maybe there’d be enough money to feed everyone and buy basic water filtration etc etc.

  3. Just to clarify, the gifts are not “out of date food that will be dumped unused” They will be largely arts and craft material, toys etc that will be bought in Gaza itself in hope of helping the local businesses there as well.

    How the Mavi Marmara flotilla has ANY relevance to Gifts For Gaza, only God knows.

  4. Tiana: I am sure that for a fleeting moment in those children’s lives there will be a glimmer of happiness as they play with the toys, and that’s fine in it’s own right. But it’s a very limited gesture like that of the Mavi Marmara.

    If we all want there to be a brighter future for these children then there needs to be an end of war and warlike talk by all sides. An end to the religious justifications for kill and oppression, not just by one side but by all. An end to the corruption that takes food from the mouths of nursing mothers, leading to malnutrition among young women and infants.

    And most of all there needs to be an end to the lies we tell ourselves about our pasts, and a genuine attempt by everyone to unconditionally acknowledge their wrong-doings and ask for forgiveness.
    What is occurring at present is poisoning the futures of the very children that you want to please. It poisons the children on the other side of the border, and every other division that mankind manages to conjure up.
    We are all very good at assigning blame to the “other”, but appalling when it comes to taking responsibility, and then finding weasel-words to justify the unjustifiable.

    Tiana when you go to Gaza, please use your eyes and look about you. Ask why does this person have food and other does not. Why does this person have clean clothes and another not. Then think of your history lessons of WW2 in UK, and ask yourself why did the standard of health improve across UK during the war? How did British leadership respond at all levels to the national crisis? The British are not genetically or intellectually superior to the Palestinians, are they?

  5. RD Davies – I do welcome the attention to history, detail and accuracy that you often bring to blog discussions, but in this case you’re deeply misinformed, and your ad-hominem attacks on Tiana aren’t welcome.

    Israel has deliberately destroyed the Gaza economy, along with much of its infrastructure. Israel deliberately bombed thousands of homes, plus schools and hospitals during Cast Lead; then refused to allow cement in for rebuilding. Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza doesn’t just stop weapons but hundreds of items including coriander. What better way to rub a population’s face in its misery than to even remove flavour from their food?

    Even though you’re well informed on many matters, I’m prepared to bet money you haven’t been to Palestine. Yet you tell Tiana she’s the ignorant one.

    But the bottom line is: Tiana’s mission is to relieve a little of the misery of one of the most abused populations on Earth. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting plenty more on Israel’s slow genocide of the Palestinian people, and we’ll have plenty more time to debate in future. But this post is an appeal for a worthy charitable cause, not an excuse to attack people.

    I hope to report further on Tiana’s mission when she returns. In the mean time Mr Davies, why don’t you show some compassion and donate her a few quid?

  6. Tiana: A further thought. Go and look at the history of the Zionists, not their fund raising or vain-glorious pronouncements, but at the way they organised themselves. Today we see the Zionists and the IDF and the murderous settlers immediately spring to mind, as do all the horrific images presented to us in TV.

    But if you look at what they did between 1890 and 1948, you will see that their real efforts were in building administration to the point where they were a state within a state by 1947. They had effective local authorities and public committees running their day to day lives, very similar to UK at the time. If you look at the investment, you will see that by WW2 they had housing, health and social care administration in place and that military management was fairly haphazard in comparison. None of this was about money or the backing of major foreign interests, but a basic internal cultural commitment to effective and largely honest public administration that had to report to and be subject to public scrutiny.

    Arthur Koestler accurately documented how British colonial administrators disliked having to deal with tedious Zionist bureaucrats who insisted on following procedure and policy to the letter. All this occurred at a time when anti-semitism was rife, fascism was on the rise and there was communal violence in Palestine.

    Very sadly the PNA has yet to achieve the same level of public administration that the Zionists achieve in 1948, and that is their principal weakness. IMO the friends of Palestine need to start applying pressure & encouragement upon Palestinians to create civil administration & government, endlessly blaming the Zionists for every failure is just too easy a cop out.

  7. RSD – it’s true, the Zionists were very well organised. But you seem to have failed to mention that one of their favourite tactics was terrorism (and of course, that hasn’t changed – they just have better weapons these days).

