Archive for the ‘Palestinian Holocaust’ Category

Eyewitness in Gaza: Yesterday and Tomorrow

January 24, 2009


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‘Whatever they do to us, we are still here and we will still be here.’

By Ewa Jasiewicz – Gaza

We’re like trees, we have our roots and they allow us to grow, little by little, we grow up and then they cut us down. But, whatever they throw at us, whatever they do to us, we are still here and we will still be here – Om Bassim, Jabaliya Camp, January 2009.

‘Our Home’

At the beginning of this war, when the bombs first started falling intensively, I remember lying on a mattress, late at night, I don’t remember where, maybe in Beit Hanoun hospital, maybe in Beit Lahiya. As I slipped into sleep, I could hear explosions, thuds, one after the other, some near, some distant, some to our east, to our west, again and again. In my semi-consciousness I felt they were all going off in my house, in my home, that the bombs were exploding in different rooms, upstairs, downstairs, next door, under me, over me. I didn’t feel fear, I felt a closeness, a holding together. Maybe it was a consequence of Gaza being an incarcerated space, a walled camp, so small and close-knit, a prison, but also, a house, a home, with families in every part, every corner, every room, a community of relatives from north to south, every explosion and massacre felt acutely, felt intimately as if it had happened to ones own family, in the home, this home.

The war was felt and heard in every home, it invaded some homes, soldiers occupied and destroyed peoples homes, tank shells, burning white phosphorous and bulldozers smashed homes, some people were buried under their homes, some are still entombed in their homes. Where is this home now? 50,000 people are homless according to the UN. Living in tents, classrooms, crowded rooms in the homes of relatives, under tarpaulin stretched over roofless rooms on family land, still standing. If the bombing resumes, and the attacks resume, this will still be a home to the people of Gaza, each bomb, and each hit, acutely felt, shuddered and shouldered by each community and family. My friend Om Bassem, mother of nine, living in Jabaliya explained calmly yesterday, ‘They besiege us and take away our electricity, ok, we carry it, they take away our gas, our flour, our food, ok, take it, we can take it, they take away our drinking water, take it. And our children, a mother grows her son until adulthood, focusing on nothing but bringing up her children, and then he is taken away, and we take it. We spend our whole lives working, saving, building, our homes for us and our children and our children’s children, and then they destroy it, bomb it to the ground, and we take it. We’re like trees, we have our roots and they allow us to grow, little by little, we grow up and then they cut us down. But, whatever they throw at us, whatever they do to us, we are still here and we will still be here, we can take anything they do to us. God is big, God is bigger. And thanks be to God for all of this. We are steadfast’. And she smiles.

To the Dead Zone

We got the call early Sunday morning. We finally had ‘co-ordination’ to get into the closed military zones that Israeli forces had been occupying for the past three weeks. These were the ‘closed military zones’ in which ambulance staff, the Red Cross and UN had been fired upon and rescuers killed trying to enter.

These ‘closed areas’, these blind spots and dead zones, are Towam, Zaiytoun, Atatra, Ezbit Abed Rubbu, Toffah. These are communities, neighbourhoods, with schools and shops and homes that people would sit out in front of, on plastic chairs drinking tea, fingering prayer beads, staring at the sparkling blue sea, communities with farmland, orange orchards and strawberry fields. All locked down. The medics from the Red Crescent would come back by turns stunned and weary eyed. An old man with a gunshot wound to his head clasping a white flag from Atatra, bodies trameled by tanks – unidentifiable – and the girl, the famous, red, half eaten girl, Shahed Abu Halim, aged one and a half according to paramedics, left to die and half eaten by dogs, her body a beacon of horror for everyone who saw her being brought in to Kamal Odwan hospital in Jabaliya.

So many times, our ambulances skimmed the edges of these dead zones, where families were imprisoned, snipers holding them effectively hostage, the dead lying in the street unclaimed, witnessed daily by neighbours and loved ones. On occasion we managed to grab bodies on the periphery, mangled by missiles shot from surveillance drones. With the Ministry of Health ambulances, we rode to Karama – Dignity – where two men were reportedly found dead by rescue workers having bled to an undignified death from treatable injuries. Unreachable.

These were the areas that civilians had been shot dead trying to exit, some gunned down whilst holding white flags such as Ibtisam Ahmad Kanoon, 40, from Atatrah, who lay dying from 11.30am until 2pm the next day until relatives could carry her out. Her husband, son and mother all walking with her – her son Mohammad Bassam Mohammad al Kanoora, 23, injured by shrapnel to the head and Zahiye Mohammad Ahmad al Kanoora, 60, injured in the back.

Like the family of Musbah Ayoub, 64, from Izbet Abed Rubbu, who bled to death from shrapnel injuries to his legs, as relatives frantically called the Red Crescent and Red Cross for three days.

Like Wael Yusef Abu Jerahd, 21, from Zeitoun who was hit by tank shell shrapnel as he went to get a drink of water in his home. He lay dying for four hours, his family calling for help and appealing to Israeli occupation soldiers to enable his evacuation. Instead Israeli forces killed two paramedics traveling in a Libyan Red Crescent jeep attempting to get to him, and occupied the family’s home, imprisoning the family, 12 people, in a small kitchen along with their dead son, for three days. When the family were finally allowed to leave, they had two members to carry for over a kilometer over broken ground and trashed industrial sites; their son Wael, and his 64-year old mother, who couldn’t walk because of her diabetic condition and fresh nervous break-down over the killing of her son and her days and nights by his dead side, as Israeli occupation soldiers shot from her house.

The stories of those who bled to death because Israeli forces would not allow ambulance access to collect them, and the families who had to witness their demise and live with their bodies, run the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip. When ambulances could finally enter some areas, they were stoned by desperate and abandoned relatives. It is a war crime, under the Geneva Conventions, to prevent the passage of or target emergency staff who are trying to collect the injured.

