Posts Tagged ‘cast lead’

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Suheir Hammad: Gaza

July 26, 2010
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“There is no Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip”

June 5, 2010

A little photo album I put together in response to this statement that is all over the right-wing media now, check it out:

Gaza Humanitarian Crisis

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Update on the Current Gaza Situation……

June 3, 2010

Gaza Strip

The War on Gaza: December 27th, 2008 – January 18th, 2009

The Gaza Strip has been the setting for a protracted political and humanitarian crisis for several years by different Israeli policies against Palestinians including continuous aggression, collective punishments, economic embargo, and violations to human rights, as well as a tight blockade and war. Saturday morning, the 27th of December 2008, Israel started a massive military offensive in the Gaza Strip, with air strikes, and naval bombardment followed by a ground offensive, and using of internationally prohibited weapons leaving behind death, destruction and intense suffering for a whole population in Gaza.

The 3 weeks of the devastatingly harsh and relentless Israeli military offensive on Gaza Strip killed 1,440 people, of whom 431 were children and 114 were women, according to the OCHA reports. This number does not include those who have died due to lack of access to regular health care (including obstetric care and treatment for chronic diseases). The number of injuries still stands at 5,380, of whom 1,872 are children and 800 are women, according to the MoH reports. 16 health staff members were killed and 25 injured while on-duty too. Injuries were often multiple traumas with head injuries, thorax abdominal wounds and loss of parts of extremities that left more than 600 people with permanent disability.

Children in particular suffered the most. Terrified and displaced, they were unable to deal with their new realities. Many children have lost their homes, schools and have to deal with the loss a loved one, whether a family member or a classmate. The magnitude of the disaster was unbearable. Many may know the numbers of those affected but only a few can relate to the stories of these children.

The war caused massive damage to Palestinian infrastructure; Whole neighbourhoods were turned into rubble. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals, fire stations and ambulances on duty were damaged by shelling. Also more than 4000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Thousands of citrus, olive and palm groves, wells and greenhouses, including those far inside the Gaza Strip, were uprooted.

People were seeking safe places but couldn’t find any, and they kept moving from one place to other, an estimated 80,000-90,000 Gazans were displaced, seeking refuge in shelters, camp or at the homes of families and friends. The aftermath also witnessed a humanitarian crisis with thousands of Gazans left homeless in temporary shelters.

An Endless Blockade

For the past three and a half years, Gaza has been under a tight blockade imposed by Israel which has affected all aspects of daily living and development. It affected all sectors of society including industrial, agricultural, economical, health and social. It also increased levels of poverty and unemployment which have become unbearable. Before Hamas came to power in Gaza, over 14,000 trucks of goods entered Gaza daily. By April 2009, that number was reduced to 2,000.

While the war on Gaza has intensified the suffering of people and destroyed the infrastructure, the endless blockade of Gaza continues to sustain this suffering and prevents effective intervention.

Since January 2010, Gazan residents have had to deal with electricity cuts from 8-12 hours per day (as opposed to 6-8 hours per day prior to January) because of lack of funds and ability to purchase sufficient industrial fuel for the power plant. This makes an even larger impact on daily life in Gaza–especially with respect to health care, sanitation and water services, and education.

UNRWA reported that items such as candles, books, crayons, shoes, sheets, blankets, coffee and shampoo are refused entry. Given that allowing these items entry would pose no security threat to Israel, the only logical conclusion is that refusing such items amounts to punishing the population.

The blockade has had a huge effect on the economy of Gaza. Before Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s last offensive on the territory in December 2009-January 2010), the World Bank estimated that only 2% of industrial establishments were still functioning. It’s safe to say that number is even less now. One of the hardest hit sectors is agriculture–because most goods are not allowed to leave the strip to be sold outside, most of the produce has to be destroyed or sold at a loss on the local markets. Unemployment is over 50%.

Damage to Health Care Infrastructure

The health sector has been on the brink of collapsing, unable to cope with the soaring numbers of casualties and fatalities. The war caused serious damage to health services infrastructure where 15 of 27 Gaza’s hospital, 43 of 110 primary health care (PHC) clinics, and 29 of 148 ambulances were partially or completely damaged during the war.

Access to health care was severely restricted and hampered by security constraints. Several PHC centres of different health providers were closed during part of or all of the period of the war. It is estimated that, during the military operation, 40% of the chronically ill interrupted their treatment. These concerns were exacerbated by the virtual halt of referrals of ordinary patients outside Gaza as life-threatening injuries had a higher priority in an overwhelmed system. Elective surgery and non-urgent routine medical interventions were delayed or interrupted during the crisis. Maternal and child health services at PHC levels were disrupted.

 Psychological Trauma in the Palestinian Territories

Trauma from Operation Cast Lead and the high level of violence that is constant in the Gaza Strip (and West Bank to a lesser extent) has caused a high level of psychological disorders in Palestinians living there—with an especially high toll on the children, who make up over half the population of the territory. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders, even short-term psychological support can ease the burden of violence-induced psychiatric disorders—especially in children.

MSF conducted a study on data collected from 1,369 patients  (773 in the Gaza Strip and 596 in Nablus—a West Bank city with a high level of violence from the Israeli military) who received psychological support between January 2005 and December 2008.  23.2 % of these patients had PTSD, 17.3 % had an anxiety disorder (other than PTSD) and 15.3% had depression.

PTSD was more common in children under the age of 15, while depression was the main symptom found in adults. Among children under 16, factors significantly associated with PTSD included being witness to murder or physical abuse, receiving threats, and property destruction or loss. 65% of patient took part in individual, short-term psychotherapy, with 30.6% requiring psychotropic medication along with counselling.

Following psychotherapy, 82.8% of children and 75.3% of adults had improved symptoms. Among patients that showed no improvement or aggravated symptoms at the last session, the main persistent symptoms were sadness and aggressive behaviour. The study concluded that “These observations suggest that short-term psychotherapy could be an effective treatment for specific psychiatric disorders occurring in vulnerable populations, including children living in conflict zones, such as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.” (Study was published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems)

Operation Cast Lead: “War is Hell on the Brain”

According to a Ministry of Education assessment, at least 922 registered schoolchildren were injured during Operation Cast Lead, around 732 of them will live with long-term disabilities as a consequence of the war. Many children lost classmates, friends, and/or siblings and remain very much psychologically scarred.

The scale of violence during Cast Lead exposed Gazan children to unprecedented levels of stress, many witnessed horrific scenes of violence and there was no place that they could feel safe—their parents could do nothing to protect them, many of their homes and schools were destroyed indiscriminately. Children in Gaza exhibit behaviour problems such as increased levels of violence, depression, sleeping disorders, falling mute, fear and anxiety, changes in attachment to family and community, inability to concentrate, learning difficulties, and loss of recently acquired skills. An estimated 14,000-28,000 children need psychological support as a result of the war.

