day 5. i woke up to the news of 70 more strikes from tuesday’s carnage. 385 dead and 1,720 injured, many critically injured will die because there is no more medicine. many are buried beneath the rubble, in the tunnels that israeli terrorists bombed with american-made weapons. many were buried before their bodies were counted. but as rania reminds us they have names and we cannot forget them, bury their names beneath the headlines:
Five sisters, aged two to seventeen, were killed in their home in Jabaliya refugee camp. Their mother, Samira Ba’lousha, had the heavy task of removing them from the rubble. These children—Jawaher, four, Dina, eight, Samar, twelve, Ikram, fifteen, and Tahrir, seventeen, were not firing rockets into Israel; they were sleeping in their beds. With space running out in the cemetery, the Ba’lousha children were forced to share their graves.
Nawal Al-Lad’a, a forty-year old mother, did not find the bodies of her two sons in the medical compound, so she left to look for her children amid the rubble.
When one of the mosques was attacked, one of 7, a child was killed. Ziad Abu Teir. He was 8.
Fatimah Salem, 53, lies in a coma in Al-Shifa hospital, torn apart by debris while at work for a local charity near the targeted prison in Gaza City. “My mother was not firing rockets at Israel,” said her son, Majed. (source: IRIN)
Luma, 4, and Haya, 6, two sisters from the Humdan family from Biet Hanaon. Targeted and killed by air Israeli missiles while attempting to leave their neighborhood on a donkey carriage
I’m trying to get more names of the martyrs, the killed and wounded Palestinians. It is important, at the very least, to know their names.
I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines, and the olive trees
And before the grass grew
the mood in nablus is not good. i forgot to mention this yesterday as my head is swimming with too much information right now, but a common refrain i heard among my students yesterday was that “palestinian blood is cheap.” there is a feeling that they are all alone. yesterday i posted an important video of sheren tadros reporting on al jazeera highlighting the fact that there is nowhere for palestinians in gaza to run to. but here, too, people feel that there is no one to go to for help. that their calls for ending this bloodbath fall on deaf ears. from the arab world, from the european union, from the united states (who is a full participant in this blood bath because it allows its weapons to be used to commit this massacre), from the united nations. we hear only the mild criticisms, never a demand or a show of force to stop this madness. the quiet statements of those whose shallow words suggest complicity not outrage. not a determination to stop the israeli terrorists. people in nablus are afraid to speak out, too, as there are a number of palestinians who have spoken out publicly in mosques and other public spaces and as a result the palestinian authority has put them in prison. enemies are every where. from within and from outside. one of the student activists at my university was chatting with me last night. she wants to erect a tent in downtown nablus in martyr’s square to have a public memorial for the martyrs of gaza; hamas and fatah leaders in the city couldn’t agree. so no tent. more silence. the same is true in nasra where palestinians were attacked by israeli terrorists for protesting the brutality in gaza.
but the main enemy here, aside from the obvious israeli terrorists, are their american partners in state terrorism. for some context here is a report from nick spicer on al jazeera yesterday showing all of the american-made materiel being used here by israeli terrorists that americans paid for with their tax dollars:
of course we can expect george bush to be silent as he has millions of iraqi, lebanese, afghan, and palestinians’ blood on his hands. barack obama showed his true colors when he started his u.s. presidential campaign, though people in hawai’i protested outside his home there yesterday. one writer observed yesterday that palestinians don’t get to have their 9/11: everywhere else when there is a massacre claim that they, too, now have their 9/11, but not palestinians. but the green party, the party which i voted for when i cast my ballot for president in favor of cynthia mckinney, spoke out yesterday against israeli terrorist war crimes. cynthia mckinney was on the boat yesterday that was shot at and rammed by israeli terrorist naval boats yesterday had this to say about american support for israeli terrorism in the black agenda report:
Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has called upon President-Elect Barack Obama to “please, say something about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced by the Palestinian people, by the people of Gaza.” McKinney spoke to CNN news from the Lebanese city of Tyre, where she had debarked from the relief vessel Dignity after it was rammed on the high seas by an Israeli patrol boat, early Tuesday morning. Passengers also report the Israelis fired machine guns into the water near their ship….