The Walking Living

We made out at the break of dawn, red lights rotating into action, speeding towards Towam, close to Atatrah. Drizzle mixed with a haze of white phosphoric smoke, like a thin grey gauze over our eyes. Above us, surprisingly, and awesomely, soared a rainbow, high, wide and perfect, arching over the grey broken streets of Jabaliya and the freshly bombed Taha mosque with its’ insides spilled over the road, the knocked down houses like knocked out teeth, downed power lines, blown out and blackened apartment blocks, grey all around us, but if we looked up, a beautiful technicolour arch.

The first body was that of a young man, face down and crumpled outside the doors of the Noor Al Hooda mosque, his navy jumper singed from shrapnel injuries.

Behind us was a wasteland. Where houses had been, just days earlier, there were jagged edges of crushed walls, mangled with clothes, glass, books, furniture; houses turned into a lumpy sea of lost belongings, bombed and bulldozed into the ground. Amidst all this, was the crumpled body of Miriam Abdul Rahman Shaker Abu Daher, aged 87. It was her arm that we saw first, sticking out of a dusty blanket, trapped under rubble. We managed to hoist her onto a stretcher, paramedics took her away and I was left standing next to a man. ‘That was my mother’ he said to me. He explained what happened: ‘We left three days ago (15th January) with our children and we came back for her, but we couldn’t get to her, we called the Red Cross, they couldn’t help. They bulldozed everything here, maybe more than 20 houses. We thought we could return, we didn’t think they would do all this We couldn’t come back for three days so we don’t know how she died, maybe she died of the cold? After a few hours we had come back and planes were shooting at us, we were just meters away from our house, but the shooting was too much. We thought if the soldiers came they wouldn’t harm her because she’s so old, we thought maybe they would give her food or look after her. We didn’t expect them to bulldoze the whole area’, explained Awad Abdullah Mustapha Abu Daher, 45 years old. We took four dead into our ambulance. The Red Crescent would take another 32 before the day was over.

A column of people was walking slowly, some with donkey carts, some rumbling over the clod ground on motorbikes. All making their way home, for the first time, to Atatrah. Atatrah, with its new blasted out school, holes big enough to drive through, a crippled mosque, and burnt houses smoked above us, sloped up on a hill, with rolling strawberry fields and palm trees and the beach behind it, such a beautiful place to live, lush and alive and green. Now, according to locals, its almost unidentifiable, residents are disorientated by the missing houses, confused between the lost streets and new ‘streets’ – tracts bulldozed between houses, gaping holes in half buildings and land churned into sand. I followed the column. Walking behind it was reminiscent of so many funeral processions that have trod the streets of Gaza and Palestine as a whole. A slow column, a long walk, an intergenerational walk, a thousand backs in front of us, for the dead, for the living, for the jailed, a return after eviction, a return after each invasion, The Walk, after being released from every imprisonment in every temporary prison by Israeli soldiers, the Beit Lahiya High School, a neighbour’s home, The Walk back all the time and through time, to overcome grief, dispossession, humiliation, a collective walk. I wanted to accompany that walk.

Climbing up the main road, pulverized and impassable by car, a group of 10 men come walking towards us carrying their heavy dead wrapped in blankets, struggling to find their footing on their descent. We spend the rest of the day searching for the dead, along with everybody else, another collective walk, a collective search, ‘Where are the martyrs? Are there martyrs here?’ and to everyone, the Arabic Islamic expressions of condolences and goodwill, ‘Thanks be to God for your peace’, ‘God will give’, ‘God protect you’. We are following the scent of rotting corpses, the scent sometimes of already decayed flesh, or decaying animals – a donkey, a goat, dogs, a horse. One man we bring from Toam, Moayan Abu Hussain, 37, is brought to us by donkey cart, his badly decomposed and bloated body wrapped in two blankets. He fills the white zip up heavy plastic body bag.

The following day, again, in the morning, bodies are being brought out of the ground, from crushed homes, and from tunnels. At the top of Ezbet Abed-Rubbu, early in the morning, we ride to retrieve three bodies, three men, fighters, from the Sobuh family. Locals say they were trapped in their tunnel when collaborators told the Israeli army they were there and the tunnel was collapsed from both ends, starving them of oxygen and entombing them in a slow death. What does resistance mean when sea, air and land are controlled by the occupier? Going underground is literal. The walk now is becoming a crawl. F16s soar low above our heads, and continue to in the intervening days, a reminder of who dominates here. As local men dig up their dead, the stench overwhelming, spitting out death as they work, digging, the men finally surface, to be wrapped immediately in blankets, in front of an audience, the perpetual witnesses here to every crime, every death, every aftermath.

The crowd of perhaps one hundred, strives to pack into the ambulance along with their loved ones, crying, keening, clamoring at the white plastic bags. A boy of maybe 8, with a face etched older with trauma, shouts in a voice of a man, ‘Hasby Allah wa Naeme al Wakee!” – ‘God will judge them!’ But who will judge the Israeli occupation forces and their leaders, political and military, who have perpetrated war crime after war crime here in Gaza? It has to be us. We need to take up our consciences and humanity and translate judgment into action.

Yesterday was a fast-forward blur of destruction, mass pain, broken bodies, lifeless beings, terror on the streets, in homes, in mosques, in ambulances, in hospitals. Yesterday, people were being physically dismembered and today remain so, many still recovering on intensive care units in France, Egypt, Israel. The same states that stayed silent and complicit in this massacre, now take the broken into their bellies and return them patched up, back into a killing zone, a prison where the guards can shoot back in, plough back in and break them all over again at any given moment.