  8. Again, I don’t understand how someone can ask me to “look at the history of Zionism” when they are crippling Gaza in the manner they have been since the blockade has been implimented. The history is totally irrelevant in this context and again, I have been to Israel in case you are wondering and no word of a lie, I have never in my life been treated in such a disgusting way. The racism is unreal. If you want example I will gladly give them, from me being held at Ben gurion for five, bordering six hours being asked about my parents and ethnicity, being strip searched twice at heathrow and escorted on the plane, with the contents of my bag taken off me for “security reasons” I was afforded my passport, purse and phone which were placed into a plastic bag. I was not even allowed headphones on the plane! In Hebron I was denied entry onto the Jewish settlements for the simple fact I was a Muslim. The soldier told me this himself. Stark racism.
    The reality is that Israel does not want to accept responsibility for what is its own doing. Why does Gaza have a problem of breeding terrorism? Because of the years of abuse the children have witnessed and been put through. What good has Zionism brought to Palestinians? Please name me ONE thing that Zionism has done for the indigenous people of Palestine.
    You brush off the small act of solidarity that our group is doing as “what can it actually really do” you forget We are students and even though it may not provide a long term solution. The children there will be able to see that people outside of Palestine do care about them and that will hopefully change their perception of their position in the international community. That could mean the difference between a child having hope in freedom or resigning themselves to a life of defeat. That to me is priceless.
    Maybe YOU mr.Davies should look around you. And I would advice you to maybe visit Israel and see this for yourself.

  9. All your comments have been about irrelevant details. Look at the bigger picture! Again, I challenge you to show me what has Zionism done for the indigenous Palestinian people. I also think its rich you saying that “everyone has to acknowledge their wrong doings” when you have taken it upon yourself you completely ignore Israel’s role in denying the people of the land they occupy CLEAN DRINKING WATER. I hate terrorism in all it’s forms, whether by Muslims or zionists. It disgusts me I will make this one point though and I truly hope you are not shallow enough to take it out of context and misunderstand what I am saying. Terrorism in gaza is WRONG and disgusting BUT one must remember that extreme actions only harbour extreme REactions. There was no terrorism in Palestine before the occupation. The Palestinians also did not sentence people to death for selling their land to a Jew before the occupation. These actions are wrong but they have come into place because of the actions of Zionism. Are YOU going to deny this?

  10. I agree Tiana. Israel is quite probably the most racist country in the world at present. The recent attacks on Africans have been well documented (and I’ve tweeted some reports). This isn’t just against non-Jews – even non-white Jews are treated like dirt. My own cousin lives in Israel and is married to an Ethiopian Jew, and has mixed-race children. She is white but is now effectively a second-class citizen in her adopted country. Other (Jewish) relatives of mine have commented on how racist they find Israelis to be. Israel is a textbook case of a country sinking into fascism.

  11. Tiana; Absolutely it’s uncomfortable & often unpleasant going through Israel security at airports, even I as white male in 50’s have to wait for hours and then am interrogated about my movements and associations. & if I happen to express protest, as occurred to a friend of mine, I can be subject to some very unpleasant treatment. But it is justified by the Israelis on the basis of the threat. However for non-EU passport holders entering UK, the experience can often be very similar.

    As for your experience of Hebron, the only thing I can ask is “Just how naive are you?” Hebron is a powder keg with a blood soaked history. Do not forget that in 1929 the Palestinian Muslims carried out a horrific massacre of indigenous Jews organised by Hajj Amin El Husseyni the Mufti of Jerusalem, which really marked the end of any chance of reconciliation between Jews, Muslims and Christians. The victims were not Zionist interlopers, imperialists, colonists, settlers or any other name that might suggest they were aliens. There were no acts if violence by Jews or Zionists to justify this massacre. This awful incident is etched into the minds of Israeli Jews, and it is very emotive indeed. IMO the Israeli govt should never have allowed any Jews to move in following June 67, but they are responsible for your safety there and if that means preventing you entering that explosively violent environment then so be it.