“I would like to ask my former colleagues in the United States Congress to stop sending weapons of mass destruction around the world,” said McKinney, who was the Green Party’s presidential candidate in November. “As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, let us remember what he said. He said that the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. And guess what: we experienced a little bit of that violence, because the weapons that are being used by Israel are weapons that were supplied by the United States government.”
A CNN reporter who accompanied the passengers and crew of the Dignity confirmed that the boat “was sailing with full lights” when “one of the Israeli patrol boats, with no lights on, rammed the Dignity, hard.”
Israel blames the collision on the relief vessel.
Said McKinney: “Our boat was rammed three times, twice in the front, once on the side…. What the Israelis are saying is outright disinformation.”
McKinney compared the Israeli action against the Dignity to the attack on a U.S. naval vessel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. “I recall that there was another boat that was attacked by Israelis, and it was the U.S.S Liberty.” Thirty-four crewmen died and 170 were wounded by fire from Israeli planes and torpedo boats. The Israelis claim it was a case of mistaken identity. “People would like to forget about the U.S.S. Liberty,” said McKinney, “but I haven’t forgotten about it and the people who were on that ship have not forgotten what happened to them.”
nora barrows-friedman on flashpoints, unlike all other u.s. news media outlets, continues its extensive coverage of the american-israeli terrorist project in gaza. the last two days have been excellent with many voices of people of gaza where you can hear the war going on, you can hear american apache helicopters and f16s dropping bombs on the people of gaza. as of this writing links to the audio files from the last two days are not posted, but if you click on the link for the podcast you can download episodes where you can hear sameh habib, safa joudeh, and caoimhe butterly who details being terrorized by israeli terrorist naval ships yesterday on their way to gaza by boat.
i finally heard from sameh habeeb. i had a mutual friend from gaza city go over to his house and make sure he was okay, thankfully he is. and he blogged yesterday updating us on the continuing humanitarian toll (though i recommend listening to him on flashpoints as well). here is what sameh had to say about the situation in gaza city yesterday:
On the midday of Tuesday, a new phase of the military operation started. F16s started to break the sound barrier of Gaza. Raids of sonic bombs occurred causing a trauma and panic atmosphere across Gaza residents.
The death toll has reached 390 with more than 1,700 injured, 2 hundreds are in critical conditions while there is a severe shortages in medicines. Medical sources announced a collapse in medical sector and Gaza hospitals. Muhamad El Khozndar a doctor at Al Sehfa’ hospital said on a local radio station that Gaza hospitals are no longer working properly. Bandaging stuff, medical tools, medical machines and general cleaning unavailable at the hospitals. Additionally, windows of the hospitals crashed due to a nearby bombings hit a mosque.
The early hours of Tuesday night witnessed a set of Israeli missiles west of Gaza City. Medical reports said a number of injured arrived to Al shifa’ hospital including some casualties. Many tanks shelled the norther eastern area of Gaza City.
It’s remarkable that humanitarian stage in Gaza is totally collapsed and disastrous as aspects life vanished. All oil derivatives of fuel, gasoline and cocking gas unavailable in Gaza due to a siege imposed two years ago. Bread, milk, rice, sugar, cooking oil are not available and what is inside Gaza is limited quantities stored at homes.
Add to that, it is very dangerous for people to leave their house in search of food supplies. Any mobile car, bicycle or walking persons turned to targets for Israeli military machine.
mohammad on kabobfest also has another report detailing the situation with his family in gaza whom he cannot see because he is in ramallah:
Again, my nightly call to my uncles in Gaza proved to be deeply uplifting. I made my first call to uncle Mahmoud. Our previous calls had not lasted for much longer than ten or fifteen minutes, but today he talked for almost an hour. Again, his voice was strong and defiant, even more than yesterday. He told me the Israeli’s seem to have run out of targets to pound, hitting the same ones over and over again during the day. The skies over Khan Younis were quiet, he said, and had been for more than half an hour. There literally were no more official buildings to destroy.
