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    Palestinians are at a loss to describe this latest catastrophe. International civil society must act now We have no words left Ali Abunimah The Guardian, UK
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2008
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      Palestinians are at a loss to describe this latest catastrophe.
      International civil society must act now


      We have no words left
      Ali Abunimah
      The Guardian, UK
      Monday 29 December 2008
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/29/israel-gaza-attack-palestinian-reaction


      "I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing."
      Those chilling words were spoken on al-Jazeera on Saturday by Ofer
      Shmerling, an Israeli civil defence official in the Sderot area
      adjacent to the Gaza Strip. For days Israeli planes have bombed Gaza.

      Almost 300 Palestinians have been killed and a thousand injured, the
      majority civilians, including women and children. Israel claims most
      of the dead were Hamas "terrorists". In fact, the targets were police
      stations in dense residential areas, and the dead included many police
      officers and other civilians. Under international law, police officers
      are civilians, and targeting them is no less a war crime than aiming
      at other civilians.

      Palestinians are at a loss to describe this new catastrophe. Is it our
      9/11, or is it a taste of the "bigger shoah" Matan Vilnai, the deputy
      defence minister, threatened in February, after the last round of mass
      killings?

      Israel says it is acting in "retaliation" for rockets fired with
      increasing intensity ever since a six-month truce expired on 19
      December. But the bombs dropped on Gaza are only a variation in
      Israel's method of killing Palestinians. In recent months they died
      mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of
      food, cancer treatments and other medicines by an Israeli blockade
      that targeted 1.5 million people - mostly refugees and children -
      caged into the Gaza Strip. The orders of Ehud Barak, the Israeli
      defence minister, to hold back medicine were just as lethal and
      illegal as those to send in the warplanes.

      Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, pleaded that Israel wanted
      "quiet" - a continuation of the truce - while Hamas chose "terror",
      forcing him to act. But what is Israel's idea of a truce? It is very
      simple: Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel
      starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonise their land.

      As John Ging, the head of operations for the United Nations Relief and
      Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, said in November: "The people of
      Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified
      existence ... at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the
      period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very
      vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we
      ran out of food."

      That is an Israeli truce. Any act of resistance including the peaceful
      protests against the apartheid wall in the West Bank is always met by
      Israeli bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched at Israel
      from the West Bank, and yet Israel's extrajudicial killings, land
      theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never stopped for a day during
      the truce. The western-backed Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas
      has acceded to all Israel's demands. Under the proud eye of United
      States military advisors, Abbas has assembled "security forces" to
      fight the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a
      single Palestinian in the West Bank from Israel's relentless colonisation.

      The Israeli media report that the attack on Gaza was long planned. If
      so, the timing in the final days of the Bush administration may
      indicate an Israeli effort to take advantage of a moment when there
      might be even less criticism than usual.

      Israel is no doubt emboldened by the complicity of the European Union,
      which this month voted again to upgrade its ties with Israel despite
      condemnation from its own officials and those of the UN for the
      "collective punishment" being visited on Gaza. Tacit Arab regime
      support, and the fact that predicted uprisings in the Arab street
      never materialised, were also factors.

      But there is a qualitative shift with the latest horror: as much as
      Arab anger has been directed at Israel, it has also focused intensely
      on Arab regimes - especially Egypt's - seen as colluding with the
      Israeli attack. Contempt for these regimes and their leaders is being
      expressed more openly than ever. Yet these are the illegitimate
      regimes western politicians continue to insist are their "moderate"
      allies.

      Diplomatic fronts, such as the US-dominated Quartet, continue to treat
      occupier and occupied, coloniser and colonised, first-world high-tech
      army and near-starving refugee population, as if they are on the same
      footing. Hope is fading that the incoming administration of Barack
      Obama is going to make any fundamental change to US policies that are
      hopelessly biased towards Israel.

      In Europe and the Middle East, the gap between leaders and led could
      not be greater when it comes to Israel. Official complicity and
      support for Israel contrast with popular outrage at war crimes carried
      out against occupied people and refugees with impunity.
      With governments and international institutions failing to do their
      jobs, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National
      Committee - representing hundreds of organisations - has renewed its
      call on international civil society to intensify its support for the
      sanctions campaign modelled on the successful anti-apartheid movement.
      Now is the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term effort to
      make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.


      • Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of
      One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
      electronicintifada.net

      ===

      "I Heard the Missile Coming"
      Sameh A. Habeeb, B.A., Gaza
      Monday, December 29, 2008
      www.gazatoday.blogspot.com


      GAZA CITY — Ali Abu-Fatahi will never forget the terrifying sound of a
      missile fired by an Israeli warplane as it zoomed in on his house.

      "I was having my dinner when I heard the missile's whistle," a
      helpless Abu-Fatahi told IslamOnline.net from his bed at Al-Shifa
      hospital in Gaza City.

      In just seconds, the missile hit his family's house in the Dir
      Al-Balah City, razing it to the ground.

      "I flew in the sky and then I found myself lying on the floor at our
      neighbors' house," he recalled the harrowing moments with tears
      flashing in his eyes.

      Abu-Fatahi can't remember what happened next.

      * Gaza Holocaust Museum
      * Killed in Cradle

      He woke up with head injuries. It was later that he knew that all his
      15 family members who were in the house were also hospitalized.

      "All my family members were hit."

      At least 345 people were killed and more than 1,650 wounded since
      Israel blitzed the Gaza Strip with massive air strikes on Saturday,
      December 27.

      The aggression against the impoverished seaside territory, the world's
      most densely populated area, continued on Sunday, killing scores of
      Palestinians and wounding hundreds.

      From his bed, Abu-Fatahi can hear his traumatized brother, Mahmoud,
      screaming.

      He is still suffering from the shock of seeing his neighbors torn into
      pieces by the killer bombing.

      "My sister who is only 2 is in another room."

      Mass Grave


      Across Gaza, many are still frantically looking for bodies of their
      beloved ones under the rubbles. (Reuters)Across Gaza, many are still
      frantically looking for bodies of their beloved ones under the
      rubbles. (Reuters)
      The battered Gaza Strip has turned into a mass grave.

      The scene of people screaming in grief while taking their family
      members to burial is repeated over and over.

      Civil defense forces are desperately trying to help people moving the
      corpses found buried under the rubbles of flattened buildings.

      "We have dug out many bodies with no legs or heads," a civil defense
      officer told IOL.

      In mass funeral processions, formed outside almost every Gaza house,
      the sound of Qur'an recitation is mixed with the distant sound of
      explosions.

      The wailing of the grief-stricken and prayers for the departed are
      mixed with calls for reprisal.

      Other Gazans, however, are still frantically looking for their beloved
      ones among the dead bodies.

      "My sons have left the house at 10 am. I went to search for them in
      all hospitals but in vain," a shocked Om Ahmed Abu-Aqal said, with
      tears rolling down her cheeks.

      Her sons were among scores of people inside one of the security
      compounds bombed out on Saturday.

      "I came here to see if they are alive or dead under the rubbles of
      this building," said the weeping mother.

      "I need to know what happened to them, where are they? Anyone tells me."

      ===

      Witness describes Gaza attacks:

      Fikr Shallpoot, a health worker and resident in Gaza, spoke to the BBC
      about the attacks that she witnessed.

      Bombing took place in residential areas while students changed shifts
      for school.

      http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 1/hi/world/ middle_east/ 7801291.stm

      ===

      Scenes of destruction in Gaza
      http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/middle_ east/7801012. stm

      ===

      Scores die in Israeli air strikes
      http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/middle_ east/7801128. stm

      ===

      West Bank unrest after Gaza attacks

      Hundreds of Palestinians have taken to the streets of the West Bank
      following Israel's air raids on Gaza City.
      Israeli soldiers fired tear gas grenades as youths threw rocks and stones.

      http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/middle_ east/7801311. stm

      ===

      News Update from Gaza
      From: Sam_hab@...
      Sunday, December 28, 2008


      Dear Editors and Colleagues,
      I'm writing to you late due to limited access to the Internet. My
      house was exposed to many shrapnel of Israeli rockets. I would not be
      able to update you hourly through the Internet. Thus, for media
      reports, breaking news and accounts you could reach me on my Mobile or
      landline below. You could send me e-mails and I would do my best to
      answer you.


      In addition to the below info, Gazans are still out of Gas, power and
      bread!

      ===

      News Update from Gaza
      Daily Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/sameh.habeeb


      -Victims of Israeli air raids are 300 while wounded up to 1000.

