Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

From Mondoweiss, November 16, 2012

A View on a street and surrounding buildings devastated by an Israeli military airstrike which occurred on 14 November in the neighborhood of Tal el Hawa, city of Gaza, seen on
November 16, 2012. (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills
)

I’m writing this from near the Gaza seaport from where I can see smoke rising around me from the bombs that fall down on the Gaza Strip from the Israeli planes above. Words fail me. Despite the limits to life from Israel’s five-year siege on Gaza some kind of normality is attempted in Gaza. How could it be any other way when the majority of the population are children? Do families have any other option?

Yet this civilian population, most now holed out in the dense, tight refugee camp buildings and urban centres of Gaza are facing the wrath of some of the most powerful aerial warfare available to humankind. As I write the constant bombardments consume my senses and shake the entirety of my surroundings. For the over 300 people injured or killed so far by the Israeli F16s, drones and gunboat shellings the loss for them and their families will never relent.

I can barely write a sentence and more news — “six injuries from a bombing in Sheikh Radwan, children among them, including a 4-year old child who was playing in the street,” “Elderly man just killed in Zaytoun neighbourhood, with 4 injuries.” Friends have received text messages from the Israeli Occupation Forces saying in arabic, “Stay away from Hamas the second phase is coming.”

Twelve-year-old Abdullah Samouni, who I teach English to in Zeitoun camp called me a little while ago. “We’re really scared”, he said. “We moved to get away to Zeitoun and went to our grandmother’s house. Take care of yourself, there are so many bombs.” Abdullah lost his father, and his four-year-old brother was shot, when Israeli soldiers entered their house in the land offensive of Israel’s Cast Lead attacks on Gaza over the new year of 2009. In three days, Abdullah was injured and lost 29 members of his extended family. His mother Zeinat has moved her seven remaining children to a town further north, but bombs are raining down all over the Gaza Strip.

“We moved everyone out but bombing is so bad here. All of the kids are screaming. Whenever an attack happens they come and hold me. The children remembered what happened before, they think only the worst.” said Zeinat who like so many has had to put aside her own fears and tragedy to show strength for her children.

Seeing Western media continue to distort the picture of what is happening here, just as they did during the massacres that took place during Israel’s Cast Lead attacks, and any other offensive described as “retaliation” made my call with Abdullah all the more angry. This year from January 1st until November 6th this year 71 Palestinians were killed and 291 injured in Gaza, while no Israelis were killed and 19 were injured according to the United Nations. How many Western media outlets offer proportionate time to Palestinian victims as to Israeli victims? [1]

Just as the Israeli forces initiated the pretence for the Cast Lead attacks, this time the Israeli army’s initial attack took place on Thursday November 8th with an Israeli incursion into Gaza, in Abassan village. They opened fire indiscriminately and leveled areas of Palestinian land. The shooting from Israeli military vehicles seriously wounded 13-year-old Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa while he was playing football with friends, and he died the next day of his injuries.

On the 10th November, Palestinian resistance fighters attacked an Israeli army jeep patrolling the border with Gaza, injuring 4 Israeli occupation soldiers.

Israeli forces then targeted civilian areas, killing two more teenagers playing football, then bombed the gathering that was mourning their deaths, killing two more. Five civilians were killed and two resistance fighters, including three children. Fifty-two others, including six women and twelve children were wounded. For Gaza to be under such attack, could anyone doubt that resistance forces would fire back? Once Israeli forces had carried out further bombardments, one of which was the extra-judicial killing of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, the circle was complete. [2]

Since then during the last three days 29 Palestinians have been killed and three Israelis. The majority of Palestinian victims were civilians of which six were children. More than 270 have been injured of whom 134 are children and women. The vast majority are civilians. The number is rapidly rising.

Even this comparison is detached from the context that Gaza is under Israeli military occupation, illegal according to United Nations Resolutions and a five-year blockade, deemed collective punishment by all major human rights organisations, violating article 33 of the Geneva Conventions. The right to resist enforced military occupation by a foreign force is also enshrined in international law, a right that should be self-evident.

