Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gaza Freedom March activists and the Egyptian police

This is what Egypt did to Gaza freedom march.
Gaza freedom march activists and the Egyptian police in Medan Al-Tahrer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gaza factions regroup and rearm after war( By Al-Jazeera)

It's one year to the day since Israel unleashed a military camapign on the Gaza Strip.

The stated goal of the action was to stop rocket attacks from the strip into southern Israel. There has been a dramatic decrease over the previous year, but Palestinian factions claim this is a result of the ceasefire, rather than decreased ability.

As Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Gaza, factions remain adamant that their capabilities have only improved.

Gaza aid held up in Jordan(By Al-Jazeera)

Since June 2007 Gaza has been under a crippling blockade with few essential goods making it through. Now an aid convoy of 250 trucks and ambulances is attempting to reach the Strip to deliver much needed supplies. But a bureaucratic argument with Egypt is holding it back in Aqaba in southwest Jordan. Al Jazeera's Clayton Swisher reports.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Inside Story - The world has failed Gaza: Report

Inside Story - The world has failed Gaza.

Israeli policy and global inaction are directly responsible for poverty in the Gaza strip, according to a new report from sixteen humanitarian and human rights groups. The report urges the EU to suspend relations with israel unless they stop the blockade, that it claims has impaired reconstruction and sharply increased poverty. Inside story, with guests discusses the details.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


HOMELESS IN GAZA: Edited for CNN by Daniella Nowitz

HOMELESS IN GAZA: Edited for CNN from Daniella Nowitz on Vimeo.

Remembering one year since the massacre

One year ago, Israel launched 'Operation Cast Lead' - intense and unprecedented attacks on the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. The war crimes of this assault are part of a wider context: the continuing illegal blockade as well as Israel's apartheid system of control of the Palestinians. Learn the facts - then act.


Ewa Jasiewicz was a witness to the horrors in Gaza before and after Israels brutal massacres in December and January during Israel's Operation Cast Lead.
Listen to her eloquent speech in Berlin, Germany and watch the images taken by volunteers in Gaza during Israel's brutal assault.
If you are interested in a speaker from Free Gaza, please go to and you will find several speakers there who would be happy to come and speak.

Images of Ewa speech : Doris and Björn, German Palestine Solidarity Organization

Footage by :
Volunteers of ISM GAZA
Alberto Arce
Ramattan Video Studios Gaza
Al Jazeera

Images of prisoners:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Press TV/News Analysis/Egypts Gaza wall( Press TV)

Egyptian & Israeli Blockade plunges Gaza into darkness (By sandjaq)

Egyptian are building another wall in the border between Gaza and Egypt to strangle more the Palestinians and the only food resource they can have to survive and this is crime against humanity.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gaza conflict of gender( By the CNN)

CNN's Ivan Watson interviews two teenagers from Gaza suffering from a rare genetic intersex disorder.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Egypt installing metal wall to block Gaza Strip smugglers( By worldfocusonline)

With U.S. help, Egypt is erecting a massive iron wall to prevent smugglers from entering Gaza. The tunnel network is used to import civilian goods and military weaponry. The decision to step up anti-smuggling efforts came after Operation Cast Lead. For more on recent events in the Palestinian territories, Daljit Dhaliwal interviews Ghassan Shabaneh.

Israel's war leaves thousands displaced in Gaza ( By Al-Jazeera)

The United Nations investigation into the war on Gaza has accused Israel of committing war crimes and called on both Israel and the Palestinian factions to conduct their own inquiries or face the International Criminal Court.

Israel has been quick to reject the UN request.

Now it remains to be seen if the report will bring justice to the thousands affected by the war, including those who remain displaced.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Listening Post - Israeli settlement ( By Al-Jazeera)

On the Listening Post this week, the story of the Israeli settlement building and the chilling effect of British libel laws on press freedom worldwide.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Egypt accused of building Gaza wall ( By Al-Jazeera)

Israeli newspaper claims that Egypt is building an underground steel fence along its border with Gaza have been denied by the governor of Northern Sinai.

Haaretz had claimed metal sheets were being installed underground to block tunnels used to bring essential goods and medicines into Gaza.

But tunnel workers say Egypt has been enacting a far simpler plan - drilling holes into tunnels in order flood them with water.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gazans fleeced in investment scam By Al-Jazeera

Underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip are the only way for millions of dollars worth of essential supplies to get past Israel's siege of the coastal territory.

But it has now emerged that at least 40,000 Gazans have lost their life savings in scheme that promised up to 50 per cent profits in return for an investment in tunnel trading.

Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, returned a fraction of the $100m that disappeared through the scheme, and has said that is investigating the fraud.

However, with hundreds of middlemen as yet unpunished and many of them rumoured to have had links to Hamas, the duped Gazans say that more should be done.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gaza - joining the tunnel diggers (By DW-TV)

A Dutch reporter takes a close-up look at life for the tunnel diggers in the Palestinian Gaza strip. With the Israeli siege still in place, the tunnels are the only way to smuggle in consumer goods and other much needed items. Rafah is a dangerous place to live and work.

What does it say about Israel that it forces another country to live in this way?

Fishing in Gaza

Thanks to Maggie Schmitt for this video about the difficulties faced by fishermen in Gaza. Examines in detail one aspect of the siege, showing the difficulty of maintaining a level of normality for the people living in Gaza.

EU mulls Jerusalem divide - 8 Dec 09 ( By Al-Jazeera)

Jerusalem is sacred to three religions and central to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. European Union ministers have gathered this week in Brussels to discuss a Swedish proposal that calls for the division of Jerusalem in order to serve as capitals of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.The Israeli government has denounced the proposal, calling it a "dangerous" threat to peace efforts, but Palestinians need all the political support they can get to keep alive the dream of East Jerusalem as their capital.Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from the disputed city.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Freedom For Gaza: Why We're Marching?

Activists for peace and justice in the Middle East discuss the events that first inspired them to get involved with the Gaza Freedom March.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Maher Zain - Palestine Will Be Free ( By Awakening Records)

Awakening Records is pleased to announce the release of the world's first animated peace music video on Palestine. Palestine will be Free' is performed by Awakening's latest music sensation - Maher Zain.

This is the first time an animated peace music video has been produced on Palestine: "We are recognised as pioneers and constantly pushing the bounds of creativity and innovation. This animated music video for our new star artist Maher Zain is just another step in that direction and certainly not the last", said Bara Kherigi, Director of Awakening Records. Destined to be an international success, the video features the story of a young brave Palestinian girl who never loses hope for a better future despite the harsh realities surrounding her.

Israeli warplanes pound Gaza ( By Reuters)

Israel launches air strikes in the Gaza Strip which it says were triggered when a rocket luanched from the enclave landed on its territory.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hamas 'on verge of Gaza war probe' - 29 Nov 09 ( BY ALJAZEERA)

Hamas says that it is on the verge of starting its own investigation into whether it committed war crimes during Israel's war on Gaza.

The probe is one of the main requirements of the recent UN-backed Goldstone Report into the conflict, which took place during December and January. Most of the report's criticism was reserved for Israel.

In a rare interview, Ismail Haniya, the deposed Palestinian prime minister, also told Al Jazeera's Zeina Awad that he is still hopeful of exchanging Gilad Shalit, a captured Israeli soldier, for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Category: News & Politics

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gaza faithful celebrate Eid ( By AFP)

As Muslims around the world celebrate on the first day of their annual Eid al-Adha holiday, festivities in the Gaza Strip are taking a slightly different tack, hampered by a lack of basic goods due to the ongoing Israeli blockade. Duration: 00:58

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gaza woman's struggle to go on Hajj (By Al-Jazeera)

Gaza woman's struggle to go on Hajj - 26 Nov 09

Safia al-Shrafi from the Gaza Strip is fulfilling a lifelong dream: to perform the Hajj in Mecca.

