When the aid is not controlled by Israel in a media staged delivery, this is what the IDF do-
The Israel Defense Forces has opened a YouTube channel broadcasting footage taken over the last five days in its air offensive on the Gaza Strip.
“The blogosphere and the new media are basically a war zone in a battle for world opinion,” said IDF spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovich said. She added that the YouTube channel is an important part of Israel’s attempt to explain its actions abroad.
The channel was launched as part of the army’s PR campaign to draw international support for its military operation on Hamas’ infrastructure in Gaza. YouTube initially pulled the channel as soon as it was launched, but then resumed access a short while later.
I suppose we should be flattered the Israeli military propaganda bods are thinking about us but while I was born yesterday, it was 40 years ago yesterday. The corporate media may be playing nice but hundreds of dead Gazans kinda sour the whole ‘cheerleading’ deal for those with a brain and a conscience…Major.
PS. And this shocking statistical aberration via Lenin–
The United Nations says [yesterday] 320 people have been killed in Gaza, including 62 women and children, and around 1,400 injured.
“[The 62 figure] does not include civilian casualties who are men, even though we know that there have been some civilian men killed as well,” UN humanitarian affairs co-ordinator John Holmes said.
So Palestinian man=Hamas/combatant to someone compiling the figures???
Stop Gaza Massacre
Hands Off Gaza: Stop the Bombing: Free Palestine
Assemble 12:30pm Embankment, WC2
Nearest tube Embankment.
Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative and many other organisations.
Join the demonstration – message from Tony Benn:
The Israeli Government, armed and supported by President Bush, with its savage attack on the people of Gaza now represents the greatest threat to security in the Middle East and the world peace movement is mobilizing on a massive scale to defeat this aggression.
I appeal to everyone who can possibly do so to attend the many demonstrations that are being held here so that the British government is left in no doubt as to the strength of opposition there is to this war.
Also BBC footage here.
(Lebanon, Tuesday 30 December)
Today the Free Gaza ship “Dignity” carefully made its way to safe harbor in Tyre, Lebanon’s southern-most port city after receiving serious structural damage when Israeli warships rammed its bow and the port side, Waiting to greet the passengers and crew were thousands of Lebanese who came out to show their solidarity with this attempt to deliver volunteer doctors and desperately needed medical supplies to war-ravaged Gaza. The Lebanese government has pledged to provide a forensic analysis of what happened in the dark morning, when Israel rammed the mercy ship in international waters, and put the people on board in danger of losing their lives.
The Dignity was on a mission of mercy to besieged Gaza, and was attacked by the Israeli Navy at approximately 6am (UST) in international waters, roughly 90 miles off the coast of Gaza. Several Israeli warships surrounded the small, human rights boat, firing live ammunition around it, then intentionally ramming it three times. According to ship’s captain Denis Healy, the Israeli attack came, “”without any warning, or any provocation.”
Caoimhe Butterly, an organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that, “The gunboats gave us no warning. They came up out of the darkness firing flares and flashing huge floodlights into our faces. We were so shocked that at first we didn’t react. We knew we were well within international waters and supposedly safe from attack. They rammed us three times, hitting the side of the boat hard. We began taking on water and, for a few minutes, we all feared for our lives. After they rammed us, they started screaming at us as we were frantically getting the lifeboats ready and putting on our life jackets. They kept yelling that if we didn’t turn back they would shoot us.”
Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, was traveling to Gaza aboard the Dignity in order to assess the impact of Israel’s military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. According to McKinney, “Israeli patrol boats…tracked us for about 30 minutes…and then all of a sudden they rammed us approximately three times, twice in the front and once in the side…the Israelis indicated that [they felt] we were involved in terrorist activities.”
The Dignity departed from Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 7pm (UST) on Monday 29 December with a cargo of over 3 tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated to Gaza by the people of Cyprus. Three surgeons were also aboard, traveling to Gaza to volunteer in overwhelmed hospitals and clinics. Cypriot Port authorities searched the ship before it left, and its passenger list was made public.
Israel’s deplorable attack on the unarmed Dignity is a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states, “the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes.”
Delivering doctors and urgently needed medical supplies to civilians is just such a “peaceful purpose.” Deliberately ramming a mercy ship and endangering its passengers is an act of terrorism.