    In Gaza Hamas gained power by terrorising Palestinians, and IMO the Israelis were wrong to foster their growth as a counter to the PLO. But the Israelis are not responsible for Hamas’ actions, Hamas’ members & followers are. Let us not forget that both PLO and Hamas have killed far more Palestinians in this “struggle” than they have killed Israelis.
    I am not sure why you ask and presumably expect the Zionists do anything for the Palestinians, as they are the enemy. But the reality is that the Israeli Zionists could have rigidly interpreted int’l law regarding occupation and kept the West Bank and Gaza exactly as they found it 1967. Perhaps wrongly they didn’t, and they afforded the Palestinians access to Israels labour market, transport infrastructure, health and education systems, and in Gaza organised in the 1970’s slum clearance in the face of int’l protest. Only this week a relative of Ismail Haniyeh was transferred out of Gaza to an Israeli hospital for specialist treatment. These things are not inalienable universal rights, if that were so you could freely go to US for free health treatment, education etc etc

    As for the provision of clean water, do the Israelis have any primary obligation at to ensure that Palestinians have access to clean water? This is actually a key question at the heart of the matter. Surely the PNA and Hamas in Gaza have the primary responsibility for the provision of food, clothes and shelter for their people, they are the chosen leaders for the Palestinians. If securing clean water supplies is critical (& I do believe it is) then surely it is up to those entities to develop strategies and policies to ensure that clean water is available, and to manage the infrastructure in such a way that the supply is secured. If the Israelis do have an obligation is can only be in the areas they directly control and from perhaps a moral sense.
    However if the Israelis have a moral obligation to ensure the supply & protection of clean water supplies, then so too must the Palestinians. In which case the PNA needs to explain to their own people, their Israeli neighbours and the EU why they still are pumping raw sewage into rivers & streams that flow from the West Bank into Israel and the Med, as the EU has given sufficient funds to build a sewage treatment plant.

    IMO it is not just naive, but also dangerous for the Palestinian nation, to constantly expect the Israelis to do anything positive for the Palestinians or facilitate any improvement in their lives. To continue such expectation is to infantilise the Palestinians. The friends of Palestine must demand that the Palestinian leadership provides exemplary leadership, and not continually find excuses for them.

    BTW in early 1920’s the struggle between the various Palestinian factions for leadership was marked by terror and murder, and at the end of the day Hajj El Huseyni’s faction won by being most brutal. Sadly the Palestinian national struggle has been marked by Palestinians killing Palestinians. The fact that today a Palestinian accused of “collaboration” has no right of appeal , and can be accused tried & executed in a matter of hours, under PNA judicial system is a disgrace.

  12. What do you owe to the Palestinians?! Are you serious? You came and took their land! You owe everything to Palestinians!

    You want to talk about massacres, no problem. Shall we start talking about settler violence? Shall we mention the massacre in the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron where a jewish settler DOCTOR non the less walked into the mosque during friday prayer and opened fire with his M16? Shall we talk about the bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley which are denied the right to dig wells to gain access to clean drinking water while companies that operate in the UK like veolia fund infrastructure to pump the water from beneath the bedouins feet into illegal settlements and provide it to jewish only communities FOR FREE as an incentive for settlers to move there?

    Are you making the suggestion that Hamas “terrorised” people into voting for them? They were elected by the Gazan people.
    You have the nerve to say that Hamas are responsible for the water shortage of Gaza when in reality Gaza would be able to have a normal economy if it wasn’t for the siege that it is under. You seem to keep wanting to avoid this inconvenient truth.

    Your arguments are null. You keep bringing up comparison towards Palestinian governing bodies and Israel. For starters, I think it is worth me mentioning that I have absolutely no respect for the PA or Hamas. They do not represent the Palestinian people, they only serve to be a buffer between the Palestinian people and the Israeli government. The PA in particular are referred to by the Palestinians as “Zionist that speak very good Arabic” they are occupation managers.

    And to draw up on your comment that “To continue such expectation is to infantilise the Palestinians.” Nobody here is underestimating the Palestinian people’s ability to be able to have a budding economy… UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES. It is absolutely ridiculous that you can have a blockade on an area like Gaza, where there is hardly any export (no exports in fact until not so long ago) hardly any imports and no freedom of movement, they cannot trade with other countries normally, they can barely even fish! and then you expect them to be “responsible for their own supply of water”?! You mentioned you are a man in your 50s. I am much much younger than you, it would disturb me to think that you genuinely do not think that the occupation and blockade of gaza has absolutely nothing to do with their lack of development as a region.