But her pilgrimage to Islam's holiest city has been a long struggle, full of grief. She and her husband had saved money and planned the trip together, but during Israel's war on Gaza last winter, he was killed.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reports from Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The Free Gaza Movement - November 2009

The Free Gaza Movement - November 2009

We successfully sailed to Gaza four times in 2008. Our last three trips have been violently stopped by the Israeli occupation navy. But we are not going to stop these voyages. We are going again in 2010. We need your help to make the voyages successful. Please watch this tape and see how you can help.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Student deported to Gaza

Student deported to Gaza (By CNN)

A Palestinian college student is deported to Gaza two months before earning her degree. CNN's Kevin Flower reports.
A Palestinian college student is deported to Gaza two months before earning her degree. CNN's Kevin Flower reports.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inside Story - The pending Palestinian issue ( By AL-Jazeera)

Inside Story - The pending Palestinian issue ( By AL-Jazeera)

Frustrated by a lack of progress in peace talks, and feeling let down by the Obama administration, the Palestinian Authority says it wants to take its case to the United Nations Security Council Th...
Frustrated by a lack of progress in peace talks, and feeling let down by the Obama administration, the Palestinian Authority says it wants to take its case to the United Nations Security Council
The PA is seeking UN endorsement for the declaration of a de facto Palestinian state, on the land occupied in June 1967. The move is an implicit admission of failure by the Palestinian Authority of its bilateral engagement with Israel, which gave the US the authority to oversee the peace talks, at the expense of the United Nations.
Israel is worried that should Abbas succeed, all that would be left to negotiate, would be the terms of Israeli military and civilian withdrawal, from territories that would be internationally recognized as Palestinian. But can Abbas re-shape the parameters of negotiation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gazan ambulance driver describes his year (AlJazeeraEnglish)

Palestinian ambulance driver Khaled Abu Sada has been helping to save lives for over a decade. He was first interviewed by Al Jazeera three years ago.

Returning to Gaza as Al Jazeera English celebrates its third anniversary, Khaled reports what has and hasn't changed over the last few years.

Facing difficulties such as the destruction of his house during Israel's war on Gaza and the loss of close friends, Khaled also comments on political issues that effect his life every single day.

Gaza widows struggle for survival
October 31, 2009

Ten months after Israels war on the Gaza Strip, the effects of the deadly offensive are still being deeply felt. Hundreds of Palestinian women lost their husbands in the war and have had to step i...
Ten months after Israels war on the Gaza Strip, the effects of the deadly offensive are still being deeply felt.

Hundreds of Palestinian women lost their husbands in the war and have had to step into their husbands' roles as the main breadwinners in their families.

Al Jazeera's Barbra Serra reports from Gaza, where women traditionally used to stay at home to take care of their children.

Now, many widows are struggling to find work.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Palestinians denied access to water ( By Al-Jazeera)

Palestinians denied access to water - 14 Nov 09

Israel dubs Palestinian farmers trying in vain to irrigate their lands "water pirates".

Palestinian farmers in the West Bank, or "water pirates" as Israeli occupation forces prefer to call them, are siphoning off drinking water pipes in an effort to secure water to irrigate their farmland.

Water is an increasingly disputed resource between Israel and the Palestinians.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites

A World Bank report has accused Israel of using four times more water than Palestinians from the so-called Mountain Aquifer that bridges Israel and the territory and runs along the West Bank.

Israel disputes that claim and says the Palestinians are jeopardising the resource through illegal use.

Palestinians argue they are being denied access in order to force them off their land.

This exclusive report from Al Jazeera shows Israeli occupation forces dismantling a farmer's water pipes in the agricultural village of al-Baqa.

Badran Jaber, a Palestinian farmer, told Al Jazeera: "We were surprised by a large group of soldiers and settlers who surrounded the entire area. We asked them: 'why are you doing this and what do you want?' They refused to speak to us.

"Men who came with the soldiers stormed the field and pulled out all the irrigation pipes, destroying the crops."

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports on how Israeli rules blight the lives of many Palestinians.

Road restrictions for West Bank Palestinians (By Al-Jazeera)

Roads in the occupied Palestinian Territories are vital arteries connecting West Bank towns and villages. But major routes have been closed off to tens of thousands of Palestinians, for the benefi...
Roads in the occupied Palestinian Territories are vital arteries connecting West Bank towns and villages.

But major routes have been closed off to tens of thousands of Palestinians, for the benefit of a handful of Israeli settlers.

Now, in the first ruling of its kind, Israel's supreme court has ordered the army to open up a West Bank highway to Palestinian traffic again.

Nicole Johnston reports from the occupied West Bank.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Civilian fears on Gaza's Israeli border

Civilian fears on Gaza's Israeli border ( By Aljazera)

November 12, 2009

Almost a year after Israel launched its war on Gaza, Palestinians who live there are still trying to rebuild their lives from the devastation. For those living near the border, that task has become all the more difficult and dangerous.

Not only are these people living too far from population centres to receive aid, they also live in constant fear of being shot or coming under attack. Al Jazeera correspondent Zeina Awad reports on their plight in northern Gaza.
Category: News & Politics

Sea shrinks for Gaza fishermen by CNN
November 10, 2009

Fishermen from Gaza can't stray more than three miles from shore or they face danger. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports.

Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip
United Nations Videos

United Nations, New York, 17 August 2009 - Daily press briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. The ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, now in its third year, h...
United Nations, New York, 17 August 2009 - Daily press briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. The ongoing Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, now in its third year, has triggered a protracted human dignity crisis with negative humanitarian consequences, according to a new report released today by the United Nations relief wing.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The 6th anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie

Film by Fida Qishta
Every year we remember 16th March. We remember a kind, insightful, talented person committed to the plight of the Palestinian people, who genuinely had the courage of her convictions. Her name was Rachel Corrie. This year, the anniversary of her death comes in the wake of Israel 's massive assault on the Gaza Strip. We believe Rachel would want the world to remember the 1,400 Palestinians killed before she is remembered herself. Now, six long years after her death, the situation in Gaza is even more desperate than when Rachel bore witness to it. Six years on we still demand justice.This is a highly poignant day for us, so to mark it in a positive and inspiring way, we joined five young Palestinian artists to create a mural on one of the few remaining sections of the Israeli wall on the Rafah-Egypt border strip. The same wall whose construction saw the destruction of residential neighbourhoods, including the one Rachel died trying to safeguard. The same wall that for years was intended to imprison Palestinian people. The same wall that was finally destroyed by the Palestinian people.As the artists began painting the wall, enlivening it with colourful symbols of defiance, Israeli F-16 fighter jets were heard flying over Rafah. Despite Israel 's announcement of a "unilateral ceasefire" on 18th January, the Israeli Air Force continues to unilaterally bomb Rafah and other areas in the Gaza Strip almost daily. Fortunately, today we weren't bombed by Israeli aircraft, maybe because we were protected by the "Palestinian Air Force". Palestinian children from the Lifemakers Center along with kids from the nearby al-Barazil refugee camp responded to the Israeli military flying F-16s by flying kites! 14 kites were flown in memory of the 14 hundred Palestinians killed recently in Gaza . Another kite sent our love to Rachel.Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie succeeded to gain entry to Gaza and celebrated International Women's Day with the courageous women of Gaza on 8th March. Commenting on their visit they said, "Despite the pain, we have once again felt privileged to enter briefly into the lives of Rachel's Palestinian friends in Gaza . We are moved by their resilience and heartened by their song, dance, and laughter amidst the tears."The Israeli Occupation Forces attempted to kill another American ISM activist, Tristan Anderson, on 13th March 2009, in the West Bank village of Ni'lin . Tristan, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Just as today we stood at the destroyed wall of Rafah, commemorating the sacrifice of Rachel, one day we will stand together with Tristan at the destroyed wall of Ni'lin to commemorate the sacrifice of its Palestinian martyrs.We should remember Rachel and all that she stood for. Similarly we must never let the world forget all the innocent Palestinian souls who perished without mercy. Their fate is already slipping from the collective memory of the international community, fading from the headlines of a fickle corporate media. It is time this manufactured catastrophe ends so that Rachels death and the deaths of countless Palestinians were not in vain.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Israel accused of war crimes over 12-hour assault on Gaza village

By Fida Qishta in Khoza’a, Gaza
THE FIRST THING you notice as you enter Khoza’a village is the smell of rotting flesh. Mutilated and bloody chicken corpses, headless with smashed wings, litter the ground as though you are entering the bizarre aftermath of some black voodoo mass. On closer inspection, you notice that each bird was actually shot – sniped by the Israeli soldiers who took over Khoza’a in the early hours of last Tuesday morning. Hundreds of spent rounds lie around the streets, around the chicken’s bodies.