“This despicable action by the Israeli military is not going to stop us. We are going back again and again and again until the people of Gaza are free,” emphasized Free Gaza organizer, Ramzi Kysia.
30th- The blog is two, I am forty, so is it possible to imagine respite for a night, a wee pause for cake and licentious behaviour…
National Demonstration: London Saturday 3 January
Stop Gaza Massacre
(STWC) Hands Off Gaza: Stop the Bombing: Free Palestine
Assemble 12:30pm Embankment, WC2
Nearest tube Embankment.
Called by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, British Muslim Initiative and many other organisations. Israel has launched a terror bombing against the people of Gaza, with over 350 dead and many more injured. Not content after 3 days of devastating slaughter, the Israeli government promises more barbarity to come. The head of the Israeli military says, “This is only the beginning”.
The people of Gaza are asking, if this is only the beginning, what will the end look like?
On Tuesday, December 30, at 5 a.m., several Israeli gunboats intercepted the Dignity as she was heading on a mission of mercy to Gaza. One gunboat rammed into the boat on the port bow side, heavily damaging her. The reports from the passengers and journalists on board is that she is taking on water and appears to have engine problems. When attacked, the Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza.
The gunboats also fired their machine guns into the water in an attempt to stop the mercy ship from getting to Gaza.
As the boat limps toward Lebanon, passengers have been in contact with the Lebanese government who have said the captain has permission to dock and are willing lend assistance if needed. Cyprus sea rescue has also been in touch, and has offered assistance as well. The Dignity clearly flies the flag of Gibraltar, is piloted by an English captain and has a passenger manifest that includes Representative Cynthia McKinney from the U.S. The attack was filmed by the journalists, and the crew and passengers will report on Israel’s crime at sea once they arrive in Lebanon.
On board the boat are doctors traveling to this impoverished slice of the Mediterranean to provide badly-needed relief at the hospitals there. The crew and passengers were also hoping to take wounded out for treatment, since the hospitals are not coping. In addition, the Dignity was carrying 3 tons of medical supplies at the request of the doctors in Gaza.
The three physicans on board who were sailing to Gaza are: Dr. Halpin (UK), an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Mohamed Issa (Germany), a pediatric surgeon from Germany is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Elena Theoharous (Cyprus), MP Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.
Yet Israel thumbs its nose in the face of maritime law by attacking a human rights boat in international waters and has put all of these human rights observers at risk. At no time was the Dignity ever close to Israeli waters. They clearly identified themselves and the Israeli attack was willful and criminal.
The Dignity is still in international waters, 40 miles off Haifa. Everybody on board is safe at the moment as the boat slowly makes its way to safety in Lebanon.
Update: (11.50 am UTC/GMT) Al Jazeera Arabic and English both reported that they are on their way to Lebanon. According to Al Jazeera Arabic live, they will be greeted by UNIFIL and the Lebanese Navy in 15 minutes. They should arrive in Tyre/Sour in one hour. The Lebanese President gave orders to meet the boat and to offer it all assistance. Several MPs from the area are there to meet them. There will be a public meeting (demonstration) to greet them in Tyre. There is a hotel in Tyre that is booked for them to rest.
I’d love to hear how some pro-war pice of shit justifies attacking a boat delivering medical aid, no really, feel free to make a dick of yourself and line up with war crimes, history is full of such rationalisations of evil.
“In an effort to help Americans get a sense of the death & destruction in Gaza, I came up with the following figures yesterday.
Gaza pop = 1387276 and .02% is 277
Israel pop is 7337000 and .02% is 1,467
US pop is 305505444 and .02% is 611,011
I’ve double checked my figures and believe they are correct…for yesterday. Can you imagine how we Americans would react and feel if 611,011 Americans had died in the last 3 days from bombs?”
The Dignity has left Cyprus & should arrive in Gaza tomorrow around 10am (local). Check the website for updates, www.freegaza.org Israel has declared Gaza a ‘closed military zone’, making sure no one can witness the atrocities. Our boat is going to challenge that closure.
This morning, six little girls in one family were murdered as they stood in front of their house. Israel says they don’t target civilians. They do.
The passenger list is below and includes Cynthia McKinney, a journalist from CNN and three physicians who will stay in Gaza to assist the overworked doctors there. We will also be sending out the list of medicines on board.