Which explained the jubilance from Palestinians in Gaza when rumours spread that one of the rockets which usually hit open land, this time brought down an Israeli F16 fighter jet, the likes of which had carried out over 600 airstrikes all over the Gaza Strip these last three days.

Indeed, our visits to hospitals didn’t take long to convince us that these Israeli aerial attacks and shelling from gunships have hit many civilian areas.

At the main Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City, every ten minutes more people arrived in ambulances; an elderly man, a young man, a child, two more children. Once leaving the injured, the stretcher gets a new towel and is sprinted back out for the courageous paramedics of the Palestinian Red Crescent to go back out into the danger zones, to find the latest victims of attacks.

There weren’t many beds free in the intensive care unit where some had brain injuries from embedded shrapnel. While we were there, rushing in came a tiny child, ten month old girl, Haneen Tafesh. She had very little colour or life in her and was rolled on to the hospital bed. She had suffered a brain haemorrhage and a fractured skull. Later that evening we learned that she hadn’t survived.

Talking to the Director General of Al-Shifa, Dr Mithad Abbas he asked, “We know Israel has the most precision and advanced weaponry. So why are all these children coming in?” He stated that if casualties increased there would be a severe lack basic medicines and supplies, such as antibiotics, IV fluid, anaesthesia, gloves, catheters, external fixators, Heparin, sutures, detergents and spare parts for medical equipment. What’s more electricity blackouts would hit hard, without enough finance for suitable fuel for generators.

Once again as I write five huge blasts from nearby shake our building and our senses. The bombings have progressively escalated, especially once night falls. Jabaliya refugee camp, Shejaiya, Rafah and Meghazi I learned had been under a continuous barrage. One blast came down during an interview with a Canadian radio station which helped the audience to understand more than I could.

A 13-year-old girl, Duaa Hejazi was hit in Sabra neighbourhood as she walked back home with family. Shrapnel was embedded all over her upper body. “I say, we are children. There is nothing that is our fault to have to face this.” She told us. “They are occupying us and I will say, as Abu Omar said, ‘If you’re a mountain, the wind won’t shake you.’ We’re not afraid, we’ll stay strong.”

And so the night goes on. The near future of Gaza is uncertain. The fates of everyone here is uncertain. Which people now preparing to go to their beds, will have their lives turned upside down by the loss of a loved one these next few days. I know some of the warmest people here that I feel strongly attached to, that you would instantly care for if you met them. The complete madness of this violence makes me wonder what we have done to ourselves, how do we allow humanity to manifest itself in this way.

Outside you can make a difference. I’m asking you, because the Israeli army will not empathise with the people they are looking down on through their cockpit windows. Nor will their politicians. But you can empathise and you can act. The normal ways but multiplied by ten. Small and big efforts to create massive international mobilisation are the only way to reduce the extent of the horror and loss facing the Palestinians of Gaza.

The Israeli cabinet has approved the call-up of 75,000 reservists compared to the 10,000 reservists called up for the massacres during Israel’s air and land offensive in Cast Lead. There is not much time.

For further information from Gaza, please contact:

Adie Mormech (British)
@adiemormech
+970(0)592280943

[1] link to unispal.un.orgNSF/0/8F184E577967FC7285257AB40057A012

[2] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/how-israel-shattered-gaza-truce-leading-escalating-death-and-tragedy-timeline

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

From Adie in Gaza:

Happy New Year from Gaza, on the second anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’. Still so few internationals here who aren’t in their UN armoured vehicles or ICRC cars, for some more independent voices especially with the English language and cultural understanding. There’s a lot of work to do and there’s forever talk of a new war happening, during which times people on the ground reporting out will be important. I don’t think this will happen in the next month or so but come over here if you can.
Been working a lot with the International Solidarity Movement and the regular buffer-zone demonstrations,boycott divestment and sanctions with Gaza youth groups, teaching in the camps and some general reporting. We’re looking to make more video conferences between student groups here and University and solidarity groups in the UK and beyond.