The carnage extends to the buildings and farmland. Olive and lemon trees lie scattered and broken around the houses, ripped from the ground by militarised D9 bulldozers. The smell of mangled lemons mixes with smell of the decomposing chickens. Fields of wheat and vegetable plots have been razed by tank treads. Buildings are still smouldering. Entire gables of family homes have been ripped out by bulldozers – the contents of various home lives spill out onto the rubble, lace curtains, tablecloths, beds and toys. Through the gaping holes there are Marie-Celeste like scenes of tables set for dinner.

The massacre didn’t stop with the chickens. Fourteen villagers were killed when the Israeli army stormed and attacked the village for twelve hours last week. One of the youngest victims was sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, Ala’a Khalid. The girl was taken to hospital with shrapnel wounds to the face, apparently one of the injured who’d got off lightly.

As she lay in her hospital bed, Ala’a cried when she heard her grandfather, Khalel Al- Najar, 75, had been killed when an Apache helicopter dropped a bomb on their home. She asked her family: ‘Why did they kill him? Why are they killing us and nobody moves? If we were cats in Europe and America they would have cared for us.’ As the ER struggled to cope with Khoza’a’s wounded, Ala’a died from undetected internal injuries.

UNLIKE THE JABALIA refugee camp in Gaza ’s north, a Hamas stronghold, Khoza’a is not a village with a history of militancy. In fact, the townspeople of this agricultural area say if they were harbouring resistance, the Israeli military would have attacked with F16 jets, afraid of exposing their men to Hamas fighters . Instead, the army staged a ground incursion.

The Israeli tanks entered the village in the middle of the night. Twelve hours of unusual cruelty were to come.

Iman al-Najar, 29, jumped out of bed when she heard the tanks outside at 3am. She and the ten members of her family looked out the windows as bulldozers started to destroy her neighbour’s homes in the Azata area. She saw terrified villagers flee from their houses as masonry collapsed around them. Villagers ran from house to house; as each house was bulldozed, the people would run for cover in the next, blinded by the haze of exploding shells.

‘By 6am the tanks and bulldozers had reached our house,’ Iman recalls.
‘We went on the roofs and tried to show them that we are civilians with white flags, children, women, men. Every one was carrying a white flag. We told them we are civilians don’t have any weapons, we are not fighters.’ It was a waste of time. ‘The soldiers started to destroy the houses even if the people were in them’.

Iman and her family ran from their house as it the bulldozers ripped it apart. She encouraged the neighbours, mostly women and children, women at the head of the group, to flee with her. They all carried white flags. They were ordered by Israeli soldiers to move to the centre of the town. They were told to leave by a particular street. As they turned into the next road, Israeli special forces who had occupied a building, opened fire.

At the front of the group was fifty-year-old housewife, Rowhiya Al-Najar. She approached the Israeli military, waving her white flag, shouting, begging for safe passage for the group. She was shot by a sniper. As the other women ran to help her, the soldiers fired again, injuring 24-year-old Yessmin al-Najar in the hand and leg. Rowhiya Al-Najar lay wailing and bleeding in the street. The women cried but they could not help her as the soldiers kept firing. Nor were paramedics allowed near the injured woman. .

According to Marwan Abu Raeda, 40, a paramedic working in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis: ‘At 8am we received a phone call from the people in Khoza`a, they told us about the injured woman in Azata street . I went to Khoza`a immediately in my ambulance. I was 60 or 70 metres away from the injured woman when the Israeli special forces started to shoot at me’. As he drove into another street, he came under fire again. ‘It was like my ambulance was a tank,’ he said.

It was twelve hours before paramedics were allowed to reach Al Najar. By then she was dead. ‘She was still clutching the white flag’, says Abu Raeda, who took her body to the morgue.

Before the woman had reached Azata Street , Iman’s brother, fourteen- year-old Mohammed had disappeared in the chaos. ‘We didn’t know if he was dead or alive,’ says Iman. He’d been taken captive in the street by a group of Israeli soldiers who put guns to his face and forced him to accompany him to their building. He was tied. Mohammed says he was with the Israeli soldiers as they fired at his family, killing Rowhiya Al-Najar. On his release, thirteen-hours later, a traumatised Mohammed told Iman: ‘When they were shooting at you, the soldiers were dancing and singing. They asked me to sing and dance with them. I refused. They said, “Then we will kill you”. So I sang with them as they shot at you’.

After Rowhiya’s shooting, Iman and her group fled to her uncle’s house, one of the few buildings still standing. There, they took shelter from the hail of gunfire. They were joined by other villagers, mostly farmers, who’d lost their homes, all running for the safety of the last house. By now there were around two hundred unarmed civilians in the group, most carrying white flags.

Before long, the tanks and bulldozers caught up with them and began to destroy that house too. The terrified crowd scattered. A blind boy, Sameer, 16 got separated from his mother. He stood in the street calling, ‘Where should I go? Where are you? What direction should I take?’ as bullets flew around him.

The last house crumbled under the bulldozers’ blades and there was nowhere left to shelter – every other house had been destroyed. The villagers ran for cover amid the mountains of rubble.

Around a hundred metres from Iman’s uncle’s house, the people cowered in a deep hole in the debris of demolished houses, a sort of passage that had been formed from the broken concrete of the surrounding houses. 200 people, men, women and children, crawled inside for protection from the shooting.

Inside the claustrophobic tunnel, the children cried, the adults prayed. Some of the villagers used their mobiles to make desperate rescue calls to the Red Crescent, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, local radio stations. ‘Please co-ordinate with the Israelis,’ they begged, ‘so they will let us leave in safety’. The Israeli army refused – the village, it declared, was a closed military zone. Anyone coming close risked being shot.

Inside the cave-like passage, the villagers heard the rumble of military machinery approaching. Eight bulldozers and four tanks surrounded the villagers, on either side of the narrow, unstable passage. As they closed in, the bulldozer drivers began to push the rubble from each side, squeezing the people, throwing rocks and bricks on their heads. ‘They wanted to bury us alive,’ says Iman. ‘I will never forget it, it was the hardest day in our lives. When the bulldozers got closer they started to move the wreckage of the demolished houses on top of us, we felt that we are in a tiny cave, and they started to make it smaller and smaller until the children started to fall down because the wreckage was pushing their legs.’

Four-year-old Nessma became hysterical, shouting at her dad: ‘I don’t want to die’. Another girl, Shymaa, 12, kept repeating: ‘This is the last day of our lives.’

The villagers began to shout at the soldiers, begging them to stop. Yessmin, the woman who’d been injured while trying to rescue her friend, Rowhia, was bleeding profusely from her hand and foot. Her friends had bound her wounds with some of the white flags. She stayed calm, trying to comfort her mother, Faeza, 52, who kept screaming: ‘They’re coming closer, we’re going to die’.

As the rubble came closer to suffocating them, the villagers made a desperate dash for safety. On their hands and knees, they crawled some 150m out of the tunnel and ran to the town centre, seeking refuge in the UN school. One of the men lost his mind. Yussef, 52, ran in front of the tanks shouting: ‘Kill me now’. He was pulled away by friends. It was particularly hard for the young and the elderly. Abu Fadi, 50, a paralysed man, was carried by neighbours who’d wrenched him from his wheelchair as bulldozers started to demolish his house around him.

‘By some miracle, we made it,’ says Iman. They were not safe for long.
‘After an hour they started to fire around the school,’ said Iman. 'The children were scared and the people decide to take their children and leave the school before there is another massacre in a UN school.’

