DR. MOUSSA EL-HADDAD: Well, I am in the middle of Gaza City, in the heart of Gaza City, and the situation is indescribable. If this is not a holocaust, I don’t know what holocaust is. According to the news, they say almost 318 people are dead. The majority of those are civilians. At least 300 of them are civilians. And they say about 1,500 are injured, but a lot of them are seriously injured. The hospitals lack a lot of the necessary staff, instruments, even gauze and medicines, and everything is lacking. Physicians and nursing staff are working around the clock. People cannot find a place in the hospitals for treatment, injuries. And I am sure there will be a lot more of the dead under the rubble of those buildings that were attacked and demolished.
Every now and then, we hear a rocket attack or two. So, there are warplanes in the sky flying all over the time. As I speak to you now, I can hear them up in the sky, the pilotless jets and the warplanes, F-16s and God knows what. The warships in the sea are also attacking from the sea. And attacking who? Hamas? They are not attacking Hamas; they are attacking the people, the civilians. The civilians—I mean, I’m looking at the street right now, the main street of Gaza, Omar al-Mukhtar, and hardly you can see anyone walking there, because every single person is afraid.
As you mentioned, last night, a family, five people, a woman and her four children, were killed when they were in their house. Three and—I don’t know, three or four mosques were demolished. These are praying areas. These are mosques. So I don’t know—nobody is safe. No place is safe. All the buildings that were attacked, they are not military buildings. Even in the initial day, on Saturday, the first 150 people, they were civil servants. They were not striking attackers. They were civil servants, civilians. I don’t know. I— …
FIDA QISHTA: Well, at this moment, everything is calm, but yesterday was a massive attack to Rafah’s border. They attacked the border area with more than eleven rockets by the F-16, and it was the only source for the Gazans to stay survivors, by the food and the medicines, anything that they could bring through the tunnels. But now, the only way for the Gazans to stay survive is destroyed.
And yesterday morning, they attacked a pharmacy in Rafah near my house. It’s just fifty meters away from my house. And they [inaudible] other normal buildings in Rafah, too, which just include families and civilians. I don’t know what is the reason for doing that. As Dr. Moussa said, they’re attacking civilians. And it’s true that the Israelis say that they attack—their attack is really, really massive, and it’s really unbelievable that we can see in our eyes what’s happening. It’s too much. The hospitals—and even in Rafah, the biggest hospital, Abu Yusuf Al-Najjar, cannot afford to have more than twenty injured. And they moved the injured to Gaza City. And most of the people stay at home. Everything is closed. It’s like a war. Nobody goes out….
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: We are not under siege, but we are under Israeli attack, as well. The Israeli army attacked civilian nonviolent demonstrators yesterday in Nil’in and killed one person and injured three very seriously. Another young boy was killed in another village in [inaudible]. Three people have been killed already in the West Bank, and the number is rising.
But let me say that what Israel is doing in Gaza is not an act of self-defense, as it is claiming. It’s not an attack on Hamas. It is an attack on the whole Palestinian population. What we see is a war crime, a bloodbath, unprecedented since 1967. What we have had so far is 318 people killed, including thirty children, and at least 1,400 people injured, including 150 children and forty women. I was shocked deeply today over the fact that yesterday the Israeli planes destroyed a house in Jabaliya camp and killed five girls, five sisters from one family, and injured their mother seriously and critically. This is a bloodbath that should stop immediately.
Israel is claiming that it is attacking Hamas, but in fact it is attacking all the Palestinians. It is attacking the whole infrastructure. They have destroyed a university. They have destroyed five mosques. They have attacked the hospital. They are shooting and destroying everywhere. And it seems imminent that there will be even a land invasion which could destroy and kill and take away thousands of lives. This is very dangerous. And Israel would not have gone so far if it wasn’t for the compliance and the silence of the international community.
One very important point here, I must clarify that it was not the Palestinians or Hamas that broke the ceasefire; Israel was the one that broke the ceasefire since two months. They started operations and attacks here and there, trying to provoke a reaction, ’til there was a reaction, and then they claim that it was the Palestinians who broke the ceasefire.
Also, I want to clarify that Gaza Strip is the highest densely populated area in the world, with almost 4,150 people in each square kilometer. When you start bombing the place with bombs that are one to two tons heavy, then you’re determined to kill people and kill civilians and innocent people. I’ve just heard Tzipi Livni, the Foreign Minister of Israel, saying that Palestinians should go away from Hamas and Gaza. Where should they go away? In which place? Where? Which place they can go to, when Israel is putting Gaza for two years under total blockade, by sea, by air, by land. Israel has been claiming that it has withdrawn from Gaza. Israel never ended its occupation of Gaza. It maintains the occupying of the airspace, the sea around Gaza and the land around Gaza. And it was preventing people from getting medical aid and equipment and fuel and electricity. I was just talking to our people in Gaza and asked them, “What is your situation?” They told me they don’t have bread. Even bread is unavailable in Gaza. And now Israel is bombarding it in this horrible and unacceptable way.