 Fatima B (Case 28)

“My daughter Fatima is in a very bad psychological state. Every night she dreams of Israeli aircraft attacking her; one night they kill her, another night they injure her. She wakes up in the middle of the night screaming and sweating. She needs her nerves to be examined because of her head injury that led to a mild tremor in her limbs. This tremor has affected her studies. She had beautiful handwriting before the incident…which resulted in her shaking and her handwriting is no longer clear and understandable. She refuses to go to school. I advised her to go and sit for the final exams in May. She passed all the subjects but her average marks dropped.

Fatima forces me to put a scarf over her head whenever she goes to school because of the big bald patches in her hair after she underwent surgery…she refuses to leave the house in the evening because she is afraid of darkness. These days whenever she hears Israeli aircraft, she becomes scared and rushes back to the house  and then to her room. In the daylight, her face injuries are very apparent. She has marks on her face; dark brown spots. Whenever she walks under the sun, the brown marks turn black. I do not know how to treat her and get her back the way she was before.” –Azhar Al Banna

Effect on Women and Childbirth

Since the end of Operation Cast Lead, the Hamas Health Ministry says there is a higher percentage of children being born with birth defects. According to Dr. Muweiyah Massenein, head of the ministry’s ambulance and emergency department, “we have found cases among newborn babies involving heart defects and brain abnormalities.” Hassenein states that the higher number of birth defects is a result of “Israel’s use of internationally prohibited weapons against the civilians of Gaza.”

Among white phosphorous, depleted uranium and other illegal weapons used on the Gazan civilian population during the war, many researchers and doctors working in Gaza say that Israel used the Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) weapon as well, which is known to cause biological effects on foetuses—such as the ones that are being discovered now.

Medical experts had earlier predicted that the illegal weapons used by the IDF in the densely populated Gaza Strip would cause long-lasting effects and plague the future generation physically and psychologically.

Economy

In Gaza, jobs in the private sector are basically nonexistent, so even though there are goods available to buy, the people do not have money. 80% of the people in Gaza are dependent on outside food aid, either from UNWRA or the World Food Program (WFP).

Irish FM Michael Martin described the Gazan economy as devastated and “only operating at some 10-15 percent of capacity.”

Over one thousand companies have gone out of business since the last Israeli offensive on the territory, Operation Cast Lead (27 December, 2008- 18 January, 2009). Unemployment has risen to over 50%.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calls the situation in Gaza currently a “protracted political and socio-economic crisis.”

Healthcare

WHO reports that since Cast Lead, “recent events have resulted in a severe deterioration of the already precarious living conditions of the people in Gaza and have further eroded a weakened health system.”

The situation can be characterized by delays in border-crossing permits for specialized hospital treatment, shortage of medical supplies, improperly trained medical staff as a result of isolation, and damage to health services infrastructure as the main causes of the precarious health situation.

Electricity cuts due to the Israeli incursions and blockade affect the hospitals’ ability to maintain service provision. To further aggravate the situation, the inadequate amount of fuel allowed into Gaza through the Israeli blockade removes even the option of depending on backup generators to power the hospitals.

Continuous power is required for the preservation of vaccine cold chain items, food for patients and emergency operations. Operating theaters will be forced to reduce or shut down altogether due to the lack of electricity and medical supplies. Israeli border closures also mean greater shortages of basic drugs, disposable equipment, and diagnostic materials.

Many specialized treatments, for example complex heart surgery and certain types of cancer treatments, are not available in Gaza and patients are referred to outside hospitals for treatment. But many of the exit permits are denied or delayed arbitrarily by the Israeli authorities and as a result the person misses their appointments and treatment. Many have died while waiting for referral.

1103 applications for patients to cross the Erez border crossing were submitted to the Israeli authorities in December 2009. 21% were denied or delayed, causing them to miss their hospital appointments and restart the referral process from the beginning. Over 27 patients have died while awaiting referral since the beginning of 2009.

The Death of Fidaa Talal Hijjy

Fidaa Talal Hijjy, 19 years old, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 2007, and was treated at Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Her health deteriorated and she was told she needed a bone marrow transplant, a procedure that is not available in Gaza. Her doctors referred her to Tel HaShomer Hospital in Israel on 20 August 2009 and she obtained a hospital appointment for 23 September 2009 for a transplant.

The District Liaison Office submitted an application for Fidaa to cross Erez on the date of her appointment but the Israeli Authorities did not respond to her application and she lost her appointment with Tel HaShomer Hospital. She secured a new appointment for 20 October 2009 and a new application was submitted to cross Erez. She had no response from the Israeli Authorities. Her health condition deteriorated further. She was given a new appointment at Shneider Hospital in Israel for 9 November 2009 and submitted an urgent application to cross Erez. No response was received.

Fidaa died on 11 November 2009. The Israeli Authorities approved her request on 12 November 2009, three days after her hospital appointment and one day after her death.

This is just one example, of many.

Supplies of drugs and disposable have generally been allowed through the Israeli blockade, although in inadequate quantities. There are also large shortages because of shortfalls in deliveries. Most drugs and disposables supplies are sitting at less than 30% of being fully stocked.

Delays of up to 2-3 months occur on the importation of medical equipment like x-ray machines and electronic devices. Clinical staff are frequently lacking the medical equipment they need. Medical devices are often broken, missing spare parts (which are not allowed through the Israeli blockade) or out of date.

Water and Sanitation

Recently, the salinity and nitrate levels in Gazan water supplies have been increasing due to over-extraction of ground water. Intrusion of salt water is a major concern for the safety of drinking water—especially for children. The underground wall that Egypt is building to stop the tunnel industry is also a concern—because it could cause sea water to enter the underground water supply of Gaza.

The sanitation infrastructure of Gaza was largely destroyed during Cast Lead, and has yet to be fully repaired because the Israeli blockade will not allow in replacement materials and spare parts. This has led to large sewage “lagoons” that sometimes overflow into residential neighborhoods and also into the Mediterranean Sea—causing not only a health crisis, but an environmental one as well.

For More Information About the Humanitarian Situation in Gaza:

OXFAM: “The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion”

Current OCHA Reports on Gaza

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Gaza’s Thin Red Line One Year On…

January 26, 2010

Eva Bartlett
Electronic Intifada

“The last Israeli attacks were the hardest, the most dangerous. It wasn’t a war, it was a massacre. They shot anyone walking, anyone outside of their home, in their home … it didn’t matter. And it didn’t matter if the victims were children or adults; there was no difference.”

Ali Khalil, 47, has served as a medic with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and private hospitals in Gaza for more than 20 years. He has seen some of the worst atrocities committed by the Israeli army. During Israel’s war on Gaza last winter, Khalil worked in Gaza’s northern region, venturing repeatedly into high-risk areas bombarded by Israeli tanks, helicopters and warplanes to rescue the injured and retrieve the dead.