(UK) Denis Healey, Captain
Captain of the Dignity, Denis has been involved with boats for 45 years, beginning with small fishing boats in Portsmouth. He learned to sail while atschool and has been part of the sea ever since. He’s a certified yachtmaster and has also worked on heavy marine equipment from yachts to large dredgers. This is his fourth trip to Gaza.
(Greece) Giorgios Klontzas, Relief Captain
Cpt. Klontzas is an experienced sailor and human rights activist. This will be his fourth trip to Gaza.
(Greece) Nikolas Bolos, First Mate
Nikolas is a chemical engineer and human rights activist. He has served as a crewmember on several Free Gaza voyages, including the first one in August.
(Jordan) Othman Abu Falah
Othman is a senior producer with Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.
(USA) Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia is a former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, and the 2008 Green Party presidential candidate. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict.
(Australia) Renee Bowyer
Renee is a schoolteacher and human rights activist. She will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.
(Ireland) Caoimhe Butterly
Caoimhe is a reknowned human rights activist and Gaza Coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement. She will be remaining in Gaza to do human rights monitoring, assist with relief efforts, and work on project development with Free Gaza.
(Cyprus) Ekaterini Christodulou
Ekaterini is a well-known and respected freelance journalist in Cyprus. She is traveling to Gaza to report on the conflict.
(Sudan) Sami El-Haj
Sami is a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, and head of the human rights section at Al-Jazeera Television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.
(UK) Dr. David Halpin
Dr. Halpin is an experienced orthopaedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.
(Germany) Dr. Mohamed Issa
Dr. Issa is a pediatric surgeon from Germany. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics.
(Cyprus) Dr. Elena Theoharous, MP
Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.
(UK/Tunisia) Fathi Jaouadi
Fathi is a television producer and human rights activist. He will remain in Gaza to do human rights monitoring and reporting.
(Cyprus) Martha Paisi
Martha is a senior research fellow and experienced human rights activist. She is traveling to Gaza to do human rights work and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts.
(UK) Karl Penhaul
Karl Penhaul is a video correspondent for CNN, based out of Bogotá, Colombia. Appointed to this position in February 2004, he covers breaking news around the world utilizing CNN’s new laptop-based ‘Digital Newsgathering’ system. He is traveling to Gaza to report on the ongoing conflict.
(Iraq) Thaer Shaker
Thaer is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera television. He will remain in Gaza to report on the ongoing military onslaught.
A war of terror, to kill and maim so many of your opponent they will be scared, subjugated and acquiesce to your will, a very simple and common racist brutalist practice. At this moment key western leaders could make serious moves to halt the ground invasion, that they don’t and just offer platitudes to give them political distance will not be a surprise. Once again they make us complicit in war crimes, the Bush regime are supporting the war and Obama is missing in action, the silence of some big partisan Dem blogs is blood spattered cowardly moronity. Are they scared of the pathetic joke that is the ADL?
Despite the Israeli Air Force’s massive strikes throughout the Gaza Strip in the last three days, military sources estimated Monday that Hamas’ military wing was still intact and that it was capable of carrying out substantial operations in the near future.
Meanwhile, the IDF was preparing Monday for the next stage of Operation Cast Lead, which will see ground forces entering the Strip.
Large forces and heavy machinery are already stationed near Gaza, and the IDF is holding deliberations aimed at determining the nature of the ground incursion. The army is inclined to broaden the operation in order to boost Israel’s deterrence vis-à-vis Hamas.
The forces on the ground have already been informed of the missions they will likely be ordered to carry out, including maneuvers aimed at locating and neutralizing terror infrastructure and targeting Hamas forces.
Despite- Israel has massed forces along the border and has declared the area around the narrow coastal strip a “closed military zone”.- They are trying, the delivery of medical supplies cannot reasonably be refused and firing on them would be further war crimes from Israel. Wish them safe voyage.
(Larnaca, Cyprus 29 December 2008) – There is a time when silence is complicity and inaction is unacceptable. On Saturday, December 27, Israel began Operation “Cast Lead,” a military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip that has – so far – massacred more than three-hundred men, women, and children, and seriously injured over a thousand.
In response to Israeli butchery, the Free Gaza ship, the DIGNITY, will depart Larnaca Port at approximately 5pm (UTC), on Monday, December 29, bound for besieged Gaza. The ship is on an emergency mission carrying in physicians, human rights workers and over three tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated by the people of Cyprus. Coordinating with the Gaza Ministry of Health, the doctors will be immediately posted to overburdened hospitals and clinics upon their arrival.