      -Around 80 air raids took place in Gaza strip from the early morning
      of Sunday till 7pm in the evening. Around 300 air raids are the total
      outcome of the latst 2 days.

      -Trauma spreads across Gaza residents especially children due to the
      loud voices of the heavy bombs of F16s.

      -Israeli air forces bombarded 40 targets across the strip between
      civil and security buildings.

      -Israeli F16 bombarded 2 mosques in Khan Yonis City.

      -Apache Helicopters hit commercial shops at Jabalia town leaving many
      children injured.

      -Israeli F16 bombarded a house for a Hamas key leader east of Khan
      Yunis City.

      -Israeli F16s raided on south of Rafah destroying more than 40 tunnels.

      -One Palestinian and Egyptian solider killed in exchange of fire in
      Rafah City. Many Palestinians tried to overstep the borders with Egypt
      but failed due to excessive presence of Egyptian forces. The militants
      succeeded in opening army while trying to flee to Egypt.

      -Hamas government: Rafah Crossing still closed and casualties unable
      to leave for Egypt to get treatment.

      -More troops, tanks and heavy guns arrived on Gaza borders. Israel
      vows of a ground invasion sooner. Israel calls on 6500 reserve
      soldiers to be ready for the military operation in Gaza.

      -Around 24 homemade light rockets fired from Gaza hit the bordering
      areas of Gaza. The rockets hit Asklon and Ashdod leaving few wounded.

      -Air raid killed a man and a woman in Al zaytoun area mid of Gaza City.

      -Six Israeli heavy missiles launched by F16 destroyed "Al Safina
      security Bulidng" which was previously the compound of Palestinian
      intelligence in Gaza.

      -Around 40 civic targets were hit today by Israel. Some of the targets
      where houses and some others are charities.

      -Israel hits all mobile targets such as motorcycles and cars in Gaza.
      Therefore, people are early committed to their houses.

      -Israel army tunes threats through breaking into local radio stations
      in addition of mass phone calls for Gaza civilians.

      -Israeli heavy bomb hit Al-Shati Refugee camp Police station. Some
      civilians injured in the densely populated camp.

      -Air raid destroyed Al shija'ya police station early in the morning.

      -Israeli air raids destroyed a tank truck of fuel in Rafah City
      causing fire into 20 t0 30 houses early in the morning of Sunday.

      -Israeli Air force destroyed Al Saraya security compound leaving some
      of prisoners dead and causing a total damage.

      -Many workshops destroyed due to Air raids in Gaza and Mid areas.

      -Al Shifa' hospital transforms Burnt and birth units into urgent
      surgeries.

      -OXFAM organization announced inability of running work due to Gaza war.

      -Demonstrations across the West Bank leaving 2 Palestinians dead.

      -Hamas clams Arabs and International community the responsibilty of
      the messacres.

      -Jordanian lawmakers burnt Israeli flag in the parliament while
      Lebanese protesters tried to break into the Egyptian embassy mid of
      Bairout. Protests took place in the Arab countries of Yemen, Egypt,
      Sudan, Syria and Iraq.

      Meantime, heavy shelling and air raids at Jabalia Camp!
      10 Bombings in Khanyonis City!
      No news coming up yet.

      ===

      A Bloody Day in Gaza: Over 230 killed, hundreds injured
      Sameh A. habeeb
      http://palestinethinktank.com/2008/12/27/sameh-habeeb-a-bloody-day-in-gaza/


      More than 230 killed, hundreds injured due to Israeli bombings against
      Gaza

      Israel is phoning civilians requesting they evacuate houses or they
      will be bombed

      More bombings taking place Now
      Casualties up to 230

      Israeli army targets Al Shifa' hospital and a mosque


      Gaza Strip, 27 Dec, 2008- Saturday morning started as usual but
      dramatically changed by 11AM. Sixty Israeli F16s bombarded around 100
      police stations, civil and governmental offices across Gaza Strip. The
      bombardment which simultaneously took place left (at the time of
      writing)160 people killed and around 3 hundred wounded. A number of
      wounded is expected to die while many corpses still lie under the
      rubble of buildings.

      Palestinian victims were an amalgamation of policemen and civilians
      who were visiting some police stations for civic affairs. Al Jawazat
      police station witnessed the bloodiest Israeli attack in which around
      70 were killed, mostlypolicemen. The victims of police of Al Jawzat
      were holding a graduation ceremony for new young police groups.