I asked him if he would mind, in the few hours a day that he had electricity, to type up some of his experiences so that I could share them with the world. He told me he understood what I wanted to do, but that he really had no desire to sit and write. He liked to keep himself busy, but he didn’t mind talking. I asked him if there were any shops open in the area. He said only a few small family stores would open, but supplies were fast dwindling. Sugar, he said, was gone. I asked him what they had had for dinner; rice and some chicken. His children were still suffering. His youngest son, Hosam, was wetting and defecating himself. Hanan, the three year old, had run to her dad when she heard the buzz of the Israeli drones, telling him she wanted to hide because she didn’t want the ‘zanana’ to bomb her. (Zanana is the term Palestinians give to these drones because of the continuous buzzing sound they make). He held her until she fell asleep. The children were still waking up hysterical in the night every time a missile hit nearby.
The thing that struck me most was how high Mahmoud’s morale was, especially considering the state he had been in two days earlier. He told me people understood that Israel wanted to destroy the spirit and will of the people, and that it was highly unlikely to end the killing any time soon. He said the graphic images of the dead and wounded don’t tell half the story; he visited one of the hospitals today and told me the injuries are horrific beyond description. Very few of the almost 2,000 wounded would ever recover. The pain is definitely there, but the people are caught between trying to mourn the dead of yesterday, living today and the idea of ground invasion tomorrow. He touched again on the topic of the 20 or so friends they had lost, telling me a lot of the men had been buried in Gaza City rather than their hometown of Khan Younis because they’d had to be buried en masse to make space in the hospital morgue. He tells me the current reality is that, with the unbearable amount of casualties, people are being buried without ceremony as quickly as half an hour after their bodies are found. It’s unreal, he said, that you can have breakfast with a friend and then find out he has already been buried half an hour later. Regardless, when victory means simply surviving the onslaught, he tells me many people are confident Israel cannot achieve any of its aims. Before I hung up my mom took the phone to speak to his wife and give her condolences on the death of her brother. He was 23 years old.
I talked to uncle Jasim next. He had just gotten power and was flipping through the channels to check the news. He was livid at the Egyptian regime and their staunch refusal to open the Rafah crossing despite the massacre and the decimated infrastructure. Jasim has never been by any means a supporter of Hamas, but he tells me the people are rallying around the movement and will never allow Israel to impose Mahmoud Abbas on them. We talked about the extended range of the rockets fired by the resistance. For the first time, they had hit what is now known as Kiryat Gat, and which, until my grandparents were ethnically cleansed from it in 1949 (i.e. a year AFTER Israel had won its so-called War of Independence) was known as al-Fallujah.
I asked him if the Israeli army was still sending out recorded messages to peoples phones threatening to bomb their houses. He laughed a little and said that everyone is getting them, several times a day. His neighbor lived in a squalid one-room structure and had gotten one on his cell phone. Jasim’s daughter Yaqeen had picked up the house phone today and heard one of the messages, and it had terrified her. I told him about the protests and show of solidarity across the world, and told him to keep his chin up and his morale high. Even Dubai had canceled all New Year’s celebrations. I reminded him that if Israel could not destroy the people’s spirits with the atrocities it had been committing over the past four days, it had already lost this war.
My final call was to my uncle Mohammad in Gaza City. I was hoping he would be at least as upbeat as Mahmoud, but he sounded completely worn out. He barely sleeps, usually staying up all night as the bombing continues unabated around him, while the cold comes in through the windows kept open to prevent them from shattering every time a missile hits. He told me last night had been especially tough, particularly the bombing of the Ministries Compound with thirteen missiles almost simultaneously. The Shams Sports Club is just down the street and was destroyed. Why would they destroy a sports club, he asked. How can the world really believe they’re only targeting militants?
He said they had just gotten power after an outage of almost 12 hours, and was following the news of a French proposal for an immediate ceasefire. The skies had been quiet for 20 minutes, he said. He was hopeful the ceasefire would come into effect. I told him to keep his morale up, but that it was very unlikely Israel would agree to a ceasefire. After all this bombing and killing, it had only managed to put more Israelis under the fire of Palestinian homemade rockets. Stopping now would be, in the eyes of the Israeli public, a huge failure. And with elections coming up and Israeli elections traditionally decided by Palestinian body counts, it makes no sense domestically for Israel to stop now.
I let him know of the deep censorship in the Israeli media regarding the massacre in Gaza, how very few images of the carnage and death have been broadcast. In this kind of media environment, it is easy to say why many Israelis seem to believe their airforce and navy are only attacking militants. Either way, he said, he would still hope for a ceasefire. He was worn out.