During the 23-day invasion, the Israeli army warplanes, drones, warships, tanks and snipers rendered entire areas off-limits and impossible for ambulances and civil defense fire and rescue trucks to reach. In the north, Ezbet Abed Rabbo and Attatra, east and northwest of Jabaliya, respectively, were among the districts occupied by the Israeli army.

Through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Palestinian rescuers were sometimes able to coordinate with the Israeli army to gain access to areas they controlled.

“We’d wait five hours, even over 30 hours, for coordination from the Israelis to enter the area to retrieve wounded or martyred,” says Khalil. “And much of the time, we wouldn’t get it.”

Even coordination, however, did not ensure access or safety.

“On 9 January, we went to retrieve wounded and martyred. There were three ambulances, and one ICRC jeep in front. We had coordination via the ICRC,” says Khalil.

Marwan Hammouda, 33, a PRCS medic for the last 10 years, was on the same call. “We were driving to the area, speaking with the Israelis on the phone. They’d tell us which way to drive, what road to take. When we got near the wounded, Israeli soldiers started firing. I told them, ‘We have coordination’ and they said to wait. Then they began firing at us again.”

Emergency workers under fire

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), that same day, 9 January, Israeli soldiers fired on a convoy of 11 ambulances led by a clearly marked ICRC vehicle in central Gaza, injuring an ICRC staff member and damaging the vehicle.

This was not the only that occasion emergency medics came under fire. During the invasion, Israeli forces killed 16 medical rescuers, four in one day alone. Another 57 were injured. At least 16 ambulances were damaged with at least nine completely destroyed.

Although the Geneva Conventions explicitly state that “medical personnel searching, collecting, transporting or treating the wounded should be protected and respected in all circumstances,” throughout Israel’s invasion this was not the case. Indeed, as the injured and emergency workers testify, Israeli forces targeted and prevented medical workers from reaching the wounded.

“If we can’t even access areas with ICRC coordination, how are we supposed to help people?” asks Khalil.

Without coordination, many ambulances did not dare risk Israeli gunfire and shelling, meaning hundreds of calls went unanswered, according to PCHR. Denied medical care, many victims succumbed to their wounds.

It was days before ambulances could reach the bodies of at least five members of the Abu Halima family who were killed when Israeli shelling and white phosphorous struck their home. In addition, two young male cousins, Matar and Muhammad, were shot dead by Israeli soldiers as they tried to drive a tractor-pulled wagon carrying the injured and martyred.

Ambulances trying to answer the calls were fired upon by machine guns and further shelling. Ali Khalil is still traumatized by what he and other emergency workers finally found days later.

“I brought back baby Shahed’s burned, gnawed corpse.”

The infant body that Khalil carried out, burned by white phosphorous, left in the tractor wagon, had been partially eaten by stray dogs.

“For the rest of my life I’ll remember that day. I’ll never get over it.”

Khalil is among many veteran medics who feel all the emergency workers need counseling for the stresses and traumas endured in their work.

Ahmed Abu Foul, 26, works as a medic and coordinator of all the PRCS volunteers in northern Gaza. He also works as a medic and coordinator with the Civil Defense, Gaza’s fire and rescue services. He is newly a father of a baby girl.

Abu Foul has narrowly escaped death while working on many occasions, and his body bears the scars of Israeli-fired bullet, shrapnel and flechette (dart bomb) injuries. In the last invasion alone, Abu Foul was twice targeted by snipers, was at the Fakhoura school when it was hit by white phosphorous shells on 6 January, and was in a building that was being bombed while emergency workers tried to evacuate the victims. In the latter incident, Abu Foul’s colleague was killed and Abu Foul was lacerated with shrapnel to the leg and head.

Despite his many close calls, Abu Foul maintains a convincingly cheerful attitude, and continues to work full time for both the Civil Defense and the PRCS. However, he admits the psychological and physical pain have not abated since the last Israeli attacks.

“My left leg is useless. When I walk too much, the pain becomes unbearable and my leg won’t support me. There’s still shrapnel in it, and the nerves were badly damaged by the shrapnel.”

It’s the same leg that was shot in May 2008 while Abu Foul was on a mission for PRCS, he says. Just above the support bandage around his calf, a hollow in his leg above his kneecap shows where the bullet bored straight through.

“A doctor here said he could remove the shrapnel and repair the nerves, but wanted to open it up from my foot all the way to my thigh,” he says of his recent injury.

“I have pain in my head also, especially when it is sunny,” he adds. “There’s still shrapnel in it from the shelling, although doctors already removed three pieces.”

He endures both injuries, waiting for specialists and the means outside of Gaza to remove the shrapnel. “It’s too dangerous here; we don’t have the means nor the medical equipment to locate the shrapnel before removing it.”

Medical shortages under siege

Under siege since after Hamas’ election in early 2006, Gaza is still not receiving all the necessary medical supplies needed, nor the spare parts to repair aged machinery. Doctors, unable to leave Gaza, cannot obtain advanced and specialized training. The health care system, post-invasion and under siege, is in more dire condition than before the Israeli attacks one year ago. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, stocks of 141 types of medicines are depleted, as are 116 types of essential medical supplies.

Aside from Abu Foul’s very present physical pain, it is memories of the wounded, the martyred, and the loss of his colleagues that still troubles him.

“I was with Dr. Issa Saleh coming down the stairs from the sixth floor of an apartment building in Jabaliya, evacuating a martyr, when the Israelis again shelled the building. They knew there were medics inside. They could see our uniforms and the ambulances outside. Dr. Saleh was hit by the missile.”

Abu Foul describes in testimony to the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights how he believed he’d been mortally wounded.

“I put my hand on the back of my head and I found blood and brain. I then saw Dr. Issa had been decapitated and realized it must have been his head hitting my head and his brain on the back of my head.”

Just days earlier, Abu Foul and other medics came under heavy Israeli fire for several minutes as they attempted to reach the injured.

The extreme stress and loss have manifested in Abu Foul’s daily life. “I feel as though I don’t care about anything now. Now, when I get angry I find myself hitting and throwing things. I feel nervous and I shout a lot now,” he told al-Mezan.

Yet Abu Foul takes his role as an emergency rescuer seriously and is not daunted in his work, in spite of how it has affected his personal life. Abu Foul now continues to seek replacement equipment, requesting delegations visiting Gaza to bring any sort of emergency equipment.

“Ten out of sixteen fire engines are functional. We need fire hoses, spotlights for the trucks, handheld spotlights for searching in the dark, chemical extinguishing spray, electric saws for cutting through wreckage …” The list is long and seems impossible when the Israeli siege on Gaza is tighter than ever.

Duty calls

“Each invasion becomes harder than the last,” says Marwan Hammouda. Like his colleagues, Hammouda has no fear of death, and like them he has a history of injuries in the line of work, the latest being a gunshot to his left foot when the ambulance he was driving came under Israeli fire in Jabaliya.