We are not asking Israel for “permission” to go, and we will not stop until the DIGNITY lands in Gaza. We are answering urgent calls from hospitals and health care workers in Gaza by taking in three physicians who will stay and work in Gaza for several weeks. We will hold Israel responsible for the safety of our passengers and our cargo of emergency medicine.
Military preparations for a possible ground incursion into the Gaza Strip as part of Operation Cast Lead continued on Sunday, as the IDF stationed an artillery battery opposite the Strip, for the first time in a year.
According to military sources, the battery was deployed as back up for any future ground incursion. The artillery, they added, would be used according to the IDF’s most rigorous protocol, in order to avoid harming innocent civilians.
That bit is bullshit, artillery is imprecise at the best of times, in an urban environment it is a vicious PR joke. To give you some idea artillery fire from a forces own gunners is considered ‘danger close’ when firing upon targets within 600m of ‘friendly’ positions. Minimum safe distances (the distance in meters from the intended center of impact at which a specific degree of risk and vulnerability will not be exceeded with a 99% assurance)-
100 meters – M203 & 40mm
200 meters- 60mm mortars
300 meters – 81mm
400 meters – 105 mm
500 meters – 155 mm/naval gunfire
GAZA CITY (AFP) – Israeli tanks massed at the Gaza border on Sunday as warplanes again pounded Hamas targets in the densely populated enclave where raids have killed nearly 290 people in less than two days. Dozens of tanks and personnel carriers idled at several points near the border after Israel warned it could launch a ground offensive in addition to its massive air blitz, AFP photographers reported.
The cabinet gave the green light to call up 6,500 reserve soldiers, a senior official told reporters after the meeting.
This isn’t an ‘attack’ really anymore, in this millennium where the US & allies got away with wars of aggression this is how it will be, Israel have begun a war of subjugation against Gaza. As before the media are ignoring the long term planning of the war and repeat the narrative constructed by the powerful perpetrators & their allies over the truth. This is how it is going to be.
Update: ICRC say the hospitals are overwhelmed, meaning further attacks will not only cause direct death but initially non-fatal casualties will subsequently die from their injuries. As the ICRC have announced this clearly further Israeli attacks being carried out will be done with the full knowledge of this.
Gush Shalom and others protested in front of the Ministry of Defence in Tel-Aviv a few hours after the first attacks, they report a 1,000+ protesters against the earlier media figures, but scroll down this report and see-
A day before the war, Gush Shalom activists took part in a smaller demonstration which took place in the heart of Tel-Aviv, in order to warn against the attack. This action was not reported in any of the Israeli media.
London: Monday 29 December 4.00pm – 6.00pm
Protest opposite Israeli Embassy – Kensington High Street
Nearest tube: High Street Kensington
Protests organised by PSC, Palestine Return Centre (PRC), Palestinian Forum of Britain (PFB), British Muslim Initiative (BMI), Stop the War, Friends of al Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Respect, Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Monitor news channels and call BBC and ITV every day to ask for accurate figures of numbers killed and injured. We will not accept Israeli spokespersons – we want Palestinian commentators.
Lots more global action resources @ People’s Geography
Gaza today: ‘This is only the beginning’
By Ewa Jasiewicz Date : 12-28-2008
As I write this, Israeli jets are bombing the areas of Zeitoun and Rimal in central Gaza City. The family I am staying with has moved into the internal corridor of their home to shelter from the bombing. The windows nearly blew out just five minutes ago as a massive explosion rocked the house. Apache’s are hovering above us, whilst F16s sear overhead.
UN radio reports say one blast was a target close to the main gate of Al Shifa hospital – Gaza and Palestine’s largest medical facility. Another was a plastics factory. More bombs continue to pound the Strip.
Sirens are wailing on the streets outside. Regular power cuts that plunge the city into blackness every night and tonight is no exception. Only perhaps tonight it is the darkest night people have seen here in their lifetimes.
Over 220 people have been killed and over 400 injured through attacks that shocked the strip in the space 15 minutes. Hospitals are overloaded and unable to cope. These attacks come on top of existing conditions of humanitarian crisis: a lack of medicines, bread, flour, gas, electricity, fuel and freedom of movement.