Hungry, thirsty, tired and dazed, at around two thirty, the group left the school and walked for more than two and a half kilometres. By four o’clock they’d reached an area outside the fighting. ‘We phoned our relatives to come and take us. In any vehicle – cars, motorbikes, trucks. Just get us away from this hell’.

There are grim testimonies of attacks from all over Khoza’a. ‘At nine o’clock, the tanks came to our area in Abu Raeda’, said Mohammed al Najar, 20. (No relation to Iman Al-Najar or her brother). The Israelis started to fire gas missiles. The chicken farm next door was burnt to the ground. The gas shells fell all around. Our house was full of smoke and gas. My mothers and sisters couldn’t breath, they started to vomit. We fled to another house.’

Mohammed and his family survived. His uncle, Mahmoud al-Najar, 55 wasn’t so lucky. ‘He got a call from his neighbours asking for help to move their children to a safe place. He was shot in the side by an Israeli sniper and died immediately.’

Nabel al-Najar, 40, and his family were lucky to escape with their lives. They spent the night in the basement, afraid to come out. They could hear the upper stories of their house being destroyed. Suddenly they realised the basement itself was being destroyed. They narrowly missed being crushed to death by escaping through a small hole in the debris.

Elsewhere, a group of men and youths was killed by a single strike. According to their relatives, Gassan Abu Zaer 22, Nedal Abu Raeda, 25 and Mamdoh Qdah, 19 and Alaa Al- Najar 16 years old, all neighbours from the Azata area, took advantage of a lull in the fighting after 3pm to go to the local shop to buy food for their families. They went in a group as it made them feel safer. The men were killed by a missile fired from an Israeli drone plane.

A fourteen-year-old boy, Mohammed Qdah, was hit in the head by shrapnel as he ran from the street into his home. He died later on the operating table of the Al Nasser hospital, his brain torn and destroyed. A twenty-five year-old man, Ahmeed Al- Najar, ran to his fiancée’s house to see if she was safe – he was killed and the fiancée injured when the house came under missile and shell attack.

Fifty wounded villagers were taken to the Al Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Four would die there.

‘There was one twenty-year-old girl,’ says Dr Ahmed Almi. ‘A third of her face had been blown away. The teeth, jawbone, cheekbone, all missing on one side.’ Her abdomen had been ripped open by shrapnel – her pelvic bones were visible. ‘We couldn’t save her,’ says Almi.

Doctors described serious chemical burns and victims being covered in a white powder that continued to burn them. Many people were also suffering from serious breathing difficulties. ‘There are two types of injuries,’ said Dr Almi, ‘injuries from weapons and injuries from chemical burns from white phosphorous. Some patients had white powder on their skin – the exposed areas are burnt first, then an hour later the powder penetrates the clothing burning the skin. Some patients were burnt from head to toe.’

The shrapnel injuries are particularly horrific. ‘I don’t know the nature of these weapons causing these wounds,’ said Almi. ‘The entry wounds are tiny, the exit wounds huge. One man came in with a 2cm entry wound in his abdomen and an enormous 40cm exit wound at the back. His intestines had fallen out. He died.’

Villagers from Khouza’a are still dying in the Intensive Care Unit. The latest victim was Madhad Abu Rock, 20. He died Friday (today) from shrapnel injuries to his chest. Other patients are still fighting for their lives.

Khoza’a’s ordeal may not be over yet. On Friday, Iman al Najar told the Observer the F16s and the drones are flying over the village again.

White flags ignored and houses bulldozed with families inside, claim residents
Israel stands accused of perpetrating a series of war crimes during a sustained 12-hour assault on a village in southern Gaza last week in which 14 people died.
In testimony collected from residents of the village of Khuza'a by the Observer, it is claimed that Israeli soldiers entering the village:
• attempted to bulldoze houses with civilians inside;
• killed civilians trying to escape under the protection of white flags;
• opened fire on an ambulance attempting to reach the wounded;
• used indiscriminate force in a civilian area and fired white phosphorus shells.
If the allegations are upheld, all the incidents would constitute breaches of the Geneva conventions.
The denunciations over what happened in Khuza'a follow repeated claims of possible human rights violations from the Red Cross, the UN and human rights organisations.
The Israeli army announced yesterday that it was investigating "at the highest level" five other attacks against civilians in Gaza, involving two UN facilities and a hospital. It added that in all cases initial investigations suggested soldiers were responding to fire. "These claims of war crimes are not supported by the slightest piece of evidence," said Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.
Concern over what occurred in the village of Khuza'a in the early hours of Tuesday was first raised by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. Although an Israeli military spokesman said he had "no information that this alleged incident took place", witness statements collected by the Observer are consistent and match testimony gathered by B'Tselem.
There is also strong visible evidence that Khuza'a came under a sustained attack from tanks and bulldozers that smashed some buildings to pieces.
Pictures taken by photographer Bruno Stevens in the aftermath show heavy damage - and still burning phosphorus. "What I can tell you is that many, many houses were shelled and that they used white phosphorus," said Stevens yesterday, one of the first western journalists to get into Gaza. "It appears to have been indiscriminate." Stevens added that homes near the village that had not been hit by shell fire had been set on fire.
The village of Khuza'a is around 500 metres from the border with Israel. According to B'Tselem, its field researcher in Gaza was contacted last Tuesday by resident Munir Shafik al-Najar, who said that Israeli bulldozers had begun destroying homes at 2.30am.
When Rawhiya al-Najar, aged 50, stepped out of her house waving a white flag, so that the rest of the family could leave the house, she was allegedly shot by Israeli soldiers nearby.
The second alleged incident was on Tuesday afternoon, when Israeli troops ordered 30 residents to leave their homes and walk to a school in the village centre. After travelling 20 metres, troops fired on the group, allegedly killing three.
Further detailed accounts of what occurred were supplied in interviews given to a Palestinian researcher who has been working for the Observer, following the decision by Israel to ban foreign media from the Gaza Strip. Iman al-Najar, 29, said she watched as bulldozers started to destroy neighbours' homes and saw terrified villagers flee from their houses as masonry collapsed.
"By 6am the tanks and bulldozers had reached our house," Iman recalled. "We went on the roofs and tried to show we were civilians with white flags. Everyone was carrying a white flag. We told them we are civilians. We don't have any weapons. The soldiers started to destroy the houses even if the people were in them." Describing the death of Rawhiya, Iman says they were ordered by Israeli soldiers to move to the centre of the town. As they did, Israeli troops opened fire. Rawhiya was at the front of the group, says Iman.
Marwan Abu Raeda, 40, a paramedic working for the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, said: "At 8am we received a phone call from Khuza'a. They told us about the injured woman. I went immediately. I was 60 or 70 metres away from the injured woman when the Israeli forces started to shoot at me." As he drove into another street, he came under fire again. Twelve hours later, when Rawhiya was finally reached, she was dead.
Iman said she ended up in an area of rubble where a large group of people had sought cover in a deep hole among the debris of demolished houses. It is then, she says, that bulldozers began to push the rubble from each side. "They wanted to bury us alive," she said.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A night in Rafah

Spending the night in Rafah is a difficult experience. Tuesday night didn’t appear calm at all, the F16 fighter jets were all around and everyone in my family expected something to happen. Shortly before midnight missiles began raining down on Rafah in one of the heaviest Israeli air strikes since the current atrocities began. My father was anxious and when the first missile struck, I wanted to look from the window to see where had been hit, though I expected it to be the border area. My father didn’t even let me look from the window. He thinks that when the spy 'plane observes the light they will target the house. I felt agitated but remembered how many houses had been targeted in the same way so I went back to write my diary. The explosions were so loud and the floor shook with every strike, they felt so close. Later I struggled to sleep despite the ever-present F16's attacking so powerfully. From time to time one or another of my sisters would appear, unable to sleep. Continuous sorties pounded the city for over twelve hours. Hundreds of homes were destroyed or severely damaged, especially in the neighbourhoods along the border with Egypt .

