Gaza's hospital struggles to function
- Gaza's main hospital struggles to stay functioning
by Saud Abu Ramadan
Smoke and fire are seen after an Israeli air strike in the northern
Gaza Strip December 27, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
GAZA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- The sudden and violent beginning of
Israel's areal onslaught into Gaza Strip was bigger that the
emergency plans drawn up earlier by the Palestinian health care
system, Gaza doctors say.
The crisis emerged widely in al-Shifa hospital, the only main
sanatorium for Gaza's 1.5 million population. The hospital's floors
were colored in red, and also the grass in its yard, as doctors and
volunteers offered first aid to hundreds of wounded people on the
"We have got more than 500 case in the hospital in the first
minutes of the attacks and, in later hours, the number dramatically
rose, exceeding the 585-bed capacity of the hospital," said Raed al-
Arini, a spokesman for the al-Shifa hospital.
Palestinians carry a wounded woman in Rafah in the southern Gaza
Strip on Dec. 31. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
At one of the operation rooms, three wounded persons laid to
undergo surgeries at the same time, though the facility is prepared
to deal with one case. "There is only six operation rooms in the
hospital," says Dr. Basel Baker, director of the surgery at the
"Tens of serious cases were thrown in the yards of the hospital
on the first couple of days and we were unable to know who needed a
surgery, "I have not seen such thing in Gaza in my career," the 54-
year-old surgeon recalled.
The Israeli intensive attacks in Gaza killed up to 430
Palestinians since their start on Dec. 27, more than half of them
died on the first day of the offensive as the warplanes launched
simultaneous strikes at tens of police and security stations across
the coastal enclave.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), 165
Hamas policeman were among the dead, the majority of them passed away
when their posts were bombed.
The strikes continued, adding houses and mosques to their range
Outside the operation room, three children of Hedaya al-Arini,
were crying as they waited to hear news about their mother, seriously
hurt when an F16 fighter jet struck at a house of a Hamas activist in
Gaza city on Thursday. "The rocket (shrapnel) cut my mother's legs
and demolished our house," screamed Huda, the12-year-old daughter as
tears flowed over dark red spots the shrapnel and debris made on her
"We are poor and our house is modest, its ceiling is made of very
fragile sheets of asbestos that fell on us when we were asleep," she
added as she tried to relief her younger brothers.
The nonstop arrival of wounded and dead bodies, by ambulances and
civilian vehicles, caused shocked among the doctors who have been
locked in the hospital for more than a week. A nurse at the reception
did not control herself and went crying crazily after she saw pile of
flesh brought in on a stretcher.
Fawzi al-Nabulsia, director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU),
said most of the cases they received were clinically dead. "Most of
them are injured in the head and heart," he affirms.
He also warns that the hospital suffers from shortage in most of
the medical supplies that are needed in the day-to-day work. The same
warning was released by the health ministry, which says that 105
sorts of the medicines have ran out, in addition to 220 apparatuses
stopped due to lack of spare parts.
As the electricity is cut most of the time, the doctors say the
fuel is running out, adding more troubles to the work of the medical
teams who, from the outset, do their job in extra ordinary
Gaza telecommunication systems offline
04 / 01 / 2009
Bethlehem Ma'an Palestinian communications networks are barely
functioning in the Gaza Strip due to cables damaged by several
Israeli airstrikes on network infrastructure on Saturday.
Palestinian mobile provider Jawwal's phone may stop working "at any
minute" as shelling severely damaged the provider's
telecommunications network in Gaza.
PalTel, Jawwal's parent company based in the West Bank, told
Ma'an, "The Israeli shelling damaged the electric grid and caused
"The lack of fuel will lead to cutting lines with the
telecommunications company (in Gaza) and the Hadara internet company,
as well as Jawwal's mobile phones," the statement added.
The statement warned that "all means of communication with the Gaza
Strip will be highly affected and may totally cut off."
Attempts to contact Ma'an's correspondents by mobile were
unsuccessful early Sunday morning. Landlines appeared to be working
properly between homes in Gaza and Ma'an's headquarters in Bethlehem.
Hamas leader: Israel killing Gaza civilians, not our fighters
04 / 01 / 2009
Gaza Ma'an/Agencies A Hamas leader early on Sunday morning denied
reports that armed groups affiliated with the Islamic movement had
been killed by invading Israeli forces.