It is scary, but uplifting, to think that through such abnormal suffering, people with a cause will manage to rally and hold their spirits. I truly believe Israel cannot win this particular war; Zionism has no place for the possibility that people do not give up in the face of overwhelming military force, and that is why Israel has used its military might for decades in an attempt to cow Palestinian nationalism and crush the struggle for liberty. The solution was and will always be simple: end the colonization of Palestine, the denial of Palestinian rights, and the continued expulsion of the Palestinian people from their lands. People are quick to point out when Palestinians use the limited means they have at their disposal to attack Israel, but without addressing the historical injustice imposed on the Palestinian people that continues to define their existence and oppression, there can never be a peaceful solution.
Until then, Israel will continue to commit atrocities in an attempt to impose an impossible reality, and its victims will continue to fight back.
gaza blogger laila el haddad, who is currently in north carolina, writes about calling her parents who are trapped in the gaza prison (click on link below to read that part) and then writes hauntingly about what it means to be trapped in this prison of gaza while american-made bombs are dropped by israeli terrorists flying american-made f16s:
It will all seem, at the end of the day, that this is somehow a response to something: rockets; broken truces; irreconcilability…
It is as though the situation were not only acceptable, but normal in the period prior to it all. As though a calm that provides no relief — political, economic, or otherwise — for Gaza’s stateless, occupied, besieged Palestinians were tenable. As though settlements did not continue to expand; walls did not continue to extend and choke lands and lives; families and friends were not dislocated; life was not paralyzed; people were not exterminated; borders were not sealed and food and light and fuel were in fair supply.
But it is the prisoners’ burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration. Nevertheless, there are concerns for the “humanitarian situation”: as long as they do not starve …
The warden improves the living conditions now and then, in varying degrees of relativity, but the prison doors remain sealed. And so when there are 20 hours of power outages in a row, the prisoners wish that they were only eight; or 10; and dream of the days of four.
My friend Safah Joudeh is also in Gaza city. She is a 27-year-old freelance journalist.
“At this point we don’t feel that it is Hamas being targeted, it’s the entire population of Gaza,” she says. “The strikes have been and I need to stress this, indiscriminate. They claim that the targets have been buildings and people that are Hamas-affiliated, but the employees in these buildings are public sector employees, not political activists … other targets include homes, mosques, the university, port, fishing boats, the fish market.”
No one has left their home since Saturday, she says.
“The streets were full of people the first day of the attacks, naturally. They were unexpected and came at a time when people were going about their daily business. The streets have been completely empty the past two days. People have closed up shop and trying to stay close to their families and loved ones. Many homes are without bread, the bakeries stopped working two days before the attack because of lack of fuel and flour.”
The small shop down the street from my parents’ home, next to the Kinz mosque where many of the Remal neighborhood’s affluent residents attend, opens for a little while after prayer. My father goes and gets whatever he can — while he can.
They have one package of bread left, but insist they are OK.
“Those with children are the ones who are truly suffering. Umm Ramadan’s grandchildren will only sleep in her arms now. They are wetting their pants again.”
dr. mona el farra, who is also a blogger, and who is now in england, writes about her home in gaza city from afar as well:
I’ve spoken to several of my fellow doctors in Gaza and each one of them is overwhelmed and demoralised. Even with all of their training, the material conditions in Gaza are preventing them from doing what they are capable of. They could have saved many more lives.
I remember how ambulance drivers were not allowed to reach the injured in previous military attacks on Gaza. Many lives could have been saved if the ambulances reached the injured at the right time. A few minutes can be the difference between life and death. I wonder whether we will hear reports like this again once the emergency situation is over and there is time for truth and reflection.
The first military air strikes struck at the exact time that schoolchildren make their way home. Where I live in Gaza City, several primary schools are very close to the police headquarters that were among the first targets. These horrifying facts explain the high number of women and children among the dead. Thirty children and nine women have been reported dead and another 130 children and 38 women injured.
I’ve spoken with friends and family in Gaza and my heart sank further with their firsthand accounts of the death and destruction.