Doctors at Shifaa had to scramble together 10 make shift operating theatres to deal with the wounded. The hospital’s maternity ward had to transform their operating room into an emergency theatre. Shifaa only had 12 beds in their intensive care unit, they had to make space for 27 today.
There is a shortage of medicine – over 105 key items are not in stock, and blood and spare generator parts are desperately needed.
Shifaa’s main generator is the life support machine of the entire hospital. It’s the apparatus keeping the ventilators and monitors and lights turned on that keep people inside alive. And it doesn’t have the spare parts it needs, despite the International Committee for the Red Cross urging Israel to allow it to transport them through Erez checkpoint.
Shifaa’s Head of Casualty, Dr Maowiye Abu Hassanyeh explained, ‘We had over 300 injured in over 30 minutes. There were people on the floor of the operating theatre, in the reception area, in the corridors; we were sending patients to other hospitals. Not even the most advanced hospital in the world could cope with this number of casualties in such a short space of time.’
And as IOF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenaz said this morning, ‘This is only the beginning.’
But this isn’t the beginning, this is an ongoing policy of collective punishment and killing with impunity practised by Israel for decades. It has seen its most intensified level today. But the weight of dread, revenge and isolation hangs thick over Gaza today. People are all asking: If this is only the beginning, what will the end look like?
Myself and Alberto Acre, a Spanish journalist, had been on the border village of Sirej near Khan Younis in the south of the strip. We had driven there at 8am with the mobile clinic of the Union of Palestinian Relief Committees. The clinic regularly visits exposed, frequently raided villages far from medical facilities. We had been interviewing residents about conditions on the border. Stories of olive groves and orange groves, family farmland, bulldozed to make way for a clear line of sight for Israeli occupation force watch towers and border guards. Israeli attacks were frequent. Indiscriminate fire and shelling spraying homes and land on the front line of the south eastern border. One elderly farmer showed us the grave-size ditch he had dug to climb into when Israeli soldiers would shoot into his fields.
Alberto was interviewing a family that had survived an Israeli missile attack on their home last month. It had been a response to rocket fire from resistance fighters nearby. Four fighters were killed in a field by the border. Israel had rained rockets and M16 fire back. The family, caught in the crossfire, have never returned to their home.
I was waiting for Alberto to return when ground shaking thuds tilted us off our feet. This was the sound of surface to air fired missiles and F16 bombs slamming into the police stations, and army bases of the Hamas authority here. In Gaza City , in Diere Balah, Rafah, Khan Younis, Beit Hanoon.
We zoomed out of the village in our ambulance, and onto the main road to Gaza City , before jumping out to film the smouldering remains of a police station in Diere Balah, near Khan Younis. Its’ name – meaning ‘place of dates’ – sounds like the easy semi-slang way of saying ‘take care’, Diere Bala, Diere Balak – take care.
Eyewitnesses said two Israeli missiles had destroyed the station. One had soared through a children’s playground and a busy fruit and vegetable market before impacting on its target.
There was blood on a broken plastic yellow slide, and a crippled, dead donkey with an upturned vegetable cart beside it. Aubergines and splattered blood covered the ground. A man began to explain in broken English what had happened. ‘It was full here, full, three people dead, many many injured’. An elderly man with a white kuffiyeh around his head threw his hands down to his blood drenched trousers. ‘Look! Look at this! Shame on all governments, shame on Israel, look how they kills us, they are killing us and what does the world do? Where is the world, where are they, we are being killed here, hell upon them!’ He was a market trader, present during the attack.
He began to pick up splattered tomatoes he had lost from his cart, picking them up jerkily, and putting them into plastic bags, quickly. Behind a small tile and brick building, a man was sitting against the wall, his legs were bloodied. He couldn’t get up and was sitting, visibly in pain and shock, trying to adjust himself, to orientate himself.
The police station itself was a wreck, a mess of criss-crossed piles of concrete – broken floors upon floors. Smashed cars and a split palm tree split the road.
We walked on, hurriedly, with everyone else, eyes skyward at four apache helicopters – their trigger mechanisms supplied by the UK ’s Brighton-Based EDM Technologies. They were dropping smoky bright flares – a defence against any attempt at Palestinian missile retaliation.
Turning down the road leading to the Diere Balah Civil Defence Force headquarters we suddenly saw a rush of people streaming across the road. ‘They’ve been bombing twice, they’ve been bombing twice’ shouted people.