Torture and Relief

Under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, people were tortured underneath hospitals, burnt, fractured, torn up, and then taken upstairs to be repaired, in the full knowledge, that one they were whole again, skin growing back together again, the same awaited them, they would be taken back down, to be tortured again, the healing a mocking, a thwarted, negated process in itself because of the looming knowledge that it was only to be followed by a repetition of the breaking. This type of collective torture is being practiced here and the complicit are those who allow it to happen, and that do not create the conditions to stop this cycle of devastation. People keep being recycled through this trauma, generation after generation, through fresh weapons, new chemicals, new prisons and new ways of the international community maintaining silence, complicity and support for Israeli occupation.

Families are familiar now with the trawling delegations and caseworkers, notebooks in hand, I include myself in this walk, the walk of the hundreds of journalists, human rights workers, Red Crescent, Red Cross, United Nations workers, asking the same questions, noting the same details, preparing families for temporary shelters, giving out plastic sheeting for broken windows and replacement doors, blankets, emergency food packages, tents, cooking stoves, everyone expects them and expects us; the same donor agencies and charities, rolling up their sleaves to issue fresh appeals and re-build the same community centers, police stations, hospitals, that were rebuilt after the last annihilation; a rewound and fast-forwarded cycle of destruction and reconstruction, yesterday and tomorrow being blurred together into a circle of a collectively expected return to ruins and a slow rebuilding, again and again. It is no wonder that ‘human rights’ workers and the notes and testimonies frantically taken down with shock and condolence, time after time, year after year are met with replies of ‘Its all empty, write it down but what will it change? It’s all empty’. There is no post-traumatic stress disorder here because there is no real ‘post’ to the traumatic stress. Traumatic events keep on happening again and again, relief un-processed, grief unprocessed, as people watch and wait and brace themselves for the next attack.

Pieces

People are left with snippets, fragments, of their loved ones, literally and in memory. Nuggets of film shot on mobile phones pass through multiple hands, of the last of their loved ones, wrapped in white sheets, with hands and tears pouring over them, screaming and screaming, to be shown and shared with fresh tears in real time, again. Like the five from the Abu Sultan, Abbas and Soosa families, demolished by a tank shell shot into their home as they were drinking morning tea on their doorstep in Shaimaa, Beit Lahiya. Paramedics could not reach them for half an hour as they lay bleeding in pieces outside their home. Asma Abu Sultan, 22, watched her father, brother and uncle bleed to death, ‘It was 10.30am and we were drinking tea together in our home when we heard this gigantic bang, I saw my uncle at the door, injured, we went inside, I saw they had no chests, no hand, one was still breathing, I said ‘get up my brother’ I was telling him please, get up, please don’t die, he started to bear witness to God, then he said your father has died. He was draining of life, the blood draining from his face, but he was still alive, and then we couldn’t get an ambulance because they kept getting bombed, we kept asking everyone to help us, after half an hour he died from shrapnel wounds to the heart’.

Pieces. One afternoon, in the yesterdays of this war, we were called out to respond to a car bombing in Gaza City. We arrived on the scene, in bright light, to Palestine square, close to the Ahly al Arabi Hospital. Two injured had already been taken away. The car was a mangled sliced heap. Somehow there was no burning. We picked up a large, headless, man, still bleeding. Nobody wanted to touch him, they were terrified of him. Before we left the scene, someone put a small plastic ID card in my hand, Arabic script and his head, his face, bearded, in his late 30s, taken alive, he looked strong. I couldn’t let go of it, as the ambulance bounced along the broken streets, he behind us, handless, legs torn open, on a rickety stretcher, I held it in both hands, and couldn’t let go of it, keeping it in my hand wrapped round one end of the stretcher, pressed together, trying to keep it together somehow, close to his body.

A few nights ago, I sat by candlelight with my friend and his 9-year-old son Abed, in Beit Lahiya. I had bought him stickers depicting the human body, the brain, illustrated piece by piece, the human intestinal system, muscular network, the insides of the human eye, the heart, its valves and arteries. Abed fingered them, spread out over the kitchen table in the candlelight, these pieces, pieces Id seen outside bodies, spilled onto the streets of Gaza. Here they were in his hands, on the table in front of us, in one dimensional colour. He began to sing, ‘We’re steadfast, steadfast we remain, during this siege, and we remain steadfast’. He sang the words over and over again, fingering the stickers flickering in the candlelight until he sang himself into drowsiness. ‘Get up and go to sleep’, his father said and we kissed him and he left.

Everyone is trying to pick up the pieces of their invaded lives here, yesterday’s attacks and the severing of families from one another, will take years to reconnect, and rebuild, bring together again.

Yesterday can happen again. People expect a tomorrow when Israel will escalate its attacks and go further, casting more lead. Some believe this was a rehearsal for a deeper war, a litmus test that Israel won, because in 21 days of attacks, the international community kept shining a green light for Israel to continue to bomb and kill without restraint. The endgame being a pacified, acquiescent Gaza, with a weak Palestinian Authority, under the control of Israel or, if unrealized, an evicted Gaza, realized through provocations from Israel, extra judicial killings and surprise incursions, eventually responded to with rocket fire from the resistance and then a massive attack and push southward of the population into the Sinai and an Egyptian protectorate, new camps, and a new redrawing of a map already redrawn so many times through exile and empire.

Yesterday can happen again, a tomorrow that people here have been struggling for over sixty years, still dim, still distant, still carried but harder to imagine in the midst of the grief endured under siege here. The difference we can make is to seize today. The difference between yesterday and the horror, and dispossession and shock all here are still reeling from, and the tomorrow that could bring more of the same, reproducing, re-cycling, the same terrorization and cutting down of people as they pray, walk, sit, stand, heal, fight, the difference between yesterday and tomorrow is our today.

