i went downtown again at 5pm for the second protest for gaza today. this one was a candlelight vigil. i got their early because of what happened to the first protest i went to. none of my friends were there yet. i saw a lot of yellow flags when i arrived, but they were flags for palestinian political prisoners so i did not think anything of it. while i was waiting for my friends to arrive two students from an najah came up to me and while we were talking little by little i started to realize this was not at all a candlelight vigil for gaza in spite of all the people there in kuffiyas looking like they were gathered for a vigil or demonstration. all of a sudden really large speakers began blasting fatah songs and shortly thereafter a huge parade began to march down the street full of children on drums. every one of them waved enormous fatah flags. i waited, took a photograph (see below) and then decided i would leave. i was not in the mood to watch fatah celebrate its 44th anniversary, which to me seemed like dancing on the graves of people in gaza. incidentally, i head heard that celebrations for fatah’s anniversary were ordered to be canceled today because of what is happening in gaza; apparently nabulsis didn’t get that memo.
i called my friend alia to tell her i was leaving and she had just arrived so she caught me before i got back in a taxi. she encouraged me to wait as other people started to arrive. and then we saw a group marching from the other direction carrying a large banner about gaza and carrying a coffin representing the dead in gaza. we walked over towards them and then our group of regular people and students and faculty gathered together. but there were some other folks with us from al mubadara, mustafa barghouti’s political party. they were also carrying enormous orange flags with them and chanting chants that were about mubadara. and it was frustrating because most of the chants were, in fact, like earlier in the day–one nation, we have the same wound, same blood, that sort of thing. but then the guy leading the chants was holding this huge mubadara flag and using the name of mubadara in these chants calling for unity. i don’t think he understood the irony.
the vigil didn’t last long enough for some of us. even though it is quite cold right now we wanted to stay longer so we decided to remain a while longer as our core group stood alone in martyr’s square. the most exciting time of the night, however, was when some israeli and american flags were burned in the street. that felt really good to see and there is a picture of it, but because they were made of paper, they burned really fast and i couldn’t catch a glimpse of it before it was all aflame. an announcement was made before everyone left that we will continue our vigils and protests and i added to the announcement that no flags should be allowed other than a palestinian flag. it is really counterproductive and frankly hypocritical to have so many different flags present when we are calling for unity; when palestinians are chanting that we are all one. interestingly, pflp was there tonight but they carried no flags; though they did hand out their important statement for people to read.
while we were protesting, of course, more death in gaza. the death toll has risen again. it is now 395 dead and 2,000 injured. on al jazeera english tonight a norweigan doctor named mads gilbert from norwac was interviewed. he had just arrived with medical supplies from the rafah border, which allowed a minimal amount of aid in today. he said a few quite disturbing things, which i tried to transcribe and here is the gist of what he said:
This is a complete man-made disaster. When we arrived we saw a large population without food, long lines of people waiting to get bread. It is quite cold now and there is nothing to warm the houses with. [my comment: many families have had to take out their window panes so that the glass won’t fly in and hurt their children so it is especially cold]. There is a large mosque that has been bombed across the street from the hospital. As a result of that bombing the windows in the hospital has been shattered. There are 2,000 casualties, many very serious. The hospitals are lacking basic drugs, all basic equipment. There is a severe shortage of staff due to 5 days of working around the clock to attend to the injured.”
[Sami Zeidan then asks him about whether or not Israel is letting aid getting through.]
Until now aid has not been getting through. We came through Rafah today. 2 field hospitals, 32 tons of drugs are not coming through. Aid is not the most important thing now, the most important thing is to stop the bombardment now, also from a medical point of view. To guarantee the safety of the population. To open the borders. To restore public services and health facilities. When and if the ground invasion begins it goes from dire to disastrous.