We ran too, but towards the crowds and away from what could possibly be target number two, ‘a ministry building’ our friend shouted to us. The apaches rumbled above.
Arriving at the police station we saw the remains of a life at work smashed short. A prayer matt clotted with dust, a policeman’s hat, the ubiquitous bright flower patterned mattresses, burst open. A crater around 20 feet in diameter was filled with pulverised walls and floors and a motorbike, tossed on its’ side, toy-like in its’ depths.
Policemen were frantically trying to get a fellow worker out from under the rubble. Everyone was trying to call him on his Jawwal. ‘Stop it everyone, just one, one of you ring’ shouted a man who looked like a captain. A fire licked the underside of an ex-room now crushed to just 3 feet high. Hands alongside hands rapidly grasped and threw back rocks, blocks and debris to reach the man.
We made our way to the Al Aqsa Hospital. Trucks and cars loaded with the men of entire families – uncles, nephews, brothers – piled high and speeding to the hospital to check on loved ones, horns blaring without interruption.
Hospitals on the brink
Entering Al Aqsa was overwhelming, pure pandemonium, charged with grief, horror, distress, and shock. Limp blood covered and burnt bodies streamed by us on rickety stretchers. Before the morgue was a scrum, tens of shouting relatives crammed up to its open double doors. ‘They could not even identify who was who, whether it is their brother or cousin or who, because they are so burned’ explained our friend. Many were transferred, in ambulances and the back of trucks and cars to Al Shifa Hospital.
The injured couldn’t speak. Causality after casualty sat propped against the outside walls outside, being comforted by relatives, wounds temporarily dressed. Inside was perpetual motion and the more drastically injured. Relatives jostled with doctors to bring in their injured in scuffed blankets. Drips, blood streaming faces, scorched hair and shrapnel cuts to hands, chests, legs, arms and heads dominated the reception area, wards and operating theatres.
We saw a bearded man, on a stretcher on the floor of an intensive care unit, shaking and shaking, involuntarily, legs rigid and thrusting downwards. A spasm coherent with a spinal chord injury. Would he ever walk again or talk again? In another unit, a baby girl, no older than six months, had shrapnel wounds to her face. A relative lifted a blanket to show us her fragile bandaged leg. Her eyes were saucer-wide and she was making stilted, repetitive, squeaking sounds.
A first estimate at Al Aqsa hospital was 40 dead and 120 injured. The hospital was dealing with casualties from the bombed market, playground, Civil Defence Force station, civil police station and also the traffic police station. All leveled. A working day blasted flat with terrifying force.
At least two shaheed (martyrs) were carried out on stretchers out of the hospital. Lifted up by crowds of grief-stricken men to the graveyard to cries of ‘La Illaha Illa Allah,’ there is not god but Allah.
And according to many people here, there is nothing and nobody looking out for them apart from God. Back in Shifa Hospital tonight, we meet the brother of a security guard who had had the doorway he had been sitting in and the building – Abu Mazen’s old HQ – fall down upon his head. He said to us, ‘We don’t have anyone but God. We feel alone. Where is the world? Where is the action to stop these attacks?’
Majid Salim, stood beside his comatosed mother, Fatima. Earlier today she had been sitting at her desk at work – at the Hadije Arafat Charity, near Meshtal, the Headquarters of the Security forces in Gaza City. Israel’s attack had left her with multiple internal and head injuries, tube down her throat and a ventilator keeping her alive. Majid gestured to her, ‘We didn’t attack Israel, my mother didn’t fire rockets at Israel. This is the biggest terrorism, to have our mother bombarded at work’.
The groups of men lining the corridors of the over-stretched Shifaa hospital are by turns stunned, agitated, patient and lost. We speak to one group. Their brother had both arms broken and has serious facial and head injuries. ‘We couldn’t recognise his face, it was so black from the weapons used’ one explains. Another man turns to me and says. ‘I am a teacher. I teach human rights – this is a course we have, ‘human rights’. He pauses. ‘How can I teach, my son, my children, about the meaning of human rights under these conditions, under this siege?’
