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Posts Tagged ‘Operation Cast Lead’

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

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