Today

I told many people, friends, taxi drivers, doctors, policemen, about the peoples’ strike on EDO-MBM Technologies in Brighton, UK this month. EDO manufactures the bomb release mechanism for F16s. Activists filmed themselves explaining to camera that they were decommissioning the facility in protest at the company’s complicity in the war on the Palestinian people, and specifically the killing of the people of Gaza. Over a quarter of a million pounds worth of damage was caused as activists threw computers out of windows and smashed equipment. They had taken their resistance out of the powerful but symbolic realm of the streets and into the offices of those responsible for arming Israel, physically imobilising their business. Three remain on remand in prison.

When I recounted this action to people, I saw an expression come over their faces that I hadn’t encountered before when talking about international solidarity. It was a kind of respect, a dawning smile, a sense of surprised pride, a tiny move towards a leveling between the blood sacrifices and living hell of so many here, and sacrifices made by people on comparative comfort zones on the other side of the world – for them. What would the parents of the children blown up by F16s here do if they could? What would we do if our children were being cut down by war planes and we knew where these weapons were being manufactured and we could confront these arms dealers and stop them arming those responsible for killing our children? Would we not stop them, would we not make the move from the streets to the factories, offices and facilities where these deaths, tomorrow’s deaths are in the making, and disarm them, save lives at the physical root of the production of the means of killing? Save lives there so that exhausted and besieged doctors here do not have to try to, under appalling conditions and against all odds; enforce international law outside ourselves, because noone else will do it for us. People here are expecting solidarity activism to go further, and needing it to go much much further.

A friend here, a well-respected intellectual and activist, run ragged through the war participating in interview after interview, writing piece after piece, pieces of resistance writing, expressed his sense of failure last night, that he didn’t do enough. That the resistance was dying for all of us, sacrificing for all of us, paying the ultimate price, and what was he doing? Sitting in his comfort zone, his writing a relief, for himself, to himself, making him feel better and stronger but where were his words going? What was the relationship between the words he was writing and speaking and stopping the death, stopping the invading occupation forces? Look at the completeness of Che Guevara, a doctor, a writer, a fighter, a complete man, and what was he, a writer, an academic, activist, but unable to pick up a gun or a body? Crucially, what was ‘enough’ and when have we done ‘enough’?

Our Lines and ‘Enough’

‘Enough’ is relative, and ‘enough’ is subjective and incredibly personal, but, a tentative attempt to unpick the crushing pressure of guilt – guilt on all our backs, all over the world, of an impotence and a sense of failure to influence, and a struggle build the means and the movements, to influence change – I think a tentative definition of enough could be, to transgress, to cross our own lines of possibility.

Our own lines of what we believe we can and cannot do have been authored by others and adopted by ourselves. Lines drawn by authorities, re-inscribed with violence and drawn thick with the threat of detention, imprisonment, the denial of everything that makes life worth living; contact with loved ones, freedom of movement, a natural stimulation of our senses through interaction with our natural environment, our sense of identity, all radically curtailed and undermined through incarceration. And death, the final line, the full stop imposed by absolute power onto the living bodies of those daring to resist, armed or unarmed, lives slammed shut by surveillance plane missiles zapped them into the ground. F16s exploding houses full of people. Ended. All ended. A line drawn under their lives. But where are our lines? ‘Enough’ will be an ever extending horizon, the edge always ahead of us, but we will never get close to where we need to be as a critical mass to effect change unless we cross our own lines of fear.

‘Enough’ is when you know you can do more, and you know you can take a step forward into a space of activism that you have never entered before and you do it. ‘Enough’ is when you know, you have pushed yourself, when you took risks and made sacrifices that you knew would be painful, knew could weigh heavy, could change your life forever, but you did it. When you knew the potential consequences of your actions but you confronted your fears and took the step forward, stepping over your own line. From stepping out into the streets for the first time to demonstrate, to picking up a chair and barricading yourself into your university, to telling the world you’re going to decommission an arms factory or war plane or settlement produce facility and doing it, we need to cross our own lines of fear, hesitation, and apprehension. We can push our movements forward, person by person, group by group, party by party, network by network, by crossing our lines and making sacrifices, small compared to the intensive blood letting, loss and devastation here.

Direct action, strike action, popular occupations, tactics used by Palestinians in the first intifada, and smashed by Israeli counter-tactics of siege, intensified occupation and massive military onslaught, all legitimized by our international governments. The counter-onslaught shows no signs of abatement.

We need to redraw our own battle lines and go further, to do the ‘enough’ we want to do and be the ‘enough’ we want to be. Our consciences and history demands this. It’s not enough and it will be too late for a new history, authored by others, to judge us, we have to make our own. It is not God that will judge us, it will be our brothers and sisters here in Palestine and in our international community, the widows, the orphans, the childless parents, the living left behind after the dead.

We can’t afford yesterday to repeat itself. We cannot wait until tomorrow happens to us. Between yesterday and tomorrow is today and we need to build our intifada today. Our intifada of solidarity needs to grow beyond demonstrations, and to put Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) politics into practice through direct action. The BDS campaign was initiated and called for by over 135 Palestinian grassroots organizations in 2005, a call that needs to be amplified and spread internationally, targeting the corporations and institutions enabling Israel to keep violating international law and destroying peoples lives. Through direct action, popular disarmament of Israel, and a real grassroots democracy movement, we can collectively come into our ‘enough’. We can affect that which hasn’t happened yet, we can change what happens tomorrow. This is our intifada, this is our today.

- Ewa Jasiewicz is an experienced journalist, community and union organizer, and solidarity worker. She is currently Gaza Project Co-coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement (www.FreeGaza.org).