Since Israel’s invasion, Hammouda has developed a thyroid disorder, a condition doctors say is a result of post-traumatic stress.

“You saw the last war,” he says. “There was nowhere safe, not homes, not schools, not kindergartens, not media buildings.” And not ambulances.

“So do I want to die in my home, or in my work, at least helping people who have been injured?” Hammouda asks. “The Israelis don’t have any respect for international law. And I have absolutely no confidence that things will change because American politicians give sweet speeches.”

“My children got used to the idea that I could die at any moment in our work,” says the father of six. “During the Israeli attacks, I only saw them for five or ten minutes a day. Some days I didn’t see them at all because I was always with the ambulances.”

Hassan al-Attal, 35, a father of three, was shot by an Israeli sniper while carrying a body from Zimmo crossroads east of Jabaliya back towards the wailing, flashing ambulance.

Since the Israeli tanks rolled in with the land invasion after the first week of aerial bombardment, injured and trapped residents of Ezbet Abed Rabbo — one of the hardest-hit areas during the Israeli attacks — had been calling for ambulances to evacuate the wounded and the dead. In almost all cases, emergency rescuers were unable to reach these calls, hindered by Israeli army shooting and shelling.

A medic for ten years, Attal has on many occasions come under Israeli fire and aggression while working.

His gunshot injury during the 7 January mission at 1:30pm came during Israel’s self-declared “humanitarian cease-fire hours,” when civilians were told they could safely walk the streets to buy food supplies or otherwise leave their homes.

After carrying the corpse only a few meters, Israeli sniper fire broke out on Attal and Jamal Said, 21, the volunteer with him.

“We came under heavy fire, around 20 shots. I was shot in the left thigh,” says Attal.

Hazem Graith, 35, a father of four and a medic with the PRCS since 1999, worked in Gaza’s north during the Israeli attacks.

Like most medics, Graith came to the profession out of a sense of obligation to his community. “Because I love to help people,” he says.

Graith too has come under Israeli fire on many occasions. However, he is quick to emphasize that while the Israeli attacks on rescuers during last winter’s invasion were the most savage and numerous yet, they were not isolated incidents. Rather, they were part of a larger Israeli policy of denying access of emergency personnel to the wounded which dates back to the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000.

Targeting hospitals and medical facilities

In addition to attacking rescuers, Israeli warplanes and tanks attacked medical facilities and clinics during the Israeli war on Gaza. An investigative report published by the Guardian in March 2009 found that 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals were bombed, and another 44 clinics were damaged — two destroyed completely — although the Israeli military knew the coordinates of all the facilities.

On 15 January, the al-Quds hospital complex in Tel al-Hawa was shelled repeatedly, including with white phosphorous, causing fires to break out, extensive damage and forced the evacuation of all patients from the hospital.

The al-Wafa rehabilitation hospital in eastern Gaza — the only one of its kind in the entire territory — was attacked on the night of 15 January by tank shelling, including with phosphorous, and machine gun fire. Hospital residents included the disabled and immobile patients, as well as the elderly. Fire broke out on the roof of the hospital, and most buildings in the complex sustained extensive damage.

When medics were forced to evacuate the Ezbet Abed Rabbo PRCS station on the second day of the land invasion, the small band of ambulances temporarily stationed outside of Hamid’s home in Jabaliya. Days later, they moved to Beit Lahia’s al-Awda hospital, where they were based for the rest of the Israeli attacks.

“It was the most dangerous invasion we faced. Everywhere was dangerous, there was no safe place. Especially after 4pm it was extremely dangerous to be on the streets. But if we didn’t go out, who would help the people?”

Dodging missiles and gunfire on the streets and at attack sites, medics were further hounded at their temporary station at al-Awda hospital.

“The Israelis launched missiles on al-Awda, a hospital. Fortunately no one was killed in that attack, but it’s a hospital, and our ambulance base,” says Hamid.

Lost colleagues

Khaled Abu Sada, 43, another long-term medic, will never forget the Israeli attack that savagely martyred his colleague Arafa Abd al-Dayem.

On 4 January, at around 10am, medics Sada, Abd al-Dayem and PRCS volunteer Ala Sarhan, 23, answered the call of civilians targeted by Israeli tank shelling in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahiya.

As they brought the injured and martyred to the ambulance, the medic team was struck by an Israeli tank-fired dart bomb. The flechettes, just two inches long and dart-shaped, are designed to bore through anything, to break apart upon impact, to ensure maximum damage. Arafa Abd al-Dayem, 35, a father of four and volunteer medic for eight years, was shredded by the darts.

Abu Sada testified to the Guardian: “I came round here and found Arafa kneeling down with his hands in the air and praying to God. They found his body full of these nails. The guy that had been brought to the ambulance was in pieces. He was now missing his head and both his legs.”

Arafa Abd al-Dayem went into shock and died an hour or so after the attack, while Ala Sarhan was paralyzed by the injuries sustained in the attack.

Powerless to help

Ashraf al-Khatib has been a medic for 11 years. During the Israeli attacks, he worked at Rafah’s PRCS station. “On 15 January we got a call from a man who said his brother was dead and he was injured by multiple Israeli gunshots. Ahmed and Ibrahim Thabet didn’t know the Israeli army were nearby when they rode their motorcycle through a district of eastern Rafah.”

Called at 11am, al-Khatib attempted to get Israeli coordination via the ICRC to reach the injured man.

“We tried for hours. Ibrahim kept calling us, crying, panicked. We explained we couldn’t reach the area because of the Israeli army. We told him how to stop his bleeding to his chest and leg until we arrived.”

Unable to wait any longer, al-Khatib and colleagues made the decision to risk going without Israeli coordination.

“I told them, we may die. But we agreed to go.”

Two ambulances reached the area and brought out the dead and injured men.

“We had snipers trained on us, lasers on our foreheads and chest,” he says.

Having reached the Thabet brothers, the medics saw more victims.

“It was a busy area. People didn’t know there were Israeli snipers nearby.”

But because of renewed Israeli firing, al-Khatib’s ambulances were forced to retreat, leaving the victims behind.

Al-Khatib recalls another well-known case in Gaza, that of the Shurrab family in Rafah.

“We got a call from Muhammad Shurrab saying he and his sons had been evicted from their home by Israeli soldiers, then shot. They were all living but injured,” he explained.

The family waited, trapped between an Israeli tank and their home, bleeding of their injuries, he says.

“We went, when we tried to reach them Israeli soldiers fired on us, so we retreated and tried to get coordination. Shurrab would call every so often; I’d tell him to be patient while we tried. It was winter, so in addition to their injuries, they were freezing.”

Al-Khatib relates the saga which went on through the night.

“Later, the father called to say one son had died. We called Al-Jazeera television and told them the Israelis were preventing us from reaching Shurrab. Al-Jazeera took his mobile number and interviewed him live on the air. By that time his second son had died. Twelve hours later the Israelis finally allowed us to reach him, but his sons were both dead.”