In the morning I phoned Hassan, a paramedic at the Abu Yusef Al-Najar Hospital in Rafah and asked about the situation there. He asked me and my colleagues from the International Solidarity Movement to visit the hospital, a small local facility. There, he explained that people were trying to find safe places to go and were leaving his neighbourhood, the Al Brazil refugee camp on the border. He updated us about recent cases in the hospital. A group of workers from the Rafah crossing had called them in the early hours of the morning saying that five of them were injured and needing help. An ambulance crew from the hospital answered the call. They searched for the victims but couldn't find them in the dark and had to return to the hospital. After daybreak, the Red Crescent informed them that they'd managed to evacuate the casualties and they were safe. They were suffering from burns caused by the phosphorous missiles now being used illegally by the Israeli military in Gaza . One man's face was completely burned.

We visited Dr. Juma Yunis, one of the hospital managers to discuss the general situation and also ask for his feedback on our ambulance accompaniment work. He felt we might be particularly useful if Israeli ground forces advanced further in the area and severed access between Rafah and Khan Younis. Under such circumstances, ambulances would have difficulties transferring serious cases to the larger European Gaza Hospital near Khan Younis. We went downstairs to be with the ambulance crew and saw a body being brought out of the hospital. They told us that this man had been a nurse. When the attack started, he and his family had left their home. As they were leaving the area, he realised he hadn’t taken his important documents. He went back to get them and was attacked by an Israeli drone. These unmanned light aircraft are constantly overhead, primarily spying, but some models carry a couple of small missiles.

We were still at the hospital when Hassan's brother came to see him. He had come directly from Al Brazil and described the situation there. He had just witnessed their neighbour's house being attacked by an F16. People still couldn’t believe that their homes had been attacked and destroyed. Later we heard there would be a brief respite for three hours so all of us - Hassan, his brother, my ISM colleagues and I, all went to the neighbourhood together. Residents saw this as the last possible opportunity to salvage some of their belongings despite F16's remaining in the skies over Rafah during this time. It's difficult to describe the situation there. There were scenes of people picking through the rubble, children carrying bundles, donkey carts piled with bedding and trucks loaded with furniture. People were trying to take whatever they could without even knowing where they would go or where they would store their things. A woman told me she and her family were given just five minutes to leave their home before it was attacked.

The devastation in the street resembled an earthquake site. People were running, trying to evacuate before the attacks resumed, helping each other to rescue belongings. When we reached Hassan's house, the only thing he took was his passport and some documents. He gave a handful of British coins to one of my colleagues from England . He had visited the UK in the past but told her he would not be needing them again. When we left Hassan's house, I felt an overwhelming urge to visit my old neighbourhood close by and see my relatives there. I took an instant decision to see the situation there and film it in order to express something of the reality we experience to people who don’t know about it. It was a gut reaction and I just ran. I met my old neighbour, Abu Jamil. His house was destroyed by Israeli military bulldozers a few years ago, along with mine. During this incursion many homes on our street were demolished, including the house I grew up in. We were homeless for three years until we managed to build our new house in the Hi Alijnina neighbourhood further from the border. ‘Fida, they bulldozed our homes in January 2004, now in January 2009 they are doing the same thing!’ he said.

Just as he was showing me the ruins of a newly destroyed house, we heard the F16s in the air again. There were a few tense moments when reason dictated that we should leave. Then I saw my uncles’ houses - two had been destroyed. One of my uncles was desperately trying to empty his house. I asked him why he returned back to the street as it was still dangerous. I wanted to help him but I was also thinking of my message to the outside world. This felt important too. So I told my uncle to send any of his things to our house until the situation improved and that our house was open for any of his family who wanted to stay. I was looking at the houses, unable to imagine why they had done all of that. The Israeli Ministry of Defence said they would attack all the tunnels, but I don’t know why they attack the houses. My uncles don’t have tunnels. I live here, where an entire population has been living under siege and the tunnels helped people to survive.

One of my cousins was running and screaming, asking everyone, ‘Have you seen my daughter?’ She didn’t find her for hours, the little girl was scared and hiding. We were moving down the street, with the wreckage on both sides. It was a street just a few hours previously but now it was a barren no-man's-land and dangerous to be in. I left with my colleagues and three other women, also cousins, their homes on the border. They looked distressed, miserable. It was difficult to talk about what had happened to the family and the situation they were in. It didn’t seem as though it would help to ask. They were only glad that they were still alive.

When we arrived home, as always I wanted to see the TV news - electricity allowing. The phone rang. Relatives living near the border were terrified after a mass leaflet drop in these neighbourhoods by the Israeli jets. The papers ordered them to leave their homes in the areas stretching from the borderline all the way back to Sea Street , the main street running through the heart of Rafah, parallel to the border. This area is hundreds of metres deep and the site of thousands of homes. Most of these areas are refugee camps, where residents are being made refugees yet again, some for the third or fourth time following the mass home demolitions of 2003 and 2004. This is a translation of what was written in the leaflet,

"Citizens of RafahDue to Hamas using your houses to smuggle and store ammunition, the Israeli Defence Force will attack your homes from Sea Street to the Egyptian border. To the people who live in these areas: Block O, Al Brazil camp, Al Shora area and Qishta area, all homes beyond Sea Street must be evacuated. You have from the time you receive this leaflet until 7.00am the following morning. For you and your children's safety follow what this leaflet says.The leadership of the Israeli Defence Force"

So we asked them to come to our house on the other side of the city centre, two of my uncles with their families and my cousin with her children. That meant there were thirty-two people staying in my home that night. The house was filled with excited chatter and lots of children. We slept on the floor. Another friend phoned and asked if we had space. We told her she was welcome even though our house was already full of people. They didn’t have anywhere else to go.

I asked my cousin Hiba, a 23 year-old mother of two small children who lives near the border, about her experiences. She said, 'My son Waseem, was scared most the time. We were sitting together at home when I heard the F16 and thought something would happen. Minutes later it started to attack. My son ran and sat on my lap, even our cat hid, everyone was scared. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing - my son screaming, the cat trembling. Since then it won’t eat and is always sitting close to me. We didn’t expect that the F16's would attack the houses. When they attacked our neighbour's house it felt as though our home was going to collapse on top of us.'

Where will these families go? They are afraid to seek sanctuary in local UNRWA schools following Tuesday's massacres in Jabaliya. They are being temporarily absorbed by the rest of Rafah's population - friends, neighbours, relatives. We have a friend in Yibna, directly on the border, who refuses to leave his home. We spoke to one woman in Al Brazil who has a family of twelve and simply doesn't know where to go and another woman in Block J who was literally in the street that night. Her father is in his nineties. Palestinians have a long-learned talent of making-do, but there is no escaping the deep sense of uncertainty.

Footnote - Below are translations from leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft in Rafah yesterday and today:

Saturday 10th January
"The Israeli Defence Force distributed leaflets in Rafah a few days ago, warning citizens of an imminent operation…During the upcoming period, the Israeli Defence Forces will escalate their direct operations…"

Sunday 11th January
"…Those who have not yet evacuated their houses, all houses beyond Sea Street must be evacuated immediately from the time you receive this leaflet until an unspecified time."

Brazilian cartoonist on Gaza

The artist has given away his copyright to allow anyone to print his political cartoons and publish them anywhere. He is encouraging the world to print them on anything and publish them anywhere that can draw attention to the dire and inhumane situation perpetrated by all those who play ostrich and pretend that nothing is happening and that the Israelis are only " defending themselves" against the people they occupy.


Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff creates artworks that call on the world to condemn Israeli holocaust of Gaza
Nepos Libertas's blog

Carlos Latuff's statement:
I'd like to beg all viewers to spread this image anywhere, as a way to expose Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. Use it on t-shirts, posters, banners. Reproduce it in zines, papers, magazines, and make it visible everywhere. Here is the high-resolution version for printing purposes: [ link ] Thank you in the name of every suffering Palestinian.