Massacre of the Innocents 2009

January 24, 2009

Contributed by Edna (Thanks)

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Posted in Ehud Barak, Gaza, war crimes tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:46 pm by ednaspennato

Massacre of the Innocents 2009

Photomontage, Edna Spennato, 11 Jan 2009.

Ehud Barak must be brought to trial at the Hague to face charges of genocide and infanticide.

Who gave the orders to the IDF death squads to murder so many children at close-range, with a bullet to the head or the middle of the torso ?

Ehud the Great, King of Judea

Ehud the Great, King of Judea

Click on image to enlarge

Photomontage, Edna Spennato, 11 Jan 2009.

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Israeli Officials: "recent policies haven’t been erratic and irrational, they’ve been calculated to appear erratic and irrational"

January 24, 2009

FASCISTS UNTO THE NATIONS:

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Israeli officials on the fastrack of hunris & madness … in WIRED, here
“…Israel’s war against Hamas was launched, in large part, to send a message to its adversaries: Be afraid. Any attacks on the Jewish state will be met with overwhelming, even brutal, force. Traditionally off-limits sites, like Mosques and hospitals, won’t serve as hiding places. Enemy leaders will be hunted down and killed — even if they’re surrounded by their children and wives. ….Israeli leaders believe they’ve accomplished that task. “The Arab view is now that Israel is a crazed animal, locked in a cage, fuming to get out all the time,” a senior Foreign Ministry official tells Danger Room, approvingly. “Now, it’s the responsibility of the Arab leadership to keep the animal in the cage, by not provoking it.”

Palestinian child in coma after IOF sniper shot him

January 24, 2009

“All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts.” Rabbi Yisrael Rosen,

[ 24/01/2009 - 03:05 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)– A Palestinian child was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper east of Gaza city and he is currently in deep coma and in a very critical condition, medical sources reported.

They told the PIC that the child Mahmoud Hasanein was admitted to Shifa hospital on Thursday in a very serious condition and was in the intensive care unit.

Israeli gunboats on that same day fired at Palestinian homes near the Gaza coasts wounding a number of them.

Meanwhile, Muawiya Hasanein, the director of ambulance and emergency in the health ministry, said that two Palestinian citizens succumbed to their wounds sustained during the Israeli occupation forces’ three weeks war on the Gaza Strip.

He said that the two were being treated in Egyptian hospitals.

Hasanein also said that ambulance teams recovered two bodies under the rubble west of Gaza city but they were not yet identified.

Gaza schoolchildren on Saturday headed to their schools despite the IOF devastation wreaked on various aspects of life in the Strip including schools.

Government and UNRWA-run schools opened classes on Saturday before hundreds of thousands of pupils.

Report: The IOF troops executed many detained civilians during its war on Gaza


The Palestinian center for the defense of prisoners revealed that the IOF troops kidnapped during their aggression on Gaza about 300 Palestinians, some of them were executed by gunfire or tank shells.

Aid Workers Shocked by Post-War Gaza

January 24, 2009

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24/01/2009 Aid workers who entered Gaza on Friday were appalled by images of homes that had become craters, children sifting through garbage, and the fear expressed by civilians. Two representatives told Israeli electronic site Ynet how they felt after attempting to offer aid to Gazans.

Cassandra Nelson, an aid worker with The Mercy Corps said the pictures displayed by the press did not fully cover the disaster. She and her colleagues met with a number of youths in order to assess their psychological health after the 22 days of Israeli aggression against the Strip.

Nelson said the youths had repeatedly voiced fear that the strikes on Gaza would be renewed. “They said they were afraid the ceasefire was just temporary,” she said. “They also said they never knew they could be so scared.”

Students were scheduled to go back to school Friday, but Nelson feared they would be incapable of concentrating before their exams as many had lost friends and family members in the war.

Despite the tumultuous aftermath, the war had brought Gazans together, Nelson said. “There’s no more ‘mine’. You could say it made them better people,” she explained. She added that she hoped the crossings would be opened soon so that humanitarian aid could get through.

Twelve representatives of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel organization also toured Gaza on Friday. Dr. Mahmid Mahmoud told Ynet he had been shocked by the sights to which he was exposed at the hospital.

“I’ve never felt such pain. There are children without arms and legs at the hospitals. I couldn’t have imagined the occurrences here in my worst nightmares, when you see it you start to cry. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said, adding that he hoped a Jewish delegation would tour Gaza to witness the destruction.

Salah Haj Yihye, head of PHR-Israel’s clinics, said he had come across many people sitting upon the wreckage of their homes with stunned expressions. “We were in Zaitun neighborhood and we heard the story of a family in which close to 30 people were killed,” he said.

“One of the men cried and told us how he had lost his father and mother and how his year-old baby died in his arms. They said they had pleaded with the soldiers to allow them to evacuate the injured but were answered negatively.”

Yihye, an Israeli Arab, said he felt trapped between Israel and his people. “I am part of the Palestinian people, but also part of Israel and a loyal citizen,” he said. “I am inside this conflict and my heart pains me. I would like the State to stop hurting the weak and poor. From what we can see the damage was done only to civilians.” He said the destruction in Gaza constituted “war crimes”.


Holmes demands opening of Gaza crossings, expressing shock at death toll

[ 24/01/2009 - 09:19 AM ]

Holmes demands opening of Gaza crossings, expressing shock at death toll
GAZA, (PIC)– John Holmes, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, called for opening the Gaza crossings especially in light of the difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, expressing at the same time his extreme shock at the number of Palestinians killed and wounded as a result of the Israeli aggression.

This came during Holmes’ visit on Thursday to the Shifa hospital and a number of areas targeted by Israel during its 23-day war on the Strip, where his visit was aimed to assess the extent of devastation caused by the aggression.