Al-Khatib says this was the worst challenge he has faced as a medic.

“I knew they were injured but there was no way to reach them, then the kids died. The Israeli army was playing with us,” he says.

Muhammad, who declined to give his last name, 30, a volunteer medic and ambulance driver at the Tel al-Hawa PRCS station, was among the team sent to retrieve injured from the Samouni neighborhood in Zaytoun, eastern Gaza, while the attacks were still raging.

“When we arrived, we saw two tanks and a bulldozer between the trees. The tanks aimed their machine guns at the ambulance and the Israelis told us to continue forward. We went about 500 meters. Suddenly 20 or 30 soldiers appeared on foot and surrounded the ambulance, pointing their guns at us. They told me to get out of the ambulance, slowly. I did. They told me to take off my clothes. I did, at the same time telling them we’d come to bring out injured.”

They ordered his colleague Rami, a volunteer medic, to get out and strip his clothes.

“They forced us to lie on the ground.”

For the next 30 minutes, Muhammad says, they lay on the cold ground in their underwear, soldiers sitting on their backs, guns trained on them.

“Finally, after maybe 30 minutes, they let us go. But they didn’t let us retrieve the injured or the children.”

“Why shoot at ambulances?”

Throughout Gaza, during and before Israel’s latest invasion there, stories of detention, attack, delay and bombardment of stations of both medic rescuers and the Civil Defense abound. Despite the scale of the aggression, the last Israeli war on Gaza was not a precedent for emergency workers, but the continuation of a deeply-entrenched Israeli policy violating international law.

In April 2009, journalist Amira Hass reported in the Israeli daily Haaretz finding a note in Gaza ordering soldiers to “open fire also upon rescue.” Written in Hebrew, Hass reports that the note was found in a home occupied by Israeli forces during the war on Gaza. A military spokesperson, she writes, denied the note represents official Israeli army policy. But the facts on the ground and bodies in the graveyard point to a different conclusion.

Although one year has passed since the Israeli invasion, throughout Gaza the psychological wounds are still wide open. For the emergency rescuers, the prospect of the next Israeli attack is all too real and all too routine.

“Nothing is forbidden here, there is no international law where Israel is concerned. Even though the Geneva Conventions say we have the right to reach the wounded, Israel does not pay attention to international law,” says medic Hazem Graith.

Like Hammouda, Graith speaks wryly of the Israeli explanation for such attacks.

“Why shoot at ambulances? Why destroy them? Why kill medics?” he asks. “The Israelis say we are militants or are carrying militants, that’s the reason they give for targeting medics. Lies, all lies. In our ambulances there are only ever wounded or martyred.”

While the destruction of ambulances is a major obstacle to medics’ work, Graith calls for more than mere aid.

“We don’t want new ambulances from the international community. We want you to see what Israel does and apply pressure to stop Israel from firing on ambulances.”

He emphasizes, “Go to the root of the problem.”

All images by Eva Bartlett.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who arrived in Gaza in November 2008 on the third Free Gaza Movement boat. She has been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement and documenting Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. During Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, she and other ISM volunteers accompanied ambulances and documenting the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

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Seven Days from a Gaza Diary– Part Two:

January 19, 2010

In December 2008 and January 2009, Khulood Ghanem, a 27 years old girl, kept a diary and described the ordeal in Gaza during the Israeli military assault. The diary was adapted by Edward Mast into a performance for three voices entitled Seven days from a Gaza Diary. Ed interspersed segments of the diary with excerpts from various human rights organisations that “corroborate” or otherwise relate to the diarist’s entries. Palestine Monitor has decided to publish Khulood’s diary into episodes.

SEVEN DAYS FROM A GAZA DIARY

a performance for three voices adapted by Edward Mast from the diary of Khulood Ghanem, Gaza, 2008-9

VOICE 2: from Amnesty International:
In many cases, the pattern of destruction suggested that the aim was to cause sufficient damage to put the properties out of use rather than to destroy arms caches, as the kind of damage inflicted would have neither destroyed weapons or rockets – if any had been there – nor impeded their retrieval. What is more, the bodies recovered from under the rubble of these houses were of civilians – not armed fighters.

VOICE 3: second day

I continued working and cleaning in the house. I turned on the radio cause there was no electricity. I heard about the attack to one of the mosques in Beit Lahia city, 5 were killed in it. I lost my mind, wondered why did they target the mosque, it is a place for worship, what kind of attack is this? I started to worry cause our house is not far from one of the most famous mosques in Khan Younis. The distance is about 30 meters. The bad thoughts filled my mind. I started to draw a picture for the next attack.

I started to calculate the distance. How far? How long? Many many thoughts. I went toward the outside door of our house and stayed there for 1 hour, trying to imagine what could happen if the attack was from the left or the right or maybe from the front and finally from the background. I tried to get rid of these thoughts.

I talked to my father about that mosque in front of our house. He tried to make me feel better but I did not. I told him that we should leave the house till the end of the war, cause they finished the governmental places and they threatened by targeting the schools and the hospitals. My father told me that there is no reason for targeting the schools and the hospitals, I told him why not? They attacked the mosques so there is no problem to attack every thing. His face was yellow.

He ended this conversation with me and left the place. After one hour from our discussion, we heard again about targeting the mosque that was located in front of the Al Shefa hospital. It was ten meters far from it. That means that we are in the waiting list, but when? No one knows. I ran to my father asking him to leave the house, they are crazy and they will attack everything. He told me leave the house if you want, this is my house and I will die here.

VOICE 1: from Amnesty International:

The patterns and scale of the attacks, statements by Israeli officials before and during the three-week military offensive, and graffiti left by Israeli soldiers on the walls of Palestinian homes which they took over during their incursion into Gaza, indicates that the wholesale destruction was to a large extent deliberate and an integral part of a strategy at different levels of the command chain, from high-ranking officials to soldiers in the field.

VOICE 2: third day

I waked up feeling so tired, and I remembered that we haven’t any gas for the burner and I missed the breakfast meal. You have to eat with all at a specific time, whether you were hungry or not because my brother decided to burn some wood twice daily: the first for breakfast and the second for supper. So I can’t miss any one of them. As a result I decided that depending on sandwiches will be better than living under the mercy of my brother’s fire, especially for me as I had a different program in my sleeping every night.

I began my day with a cheese sandwich, after a short time I convinced my brother to burn some wood so as to drink something hot, and of course he did. We were afraid to burn wood in the front yard of the house because of the zanana, the exploratory army plane which is overhead 24 hours daily. It takes accurate photos and it has no pilot. The sound of this plane can lead you to insanity, it was so noisy and it was hard to spend all your day and your night listening to such plane, so all of us were praying for god to stop this plane for ten minutes only.