      A family of 9 members, 15 young children, and some women were killed
      but not recognized. The Ministry of Health is not able to recognize
      the ID's of casualties. Tawfiq Jaber, Director of Gaza police was
      killed in the air raids along with Ismail El Jabari head of the
      security section in the police. Governor of central Gaza governorates
      and camps was killed as Israel hit his car.

      Ma'waya Hasanian, head of Emergency and Ambulances said that around
      230 people were killed and 200 injured. He added that a big number of
      victims were civilians from women, children and old people. Civilian
      cars referred wounded civilians to the hospitals due to lack of
      medical cars and vehicles.

      Gaza hospitals announced inability of receiving the wounded due to
      lack of medical equipment and tools. Corpses of Palestinians were
      thrown on the corridors, rooms and units of hospitals. Meanwhile 2-3
      wounded victims shared one bed due to lack of medical equipment, a
      result of the Israeli siege imposed 2 years ago. Basim Nai'm, Health
      Minster in Gaza said that Gaza medical sector needs tens of kinds of
      medical equipment and tools. A number of 70 wounded were referred to
      an Egyptian hospital.

      According to Naser Al laham, Chief-Editor of Maan News Agency said
      that around 60 Israeli warplanes carried out the Massacre which
      surprisingly took place in Gaza.

      The raids targeted all areas of Gaza Strip, cities, villages and
      towns. The hit cities are Gaza, Rafah, Khanyonis, Nusairat, Maghazi,
      Bait Lahia, Jabalia, Bait Hanoun. Refugee camps of Jabalia, Al Shati',
      Rafah an mid areas were targeted as well. Some of the destroyed
      compounds included Palestinian prisoners under penal detention for
      criminal issues.

      The Israeli bombings flagrantly violate all laws which call for
      protecting civilians. This was so obvious from the number of civilian
      casualties. The brutal bombings happened in time of school children
      were going home, after a normal day of study. A considerable number of
      children were killed, but medical soruces didn't announce official
      numbers in this respect. Identities of killed people are still unknown
      but a very few ones.

      On the other side, Israel officially announced the start of a
      full-scale military operation in Gaza. She has called on settlers to
      go down to bunkers bordering Gaza after 1 Israeli was killed and
      several injured in a homemade rocket fired from Gaza.

      Israeli official Television broadcasted footage of the settlements hit
      by Gazan fighters and ironically ignored what's happening in Gaza. The
      television stated that today's military operations is the start of a
      long-term massive war action against Gaza. Israeli army named the
      operation in Gaza "Lead Pouring Out" which entirely means surprisingly
      decapitation of Palestinian factions in Gaza.

      Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared the 20 square kilometers
      of Gaza a "special military zone." The classification is one degree
      below a declaration of total war against an enemy state. The
      announcement was made Saturday morning.

      Israeli Channel 10 announced that the current situation does not
      amount to a declaration of war, but the operation against the Gaza
      Strip is intended to last throughout Saturday and perhaps into Sunday.
      It asserted that Israel prepared an operation that could take several
      weeks. Preparations have also been taken to contain any expected
      response in the West Bank.

      Ehud Barak said that this operation would roll out in all Gaza's areas
      and it will last for a longer time. He vowed of a painful military
      strike of Hamas pointing out "there is a time for peace and time for
      War." According to Barak the operation aims at toppling down Hamas
      government and stopping the homemade rockets.

      Maan Agency reports: Israeli sources also asserted that the operation
      would not topple Hamas, but rather will ensure that homemade
      projectiles from the Gaza Strip will stop. This was confirmed in a
      statement released by the Prime Minister's office as well.

      Regional efforts are being exerted to put pressure on Israel to
      immediately stop the war crimes perpetrated in Gaza. Turkey expressed
      its deep anger towards the surprising actions done by Israel. Turkish
      government held a meeting to discuss the possibilities of reaching a
      truce. Premire of Turkey, Abdallah Gul, condemned the Israeli brutal
      actions in Gaza.

      Meanwhile Syrian President, Bashar Al Asad, Yemeni Presdient Ali
      Abdallah Saleh called for an immediate meeting for Arab league to
      discuss Gaza's situation. Additionally Qatar and the Sudan called on
      that too. An expected session for the United Nations would be heled
      upon a request from Arab countries.

