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."