[Zeidan asks him about international law and the proportionality of the fight]
The last numbers from the Palestinian National Authority put the total number of casualties at 2,000 total killed 391. Among the killed 21% are women and children, meaning that every 5th killed is a woman or a child. Among the injured 40% are women and children. There is a sharp contradiction here with respect to protecting civilians. On the contrary, they are the target, the victims. This is contrary to international law. It is an extremely cowardly way to fight a war, sitting there in an airplane above people who have no where to go. I really urge the international community to stand up to stop Israel’s terror bombings.
after this gilbert began talking about something even more horrifying, but it hasn’t been rerun on al jazeera so i don’t have a precise transcript. essentially gilbert said that the zionist terrorists are using a new weapon that is causing severe burns and is cutting bodies in two (anyone who has seen the numerous photographs of the dead without heads or limbs you know what i’m talking about). he also said that he thinks this new weapon is radioactive. of course, we don’t know the details about any of this yet, but it is alarming to say the least.
as gilbert mentioned the bulk of the victims are women and children. here are some of the newest victims of israeli terrorism:
During a lull in the air and artillery strikes Wednesday afternoon one mother sent three of her children on a quick errand; a chance for them to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the house for five days.
The two girls were scared to go by themselves outdoors, so their brother Ismail volunteered to go with them.
The three children, Lama Hamdan, 5-years-old, Haya Hamdan, 12-years-old and Ismail Hamdan, 10-years-old were killed near their home in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.
Dr Ibrahim Abu Ghazala declared the two girls dead when they arrived at the hospital and struggled in vain to keep their brother alive.
The Hamdan children are only the most recent victims of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which was set to root out military factions responsible for the continued launch of projectiles into Israel. As of Wednesday de facto Health Ministry officials say there are 395 dead; at least 15% are children.
Dr Abu Ghazala has witnessed the death of dozens of children at Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa Hospital. He explains his bitterness every time another small body is sent to sit on the ground in the full hospital morgue. ‘They try so hard to resist death,’ he says, ‘but they end up fueling this conflict that has nothing to do with them.’
in the midst of witnessing all of this carnage from israeli terrorism with american-made planes and weapons–albeit from a distance–i am bombarded with hateful lies and propaganda from israeli terrorists on television. it is unnerving to say the least. but i started thinking about this year, as one is wont to do at the conclusion of a year, and i couldn’t help but be reminded, as i paged through old blog posts, how much of this year has been taken up by responding to racist zionist terrorist attacks on gaza. there was one bright moment, however, at the beginning of the year when the people of gaza broke out of their prison for a short while at the rafah border on 23 january. but then on 16 april israeli terrorists murdered reuters journalist fadel shana, who was just 23 years old with one of its airstrikes. and of course 29 february will be the day that we recall that israeli terrorists promised to do what they know how to do best: create a holocaust for the palestinian people–what we are witnessing right now and doing nothing about:
Matan Vilnai said Palestinians risked a “shoah”, the Hebrew word for a big disaster – and for the Nazi Holocaust.
Mr Vilnai made the comments after rockets hit the city of Ashkelon, 10km (six miles) from Gaza. His colleagues insisted he had not meant “genocide”.
and on 29 january more promises of ethnic cleansing from zionist terrorists, again the world refuses to act:
Gazans should be transfered to the Sinai Peninsula where a Palestinian state could be constructed for them in the desert, according to Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, in an interview with the British weekly “The Jewish News.”
even amidst the protests around the world nothing is happening. supposedly gordon brown has now called on the israeli terrorists to halt their aggressive terrorist acts as a result of british protesters. earlier today a call from the u.k. to pledge money to help gaza with aid struck me as really f&@!)$ up: they want to give aid but they don’t want to force a ceasefire. however, now it seems that brown will do just that. we must wait and see, i guess. and as europeans and americans party tonight forgetting that the people of gaza are living in terror right now. it has just struck midnight as i type and as i type the bombs are again falling over gaza city, over rafah. nevertheless the protests continue, including one held by iranian jews in iran protesting israeli terrorism. here are some from today, from around the world:
i wish those protests were as big here in nablus, though i am watching a live protest in ramallah in manara square and it looks like it’s a good size. meanwhile as the new year begins palestinians in gaza live in fear, in a constant state of trauma:
this is the reality of gaza. while americans and europeans go out and get drunk and party, there will be more of the same. gaza is in darkness while the world parties. it makes me sick to think about. i am grateful i am not in beirut tonight, where i suspect there is a similar scene going on in even in hamra.
for those of you making new year’s resolutions, here’s one: DO F)*#&$% SOMETHING FOR GAZA NOW.