I think the world community must see the reality. This is an unprecedented bloodbath that the Israeli generals are using—and politicians are using for their political campaigning in their elections. For one more time, they’re using Palestinian blood for their election campaigns. I’m so sorry that even some left parties in Israel are supporting such an aggression. They all claim that this is about missiles. But let me ask a very simple question: How many Israelis were killed during the last six months by missiles? Almost none. The only two Israelis that were killed so far were killed after this operation.
Will this bring peace? It will not bring peace. Will this bring security? On the contrary, it is bringing back the intifada of the West Bank. It is creating terrible feelings all over the occupied and Palestinian territories, and this must be stopped. And if it wasn’t for the compliance of this terrible American administration, Bush administration, who seems to insist to have a very dark reputation before he leaves his office, if it wasn’t for that support and compliance, Israel would not have dared to go so far in punishing innocent victims and in creating this terrible disaster in Gaza Strip….
DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, I think the Palestinian Authority is finding itself in a very difficult position. One of the main reasons of this operation is to weaken Abbas so badly that I don’t think he will be able to speak on behalf of Palestinians anymore. Even Abbas is now under terrible pressure to stop all negotiations with Israel, to stop all forms of security coordination with Israel, because, at the end of the day, he was elected by the Palestinians and not the right-wing extremists in Israel. And I think he has just called for a general meeting with all parties, including Hamas, and they have. This is something that never happened during the last year and a half. And I believe that the intention now among Palestinians is to find a way of regaining their unity in front of this grave, inhuman and unacceptable bloodbath….
ALI ABUNIMAH: I want to say, Amy, first of all, that we have to go back to the Warsaw Ghetto or Guernica to find crimes in the modern era of the scale of the viciousness and of the deliberateness of what Israel is committing with the full support of the United States, not just the Bush administration, but apparently as well the incoming Obama administration. We have to recognize the complicity not just of the so-called international community, but also of the Arab regimes, Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak, the Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit of Egypt. Tzipi Livni, when she issued her threats against Gaza, was in Cairo in the biggest Arab capital, and Aboul Gheit stood next to her silently.
Mahmoud Abbas is not a bystander, the so-called president of the Palestinian Authority. For two years since the elections, which Hamas won, he and his coterie have been collaborating with Israel and the United States, first to overthrow the election result and then to besiege Gaza. We have talked before of the Palestinian Contras, funded and armed by the United States, which sought to overthrow Hamas in June 2007 and had the tables turned on them. And now this. The complicity of Mahmoud Abbas is very clear and must be clearly stated. He does not have the authority, moral or otherwise, to call together the Palestinian people for anything. He has gone over to the other side. He has joined the Israeli war against the Palestinian people, and I choose my words very carefully.
And let me say this, as well, Amy, that Israel is trying to produce and promote the fiction that it is engaged in a war with a so-called enemy entity. What Israel is doing is massacring a captive population. You heard—you said in the headlines how Nancy Pelosi, our so-called progressive, liberal, antiwar Speaker of the House, gave her full support to these crimes. Obama has done the same through a spokesman. And that will not change. The United Nations issued a weak statement aimed at covering the backsides, let me say, of those who issued it, not aimed at changing the situation.
What are Palestinians calling for today? Yesterday, the Palestinian National Committee for the Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions reissued and reaffirmed its call on all international civil society in the United States, in North America, in Europe, everywhere, to redouble the efforts for boycott, divestment and sanctions modeled on the anti-apartheid movement. This is necessary. This is moral. This is the nonviolent resistance we can all participate in. And it is more urgent than ever. Let’s not look back at these crimes like we look at the Warsaw Ghetto and like we look at Guernica and we look at the other atrocities of the twentieth century and say, “We had the chance to act, but we chose silence and complicity.” The time to stop this is now.
And we also have to be clear that those who are accountable—Ehud Barak, his orders over the past few months to withhold insulin, chemotherapy drugs, dialysis supplies, all forms of medicine from the people of Gaza, were just as lethal and just as murderous as the orders to send in the bombers and warplanes to attack mosques, to attack universities. The Islamic University in Gaza is not a military site. It is a university with 18,000 students, 60 percent of them women. Last night, Israeli warplanes attacked a female dormitory in the Islamic University. This is what Israel is attacking. They attacked the fishing port. No food gets into Gaza. People can barely fish enough to sustain them, and Israel has attacked the fishing boats that sustains them. These are historic crimes, and we cannot be silent about them.
And we have to continue this nonsense that there’s fault on both sides. We have a captive occupied population. 80 percent of the people in the Gaza Strip are refugees. 750,000 of them are children. Where else in the world can these crimes be committed while the world looks on, while our elected politicians in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, sit there applauding, when you see the shameful statement of Howard Berman, the Democrat chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, giving his full support to Israel? People have to stand up to this. We cannot sit on our hands anymore and say change is coming. Change is not coming unless we create it.