Appearing on Al-Jazeera just after midnight on Sunday, Mousa Mohammad
Abu Marzook claimed that "there are casualties, but they are of the
people of the Gaza Strip, not us."
The Qatar-based network had reported Israeli claims that up to 13
Hamas fighters were dead.
"We're defending our people, defending ourselves against this
aggression," Abu Marzook insisted, noting that Israel has "the upper
hand" in the ongoing conflict.
"We know they have the upper hand in the air and sea, but we know our
land. We know ourselves very well," he added. "We will fight."
"We will fight the Israelis anywhere in the Gaza Strip, Abu Marzook
warned, "the rights of the Palestinian people cannot be turned off."
On the prospect of a ceasefire, Abu Marzook said Hamas would consider
it under certain circumstances. "If there is a ceasefire, if the
gates are opened, we would deal with this kind of initiative."
"Discussions in the area (Gaza) at the moment are that France or
Turkey could achieve a ceasefire," he said.
And commenting on reports from Israel that Hamas is using civilians
as human shields, the Hamas leader rejected that civilians in Gaza
have the means to protect themselves no matter where they are,
saying, "We have no shelters; we have crowded refugee camps."
Finally, Abu Marzook denied reports that Arab countries had pressured
Hamas to stop rocket fire. "Everyone is calling on Israel to stop
their aggression," he noted.
Gaza at War
By Israel Shamir
Cold wintery evening in Tel Aviv, the evening of the ground invasion,
a new step in the escalation of what may become a new big war. There
were hundreds of demonstrators many young people, a lot of families
with children, all sorts of Israelis and Palestinians, under red
banners calling to end the warfare in Gaza. In Jerusalem, deep fog
all but covered the walls of the Old City.
But even deeper is the fog of war. It is too early to predict the
future developments. We still do not know what the goals of the
Israeli invasion are, and we do not know the strength of Palestinian
resistance. Fighters decide the future now, not the pundits. The war
may go on to confrontation with Iran; it may bring too long rule of
Hosni Mubarak to an abrupt end, it may cause a new intifada, it may
re-shape the Middle East.
First week of war did not bring much success to Israel. The attack
began as a firestorm of fury, but its only "success" was a surprising
bombing of a graduation ceremony at the Gaza police school with some
three hundred casualties, mainly young graduates. Next time, they may
bomb schools on September 1st with even "better" results. Besides,
the Light-unto-Nations-people bombed the university and a few
mosques, and killed a few babies as a late tribute to King Herod on
the Innocent Martyrs Day. Certainly war crime, undoubtedly mass
murder, but hardly the holocaust they promised.
The Israeli drag-queen of the Defence Minister Ehud Barak improved
his ratings: 53 percent of Jews are satisfied with his performance
(Gawd, they are easy to satisfy!) compared to just 34 percent about
six months ago. "Polls now predict five additional Knesset seats for
his Labor Party in the coming February general election. That's 40
Palestinian corpses per seat. No wonder Barak promises it's just the
beginning: at this pace, it will take Labor just about two thousand
additional corpses to go from rags to riches, from a dead political
party to an absolute majority in parliament like in the good old
days", noted Ran ha-Cohen.
Barak's roundish Pickwickesque figure has been marketed by his PR
campaigners as Der Fuhrer (Ha-manhig) of his folk, "he is not nice,
but he is a leader". "He is not nice; he is murderer" replied the
demonstrators in Tel Aviv. Barak is quite unlikely fuhrer, with his
feminine face, a perfect mate to the masculine butch Tsipi Livni who
is being marketed as "another Fuhrer". Our friend and Livni's cousin
Gilad Atzmon wrote of these gender-confused characters in charge of
the Jewish state: "Both Livni and Barak have to provide the Israeli
voter with some real exhibition of devastating carnage, so the
Israelis can trust their leadership."
Meanwhile they do not make much progress. Despite daily bombardments,
the Gazans keep shooting back, improving their hits and their
weapons, reaching as far as Beer Sheba. Moreover, they are not
begging for unconditional ceasefire, and the Israeli wish-list of
ceasefire conditions appear as hopeless as that they had vis-à-vis
Hezbollah two years ago. The initiative remained firmly in the Hamas
hands until today.
