Palestinian Women Face Down Tanks to Rescue Men
- Beit Hanoun, the testimony of a young Palestinian: "They shoot at
anything that moves"
3 November 2006
"Bein Hanoun, with 30,000 inhabitants, has been the target of daily
aggressions and air strikes since June 25. It is now besieged by
Israeli troops. We have seen the tanks advance and take up their
positions. We are now encircled by about 70 tanks and at least 450
soldiers who announce that the city is a "closed military zone".
That means that no one can leave. No one can flee. It is an
offensive based on those carried out in the West Bank in 2002.
We have no water, no electricity. We hide in the remote corners of
our houses. Ambulances are not authorized to enter into this
occupied and closed zone. The soldiers have circled the houses they
want to invade. They occupied the houses and they shut up the
families in one room. Now they are using then as forts. They use
explosives to pierce holes in the walls, they blow off doors, and
the people are terrified. They shoot anyone that moves.
Yesterday they fired on people that were seeking shelter, who were
not armed, who were not in fighting positions. They shot them in the
back, and when one was wounded and wanted to flee, they killed him.
Those who wanted to collect his body were targets as well. In
numerous cases, ambulances couldn't go to the aid of the wounded.
Children who slip out from their parent's watch or that look out the
windows are killed by Israeli soldiers positioned on the roofs and
balconies of the houses they occupy.
They have the green light from Bush to kill us, and those
politicians that affirm that Israel "has the right to defend
itself". They use arms that transform the dead and wounded into
something monstrous. The wounds provoked by the missiles launched
from the drones are very impressive. They are like razor cuts; the
legs, the feet, the hands all cleanly cut. They are as horrifying as
wounds from an M-16. The soldiers have orders to shoot at the upper
body. They aim at the chest, near the heart, the head.
The victims are mostly civilians, killed or wounded in the throat,
the neck, the chest, the head, even though they were in their
houses. They shoot at people running in fear, who are trying to save
themselves. We have lost any notion of time; we have no idea how
long we have been caught in this war. We feel lost. There are planes
that bomb us, drones ready to fire their missiles over our heads.
They control the entire zone. With the droning of the drones, we
always have the feeling of having a bee buzzing in our ears. It is
There is no one to defend us. We don't have an army. We have only
our parents to defend us, knowing that they are going to their
deaths and that they cannot defend us. This new aggression is
horrible especially for the children who are very numerous here.
They are forced to stay couped up inside, they are terrorized, and
they cry when there are bombings. At any moment we can learn there
are people killed, there are people wounded who are bathed in their
own blood, that people don't know how to stop the hemorrhaging, and
that the ambulances can't give them any aid without being hampered.
The Israelis say that are waging this offensive to prevent the entry
of arms from Egypt. That is false. Nothing can enter. In Gaza, there
are only rifles that can do nothing against the Apache helicopters
and the Merkawa tanks of the Israeli army. The only arms of war in
Gaza are those delivered by Israel and the United States to Dahlan,
who is Abu Mazen's man, the most feared man in Gaza. He is at the
head of the forces that have, for months now, created the troubles
to topple the Hamas government.
Yesterday, through their loud speakers the soldiers summoned all the
young men fifteen years and older leave their houses. Then, sector
by sector, they searched the houses and brought them out,
handcuffed, and took them to a place where they certainly forced
them to strip, as they did in Betlaya in June. They leave the men in
their underwear. For an Oriential, it is the worst of humiliations.
They might as well kill us.
We think that after Beit Hanoun they will attack Betlaya, and then
Jabaliya and do what they have done here: search house by house.
Beit Hanoun, like Rafah, are very vulnerable zones because they are
geographically separated from other inhabited areas. They are
therefore easy to isolate from the rest of Gaza.
This morning, the women went out to come to the aid of their sons or
husbands threatened by the armored cars that encircled the Mosque.
The women defied the Apaches and the armored vehicles. For us, it
was a tremendous moment. We felt like we were wrapped up in a veil
of humanity. It was very moving to see these women ready to die to
save their sons and husbands. They continued on without hesitation,
and the soldiers, who hadn't expected this, were disoriented.
Because of this effect of surprise, they succeeded, saving the lives
of these fighters. They demonstrated that people with empty hands
could defeat the largest army in the world. We took it as a message
to the men of the Arab countries who remain silent. These women
said, by their gesture, "There, in the face of your cowardice,
Palestinian women by themselves are in the process of fighting for
the release of their men who are besieged by the enemies of the
Arabs, Israel." "[End of report.]
They are making war on civilians and the world doesn't know
This young Palestinian who recounted the above in a low voice breaks
our heart. He could render no greater homage to these heroic women.
I think that everyone who saw the images of these women was shaken.
The women threw themselves down the long avenue, uncovered, empty
handed, defying the helicopters and the armored vehicles, in order
to protect their men. The soldiers fired on them, but the women
continued and arrived at their goal. The soldiers who were firing
from the armored vehicles on these harmless women are monsters.
"Israel has the right to defend itself" responded the former
ambassador Elie Barnavi to a journalist from France Culture this
morning when asked about the meaning of the Israeli offensive in the
north of Gaza. The right to defend themselves against what? There is
no Palestinian army facing them. There is only a people being
massacred day after day by the best equipped army in the world. And
the Palestinians don't have the right to defend themselves.
It is to the Palestinian people, the victims of the massacres, that
we should be asking what it means to live under the Israeli military
offensive, and not to ambassadors of the Jewish State of Israel,
ambassadors who will never tell you, when it comes to Arab lives, of
the suffering and anxiety of children thrown into the dreadful
chaos, of the women who have no idea how to protect them, of the
elderly who impotently submit, of babies wailing, of pregnant women
who fear for their unborn children, of the wounded, the dead, the
mothers who cry for their men, who feel humiliated that they cannot
defend their children, the doctors who can no longer support the
rivers of blood and the wounded added to the wounded in their poorly
These "terrorists", these "activists" that Israel is fighting, these
are Palestinians, the authentic residents of the nation that Israel
wiped off the map. These are women of all ages who brave the tanks
to protect their sons. These are children who die in their beds or
playing by the front door. These are fathers, brothers, cousins, and
spouses summarily executed because Israel has put them on
their "wanted" lists. These are desperate young people who, to
defend their dignity, have only rifles and rudimentary rockets, and
who know full well that they are going to their deaths when they put
their nose outside. Like the child Bara' Riyad Fayyad, 4 years old,
killed on Thursday in front of the door of her house. These are
normal people who voted democratically against the corrupt
authorities of Fatah.
"Where are our Arab brothers?", cries a Palestinian in front of a
Yes, where is the world? The "international community" says nothing
say shocked people who watch all of this with horror and don't
understand the silence. But the "international community", so often
invoked, is only an empty word. The UN, ever since the fall of the
USSR, is nothing but an instrument in the hands of the US superpower.
In fact, the "international community" is us, all of us. It is the
associations that are unfortunately more attached to protecting the
Jewish State of Israel than defending the right of existence of the
Palestinians and their right to return to their rightful home. It is
the political parties of every tendency, too preoccupied by their
electoral success. It is our elected officials who don't dare
criticize Israel out of fear of being accused of anti-Semitism. It
is the journalists who misinform public opinion and cover up the
crimes of state.
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