The UN official stressed the importance of opening the Gaza crossings for reconstruction operations and international aid, and asked Israel to conduct investigation into shelling attacks on UN buildings.

Holmes also urged the UN to demand Israel to compensate for the damage in UN facilities. Large amounts of humanitarian aid were destroyed by Israeli shelling that struck the main UN compound in Gaza city.

European MPs call for playing active role in rebuilding Gaza

European lawmakers urged the presidency of the European parliament to play an active role in reconstructing Gaza which sustained massive destruction during 23 days of Israeli aggression.

Swiss MPs in Gaza to get acquainted with results of the Israeli destructive war

A Swiss parliamentary delegation started on Friday a visit to the Gaza Strip to get first hand information on the amount of destruction inflicted by the Israeli occupation forces.

Jewissh Ritual Mass Murder in Gaza

January 24, 2009

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Many people around the world, especially Arabs, have been looking to the Obama administration, hoping that his call for change will extend to fairness for Palestinians. They might as well hope for rain in the middle of the Arabian Desert in July, notes Paul J. Balles.

The United Nations says some 50,800 Palestinians are now homeless and 400,000 are without running water.

Israel, in a disgustingly conciliatory mood, says it will allow 143 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid into Gaza, plus 60,000 litres of fuel.

Disgustingly conciliatory because they kept aid from getting to the needy long before the latest conflict and all during it. Instead of starving Gaza into submission, Israel decided to slaughter as many as their US-supplied sophisticated armaments could manage.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports 1,314 Palestinians were killed during the conflict, including more than 400 children. More than 5,000 people were injured, nearly 2,000 of them children.

All of 13 Israelis were killed in what Israel consistently calls self-defence. Nine of those were military, four of whom were killed by friendly fire. When Israel called a ceasefire on Saturday [17 January], it brazenly announced it had met its war aims.

Hamas declared a “great victory” over Israel when it announced its own truce. Was that Israel’s aim? Or did it include the disappearance of entire neighbourhoods as reported by BBC’s Christian Fraser?

“Isn’t it Time for a War Crimes Tribunal?” headlines Robert Fisk, adding: It’s a wrap, a doddle, an Israeli ceasefire just in time for Barack Obama to have a squeaky-clean inauguration with all the world looking at the streets of Washington rather than the rubble of Gaza.”

Fisk also points out “history was quite forgotten. The Hamas rockets were the result of the food and fuel siege; Israel broke Hamas’s own truce on 4 and 17 November 2008. Forgotten is the fact Hamas won the 2006 elections, although Israel has killed a clutch of the victors.”

Since September 2005, Gaza has been nothing but a refugee camp. Israel simply transferred the Israeli settlers who had been in Gaza to the West Bank. This expanded the Israeli occupation and left the Palestinians isolated in Bantustans.

It’s obvious simply from their behaviour that the Israelis want to have Egypt annex and take over the responsibility for controlling Gaza. At the same time, they want to force an exodus of West Bank Palestinians to Jordan.

Noam Chomsky has noted: “… Gaza should be turned into a cage, a prison basically, with Israel attacking it at will, and meanwhile in the West Bank we’ll take what we want. There was nothing secret about it.”

Chomsky supported his conclusion by referring to a speech by Ehud Olmert in May 2006: “He simply announced to a joint session of Congress and to rousing applause, that the historic right of Jews to the entire land of Israel is beyond question.”

How will the Israelis accomplish the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? Chomsky, again, is quite clear: “… they have sufficient military control over the West Bank to terrorize the population into passivity.”

Meanwhile, the West and the corrupt minions among Palestinians, like Mahmoud Abbas, talk of ridiculous ideals of a two-state solution. Salah Bardaweel, spokesman for Hamas, reports that “Abbas, the acting Palestinian Authority chief, played a key role in the war and in assassinating Hamas’s senior political leaders, through his spies in the coastal strip”.

Despite its propaganda, Israel has never made a serious effort to negotiate toward a Palestinian state. When Israel speaks about Hamas using its ceasefires to rearm itself with its ineffective rockets through tunnels to Egypt, it is projecting. It is Israel which has been stalling serious negotiations in order to further terrorize the Palestinians.

“The only thing Israel has proved it can do militarily better than anyone else,” writes Yvonne Ridley, “is kill innocent women and children. And in its genocidal drive to wipe the Palestinian people from existence it has dealt itself a fatal blow.”

Chris Hedges reminds the US that the Palestinian reaction to Israeli occupation should be familiar to Israelis:

Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, says that the Israeli government will have no dealings with Hamas terrorists. But Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, the chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, which fought against the British occupation of Palestine. The underground Jewish group set off a massive bomb in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, a blast in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews. These Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Tell me the moral difference between Irgun Zvai Leumi, the Stern gang and Hamas. I fail to see one.

It’s not enough that Israel has become the best-armed and largest gang of terrorist thugs in the world. Anyone aware of what happened in the UN with a ceasefire proposal to be voted on must have realized that Israel controls America when Olmert had Bush call off a vote by the US, which drafted the proposal.

Why? “I [Olmert] spoke with him [Bush]; I told him: You can’t vote for this proposal. He said: listen, I don’t know, I didn’t see, don’t know what it says. I told him: I know, and you can’t vote for it! He then instructed the secretary of state, and she did not vote for it.”

