Holidaying teens should be cherishing their freedom

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I’ve been getting increasingly jealous of groups of youngsters wandering towards Southsea wearing swimming stuff rather than their school uniforms.

It’s clear that term is over and, for them, the warm weather is an excuse to head beachwards, rather than just something to be suffered in a stuffy office.

But while our children have left the school year behind, probably with whoops of joy, they are bringing into stark relief the lives of other children, many miles away from here.

Those are the children with no homes who are being forced to live in the biggest prison in the world and who, when they last went to school, were bombed by Israeli missiles.

School is supposed to be a place for learning, a place to be safe and a place where the only knocks and scrapes come from the normal rambunctiousness of childhood.

It shouldn’t be a place for screaming, a place of hot, twisted metal where the sound of fire is all too common. And it should never be a place of death.

The school was being used by the United Nations as a place of refuge for families whose homes had already been targeted by the Israeli bombs.

The Israeli army says it gave the families warning to leave before it attacked, claiming that such facilities are used by Hamas rebel fighters to amass weapons with which to strike back.

But there was no time to leave. There was no ceasefire. And the innocent are dying.

There are 118,000 people sheltering in UN schools in Gaza and they’re running out of food.

Meanwhile, more than 800 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been killed since July 8.

The Israeli death toll stands at 35 but any death, from whichever side, is a death too many when armed conflict is to blame.

Gaza also has a beautiful coast. There may be children swimming in its waters, while the missiles fall mere kilometres away, but their coast forms one side of a Palestinian prison.

So the next time I see a group of teens splashing about in Southsea, I’ll smile at the freedom they have.