On a personal level, I am mourning the loss of one of my cousins, Ibrahim Mahmoud El-Farra, aged 22. He was killed in the first attack on the presidential palace. F16 fighter planes fired three big missiles at the building. Neighbours tell me the ground shook and that the blast broke all the windows of my nearby apartment building.
My cousin, and an unknown number of other victims, is still under the rubble. The scale of destruction is too large for Gaza’s small number of rescue workers. They are slowly pulling body parts out of the rubble as Israeli airstrikes make more and more piles of rubble and people.
The number of reported deaths will increase in the next few days as more bodies are recovered and more of the seriously injured cases die because their serious but treatable wounds cannot be treated in Gaza.
what i am documenting here and have been documenting for the last five days is a catalog of war crimes of grievous violations of international humanitarian law, of the geneva convention. here is a recent statement sent to the united nations by various palestinian human rights organizations beseeching them to do something:
General Assembly to act under Resolution 377
Dear Member State of the UN Human Rights Council,
Representing the Palestinian human rights community, we write to you with an urgent request for intervention by the UN Human Rights Council to put an end to the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as a result of the Israeli occupying forces’ ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip. At least 310 persons, including 37 children, have been killed and more than 1,000 Palestinians have been injured. The civilian population of the occupied Gaza Strip will inevitably continue to suffer heavy losses without the external intervention of the international community; this is confirmed by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s assertion that this is a “war to the bitter end.”
Grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention amounting to war crimes, have been committed, including, willful killing and the extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Furthermore, the continuing collective punishment of the Gaza Strip has left medical services unable to deal with the increasing number of victims.
As member States of the UN Human Rights Council, you were fully apprised of the human rights situation in the OPT, during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Israel earlier this month. The dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip was a dominant concern raised by States during the review. Despite recommendations to Israel concerning its obligation to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the capacity of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure to respond to the humanitarian needs of the population after days of bombardment has now reached breaking point. You have further been notified by Special Rapporteur Richard Falk of Israel’s failure to cooperate with his mandate and his call on “all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.”
We note that the Security Council has thus far failed to take concrete steps despite the gravity of the situation. However, General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto’s statement that “the time has come to take firm action if the UN does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission” offers a platform for concrete action that should be supported by the Human Rights Council.
It is our considered judgment that the only effective measure the UN Human Rights Council can take under these specific circumstances is to issue a resolution requesting the General Assembly to convene under GA Resolution 377, “Uniting for Peace,” with a view towards the imposition of collective measures against the Israeli Government. We urge this approach having duly considered the implications for the Human Rights Council as well as the human rights of the Palestinian people should Israel again impede or ignore the Council’s interventions. We believe that such a step would halt the escalation of civilian deaths, offer hope to civilians in despair over the political deadlock and ultimately serve the long-term interests of peace.
Palestinian Human Rights Community
Arab Association for Human Rights-HRA
Addameer Prisoners’ Support & Human Rights Association
Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights
Defence for Children International
Ensan Center for Democracy & Human Rights
Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)
Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center (JLAC)
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)
Palestinian Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, Musawa
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies (RCHRS)
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)
Women’s Studies Center
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations’ Network – PNGO
it is israel’s lies that perpetuate this bloody, devastating war on innocent gaza civilians. but the world watches, waits, says nothing, does nothing. my students’ words haunt me–that palestinian blood is cheap, that no one cares about them not even other arabs. what do we have to do to get people to care? should the people of gaza convert to judaism? would that make the world care? then they would be jewish and somehow they would count as human beings? maybe then the world would react swiftly and with determination?
too, i can’t help thinking about the political rationale here. of course as i write about all the time the two-state solution is bulls*&^, not possible, and entirely based on a fraudulent process that has consistently disempowered and dispossessed palestinians even more than before. but i have always thought that this process was more like a three state solution: gaza, 1948 palestine, and the west bank. but this utter devastation of gaza makes me feel like maybe they are working for a two state solution by wiping out gaza. if they wipe gaza off the face of the earth then the israeli terrorists can finish off their ethnic cleansing project in 1948 palestine (as i quoted tzipi livni stating last week that this is her intention) and then maybe palestinians can have the prison that is the west bank–22% of it that is. this is what seems to me to be the larger design on palestine right now by the zionist, terrorist, jewish state and its american collaborators.