The strength of everyone here is still inspiring, things are at a low point after so many years of holding firm regardless of the isolation, occupation and continuing atrocities. The more you stay here, the more you realise how real is the yearning for people to return to their place of origin. Over two thirds of the people in Gaza are UN registered refugees, with explicit narratives of how they were forced out of their 531 villages and 10 urban neighbourhoods bulldozed or emptied by the nascent Israeli army which made way for the Israeli State in 1948. The families of each house, each village, each town contained real people, with real memories and continuing grievances, exacerbated by decades of further loss and recently the 4 year Israeli siege (cooking gas shortage at the moment, still hardly any cement), ‘Operation Cast Lead’ that killed over 1400 and over 350 of their kids, shootings from the borders, power shortages (no electricity till 7pm today) not to mention some worrying signs with the internal situation at the moment.

I urge you to join the growing boycott divestment and sanction movement in an attempt to hold the Israeli regime to account, all these past crimes so far described, detailed and documented, but with no action taken whatsoever, and so the crimes will continue. If they think there will be no consequences and the carte blanche continues, people’s fears here of another massive attack on the Gaza population will doubtless come to fruition and the collective punishment of all Palestinians will continue.

I’d love to offer a happier note at New Year, but new year here is synonymous the 2 year anniversary of the bombings of Gaza so I’m giving you a couple of stories from here about children.

Adie x

Below is a recent account of a demo we were on a few days ago during which we learned more about the Hamdan family to whom tragedy struck 2 years  and 2 days ago.

And here is the story of what hit the Samouni family 2 years ago on the 3rd of January, and some of the hopes they have, (was in Red Pepper a couple of months ago). Amal Samouni who I saw today is still struggling with the shrapnel lodged in her skull from being buried in rubble for 3 days, she continues with worrying headaches and nosebleeds – the last her mother was telling me hit 4 days ago. But here is Amal, Nour, Mona Samouni who lost 29 members of their extended family out at the beach in happier times

The Story of Lama, Ismail, Haia, as Beit Hanoun Demonstration Commemorates 2 years since the Gaza attacks

30th December, 2010

A demonstration commemorating the beginning of “Operation Cast Lead” was held Tuesday in the Gazan city of Beit Hanoun. Families of victims were in attendance, as were 5 International Solidarity Movement activists. Two years have passed since the Israeli attacks on Gaza, which killed over 1400 people in just 23 days. The vast majority of victims were civilians, including 350 children, according to the United Nations and other major human rights organizations.

The Local Initiative demonstration began at the railway street in Beit Hanoun, near some of the most horrendous attacks which occurred during the land, air and sea bombardment of Gaza. The group of around 40 continued into the ‘buffer zone’ to within 100m of the Israeli border, holding flags and photos of children killed two years ago. During the 23-day attack, none of Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants (including 800,000 children) were safe.

Beit Hanoun was not spared this horror, and stories from the attacks continue to haunt survivors. Abed Hamdan carried a banner with pictures of his youngest brother and two youngest sisters, Ismail (9), Haia (12) and Lama (4). While marching towards the border, demonstrators stopped at a crossroads with al-Seka Street. At approximately 7:45am on 30 December 2008, Haia, Ismail and Lama were taking rubbish to this intersection when they were hit by two missiles launched from an F16 fighter jet. According to the children’s uncle, their bodies were found in three different locations, each about 50 meters away from where the missiles hit. Relatives ran with Lama and Haias’ bodies to Beit Hanoun Hospital, but the girls had died at the scene. Ismail sustained shrapnel wounds to his abdomen and chest, and had several broken bones. He died the following day in Al Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City. According to witnesses, the Hamdan children had been directly targeted by the Israeli, US-made F16 jet.

The demonstration proceeded past another collapsed building, where a father there described how he was the lone survivor of his family after the building was bombed. The group continued to march into the buffer-zone[1],the area of land near to the Israeli border where attacks have continued, injuring and killing countless farm-workers and rock-collectors since and the threat depriving many of their livelihoods. They gathered under watch from the Erez crossing control towers from where Israel snipers have frequently shot at the demonstrators and Local Initiative coordinator, Saber Al Zaaneen spoke about the devastation still felt by the Israeli army’s attacks 2 years before.