VOICE 3: from a Human Rights Watch report, June 30 2009

Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups have reported a total of 42 drone attacks that killed civilians, 87 in all. In the six cases documented in the report, Human Rights Watch found no evidence that Palestinian fighters were present in the immediate area of the attack at the time. None of the civilians killed were moving quickly or fleeing the area, so the drone operators would have had time to determine whether they were observing civilians or combatants, and to hold fire if they were unable to tell the difference. In three of the cases, drones fired missiles at children playing on rooftops in residential neighborhoods, far from any ground fighting at the time.

VOICE 1:

. . . I decided to help my mother even though I did not have the mood to do anything, but I preferred leaving my bed instead of surrendering to illness. I went to the kitchen and cleaned the place, washing the dirty dishes, waiting for the electricity. After a long time, they switched on the electricity and we started to bake the bread.

I stayed sitting beside the electrical cooker to have some warmth because we can’t switch on the radiator with the oven at the same time. We were busy and working hard and suddenly I heard a strong attack, the electricity was turned off and the ground moved under our feet, we heard loud voices and within a few minutes we heard the ambulances. I ran and opened the outside door.

The street was full of people, they were running toward the target to save and help if it was needed. My father left the house and walked with the others. I shouted to him to make him come back, I expected another attack because they used to target the same place twice and I was so afraid and shouted a lot but he did not reply. In a few minutes they targeted an empty area not far away from the first target. I stopped for a while. I could hear nothing, I could listen to nothing. I stayed in my place.

My mother ran toward me asking me about my father. I lost my ability to answer. She started to cry. I could hardly move my legs and sat on the ground beside the wall. I thought that my father has gone and I will never see him again. For a moment my mind stopped and I felt with many different feelings, the wheel of life stopped and I couldn’t move my body. I stayed in my place for half hour. The noise outside the house ended and we no longer heard the sound of the ambulances. Suddenly, I saw my father’s shadow. I opened my eyes and lost the ability to speak.

He came quickly and helped me to stand up. “What is wrong? Are you ok?” he said. I told him to take me to my bed cause I felt disabled in my legs. He helped me to reach my bed. He put 2 blankets on me. My temperature of my body increased and I was bleeding water from all parts. My father brought medicine for me, I took it and slept 3 hours, did not feel a thing, I couldn’t express how much fear I had at that moment and when I remembered what passed in such moment I could hardly believe that I got ok.

VOICE 2:

After I woke up I asked my dad about the attack. He told me that they targeted a house of one of Hamas members and destroyed it completely. Two were injured, 3 were killed. After that I moved to the television. The first news I heard was targeting the Islamic university in Gaza. So we can say that they started the second step of war as they said that the first step will target all the government and civil buildings and the second will target the health and educational sector, the third will destroy the infrastructure and target the economic side and finally the assassinations and the wanted people.

I heard also that the number of martyrs reached 350 and the number of injured reached 1650. I stayed two hours watching the news from channel to channel. My brother started to burn the wood to prepare some tea. I sat beside him looking to the fire for long time. He prepared sandwiches and we gathered around the fire. We were silent. My sister started to make fun to break the ice between us, she said what if it was the last supper. I replied that she reminded me of the famous portrait and we began to talk and laugh. She asked every one, if it was the last moment for you what would be your wish? I discovered that all of us have no wishes except having the mercy and forgiveness from god.

We finished and went to prepare the place to sleep. Each one took his usual place. I asked my mum to sleep beside me and when she got tired she could leave. Then she came and slept beside me. Another night of fear and nightmares. I remember this night was the most violent as they started to attack from the sea. All of us stayed awake till the dawn. We prayed and began a new day.

Note on Seven Days from a Gaza Diary

This performance piece for three voices is adapted from an actual diary kept during the Israeli assault on Gaza 2008-9. The diary was written in Arabic and the diarist herself, Khulood Ghanem, translated the first seven days into rough but clear English. This adaptation retains many non-grammatical usages common to Palestinians speaking English as a second or third language, though correcting and clarifying when necessary. Somewhat less than half the original diary text for those seven days has been used.

Khulood Ghanem was trained as an architect and now works for a women’s program at an international agency in Gaza. In March 2009, Khulood volunteered to help with translation for a CodePink Women for Peace delegation that managed to get into Gaza for International Women’s Day. Two of the delegates — Tacoma WA resident Linda Frank and Canadian-Israeli Sandra Ruch — learned of the existence of Khulood’s diary, and they asked Khulood for permission to read the diary and to make it public. After receiving translated sections, Linda Frank brought playwright Edward Mast into the process to adapt the text for performance.

More questions or information:

Linda Frank – workforjustice@comcast.net

Edward Mast – edwardmast@aol.com

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Seven Days from a Gaza Diary…Part 1

January 16, 2010

In December 2008 and January 2009, Khulood Ghanem, a 27 years old girl, kept a diary and described the ordeal in Gaza during the Israeli military assault. The diary was adapted by Edward Mast into a performance for three voices entitled Seven days from a Gaza Diary. Ed interspersed segments of the diary with excerpts from various human rights organisations that “corroborate” or otherwise relate to the diarist’s entries. Palestine Monitor has decided to publish Khulood’s diary into episodes.

SEVEN DAYS FROM A GAZA DIARY

a performance for three voices adapted by Edward Mast from the diary of Khulood Ghanem, Gaza, 2008-9

VOICE 1:

from Amnesty International, July 2 2009:

On 27 December 2008, without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip codenamed Operation “Cast Lead”. Its stated aim was to end rocket attacks into Israel by armed groups affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian factions. By 18 January 2009, some 1,400 Palestinians had been killed, including some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians, and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground.

VOICE 2: from the diary of 27-year-old Khulood Ghanem in Gaza

The 27th of December

First day of the war.

I finished my work in Khan Younis at 10 o’clock, and rode a car to Gaza City. I reached there at 11. I decided to drink some coffee with my friend who was working in a company beside the legislative council and the academy for police. I stayed there till 11:30, I decided to leave, my friend told me to stay, it’s early, I stayed for 15 minutes. At 11:45 I was on my way walking in the street.

I heard the first rocket, the second and the third, many quick attacks, one after one, at this moment I could see nothing, all I remember was the biggest explosion I have ever seen. I started to run away, but to where? I saw the military planes in the sky at a very low level. I was scared and started to lose consciousness. All I was thinking was how to reach a safe place. The sound of bombs and explosions was horrible, the ground was moving up and down, I said, it is not a joke, it is a real, the war has started.

During this short time all roads have been closed, all streets have been overcrowded by the ambulances and emergency cars. I stopped beside a building looking at the sky, watching the military planes. At that moment I lost my ability to move or even to think. People, girls and children, all were shouting, running every where, it was the time for students to leave their school, I thought that if they started to attack haphazardly they will make a catastrophe. I reached Al Shefa hospital.