      On the popular level, demonstrations took place in the West Bank
      cities, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. Lebanese people protest in front of
      the Egyptian embassy in Beirut considering it has part of the siege on
      Gaza.

      Israel warcraft still hovers on low distance on Gaza vowing of a hot
      night!


      To Be Continued.

      ===

      Gaza massacres must spur us to action
      By ALI ABUNIMAH
      http://atheonews.blogspot.com/2008/12/gaza-massacres-must-spur-us-to-action.html


      "I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing."
      Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an
      Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as
      images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.

      A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache
      helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the
      Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring
      hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located,
      like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas.
      The US government was one of the first to offer its support for
      Israel's attacks, and others will follow.

      Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers.
      Among those Israel labels "terrorists" were more than a dozen traffic
      police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of
      civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several
      dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of
      Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

      Shmerling's joy has been echoed by Israelis and their supporters
      around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is
      "self-defense" against "terrorists" and therefore justified. Israeli
      bombing -- like American and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan --
      is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.

      The rationalization for Israel's massacres, already being faithfully
      transmitted by the English-language media, is that Israel is acting in
      "retaliation" for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity
      ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no
      Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rockets attacks).

      But today's horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel's method of
      killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly
      silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and
      necessary medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated and
      intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million
      Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the
      Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic
      medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis
      prohibited from reaching them by Israel.

      What the media never question is Israel's idea of a truce. It is very
      simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to
      remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to
      violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and
      medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent
      on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper
      and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

      As John Ging, the head of operations of the United Nations agency for
      Palestine refugees (UNRWA), told The Electronic Intifada in November:
      "there was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months,
      where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any
      restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our
      supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to
      the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious
      position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."

      That is an Israeli truce. Any response to Israeli attacks -- whether
      peaceful protests against the apartheid wall in Bilin and Nilin in the
      West Bank is met with bullets and bombs. There are no rockets launched
      at Israel from the West Bank, and yet Israel's attacks, killings, land
      theft, settler pogroms and kidnappings never ceased for one single day
      during the truce. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has acceded to
      all of Israel's demands, even assembling "security forces" to fight
      the resistance on Israel's behalf. None of that has spared a single
      Palestinian or her property or livelihood from Israel's relentless
      violent colonization. It did not save, for instance, the al-Kurd
      family from seeing their home of 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem
      demolished on 9 November, so the land it sits on could be taken by
      settlers.

      Once again we are watching massacres in Gaza, as we did last March
      when 110 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by
      Israel in just a few days. Once again people everywhere feel rage,
      anger and despair that this outlaw state carries out such crimes with
      impunity.

      But all over the Arab media and internet today the rage being
      expressed is not directed solely at Israel. Notably, it is directed
      more sharply than ever at Arab states. The images that stick are of
      Israel's foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Cairo on Christmas day. There
      she sat smiling with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then there are
      the pictures of Livni and Egypt's foreign minister smiling and
      slapping their palms together.

      The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported today that last wednesday the
      Israeli "cabinet authorized the prime minister, the defense minister,
      and the foreign minister to determine the timing and the method" of
      Israel's attacks on Gaza. Everywhere people ask, what did Livni tell
      the Egyptians and more importantly what did they tell her? Did Israel
      get a green light to turn Gaza's streets red once again? Few are ready
      to give Egypt the benefit of the doubt after it has helped Israel
      besiege Gaza by keeping the Rafah border crossing closed for more than
      a year.

      On top of the intense anger and sadness so many people feel at
      Israel's renewed mass killings in Gaza is a sense of frustration that
      there seem to be so few ways to channel it into a political response
      that can change the course of events, end the suffering, and bring
      justice.

      But there are ways, and this is a moment to focus on them. Already I
      have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being
      planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will
      happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will
      we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?

      Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in
      the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One
      Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it "called upon all
      civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act
      immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments
      to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions
      against it."

      The global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement for Palestine
      (http://www.bdsmovement.net/) provides the framework for this. Now is
      the time to channel our raw emotions into a long-term commitment to
      make sure we do not wake up to "another Gaza" ever again.


      Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One
      Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
      (Metropolitan Books, 2006).

      *********************************************************************

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