A translation of the leaflet dropped in Rafah

At midday today I saw from my window clouds of leaflets being dropped over Rafah. Local kids chased the leaflets being carried through my neighbourhood on the breeze and brought me one copy. Below is a translation of the leaflet dropped today:
Leaflet dropped on 11th January 2009
Citizens of Rafah
Due to Hamas using your houses to smuggle and store ammunition, the Israeli Defence Force will attack terrorists, tunnels and buildings which have smuggling tunnels beneath them in the area between Sea Street and the Egyptian border.

For all citizens in these neighbourhoods: Al Shaoot camp, Yibna camp, Block O, Al Brazil camp, Al Shara area, Qishta area, Hi Salam neighbourhood.

Those who have not yet evacuated their houses, all houses beyond Sea Street must be evacuated immediately from the time you receive this leaflet until an unspecified time. For your safety follow this announcement.
The leadership of the Israeli Defence Force
Residents reported mass leaflet drops in Rafah neighbourhoods by Israeli 'planes yesterday announcing an imminent escalation of their attacks. Below is a translation of the leaflet dropped yesterday:
Leaflet dropped on 10th January 2009
To the citizens of the Gaza Strip

The Israeli Defence Force distributed leaflets in Rafah a few days ago, warning citizens of an imminent operation and telling them to evacuate their houses immediately for their own safety.

Following the Israeli Defence Force directions and instructions has prevented hurting citizens who are not part of the fighting.

During the upcoming period, the Israeli Defence Forces will escalate their direct operations against the tunnels, the weapons and ammunition stores and the terrorists in all parts of the Gaza Strip.

For your safety and your family's safety, you are asked not to be near the terrorists and the stores of weapons and the places of fighting and other places used by them.

The Israeli Defence Force asks to continue in this way by following the instructions which are communicated to you by all means.

The leadership of the Israeli Defence Force

'We love the sun. So we sat outside to see the F16s bombing Rafah'

My dairy in Gaza

Monday 5 January

Every night, the Israeli air strikes continue to hit Rafah. The air is full of smoke. At home, we are trying to have a normal life, but it's not possible. We are scared to death. My dad is terrified, so my sisters and I are trying to be normal, to make him feel better. We talk about stories from the old days, to make him laugh. One of the funniest things we used to ask my father when we were children, when we watched cartoons on the TV, was: "Dad, can we get into the TV?" He'd say: "No, silly, you can't." Then we'd ask: "How did these other people get into the TV?"
We didn't sleep for more than an hour, so many explosions shook our house so strongly. Every 30 or 40 minutes the house is shaken. I feel like everyone is going to die, but I'm trying not to be scared.
Tuesday 6 January

I woke up at nine and knew there was still a war going on. No electricity, the phones down, bombing and shooting.
In my family, we love the sun. We decided to sit outside and watch the F16s bombing Rafah. We see a missile strike the orphans' school. I don't know why they attack the schools, the mosques, the universities. The Israelis have attacked three schools - the al-Salah school for orphans in Jabalia, the American school in Gaza and the al-Fadela school in Rafah - 11 mosques and the Islamic University. I don't think this is a war against Hamas leaders.
One of the stories that makes make me feel most sad is about five children and their mother who were living on the border, in the buffer zone. Their mum decided to take them to a safer place. But just before they left, they were hit by an Israeli missile and all of them were killed.
Worse was to come. When I got home, the electricity was on. A chance to see the news. I couldn't believe what I saw - a UN school in Jabalia hit by Israeli shells. The school was full of refugees. Men, women and children, families who wanted somewhere safe to stay, all killed. Forty-two dead, they say. More than 100 injured.

Wednesday 7 January
The Israelis have dropped leaflets telling people who live by the border to leave. If the Israeli soldiers observe anybody moving in the area, he or she will be killed.
This is what the leaflets say: "Citizens of Rafah: because Hamas is using your houses to smuggle and store ammunition, the Israeli Defence Force will attack your homes from Sea Street to the Egyptian border. To the people who live in these areas: Block O, Al Brazil camp, Al Shora area, Qishta area. You must evacuate your homes beyond Sea Street from the time you receive this leaflet/paper until 7am the following morning. For your and your children's safety, follow this leaflet. The leadership of the Israeli Defence Force."
My relatives, who live near the border, were terrified. We asked them to come to our house, two of my uncles with their families and my cousin with her children. That meant there were 32 people staying in my home. So many children. We slept on the floor. Another friend phoned and asked if we have space, we said, "Sure." They didn't have anywhere else to go.
My sisters and brother were laughing at the children and said in Arabic, "Jaish Atfal" - the children's army.
Among the kids were my two little cousins, Mohammed, six, and Hada, eight. Since the attacks began, Mohammed won't take his fingers out of his ears. He's terrified a bomb will hit him. When an explosion went off on the border, he and his sister sat in a corner holding each other, rocking.
I am grateful I have no children, so I don't have to worry that an Israeli tank or air strike could kill them.
My worst nightmare is that our house would be targeted and our whole family killed apart from one survivor. Better for us all to die. When the bombing stopped, I went with my friend Hassan, a paramedic whose house had been attacked. Then I saw my uncles' houses - two had been destroyed. One of my cousins was running and screaming, asking everyone, "Have you seen my daughter?" She didn't find her for hours; the girl was scared and hiding.
I went to the ambulance station - 12 ambulances have been targeted by the Israeli army and three paramedics died yesterday. I volunteered to accompany the ambulance crew when they go out, me and two international friends from Europe, from the International Solidarity Movement. Human shields. Maybe it will stop the Israeli army hitting the ambulances. We can try.
In Rafah, they tried to rescue some injured people near the border with Egypt - a rocket nearly hit the ambulance. They feel afraid. When I returned home, the city looked like a ghost town - most of the shops were closed. I saw a market open, a great chance to get more vegetables for a week. A few people run out, pick what they need, then run home. We are all running short of food now.

F16s in the sky. No one in Rafah can sleep. The attacks shake our house again. We can see the smoke from the window again. Big attacks on the border. A scary sound. My sisters decided to sleep early to try to get some sleep before things got worse.
I watched the TV with my friend - news of the UN Security Council meeting. I told myself: "They will take a decision after the attack on the UN school. This must end now." I was shocked when they delayed the decision. When will the UN decide? After the Israeli army has finished?

Friday 9 January
I woke at 7am, to a phone call from one of my friends in Nuserat. Last night, she and her family spent the night downstairs, sleeping on the floor, afraid to be in their bedrooms. Even though they live in the centre of the city and nowhere near the border. I asked her why - she said it's because the Israeli army warned her neighbours to evacuate the area. That means their house could also be attacked. She told me her daughters are scared all the time.
I tried to make her feel better. I told her I'd heard news that the UN Security Council had called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Then, down the phone, I could hear explosions happening around her. "They are still bombing buildings and shooting here," she said.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rafah January 7th

Below is a translation of the leaflet dropped yesterday:
"Citizens of Rafah

Due to Hamas using your houses to smuggle and store ammunition, the Israeli Defence Force will attack your homes from Sea Street to the Egyptian border. To the people who live in these areas: Block O, Al Brazil camp, Al Shora area and Qishta area, all homes beyond Sea Street must be evacuated. You have from the time you receive this leaflet until 7.00am the following morning. For you and your children's safety follow what this leaflet says.

The leadership of the Israeli Defence Force"

Shortly before midnight last night missiles began raining down on Rafah in one of the heaviest Israeli air strikes since the current atrocities began. Continuous sorties pounded the southern Gaza city for over 12 hours. Many homes were destroyed or severely damaged, especially in the neighbourhoods along the border with Egypt .

Residents reported mass leaflet drops in these neighbourhoods by Israeli 'planes this afternoon. The papers ordered them to leave their homes in the areas stretching from the borderline all the way back to Sea Street , the main street running through the heart of Rafah, parallel to the border. This area is hundreds of metres deep and the site of thousands of homes. Most of these areas are refugee camps, where residents are being made refugees yet again, some for the third or fourth time following the mass home demolitions of 2003 and 2004 by Israeli military D-9 bulldozers.