The Gaza leadership made a daring if calculated risk when they
refused to extend the lapsed ceasefire agreement unless the Jews lift
the siege off the Strip and agree to observe it on the West Bank as
well. These demands infuriated the petty fuhrers who were used to
decide the questions of war and peace alone, and propelled them into
The Israeli government miscalculated: their action received
justifiably hostile response all over the world. Some of the best
pieces against Israeli aggression appeared in the Western mainstream:
by Mark Steel and other writers of the Independent. With expected
exception of President Bush' administration, the West speaks and
demonstrates against the invasion. For sure graffiti on a synagogue
wall brings out more demonstrators than bombing of a mosque and
killing of all worshippers, but still it is possible that the Jewish
yoke over the Western public opinion may be broken in the result of
this intervention. What is unexpected, is that Russian media, usually
strongly pro-Jewish, speaks in one voice against Israeli aggression.
Now it is the time to demonstrate, to call for ostracism of Israel,
for resignation of Mubarak, and it is the time to support the
legitimate government of Gaza. Stay tuned.
The Rotten State of Egypt is too Powerless and Corrupt to Act
By Robert Fisk
January 1, 2009
There was a day when we worried about the "Arab masses" the
millions of "ordinary" Arabs on the streets of Cairo, Kuwait, Amman,
Beirut and their reaction to the constant bloodbaths in the Middle
East. Could Anwar Sadat restrain the anger of his people? And now
after three decades of Hosni Mubarak can Mubarak (or "La Vache Qui
Rit", as he is still called in Cairo) restrain the anger of his
people? The answer, of course, is that Egyptians and Kuwaitis and
Jordanians will be allowed to shout in the streets of their capitals
but then they will be shut down, with the help of the tens of
thousands of secret policemen and government militiamen who serve the
princes and kings and elderly rulers of the Arab world.
Egyptians demand that Mubarak open the Rafah crossing-point into
Gaza, break off diplomatic relations with Israel, even send weapons
to Hamas. And there is a kind of perverse beauty in listening to the
response of the Egyptian government: why not complain about the three
gates which the Israelis refuse to open? And anyway, the Rafah
crossing-point is politically controlled by the four powers that
produced the "road map" for peace, including Britain and the US. Why
To admit that Egypt can't even open its sovereign border without
permission from Washington tells you all you need to know about the
powerlessness of the satraps that run the Middle East for us.
Open the Rafah gate or break off relations with Israel and
Egypt's economic foundations crumble. Any Arab leader who took that
kind of step will find that the West's economic and military support
is withdrawn. Without subventions, Egypt is bankrupt. Of course, it
works both ways. Individual Arab leaders are no longer going to make
emotional gestures for anyone. When Sadat flew to Jerusalem "I am
tired of the dwarves," he said of his fellow Arab leaders he paid
the price with his own blood at the Cairo reviewing-stand where one
of his own soldiers called him a "Pharaoh" before shooting him dead.
The true disgrace of Egypt, however, is not in its response to the
slaughter in Gaza. It is the corruption that has become embedded in
an Egyptian society where the idea of service health, education,
genuine security for ordinary people has simply ceased to exist.
It's a land where the first duty of the police is to protect the
regime, where protesters are beaten up by the security police, where
young women objecting to Mubarak's endless regime likely to be
passed on caliph-like to his son Gamal, whatever we may be told are
sexually molested by plain-clothes agents, where prisoners in the
Tora-Tora complex are forced to rape each other by their guards.
There has developed in Egypt a kind of religious facade in which the
meaning of Islam has become effaced by its physical representation.
Egyptian civil "servants" and government officials are often
scrupulous in their religious observances yet they tolerate and
connive in rigged elections, violations of the law and prison
torture. A young American doctor described to me recently how in a
Cairo hospital busy doctors merely blocked doors with plastic chairs
to prevent access to patients. In November, the Egyptian newspaper Al-
Masry al-Youm reported how doctors abandoned their patients to attend
prayers during Ramadan.
And amid all this, Egyptians have to live amid daily slaughter by
their own shabby infrastructure. Alaa al-Aswani wrote eloquently in
the Cairo paper Al-Dastour that the regime's "martyrs" outnumber all
the dead of Egypt's wars against Israel victims of railway
accidents, ferry sinkings, the collapse of city buildings, sickness,
cancers and pesticide poisonings all victims, as Aswani says, "of
the corruption and abuse of power". Opening the Rafah border-crossing
for wounded Palestinians the Palestinian medical staff being pushed
back into their Gaza prison once the bloodied survivors of air raids
have been dumped on Egyptian territory is not going to change the
midden in which Egyptians themselves live.
Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah secretary general in Lebanon,
felt able to call on Egyptians to "rise in their millions" to open
the border with Gaza, but they will not do so. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the
feeble Egyptian Foreign Minister, could only taunt the Hizbollah
leaders by accusing them of trying to provoke "an anarchy similar to
the one they created in their own country."
But he is well-protected. So is President Mubarak.
Egypt's malaise is in many ways as dark as that of the Palestinians.
Its impotence in the face of Gaza's suffering is a symbol of its own
From Cynthia McKinney: We Lived to Tell the Story; Lebanon Rescued Us
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Yesterday, we met with the President of Lebanon, the Chief of the
Military, and the Interior Minister who all thanked us for responding
and risking our lives on a mission of mercy; we profusely thanked
them for rescuing us.
What would we have done, stranded out at sea, prohibited from
reaching our destination, low on fuel, with a badly damaged boat if
Lebanon had not accepted us? Lebanon sent their ships to find us.
Lebanon rescued us. Lebanon welcomed us. And we are truly thankful.
It's official now. We've been told that the sturdy, wood
construction of our boat, Dignity, is the reason we are still alive.
Fiberglass would probably not have withstood the impact of the
Israeli attack and under different circumstances, we might not be
here to tell the story. Even at that, the report that came to us
yesterday after the Captain and First Mate went back to Sour (Tyre)
to inspect the boat was that it was sinking, the damage is extensive,
and the boat will take, in their estimation, at least one month to
repair. Tomorrow, we will bring the Dignity from Sour to Beirut.
And now, we must decide what to do and from where we will do it and
how we are to get back to wherever that might be.
My personal, and I know the group's, thanks must go to Al Jazeera,
that allowed three of their reporters to be onboard with us on our
voyage. As a result, Al Jazeera carried the story of the Dignity
live, from castoff in Cyprus when our spirits were high, right up
through the manacing maneuvers of the huge, super fast Israeli ships
before they rammed us, the Israeli calls on the ship phone after the
ramming calling us terrorists and subversives and telling us to
return to Cyprus (even though the Israelis later claimed that they
didn't know who we were, they knew enough about us to tell us where
we had come from), and the fact that we didn't have enough fuel to
follow their instructions, right up to their threat to fire at us if
we didn't turn around, ending with our beaten-up boat limping into
Sour harbor in Lebanon. Al Jazeera carried our story as "breaking
news" and performed a real service to its audience and to us. Al
Jazeera called the Israelis to inquire about the incident right as it
was happening and I am sure the Israelis were prepared to leave none
to tell the story. Al Jazeera told the story and documented it as it
One of those Al Jazeera reporters with us was Sami El-Haj, who was
detained in Guantanamo by the United States for six incredibly long
years. What an honor to even exchange glances with such a humble man
who had endured so much pain at the hands of the U.S. government. I
apologized to him that my tax dollars were being used in such a
despicable way. And Sami's crime according to the U.S.? Born in
Sudan, and reporting for Al Jazeera in Afghanistan, Sami was the
wrong color, the wrong nationality, the wrong religion, reporting for
the wrong news outfit, telling us the truth about a wrong war. And
for that he survived incarceration for six long years. Sami El-Haj,
Guantanamo prisoner number 345.
Another incredibly committed journalist who was with us was CNN's
Karl Penhaul. Karl reported the truth even when his own station was
repeating Israeli disinformation. The fact that we were traveling
with these alert journalists added to the flat-footedness and obvious
crudeness of the Israeli response. Sadly, Israel has changed its
story too many times to count, and that's because they are not
telling the truth.
We lived to tell the story. Karl's incredible reporting, just a
portion of our story, can be seen on CNN at:
where there's also video and a photo of our damaged boat.
This video and the photos of Karl's report is particularly
interesting given that Israel claims that our boat was only scratched
and that, in actuality, our captain, while trying to outmaneuver
them, damaged their warship.
I'm told that CNN only played my full statement once--and that's the
time that it aired live. Of course, they cut the reference to the
U.S.S. Liberty. What are they afraid of?