  13. MW. I would not disagree with you that life in Gaza post-Cast Lead is miserable for the Palestinians, and while I would wish them happier more enjoyable lives I can understand the Israeli perspective and why they continue to apply pressure.
    For any state to exist next door to the anarchic entity that is Gaza is a problem. Hamas cannot deliver upon any agreement until the various factions agree to either disband or merge with Hamas or even more preferable a single national military entity. These factional units exist because they can function with the support of the Palestinian people. Factionalism has been the Palestinian nation’s greatest single weakness since the 1940’s. Ultimately there will be no change until the Palestinian people want change, and demand change.
    The additional factor is that Palestine has been used a political football / cause celebre for decades by various states, with very little interest in the consequences for the average Palestinian. We know that the Iranians have been trying to get arms into Gaza, most recently via a ship called the Victoria, to promote their own political interests. The increase in arms in Gaza does not progress the Palestinian state, it inhibits and regresses its emergence.
    Prior to the Al-Aqsa Intifadeh Palestinians were still able to gain access to Israeli labour markets and large numbers could cross the borders for all sorts of reasons (education, health care, business, etc). But Palestinian militants used this to carry out attacks (and criminals to commit crime) primarily against Israeli civilians. As the Israelis closed off access to Israel to prevent such attacks, this excluded Palestinians from the labour markets. As a consequence more & more became dependent on UNRWA aid.
    The closure of the Israel / Palestine borders might not have mattered so much had the Palestinians good relations with Jordan & Egypt. However both have been always concerned about the threat of insurgency from the Palestinians, and have maintained severe restrictions on their borders with the West Bank & Gaza. (It is in fact easier to cross between Israel and Syria, as the recent return of hundreds of Druze students from Damascus shows, than for a Gazan to get into Egyptian Rafah)
    A compounding factor in all of this is Israel’s relationship with the UN. As much as the UN may have complaint against Israel, unfortunately there have been too many serious incidents involving UN personnel for Israel to regard it’s staff positively or be ready to listen to requests. The conduct of UNRWA staff during Cast Lead, clearly smirking as the IDF spokeswoman struggled with English in TV interviews, is case in point. While it may have been immediately amusing, it set the tone for the future relationship between UNRWA and IDF, in which the Palestinians suffer. UNRWA and some media have made exaggerated and blatantly untrue statements about Israeli conduct, rarely if ever being later willing to admit their error. Such behaviour polarises the situation and the ordinary Palestinians suffer.
    IMO what is needed is a laying down of arms by both sides, and for everyone except the actual Israelis and Palestinians to butt out of the conflict. The Israelis & Palestinians need to quietly, without any direct or implied threat to each other, find a way for them to live together. Potentially an Israel & Palestine living in peaceful co-existence is an immense force for good in the region. Having been active for two decades in the Peace Movement working with people from both sides, I have no illusions about how hard it will be. On both sides and among their friends & supporters there is dishonesty about what has occurred, and the historic background to it.
    My greatest single concern is that we abandon attempts to create a Two Sate Solution and seek to force a Single State. It is my belief that if we do this, we will witness a communal conflict of such savagery and intensity that we will have no choice but watch it unfold, powerless.

  14. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_the_Patriarchs_massacre

    There is a link to the Ibrahimi mosque massacre and I am sure you are more than capable of finding evidence of settler violence. It actually comes up as a suggestion on google when you type in “settler”

    You can sit here and make comments as much as you like. You can try and justify the collective punishment of Gazans (which is under international law illegal)

    But you are only fooling yourself into believing that a great injustice has overcome the Palestinian people. I understand that you may not believe in God, but as a woman of faith I genuinely believe that there will come a day, whether in this life or the hereafter where they will be compensated for their patience, their endurance and their courage to resist despite the odds. But in the mean time I will do whatever I can in my small ability to make that struggle a little bit more bearable.

    If you want to donate, please do. If not, then I would urge you to at least not put comments up trying to justify the suffering that Israel has bestowed upon Palestinians on this particular blog.

  15. You are constantly dodging and ignoring the violence that has occurred at the hand of the settlers. What do you propose Israel do about this then?

    Because so far all your suggestions seem to be very one sided. May I add again, that collective punishment is illegal under international law. There are babies and children in Gaza. How do you justify this? I can almost visualise you shrugging your shoulders and saying ” oh well” if thats the case, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  16. Tiana: I have absolutely no illusions about the settlers in the West Bank and IMO they should be rounded up and removed. The murder by that doctor who went berserk and killed many people in the mosque was absolutely deplorable and obscene. But it was the action of one deranged man. I am unaware that any but a very small number of Israelis would find any justification for it. It is perhaps equivalent to the 2000 Ramallah lynchings.

