WERE CHICKENS FIRING ROCKETS?
- WERE CHICKENS FIRING ROCKETS?
By Sameh A. Habeeb, Live from Palestine
29 January 2009
Palestinians inspect a destroyed poultry farm in Gaza. (Sameh A. Habeeb)
Israel's devastating war on Gaza claimed the lives of more than 1,335
persons and left at least 5,500 other wounded. In addition tens of
thousands of utilities, houses, businesses, and factories were
partially or totally destroyed. The war caused psychological damage
for thousands of people especially children. I reported on the war
daily and my focus was on the human toll. However, I recently came
across a story that changed my focus completely a revealed to me the
true nature of Israel's soldiers and their intent in invading Gaza.
Since the ceasefire was enacted, I have toured throughout Gaza to
document some stories and accounts. Although I wrote many articles, I
decided to focus on the untold stories of the war: the brutal massacre
of thousands of chickens.
On 5 January, many Israeli tanks, troops and bulldozers advanced into
the al-Zeitoun neighborhood south east of Gaza City. In this area,
called al-Samouni, Israel killed 49 members of the Samouni family,
after soldiers ordered them to gather into a single home, which was
shelled several hours later.
A number of chicken farms are located only a few meters away from the
Samouni house. These farms came under fire by Israeli forces and were
totally bulldozed. Thousands of chickens were caught in their sheds,
as the bulldozing destroyed their cages. Some died immediately, others
slowly without food or water for four days.
Abu Ahmed al-Sawafari, an owner of a chicken farms owners, was sitting
amidst the rubble of his destroyed farm. He explained that "I have
been working on that profession for long years. I have been growing my
business by all efforts. Israelis came then left causing an earthquake
in the area. They have killed these chickens, they are equal to human
souls. They were suffocated and died due to hunger. I wonder why the
Israelis killed these chickens? Were they firing rockets into Israel?"
I continued touring farms in the area where the smell of death filled
the air. Surviving chickens roamed around surrounded by thousands of
their dead kin. It was an overwhelming scene leaving one to ask only: why?
If this question was directed to the Israeli army their response would
be swift and predictable. They would likely contend that "rockets"
were being fired from the farms, or that there were Palestinian
resistance fighters in the area. However, unless the Israeli army is
prepared to claim that these chickens were resistance fighters or were
firing rockets nothing can explain why the self-proclaimed "world's
most moral army" would engage in the wholesale slaughter of civilians
and chickens alike.
Sameh A. Habeeb is a photojournalist, humanitarian and peace
activist based in Gaza, Palestine. He writes for several news websites
on a freelance basis.
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