The roads have been closed to ease the movement of the ambulances. I decided to walk in another direction to reach any station to ride a car to the south. I walked a lot till I felt sick, the attacks increased and all streets started to be empty from people except the emergency and ambulance cars. I was worried about my family, sisters, brothers, friends, I tried to phone every one I knew to assure that all are safe but the attacks destroyed the telecommunication net.

My journey to Khan Younis took 3 hours. It was more safe to avoid the main street because most of the police stations that have been attacked were located at the main street. Finally I reached home. All my family were sitting glaring at the screen of the TV, shocked, pale, yellow and horrible faces, sitting like idols. I took a place beside them. The first scene was the police academy.

The number of martyrs was big, about 180 in one place, the scene was horrible, really can’t be described, blood in every place, severed parts, heads, hands, legs and arms, couldn’t be described. I spent my whole day sitting on a chair in front of the TV. I did not expect one day that I will face such catastrophe, hour after hour, number of martyrs increased and increased.

At 8:30 this night I had a call from my sister who lived in Gaza city. She was walking beside the fence of that school, she saw the heads of young children, bags colored with their blood. One child with his blue shirt, she taught him once before, he was thrown on the ground, bleeding from all parts with no legs, he was shouting and raising his hands, but no one could help.

She started to scream, what should we do? I kept silence and started to cry loudly, the vision was so hard to imagine. She started to lose her breath. I told her that is enough, please stop talking, I can’t tolerate. I closed my mobile and took my diary and sat in the living room.

VOICE 3:

from the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, September 15 2009:

The timing of the first Israeli attack, at 11:30 am on a week day, when children were returning from school and the streets of Gaza were crowded with people going about their daily business, appears to have been calculated to create the greatest disruption and widespread panic among the civilian population.

The treatment of many civilians detained or even killed while trying to surrender is one manifestation of the way in which the effective rules of engagement, standard operating procedures and instructions to the troops on the ground appear to have been framed in order to create an environment in which due regard for civilian lives and basic human dignity was replaced with the disregard for basic international humanitarian law and human rights norms.

VOICE 1:

That night was the longest I’ve ever seen, the sound of attacks, rockets from sky, the borders and the sea. That night we decided to sleep in one room, so we chose our room in a far corner in the house. How silly we were, when I remember that I laugh because rockets did not make a choice. So we prepared the place.

We were 5: me, my sis, my brother, and my parents, so I arranged the situation to sleep with my mother on my small bed, my father will sleep on another bed, Mona my sis will stay on her bed, and finally my brother took a place on the ground. The first night was dark cause they attacked the electricity station by 4 rockets. And we used to stay in the dark before, so the situation was not new; the new thing was how to close your eyes under the horrible sound of the army planes in the sky, under the bombs every minute and attacks. I started to pray to god.

The sound of bombing increased and got nearer and nearer. My father told us that we have one god and it is one death either by rocket, by car, by gun, there is no difference and you have to die with your dignity and get rid of your fear. The night was so cold, but we opened all doors and windows to avoid damage from them if we were attacked. I slept that night with a coat beside a cold wall, and did not sleep till dawn. I was afraid but not from death.

I was afraid to lose all my family and to be saved from death. So I prayed to my god to be the first not the last. In the late night, I felt that I should go to the toilet but I was so afraid to reach the toilet and thought that maybe in the moment I will be there, they will attack the house, so I decided not to go. I suffered a lot in my bed.

In addition to my discomfort, I was next to my mother and didn’t move left or right cause the space wasn’t wide enough for 2 persons. I waited and waited listening to the small radio all that night. The number of deaths was increasing. I called my dad but he was sleepy. I called him again, he answered me: “what is wrong?” I told him “stay awake with me, don’t sleep, I can’t close my eyes.” He told me “don’t say that, god is greater and stronger than Israel so you have to sleep and calm down.”

But I didn’t, I waited till I saw the light from the window. I started to feel better cause night is full of fear. At 6 o’clock, I went to the toilet., We prayed our usual prayers, my mother went to her room, left the bed for me. I decided to sleep 2 hours, I was so tired. I slept half hour and then waked up again when I heard a strong attack in Khan Younis. It was the good morning greeting.

TO LISTEN TO A STUDIO RECORDING OF SEVEN DAYS FROM A GAZA DIARY, CLICK ON:

http://gazafreedommarch.ca/cms/audi…

Note on Seven Days from a Gaza Diary

This performance piece for three voices is adapted from an actual diary kept during the Israeli assault on Gaza 2008-9. The diary was written in Arabic and the diarist herself, Khulood Ghanem, translated the first seven days into rough but clear English. This adaptation retains many non-grammatical usages common to Palestinians speaking English as a second or third language, though correcting and clarifying when necessary. Somewhat less than half the original diary text for those seven days has been used.

Khulood Ghanem was trained as an architect and now works for a women’s program at an international agency in Gaza. In March 2009, Khulood volunteered to help with translation for a CodePink Women for Peace delegation that managed to get into Gaza for International Women’s Day. Two of the delegates — Tacoma WA resident Linda Frank and Canadian-Israeli Sandra Ruch — learned of the existence of Khulood’s diary, and they asked Khulood for permission to read the diary and to make it public. After receiving translated sections, Linda Frank brought playwright Edward Mast into the process to adapt the text for performance.

More questions or information:

Linda Frank – workforjustice@comcast.net Edward Mast – edwardmast@aol.com

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Debunking the US’ Objections to the Goldstone Report:

November 5, 2009

US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-lehtinen’s Speech Against the Goldstone Report: Right Before the House Dismisses the Report as “Biased” 344-36.

Here are some quotes (in blue) from Ros-Lehtinen’s speech to the US House of Representatives yesterday in which she condemns the Goldstone Report as biased…My responses, based on the Goldstone report and other sources follow.

“Israel exercised its right as a sovereign nation and its obligation to defend itself and its citizens and its very existence against attacks by Hamas and other extremist groups”

Goldstone never rejected Israel’s right to self-defense. He made it very clear that the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians were also a war crime and were unacceptable. Israel has the right to target Hamas militants. Israel does NOT, however, have the right to collectively punish 1.5 million Gazans for the crimes of a few. That is against international law and is a war crime in itself.

If Israel had used its technology, the most advanced warfare technology in the world, to do precision strikes on Hamas strongholds, instead of civilians and civilian houses, mosques, schools, water treatment plants, chicken farms, and other infrastructure—they would not now be accused of committing MULTIPLE war crimes.

And as for Israel defending its “very existence”…Hamas and its Qassam rockets pose no threat to the “very existence of Israel” and to say that they do is simply ridiculous.

“Israel did so while taking extraordinary measures to minimize the risk of civilian casualties …[Goldstone made] sweeping accusations that Israel had deliberately attacked civilians…Goldstone portrayed Israel not as defending itself but as ‘as the deliberate infliction of violence on civilians'”

Israel could have avoided killing hundreds of innocent civilians, but unfortunately, their policy—according to Israeli soldiers who served in that conflict—was to shoot at anything they saw.