    But the 1929 Hebron Massacre was an organised planned mass assault on an indigenous community and it has no equivalency to either of the above incidents. The rationale for this massacre was that the victims happened to be co-religionists of the Zionists, and frankly they were largely helpless.

    Hamas’ power existed long before they won the election, and it was achieved through violence against Palestinians.
    What I asserted is that Hamas (& PNA) is responsible as the elected authority to create the circumstances where clean water supplies are available, together with food, clothing & housing as the essentials of life. Perhaps illegally post-1976 (I recall) the Israelis extended the Israel National Water Carrier to supply Gaza, as the Gazans at the time were dependent upon wells and the small local aquifer, which couldn’t cope with demand and was becoming polluted. The INWC is supplied from Israel’s rivers, aquifers and desalination plants, and it is the most efficient in the region. This inherently meant that Gaza was dependent on Israel’s goodwill for the supply of water, and other utilities. The Palestinians have relied on political pressure upon the Israelis to continue such supplies, but as Israel becomes more isolated and perceives itself as unfairly treated, the will to comply with such has diminished. The power of voices for tolerance and peace have virtually disappeared since the 2nd Intifadeh. The legal position is that the Palestinians only have an inalienable right to water supplies from rivers and aquifers that exist within their territory, and therefore do not have an inalienable right to access to Israel’s water mains.

    The same applies to Palestine’s right to traverse borders for reasons of trade. No state has an inalienable right to cross a shared national boundary, nor access trade & transport infrastructure in the adjacent nation. It has to be negotiated. The same applies to Israel, and Israeli businesses do not have a right to send goods to traverse a neighbouring state regardless of destination. The Israeli naval blockade inspects incoming marine craft, but does not prevent non-military goods necessarily getting through, but Gaza lacks the port facilities to export fruit & veg to EU or elsewhere. Arguably the Gazans could export via Rafah to El Arish and Suez, but it’s not profitable.
    The Palestinians problem is that from 67 they developed a commercial dependency on Israel and Israel’s trade infrastructure, which was all well & good as long as the Israelis facilitated rapid movement of goods to the ports etc. In addition Israelis were major individual customers in the West Bank & Gaza, and would go there shopping for fruit especially, which meant there was a considerable net inflow into the economy. Once due to the escalating violence the Israelis began to close the borders, the Palestinians began to lose both markets and it caused an economic crisis and mass unemployment. The blockade of Gaza inhibits the flow of goods, but does not prevent single use civilian goods being transferred in. It might not have been so bad had the Jordanians and Egyptians been willing to open their markets to the Palestinians.
    In 2005 when the Israeli’s unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, they basically set a trap for the Palestinians. & true to form the Palestinian leadership & people walked into to eyes wide shut.
    For an open border between West Bank / Gaza and Israel to exist the leadership needs to enter into negotiations and be able to demonstrate that it can provide security. The Israelis are not legally obliged to enter into any negotiations with the Palestinians, yet the Israelis hold most of the cards in this appalling game.

    How does one persuade a “racist sectarian fascist colonialist imperialist genocidal” state to come to the table and give access to trade infrastructure to their sworn enemy? There’s no point appealing to their better nature as they don’t have one, allegedly. We could of course send the British Army to storm up the beaches, but as the British Army has a total of 227,160 and needs not less than a 3:1 superiority in attack it’s a problem as the IDF can muster 220,000 in 48hrs plus an airforce as big as UK’s, and they would be “playing at home”. We could apply sanctions to force the Israelis out of the West bank, but that wouldn’t help improving Palestinian economy as no state is going to set precedent of using sanctions to force open borders.

    So ultimately the Palestinians will have to go to the Israelis cap in hand & beg. It’s a mess!

  17. RS Davies should be running MoronWatch. His comment’s are consistently enlightening, rational and objective, providing a desperately needed counterpoint to the enormous volume of blatantly false agit-prop and historical distortions that are produced by this site. I’m all for the concept of this website, keeping an eye on [mostly] rightist nincompoops, but when you use deception, manipulation and sensationalism to get your points across, you’re just as bad as the morons you claim to watch.

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