Writing in Counterpunch, Brian Cloughley says: “The worst of all the barbarians who are killing children and their mothers and fathers in Gaza are the Israeli pilots who mercilessly bomb houses occupied by terrified families. And they are staunchly supported by the House of Representatives of the United States of America.” The US Senate has also supported the savagery. Cloughley adds:

These pilots, these vile little war-gamers of the skies, these latter-day examples of what Tom Wolfe called “The Right Stuff”, can zoom over towns full of traumatized children and happily heave and hurl their bombs and rockets to kill yet more Palestinian kids without the remotest chance of being shot down. How heroic; how truly gladiatorial. How contemptible.

Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes, saying its use of white phosphorus in Gaza was indiscriminate and illegal. When a young burn victim in Vietnam was photographed running down a road in flame, Americans protested vigorously. When Israel burns Gaza’s children with phosphorous, the media ignores it.

Obama’s unbridled support for Israel doesn’t bode well. He’s been doing everything he can to play both sides of the political spectrum, and the political spectrum in the US is all one-sided when it comes to Israel. The secretary of state is as mesmerized by Israel as is the US Congress and the administration.

“During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks,” reports the new White House website. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel,” concludes the entry.

They defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. They have called for continuing US cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defence systems.

It will be interesting to see how long it will take Americans suffering as a result of the financial crisis to object to the continuing Israeli bailout. Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will surely come under scrutiny as unnecessary financial diversions from needed benefits to Americans.

Many people around the world, especially Arabs, have been looking to the Obama administration, hoping that his call for change will extend to fairness for Palestinians. They might as well hope for rain in the middle of the Arabian Desert in July.

Alternatively, visit the White House website and respond to the new administration’s invitation to comment, claiming that “President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history”. The address is http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. Let them know that you know that Israel is not the innocent victim that the propaganda makes it out to be.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see pballes.com. This article appeared in Redress Information & Analysis.

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ ‘NEVER TO FORGET, NEVER TO FORGIVE’ ~~ THE CHILD MARTYRS OF GAZA

January 24, 2009

Source

Abdul Rahim Abu Halima, 14, (wearing a yellow T-shirt) was killed when his home was hit by a white phosphorous artillery shell on 4 January. He died with two of his brothers, Zayed, eight, and Hamza, six, his sister Shahed, who was 15 months old, and their father Saad Allah, 45. “He was a very active boy, a little bit nervous sometimes, but he was good at football,” said his brother Mahmoud, 20. “I loved him so very much. He was a wonderful boy.”

Photograph: Family photograph

Adham Mutair, 17, was shot at his home near Beit Lahiya, Gaza, on 9 January. Israeli tanks had taken up positions around the houses and Adham was shot when he went onto the roof to check the family’s pigeons. He died the next day. “We haven’t even had a chance to set up a funeral tent to mourn him properly,” said his uncle Khader, 53. “I don’t think the rest of the world understands how painful our lives are here.”

Photograph: Family photograph

Amal Abed Rabbo, two, pictured after she died in an attack at the village of Izbit Abed Rabbo, on January 7, 2009. According to her father Khalid, 30, Amal and her sister Souad, seven, were killed by gunfire from an Israeli tank after soldiers ordered the family out of their house. Another sister, Samer, four, survived the attack but is paralysed below the waist. “Amal was just learning to talk,” said Khalid. “I want to know from the Israeli army: why did they kill my daughters?”

Photograph: Family photograph

Amira Qirm, 15, in her bed at Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Amira was injured in an Israeli attack that killed her father, brother and sister

Photograph: Rory McCarthy

Lina Hassan, 10, was killed by an Israeli shell which hit her as she walked to the shops next to a UN school in Jabaliya on 6 January. “She asked me for a shekel to go to the shops to buy something for her and her brothers and sisters,” said her father Abdul, 37. “I heard the shell and I ran out. I saw her body lying on the ground … Was my daughter Hamas? Do you think a 10-year-old even knows the difference between Hamas and Fatah?”

Photograph: Family photograph

Mohammad Shaqoura, 9, was also killed by Israeli shelling at the UN school in Jabaliya on 6 January. He was playing marbles in the street outside with his friends in the middle of the afternoon. “I went to help the injured. I didn’t realise Mohammad was one of them,” said his father Basim, 40. “I try to talk about him as much as possible with my other children. But it’s hard for them to understand.”

Photograph: Family photograph

Ghaida Abu Eisha, eight, who was killed along with her parents and two brothers when an Israeli missile struck her home in Shamali on 5 January. Saber Abu Eisha, 49, the children’s uncle, said: “Ghaida was in the second grade at school. She was like any little girl, she was pretty, she loved to play. Sometimes she was laughing, sometimes she was crying. She liked to dress up, wearing a bride’s dress, showing off.”

Photograph: Family photograph

Mohammad Abu Eisha, 10, was also killed in the Israeli missile strike on his family’s home in Shamali on 5 January. Two children survived: Dalal, 12, and Ahmed, five. Both are deeply traumatised. “Whenever they hear a loud noise they fall to the ground,” said their uncle Saber Abu Eisha. “Sometimes I think it’s easier for the people who are dead and it’s harder for those who are living.”

Photograph: Family photograph

Sayyd Abu Eisha, 12, the third child killed when an Israeli missile struck the house of the Abu Eisha family in Shamali. Surviving family members searching in the darkness using the lights from their mobile phones until they found their bodies lying in rubble outside the house.

Photograph: Family photograph


Shahed Abu Sultan, eight, was killed by a bullet apparently fired from a helicopter as she sat on her father’s lap at the doorway to their home in the Jabaliya refugee camp on 5 January. Her father, Hussein, 40, wrote a message to his daughter which hangs on their sitting room wall: “I cried a sea of tears for you but those tears have not calmed my heart because you left, my daughter. I have no tears remaining, but my heart wants to go on crying blood, my daughter, my beloved Shahed.”

