The bomb that hit the former Arafat Compound near the Gaza Beach road was said to be the biggest to hit Gaza City since the onslaught of ‘Cast Lead’: the 3 week Israeli bombing and ground attack of the Gaza Strip during the new year of 2009. In our visit to the bomb site yesterday, a graveyard for vehicles from previous bombardments, we saw the blast had blown an armoured car 20 metres from its original spot, sandwiching another car nearby. Like most people, such as those sitting at my table at the beachside café about 800m away from the strike, I had not experienced a bomb before, least of all one that weighed about one and a half tons, leaving behind it a crater the size of a small house.
It’s important to know what it’s like beneath the bombs.. the ferocious sound of the impact, all your senses consumed by a shattering force - what had previously always been solid around you shuddering to the point of falling and crashing. The immediate reaction was that our café was under intensive attack and I think anyone within 2 km would have thought the same about the building they were inside. Under no circumstances do you expect anything of such phenomenal power to shake the entirety of your surroundings – some of the clientele near the beachside of the cafe jumped under the tables, having previously been sipping arabic coffee of smoking shisha. My instinct was to sprint out towards the exit, but then I backtracked to get my laptop! Other people were displaying similarly frantic illogical activity around the table.
Why children were so traumatized from the ordeal, the total lack of security to absolutely everything that had all your life been so secure, the moment of impact’s deafening noise and vibration, what bombing and bombs really mean beyond the banal warspeak headline, beyond the sober statistics, beyond words that could never convey the feeling of the impact, the feeling of the injured, the families of the dead. This is Gaza. This is Iraq. This is Afghanistan. It really isn’t about the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Insurgents, Hamas, Police Colleges, Training areas. It’s about the people under these bombs, under this military occupation, under this seige.
Some things I don’t fully understand. How can such a destructive force be made on mass production and as Robert Fisk recently pointed out be so readily provided to this Israeli government? How can such investment around the world be made in devices so dedicated to the kind of mass murder that is incomprehensible until you feel one hitting the ground around you? Why Gaza, where people already live under a hermetic and suffocating siege, with no movement, very little hope for an independent livelihood, arable farmland made useless or unreachable by the regular Israeli shootings at the buffer-zone all along the Israel border, a population of mostly refugees, in refugee camp ghettos for 40 or 60 years yearning for a return to the land from where they were violently ejected by the nascent Israeli army, all those years passing and still no justice. They get these bombs too?
At least 17 injured by Friday night’s bomb, one ‘Hamas commander’ killed in Deir el Balah, like his wife and five children were killed during the ‘Cast Lead’ bombings over the new year of 2009. Those children like over 400 other children who perished under the bombs during those 3 weeks, and 3 more injured by last week’s bombing. The next day we saw a youth on a life support machine in the intensive care unit of Al Shifa hospital, shot with two others collecting scrap metals by Israeli occupation force snipers near the border early Saturday morning. Justice has no meaning for anyone near to what the Israeli judge, jury and executioner has in store.
We’re expecting more, noises of an escalation, Israeli F-16s are currently flying overhead.
Above – Flashback: Norwegian Doctor Mads Gilbert describing civilian casualties from Al Shifa hospital during Israel’s operation ‘Cast Lead’