Aviv: “That’s what is so nice, supposedly, about Gaza: You see a person on a road, walking along a path. He doesn’t have to be with a weapon, you don’t have to identify him with anything and you can just shoot him. With us it was an old woman, on whom I didn’t see any weapon. The order was to take the person out, that woman, the moment you see her.” From: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072475.html

And they developed this strategy of targeting civilian populations as a means to coerce the leaders in Lebanon.

“What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. […] This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

On 6 January 2009, during the military operations in Gaza, Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai stated: “It [should be] possible to destroy Gaza, so they will understand not to mess with us”. He added that “it is a great opportunity to demolish thousands of houses of all the terrorists, so they will think twice before they launch rockets”. “I hope the operation will come to an end with great achievements and with the complete destruction of terrorism and Hamas. In my opinion, they should be razed to the ground, so thousands of houses, tunnels and industries will be demolished”. He added that “residents of the South are strengthening us, so the operation will continue until a total destruction of Hamas [is achieved]”
On 2 February 2009, after the end of the military operations, Eli Yishai went on: “Even if the rockets fall in an open air or to the sea, we should hit their infrastructure, and destroy 100 homes for every rocket fired.” On 13 January 2009, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, was quoted as saying:
“We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation. Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing”


The Israeli government likes to defend itself by talking about the pre-recorded phone messages they warned civilians with before bombing their houses. Although in many cases, the messages were inaccurate and would occur without any bombings for days. So eventually, the family would move back into their house for lack of anywhere safer—then the house would get bombed, and they would be killed.

In other cases, the messages and leaflets told groups of Gazan civilians to go to certain places, for safety. After they had assembled at that place, the Israelis would bomb it—with hundreds of civilians inside!

Israel also used illegal weapons such as white phosphorous and DIME weapons in extremely crowded civilian areas—knowing they could not control the effects of these weapons as they are not precision strikes.

There are many stories of entire families being killed in their houses and courtyards, women waving white flags being shot or killed by drones…is this Israel’s idea of minimizing civilian casualties??
A Gaza family that lost 29 relatives to Operation Cast Lead, which also left 45 family members injured and their home destroyed: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1070054.html

Richard Kemp (former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan): “[Israel] did more to safeguard the rights of civilians than any other army in the history of warfare”

Based on my response to the above statement, I think we can agree that this statement by Richard Kemp is COMPLETELY ridiculous.

Goldstone stated in his report that the amount of war crimes and innocent lives lost in Gaza is MUCH higher than anything that could be explained by “mistakes” or “confusion of the combat zone” The pattern and quantity of “these mistakes” show a different story—a story where Israel PLANNED strikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The fact that they used Gaza civilians as human shields—kidnapping, handcuffing and blindfolding random Gazan men and boys, and then forcing them to knock on doors of houses the Israelis suspect Hamas to be hiding in, so that if the militants shoot, they will shoot the Gazan boy instead of the soldier….this shows very clearly how much “respect” Israel has for the lives of innocent Gazans.

It shows clearly that Israel values the lives of their soldiers so much that they would make it a policy to shoot before asking…so that 1400 Gazans would be dead at the end of the war compared to 9 Israeli soldiers (half of which were killed by friendly fire).

“so-called fact finding mission…It had nothing to do with fact finding, and had everything to do with persecuting Israel for defending herself…(and she goes on to call his report…) a 525 page hatchet job commonly known as the Goldstone Report”

First of all, its 575 pages. Did she even read it? Did she even open it?

Goldstone employed many different methods of fact-finding in his mission, including: the viewing of reports from many different sources, analysis of photographic and video footage, interviews with victims and witnesses, site visits, review of medical reports, forensic analysis of weapons and ammunition found at sites, wide circulation of public call for written submissions, and public hearings in Gaza and Geneva. (from the Goldstone Report introduction, which you can find in its entirety online.)

He could have had more facts and information from the Israeli government and civilians but Israel REFUSED to cooperate with the Goldstone mission and would not even allow him into Israel, Gaza, or the West Bank. He had to go into Gaza through Egypt.

If Israel is now complaining about a lack of Israeli perspective, they only have themselves to blame.

Goldstone accepts Israel’s right to defend itself from the rocket attacks—he never denies that right. He does, however, deny the practice of targeting civilians and committing multiple war crimes in order to do that.

“The mission prejudged Israel and targeted ONLY Israel…why are there only 2 pages about the rocket attacks in a 575 page report? [Israel] suffered thousands of rockets over 8 years”

There is an entire section of the report (section three) which investigates (to the best of his ability—without any cooperation from the government of Israel) the rocket attacks on southern Israel and their effects on Israel’s civilian population.

This section is not “2 pages” as Ros-Lehiten says—that is a blatant lie. You need only to look at the reports ‘Table of Contents’ to find out there are dozens and dozens of pages investigating the rockets and their effects on Israel’s civilian population.

And besides, how can you have half of the report dedicated to Israel and half dedicated to Gaza when Israel committed multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity while Hamas has committed only one—the rocket attacks. Which have killed around 10 Israeli citizens in as many years.

Qassam rockets are extremely inaccurate weapons and cannot be compared to the weapons Israel used indiscriminately against Gaza’s civilian population. The truth is clear—10 Israeli citizens were killed by the rocket attacks (in the past 10 years), while over 1000 Gazan civilians were killed in three weeks by Israel’s attacks. And if you really want to be equal—then add on a few hundred more Gazan civilian deaths to make up for the past ten years of Israeli indiscriminate attacks to the 1000 already accounted from Cast Lead.

“Hamas deliberately launched attacks from hospitals schools and mosques”

Goldstone investigated this excuse of Israel for targeting civilian infrastructure thoroughly. And although he cannot exclude the possibility that this kind of thing happened, he found no evidence to prove that it did.

This is just one more excuse for Israel to indiscriminately attack the civilian population of Gaza and collectively punish 1.5 million people for the crimes of Hamas.

“As we vote on these resolutions, Israel continues to fire rockets at innocent Israel civilians”

Stop for a minute and ask yourselves one question. WHY are the militant groups in Gaza shooting rockets at Israel?

Is it because they are all “irrational fanatic terrorists”??

Or could it be because Israel has occupied their land for 40 years, subjected them to indiscriminate attacks regularly since then, killing thousands of innocent people over the decades, and has now been imposing a strict blockade on the territory that has caused a complete humanitarian disaster in the territory?

Children in Gaza have growth stunting—they do not get enough food because the blockade doesn’t allow enough nutritious food in and the Israeli army keeps destroying farms and factories that produce food.

At least 20% of children in Gaza have post traumatic stress disorder. Is that normal? Or could that be a symptom that Israel has terrorized the region for years?

What would you do if your family was starving, you had no hope for a future, could not even travel to the next town safely, and you could be bombed and killed at any minute?