It’s true, UNRWA and local government schools have developed a Human Rights syllabus, teaching children about international law, the Geneva Conventions, the International Declaration on Human Rights, The Hague Regulations. To try to develop a culture of human rights here, to help generate more self confidence and security and more of a sense of dignity for the children. But the contradiction between what should be adhered to as a common code of conducted signed up to by most states, and the realities on the ground is stark. International law is not being applied or enforced with respect to Israeli policies towards the Gaza Strip, or on ’48 Palestine, the West Bank, or the millions of refugees living in camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
How can a new consciousness and practice of human rights ever graduate from rhetoric to reality when everything points to the contrary – both here and in Israel ? The United Nations have been spurned and shut out by Israel , with Richard Falk the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights held prisoner at Ben Gurion Airport before being unceremoniously deported this month – deliberately blinded to the abuses being carried out against Gaza by Israel . An international community which speaks empty phrases on Israeli attacks ‘we urge restraint…minimise civilian casualties’.
The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions on the planet. In Jabbaliya camp alone, Gaza ’s largest, 125,000 people are crowded into a space 2km square. Bombardment by F16s and Apaches at 11.30 in the morning, as children leave their schools for home reveals a contempt for civilian safety as does the 18 months of a siege that bans all imports and exports, and has resulted in the deaths of over 270 people as a result of a lack of access to essential medicines.
There is a saying here in Gaza – we spoke about it, jokily last night. ‘At the end of the tunnel…there is another tunnel’. Not so funny when you consider that Gaza is being kept alive through the smuggling of food, fuel and medicine through an exploitative industry of over 1000 tunnels running from Egypt to Rafah in the South. On average 1-2 people die every week in the tunnels. Some embark on a humiliating crawl to get their education, see their families, to find work, on their hands and knees. Others are reportedly big enough to drive through.
Last night I added a new ending to the saying. ‘At the end of the tunnel, there is another tunnel and then a power cut’. Today, there’s nothing to make a joke about. As bombs continue to blast buildings around us, jarring the children in this house from their fitful sleep, the saying could take on another twist. After today’s killing of over 200, is it that at the end of the tunnel, there is another tunnel, and then a grave?’, or a wall of international governmental complicity and silence?
There is a light through, beyond the sparks of resistance and solidarity in the West Bank, ’48 and the broader Middle East. This is a light of conscience turned into activism by people all over the world. We can turn a spotlight onto Israel’s crimes against humanity and the enduring injustice here in Palestine, through coming out onto the streets and pressurizing our governments; demanding an end to Israeli apartheid and occupation, broadening our call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and for a genuine Just Peace.
Through institutional, governmental and popular means, this can be a light at the end of the Gazan tunnel.
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.
Of course to add to the grim humour Israel concentrated on bombing the tunnels today, together with Egypt firing on Gazans trying to escape across the border, the people are pinned down, besieged and being picked off with weaponry courtesy of billions of US dollars.
The Israeli army reinforced its ground and armoured forces near the Gaza border late on Saturday, Israel Radio and other news websites reported. The Israeli military spokesman’s office declined to comment on reports of a troop buildup,
In attacking Hamas’ regime in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces will try to “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of weapon capabilities while achieving “the maximum number of enemy casualties and keeping Israel Defense Forces casualties at a minimum,” GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant said.
Major General Galant, one of the key figures in the Israeli operation that began yesterday in the Gaza Strip, said this during discussions before the move. Israel’s aim in the operation will be to significantly damage Hamas’ leadership, tactical capabilities and smuggling routes, he said.
Despite efforts to keep IDF casualties to a minimum, Galant said that once troops are actually sent after the enemy, “what will take precedence is the need to fulfill the mission.” He added, “Under no circumstance can we accept a norm that leaves missions unmet.”
I think he just said civilians will be killed without reservation in the name of mission objectives in the long planned ‘Operation Cast Lead‘.
Peter Beaumont in the Guardian makes the connection-
For in the end what has happened in the past few hours is simply an expression of what has been going on for days and months and years: the death and fear that Gaza’s gunmen and rocket teams and bombers have inflicted upon Israel have been returned 10, 20, 30 times over once again. And nothing will change in the arithmetic of it.
Not in Gaza. But perhaps in a wider Arab world, becoming more uncomfortable by the day about what is happening inside Gaza, something is changing. And Israel has supplied a rallying point. Something tangible and brutal that gives the critics of its actions in Gaza – who say it has a policy of collective punishment backed by disproportionate and excessive force – something to focus on.
Something to be ranked with Deir Yassin. With the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Something, at last, that Israel’s foes can say looks like an atrocity.