We have no words left
- Palestinians are at a loss to describe this latest catastrophe.
International civil society must act now
We have no words left
The Guardian, UK
Monday 29 December 2008
"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
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"
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
"I Heard the Missile Coming"
Sameh A. Habeeb, B.A., Gaza
Monday, December 29, 2008
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,
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,
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."
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
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
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
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
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
In addition to the below info, Gazans are still out of Gas, power and
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
-Israeli F16 bombarded a house for a Hamas key leader east of Khan
-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
-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
-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
More than 230 killed, hundreds injured due to Israeli bombings against
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
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
Israel warcraft still hovers on low distance on Gaza vowing of a hot
To Be Continued.
Gaza massacres must spur us to action
By ALI ABUNIMAH
"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
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
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
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
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
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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