Photograph: Family photograph

Source

Sent to me by Robin

Children of Gaza: stories of those who died and the trauma for those who survived

Israelis’ Slow, Tenacious Genocide Spans Decades

January 24, 2009

Source

When I saw the photos of the slaughtered Palestinian children in the Guardian’s photo gallery and when I read Rory McCarthy’s story,
I thought of Samia Halaby’s MEMORIAL on the 50th Anniversary of the Kafr Qasem Massacre.

“Adham Mutair (large photo), 17, was shot by Israeli troops at his home near Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, on 9 January. Israeli tanks had taken up positions in the area around the houses and the family had been trapped inside their home for a week. Adham went upstairs to the roof to check on their pigeons, which were housed in a large hut. As he stepped out into the open, he was shot three times and collapsed. Two of his brothers carried him out of the house along a back route. Using a motorcycle and then a car, they carried him to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. He died the next day. Most of the family could not get out of the house to make it to the burial. ‘We haven’t even had a chance to set up a funeral tent to mourn him properly,’ said his uncle, Khader, 53. ‘I don’t think the rest of the world understands how painful our lives are here.'” Rory McCarthy in “Child casualities of Israel’s War on Gaza.”

Pictured in the small photo is Abdalkarim Salim Nuwwara Freij, 14 years old. He died in the seventh wave of the Kafr Qasem massacre in 1956.

From Palestinian artist Samia Halaby

“Fifty years ago, on October 29, 1956, 49 Palestinian residents of Kafr Qasem were murdered by Israeli border police who at that time were officially attached to the military. Countless more were wounded and left bleeding and unattended. Their families were unable to offer aid because of a 24 hour curfew lasting for some two days and three nights. Violation of the curfew was punishable by death. In the following two days (while the families were thus imprisoned in their homes) the Israelis unceremoniously buried the victims without permission, or the presence of witnesses. On the following morning, the unattended wounded who had helplessly lain in the streets were torn away from their deceased loved ones, thrown into trucks (not ambulances) and hauled off to hospitals. This deliberate massacre had been planned in advance to coincide with the Israeli and Anglo-French attack on the Suez canal.”

See also Children of Gaza: Stories of those who died and the trauma for those who survived.

The Holocaust of Gaza

January 24, 2009
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  • Jewish leaders object to Nazi imagery at ralliesJewish leaders object to Nazi imagery at rallies

    January 23, 2009

    By ARON HELLER, Associated Press Writer Aron Heller, Associated Press Writer Mon Jan 19, 3:09 pm ET

    JERUSALEM – The use of Nazi imagery at recent anti-Israel demonstrations across Europe has fanned the flames of anti-Jewish and incited violence against Jews, the head of Israel’s Holocaust memorial said Monday.

    Protests against Israel’s Gaza offensive have included signs and slogans comparing Israeli soldiers to German troops, the Gaza Strip to the Auschwitz death camp and the Jewish Star of David to the Nazi swastika.

    The protests have come amid a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic acts, including attacks on synagogues, beatings of pro-Israel demonstrators and proposed boycotts of Jewish businesses, according to the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League.

    Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem museum and memorial, said the comparisons were “manipulative distortions of history” and called for the Holocaust to be left out of contemporary political discourse.

    “It is legitimate to constructively criticize the policies of any nation, including Israel. However, the baseless use of Holocaust imagery and terminology as a weapon against Israel has incited a tangible surge of anti-Jewish,” he said. “That is the danger inherent when people cynically use the Holocaust to distort a present political conflict.”

    Most of the protesters reject any accusation of anti-Jewish.

    The Nazis and their collaborators murdered 6 million Jews in an attempt to eradicate European Jewry during World War II, shutting them in ghettos and concentration camps and killing them in gas chambers.

    More than 1,200 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s three-week operation, launched on Dec. 27 to halt near-daily rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel. More than half the dead were civilians, according to the United Nations. Thirteen Israelis also died in the fighting.

    Images of the devastation in Gaza — including the bloodied bodies of children and anguished victims in hospitals — stoked protests around the world. Human rights groups accused Israel of using disproportionate force and of not doing enough to protect Gaza’s civilian population.

    Anti-Semitic incidents during the war spiked markedly in Europe, the Anti-Defamation League said.

    Molotov cocktails have been hurled toward synagogues in France, Sweden and Belgium. Jews have been beaten in England and Norway, and an Italian union endorsed a boycott of Jewish-owned shops in Rome.

    In Amsterdam, a Dutch lawmaker marched in a demonstration where the crowd hollered “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas.” Socialist lawmaker Harry van Bommel said he did not repeat calls for another Holocaust and only chanted, “Intifada, Intifada, Free Palestine.”

    The Norwegian finance minister took part in a protest where comparisons were made between Nazis and Jews. A British lawmaker whose grandmother died in the Holocaust said Israeli soldiers were acting like Nazis and most recently, a senior Vatican official, Cardinal Renato Martino, said Gaza under the Israeli military offensive resembled a “big concentration camp.”

    “We have always seen a link between violence in the Middle East to anti-Jewish but we have never seen anything like what we are seeing now,” said Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and the national director of the ADL. “Not on this scale, not in this intensity.”

    He said similar protests have also taken place in the United States. In San Francisco, protesters burned Israeli flags and carried banners reading “Jews are terrorists,” “ZionismNazism,” and “GazaHolocaust.” Some read “Zionazis.”

    “If you think Israel is too aggressive, say it! But don’t use the words ‘Ghetto’ and ‘Nazi,'” Shalev said.

    Speaking at the cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new wing at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, he said the school’s students study the painful lessons of that era. He said that includes speaking out against injustice anywhere.

    “But they also learn that absurd and vicious comparisons of current events in the Middle East to the Holocaust do nothing to further understanding of the current situation,” he said. “Instead they cloud our judgment and our perceptions.”


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