A three hour respite was announced in the local media and residents saw this as the last possible opportunity to salvage some of their belongings despite F-16 fighter jets remaining in the skies over Rafah during this time. There were scenes of people picking through the rubble, children carrying bundles, donkey carts piled with bedding and trucks loaded with furniture.

Where will these families go? They are afraid to seek sanctuary in local UNRWA schools following yesterday's massacres in Jabaliya. They are being temporarily absorbed by the rest of Rafah's population – friends, neighbours, relatives. We have a friend in Yibna, directly on the border, who refuses to leave his home. We spoke to one woman in Al Barazil who has a family of 12 and simply doesn't know where to go and another woman in Block J who is literally in the street tonight. Her father is in his nineties.

The family home where ISM volunteers are staying is on the other side of the city centre and has become a refuge for three other families tonight. The house is filled with excited chatter and lots of children. Palestinians have a long-learned talent of making-do, but there is no escaping the deep sense of uncertainty.

pity for the tiger is injustice to the sheep

pity for the tiger is injustice to the sheep

Pity for the lion is injustice to the lamp

The situation has been exploited very cleverly by the Israeli Ministry of War. Yes, the Ministry of War. The soldiers who call themselves soldiers defending Israeli security are continuing a bloody history of war crimes against Palestinians, from 1932 until 2009. During the last two days when since ground incursion started, things have been unbelievable, hard to watch or to talk about.

When the Israeli army evacuated people from the city of Jabalya city, the people moved to UN schools. They thought it would be safe, but it wasn't. An Israeli tank shells attacked them. 42 were killed, most of them children, and more than 95 were injured. That increased the total number of children and women victims, until this minute when I wrote this piece, to 665 killed. 215 of them were children, and 89 were women. And more than 2950 people were injured. The numbers will maybe help you see the truth.
The Abu Asha family is one of the families that decided to leave the northern Gaza Strip to be in what they imagined would be a safe place. They were moving to the town of Deir Al- Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip. But on their way on the road along Gaza’s seacoast, Israeli gunboats attacked them, and all of them were killed. Seven members of the same family were killed. They thought that they would be in a safer place. But there is no safe place in the Gaza Strip, and no safety with these killers.

Many Palestinian paramedics have been killed. The last week six paramedics were killed and many injured. Most the fire stations have been attacked. Do these people or these stations represent Hamas? What's happening in Gaza Strip is a war crime, and we need the honest people in the world to stop it.

These outrages, which have shocked the consciences of the world’s civilized nations, but they haven’t moved their governments. These governments hope to shape a new reality in Gaza and in Palestinian affairs.

The situation remains extremely tense. What is happening in Gaza Strip is the outcome of 14 years of failed consultation and negotiation. This is Israelis peace and the world’s democracy. I still don’t understand, if the world didn’t like Hamas as a Palestinian party, why did they accept their participation in Palestinian elections? When they won, the world didn’t like them. Why then did the UN send observers to monitor the elections? There are many questions in Gazans’ minds which lead them to believe that there is no democracy in this world, at least not from the USA not EU. Does the world call right-wing parties in the Middle East terrorist because they are Islamic Parties, and then accept Israelis right-wing and left-wing Israeli parties who are killing Palestinians now in Gaza?

A big deal has been made of the homemade rockets which hit the Sderot settlement which sits on Palestinian land stolen by these settlers in 1948 from Palestinians who then became refugees in nearby Gaza. And nobody paid attention to the children and women who were killed in Gaza when the world thought there was a truce. There was no truce because over 21 Palestinians were killed and over 70 injured by the Israelis army. Did you hear about them? I guess not. You just heard about the rockets that hit Sderot, especially the Israeli woman who was injured yesterday and the 42 year-old woman who was killed. No worries about Palestinians and Gazans.

The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in the Gaza Strip. Over 80 children, 40 women and 250 total civilians have been killed. Most of these people were killed at home, or coming home from school or work. Humanitarian aid is still a big problem, including the lack of medicine and food. The Israeli government said that they opened the border crossings to let Palestinians travel to Egypt for medical treatment and for humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip. It’s like the wolf killing the sheep and then selling its leather. Why did they shoot them if they want them to be in good health? Why didn’t they stop the airstrikes before they killed and injured all these civilians? They tell the world that the food trucks enter the Gaza Strip. Do you know how many trucks? Do you know that the Gaza Strip is cut into two parts now by the Israeli army? That means that if the humanitarian aid gets through into Rafah, it will never reach Gaza City, because they cut the main road into two parts. It reminds me of the Abu Holy checkpoint which used to divide the Gaza Strip in two. My friends and I used to wait to go to our university for hours and hours. And at the end of the day we went back home, without attending any classes. Our only class was on how to wait.

My mother is sitting in the door of our house counting the drones and the F16s. I think that if I asked her to count the airstrikes she would do it. People here still joke sometimes. One of my friends sent me a text message that said:

Look outside, the F-16 smiling for you,
The missiles are dancing in front of you,
The Zanana (drone) is singing for you,
Because the Israeli nation requested them all to wish you a Happy New Year

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

children under fire

children under fire
According to news reports, over 665 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed,and more than 2950 injured. Of those, more than 214 children and more than88 women were killed. This is the story of two of those children.

January 2, 2008Al Qarara, Khan Yunis - According to Mahmud Mosa Alstal, 27 years old, thechildren`s uncle, "I was sitting down in the building. The children wereplaying 40 metersaway from me, and they were 500 metersaway from theirhouse. I could hear the drone (Israeli unmanned drone). I thought it wouldattack one of the police stations or one of the government sites. I lookedat it. Suddenly the drone fired a rocket. I told myself it was close. Itcould be targeting a car nearby. But when I ran there to investigate, Iran first to the place where the children were playing. I was shocked whenI saw the three children on the ground. The head of Abed Alsatar, who wasnine years-old, flew far away from the place, and also Abed Rabo nineyears-old and his brother Mohammed 12 years-old were hit. I called otherpeople to come and help me to take them to the hospital. When they saw thescene, they also were shocked and they left. I stopped a car passing by andI took them to the hospital, it was difficult for the ambulance to getthere because the attack just happened and the area was hard to reach. Youknow that four of the children's uncles were killed, not during thisattack, but in the last few years, also by the Israeli army. What can Isay. They went to see their uncles in heaven. They are together now."

30 year-old Um Mohammed, the mother of Abed Rabo and Mohammed told us,"They were playing. They didn’t do any thing wrong. Mohammed was in fifthgrade. The first exam started Saturday, when the first and biggest attackhappened throughout the Gaza Strip. The didn’t even take the exam. Todaythey took their lunch and went to the mosque to pray and then to play. Theywent to play in an empty piece of land nearby. Suddenly a drone missile hitthem."

"Mohammed was helpful. He helped me a lot. He was the oldest of my sons.Yesterday, I was telling them the story of our prophet Ibrahim, who Godasked to sacrifice his son Ishmael. I found them telling me the next partof the story and telling me the end. They knew it."

"They loved playing football. They played together most of the time in theplayground when they were playing football."

"I used to call Abed Rabo, Abood. But Mohammed, we called him Mohammed.They just had their lunch. Mohammed asked if he could do anything for me before he went out. Iasked him to put the teapot on the fire before he left because we have nogas. He put it on the fire and put in the tea and the sugar. The tea evendidn’t boil before I got the news that Mohammed was killed, and he is amartyr now."

"The last joke that Mohammed told before he was killed, he told me and hisdad about one of our neighbors. He's a short man. He made a tent, shortlike him. He just made it for himself and not for other people. If a tallperson wanted to visit, he would have to stoop. But they are children andshort still. They can get inside."

"God's mercy be upon you Mohammed. I will miss you a lot. Abed too used tohelp me a lot. He used to help me when I was cooking, starting the firewith me. Today he woke up this morning, and he told me that breakfast wasready. And I found he made the tea too. He used to wake up early, everyday, starting the fire to make breakfast."