The demonstration passed a collapsed building, where a father described being the lone survivor from his family after the building was bombed. The group then proceeded into the ‘buffer zone’, the strip of land along the Israeli border where attacks continue, injuring and killing countless farmers and rubble-collectors and depriving many of their livelihoods. Demonstrators gathered in the ‘zone’ for speeches, under surveillance from the Erez Crossing watchtowers where Israeli snipers frequently shoot at demonstrators.

Local Initiative coordinator Saber Al Zaaneen spoke about the devastation still felt two years after the Israeli military’s attacks. “We’re here to reject the Israeli-imposed ‘buffer-zone’ that takes away so much of our farmland, and in defiance of the 23-day Zionist aggression 2 years ago, horrors once again visited upon us the Palestinians of Gaza, told to the world by the United Nations Goldstone Report.[2] The burning and bleeding under the rubble of the killing from the air, land and sea will never beat us. Long live Palestine, our steadfastness is strengthened by the memory or our loved ones, the hundreds of children murdered while the world watched on their television screens. We emphasize our legitimate right to resist occupation, and use all methods of struggle and fight until the end of Israel’s inhuman siege and bring our eventual liberation.”

International Solidarity Movement activist Adie Mormech expressed the urgency required for the international community and solidarity movements to act.

“The world is now aware of these well-documented crimes against humanity, the massacres, occupation, ethnic cleansing and siege of the Palestinian territories – all collective punishment[3] and serious violations of the 4th Geneva Convention. We cannot stand for this. We cannot allow Lama, Ismail and Haia to die with no justice to them or their family, or the families of the 1400 others massacred in the Israeli attacks. So where is the action? Where is the compensation? Where are the peacekeepers? Where are the sanctions on Israel? How many will they kill the next time, perhaps soon, if nothing is done about the 4 year medieval siege of Gaza or the murder of hundreds of Palestinian children? It is up to international civil society to do all they can and to boycott, divest and sanction from the Israeli Apartheid regime.”

The demonstrators returned to Beit Hanoun, with talk of more violence ahead and the prospects of another impending Israeli assault on the Gaza. Israel’s blockade of Gaza continues unabated, despite being denounced by the European Union, The Red Cross and all major human rights groups as collective punishment, illegal according to article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention.

On 2nd December 2010, 22 international organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade[4] stating that there had been no material change to the devastating effects of the siege, and calling for international pressure on Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade.

The Hamdan family remains in ruins from the loss of their 3 youngest children. When their father, Talal Hamdan, spoke of their deaths in his home, there was still a quiet disbelief in his voice at what had happened to them. The family’s sorrow is unending.

“We’re just a simple Palestinian family”, Talal said, sitting in the garden of his home which is two kilometers from the ‘buffer zone’. Before the war, he and his wife spent their evenings watching the children playing in the garden, in the spot where he sat. “There is no life anymore. The children are now usually nervous, argue a lot, my eldest son has given up work and my other son Abed has stopped bodybuilding for which he used to train for competitions.” The family finds it impossible to deal with the terrible loss. “Haja was such a smart girl,” her father remembers. “She was the first in her class, danced dabka, and was able to read the whole Qur’an.” For his remaining four daughters and two sons, a small sum of money initially came from the Palestinian government. One of his daughters received psychological help from Doctors without Borders. The help only lasted two months however, and only reached on of an entire community stricken with grief.

Talal and his wife continue to sit in front of their house in the evening, watching their garden. However their world is now very different, like many others in Palestine. When asked if he had a message for the world, Talal shook his head. “I just want people to know that they were innocent children being killed, who never did anything wrong in their lives”.

References:

[1] http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_special_focus_2010_08_19_english.pdf

[2] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

[3] http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/publications/GazaClosureDefinedEng.pdf

[4] http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_21083.pdf

For more information, or further contacts based in Gaza, contact Adie Mormech 00972 (0) 597717696

Read Full Post »