Last night I was on PressTV.com, along with others who were on the
Dignity, and we debated a representative from WINEP, the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy. I reminded the audience that the
Palestinians don't have nuclear weapons, depleted uranium munitions,
white phosphorous, or F-16s, but the Israelis do. The facts,
however, tend to get garbled after being processed by the "Grand
Wurlitzer" organ of state-sponsored disinformation utilizing the
With the truth clearly on our side, Israel has been reduced to
releasing the ridiculous bombast below, given to me by a reporter who
came to our hotel in Beirut for a visit. With their multiple,
conflicting stories, it is clear that the Israelis did not expect us
to live to tell the truth.
On the drive from Sour through Saida to Beirut, we were welcomed like
heroes because our ordeal had been seen by everyone on Al Jazeera.
The mayor of Sour came to welcome us. The mayor of Saida insisted
that we stop there, on our way to Beirut, for a special ceremony.
But there was something else that was visible along our drive, and
that is the devastation that Lebanon, itself, has received as a
result of the Israeli war machine. The scars of the war are still
evident everywhere. I will write more on that tomorrow.
And one final note, President-elect Obama roared like a mighty lion
onto the political scene, but now he is as silent as a lamb in the
face of the death and destruction that is happening in Gaza. As we
approach the birthday celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let
us remember what Dr. King said:
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the
silence of our friends."
And after five days of aerial bombardment by Israel, the carnage in
Here is the palaver that the Israelis put out for public
consumption. It is pitiful that a powerful and mighty country like
Israel would be reduced to publishing something so petty and weak as
the following press release dated December 30, 2008:
Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast
Office of Media Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Israel continues to take its humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza
seriously. Border crossings into Gaza remain open, and every effort
is being made to deliver aid to the Palestinian people. Nearly 100
trucks carrying relief supplies entered Gaza on the 28th & 29th of
December and additional shipments are arriving. Israel is working
closely with UNSCO, UNRWA, the Red Cross, and WHO to ensure the entry
of the required aid, especially food and medical equipment.
Unfortunately, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has taken it
upon herself to commit an act of provocation, leading a small boat of
supposed assistants into the conflict zone. She endangered herself,
her assistants, and the vessel's crew. The Israeli navy hailed Ms.
McKinney but the former Congresswoman failed to respond, thereby
leading to the incident. We regret that during this time of crisis,
while Israel is battling with the terrorist organization of Hamas and
defending its citizens, that we are forced to deal with Ms.
McKinney's irresponsible behavior.
Consulate General of Israel
to the Southeast
1100 Spring St NW, Ste 440
Atlanta, GA 30309-2823
Michael Printy Arthur
Director of Media Affairs
Gaza relief boat damaged in encounter with Israeli vessel
Tue December 30, 2008
(CNN) -- An Israeli patrol boat struck a boat carrying medical
volunteers and supplies to Gaza early Tuesday as it attempted to
intercept the vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, witnesses and Israeli
The Dignity arrives in Tyre, Lebanon, after it was reportedly rammed
by an Israeli military vessel Tuesday.
CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul was aboard the 60-foot pleasure boat
Dignity when the contact occurred. When the boat later docked in the
Lebanese port city of Tyre, severe damage was visible to the forward
port side of the boat, and the front left window and part of the roof
had collapsed. It was flying the flag of Gibraltar.
The Dignity was carrying crew and 16 passengers -- physicians from
Britain, Germany and Cyprus and human rights activists from the
Free Gaza Solidarity Movement -- who were trying to reach Gaza
through an Israeli blockade of the territory.
Also on board was former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney.
Penhaul said an Israeli patrol boat shined its spotlight on
the Dignity, and then it and another patrol boat shadowed the Dignity
for about a half hour before the collision. One patrol boat "very
severely rammed" the Dignity, Penhaul said.
The captain of the Dignity told Penhaul he received no warning. Only
after the collision did the Israelis come on the radio to say they
struck the boat because they believed it was involved in terrorist
activities, the captain said.
But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied that and
said the patrol boat had warned the vessel not to proceed to Gaza
because it is a closed military area.
Palmor said there was no response to the radio message, and
the vessel then tried to out-maneuver the Israeli patrol boat,
leading to the collision.
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