"We want the other nations to stand side by side with us. They can't stopthe Israelis? They can stop them, but they don’t because its not their sake to stop them."
We just look for Allah and wait for Allah to help us. Let them take theirtime and watch us and to see the children's blood. I lost two of mychildren, but 11 children and their parents were killed from Alrayan familyyesterday. I'm not better than them. I just lost two children."

"My children were upset and felt pain when they saw what happened to theother children during the Israeli attack on Saturday. I used to change thechannel and wouldn’t let them see the other children's dead bodies so as tonot scare them. I didn’t like them to see these scenes because it willeffect them, Mohammed didn’t sleep all night. When they had exams, theywouldn’t try to wake me up in the morning. They would get dressed and go toschool early, because they were thinking that if they went early they wouldcome back early to play."

"This morning I told my little daughter to wash her face. She said to me,did I sleep enough to need to wash my face? All night they don’t sleepbecause of the bombing and the airstrikes. What have we done for theIsraelis to attack us like that! Tell me what we have done?"

"We are nine in the family, I have five daughters and three sons, I losttwo and now we are seven including me and their Dad."

"It's true that I lost two of my sons but when I see other people's miseryI feel that my misery is small."

"I'm like any person living here. I could die any night, killed by anIsraeli attack. They just attack the area. I could be killed, who knows. Iwill die today or tomorrow or now. All the Palestinians here arethreatened. I say every day, tomorrow I could die."

"They want us to leave our homes, but it is in their dreams. They arewrong. We will not leave our homes. We will always stay here. It will notbe like the 1948 war. We will stay in our homes, and we prefer to die inour homes. It's an honor to die in our country rather than to escape. Theywill not evacuate our land and take it. They occupied our land and theycame to us. Why did they come to us? We didn’t go to their homes but theycame to ours. I don’t know what they want from the Palestinian people, orwhy they occupied us? We are strong in our faith, and God will always helpus."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My daily life in Gaza Strip, Rafah.

Friday 2 January
I am in the hospital again. An ambulance crew has been called out to help an injured man somewhere near the ruins of the old Gaza airport. He's a civilian, one of the bedouin who tend their sheep in that area. Four shepherds saw an explosion and went to investigate – when they arrived at the scene there was a second bomb and they were injured. An ambulance managed to rescue three of the men. But one of their friends is still there, bleeding. The ambulance crew are afraid to go back for him. The wounded man is just 50 metres away from the green line so they are afraid the Israeli soldiers will target them.Outside there are still planes in the air. I have just heard a big explosion on the border area.
Thursday 1 January
In the morning I get up early and call a friend who lives in Alshabora camp. He confirms the attack had hit there and I go to meet him. It looks like an earthquake. Many houses have been damaged, and many people have been wounded. The people who had escaped injury were trying to clean the place up – they have nowhere else to go. But the biggest shock is when I ask about the target. It was the children's playground. "We heard a strong explosion happen, but with all the smoke and the dust we couldn't see well, and the electricity was off," I am told by a small child. "We saw everything fall down – the window broke on us. We went downstairs, and people were saying that the playground's been targeted. This park is not a member of Hamas, it's a park for playing. It's for civilians – so why did they attack it?," asks one 12-year-old girl who lives nearby. The target was a civilian area – but there was no warning, not one phone call from the Israeli army to tell civilians to beware. I visit the main hospital in Rafah. There are so many injured people, most of them children. In one ward, I meet four children aged five or six. They are in deep shock. They can't speak, they just look at you. Only one child could say his name: "Abdel Rahman". That's all he can say. Otherwise, he just stares. He's five. His ear was wounded by shrapnel, his head is covered by bandages. There is a 16-year-old girl also suffering from shrapnel injuries. Three of her brothers were killed; all her family were injured. She looks like a zombie and says nothing at all. Her mother is dying in the intensive care unit. The hospital manger, Abu Youssef Alnajar, gives the statistics for 1 January: two dead – a young man aged 22 and a woman aged 33; 59 injured – 16 children, 18 women and the rest old people. Most of them had been sleeping when the bombs dropped. I go back home and the first thing I do is take a shower. I feel really upset after what I have seen. As always I am trying to cope with the situation but sometimes it is too much to deal with. A short message to the pilots in the Israeli F-16s: does it make you feel happy to kill Palestinian children and women? Do you feel it's your duty? Killing every child and woman, man and teenager in Gaza? I don't know what exactly you feel, what exactly you think, but please think of your mother and sister, your son and daughter.

Wednesday 31 December
11.40pm: a powerful air strike somewhere nearby. I was sleeping but the blast wakes me up. I see my mum looking from the window. She points at one of the refugee camps. "The attack was there," she said.
I went back to sleep – not because I don't care, but because I can't deal with it. If the attack was really aimed at one of the camps that means hundreds are going to be injured or even killed, the houses destroyed. I really can't imagine it.
Monday 29 December
The Israeli army is destroying the tunnels that go from Rafah into Egypt. For the past year and a half the Israeli government has intensified the economic blockade of Gaza by closing all the border crossings that allow aid and essential supplies to reach Palestinians in Gaza. This forced Palestinians to dig tunnels to Egypt to survive. From our house we can hear the explosions and the house is shaking.At night we can't go out. No one goes out. If you go out you will risk your life. You don't know where the bombs will fall. My mother is so sad. She watches me writing my reports and says: "Fida, will it make any difference?"Before the attack started we got some food aid from the EU. It's not much, but it's enough, we're not starving. But some of our friends have nothing. My mum warns me: "Fida, don't leave the house, it's too dangerous outside." Then she goes out to share our food with the neighbours who have nothing.
Sunday 28 December
I wake up at 7am after an Israeli F-16 attack. Our house is shaking. We all try to imagine what has happened, but we want to at least know where the attack was. It is so scary. We try to open the main door to our flat, but it's stuck shut after the attack. I have to climb out of the window to leave the house. I am shocked when I find out our neighbour's pharmacy was the target. It is just 60 metres from our house. They targeted a pharmacy. I still can't believe it.Om Mohammed says: "They [Israeli forces] attack everywhere. They have gone crazy. The Gaza Strip is just going to die ... it's going to die. We were sleeping. Suddenly we heard a bomb. We woke up and we didn't know where to go. We couldn't see through the dust. We called to each other. We thought our house had been hit, not the street. What can I say? You saw it with your own eyes. What is our guilt? Are we terrorists? I don't carry a gun, neither does my girl."There's no medicine. No drinks, no water, no gas. We are suffering from hunger. They attack us. What does Israel want? Can it be worse than this? I don't think so. Would they accept this for themselves?"Look at the children. What are they guilty of? They were sleeping at 7am. All the night they didn't sleep. This child was traumatised during the attack. Do they have rockets to attack with?"
Saturday 27 December
I go to visit friends in the Block J neighbourhood in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip. While I am in a friend's house, my phone rings. It's a friend from Gaza City, calling for a chat. Suddenly I hear the sound of an explosion at his end. At the same time I hear an explosion in Rafah too. Just outside, somewhere near. My friend says: "Fida, they are attacking nearby." I say: "They are attacking here too."I run into the street and everybody is running, children and grown-ups, all looking to see if their relatives and friends are alive. It is the time for children to go to school for the second shift, after the first shift finishes at 11.30am.Naama is aged 13. This is what she tells me: "I was sitting in the classroom with my friends when the attack happened. We were scared and we ran out of our school. Our headmaster asked us to go home. We saw fire everywhere."People are looking at the remains of a police station. There are still bodies under the wreckage. It is scary because the attack isn't over, and from where we are we can see an Israeli airplane attacking another police station.At the hospital, I speak to a wounded police officer, aged 39. "We were at the police station," he said. "The Israeli planes came and suddenly the building collapsed on us. I saw four dead bodies near me. They were in pieces. Outside there were more bodies. Everyone was shouting. I lost consciousness and then found myself in hospital."Later I am at home with my family. We've just received a phone call on our land line. It's the Israeli defence ministry, and they say that any house that has guns or weapons will be targeted next, without warning and without any announcement. Just to let you know, we don't have any weapons in our house. If we die please defend my family.