Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Posts tagged “Gaza

In Gaza we live

by Julie Webb-Pullman

Yesterday I went shopping. Like billions of people throughout the world, I went to the market to buy fruit and vegetables. Like a fraction of a percent of them, I did so beneath falling bombs.

Because I was shopping in Gaza.

Gaza, where we eat our bread with blood. Gaza, where the babies are bathed with tears. Gaza, where we LIVE.

We live despite media misinformation that paints Israel as the victim – a media that harms us every bit as much as every Israeli missile.

We live in the face of the lie of Israeli self-defense, of Israeli “response to rocket fire” – which ignores the root cause planted, watered and fertilized by Israeli snipers last Friday, when they shot dead Palestinian teenager Raed Khalil Abu Tair, on crutches and hundreds of meters away from the fence.

THAT was the seed from which this situation grew. And it is a seed that feeds our defiance, resistance, and our very will to live in Gaza.

I refuse to be cowed by Israeli bombs. I refuse to shiver and shake from fear in an inside room. I defy Israeli brutality, I refuse to let it define my life.

Instead, I LIVE.

I went shopping to Saha market, and between the blasts I bought a pair of sandals, and a sunhat each for my friend’s daughters. Yes, I jumped with each bomb – then continued with what I was doing – getting on with LIFE.

I bought fruit and vegetables – eggplant, capsicum, potatoes, tomatoes, onions – ordinary, and life-giving. Oranges and kiwifruit – vitamin-packed jewels to add a sparkle no drone can dim.

I went next to the Curiosity Shop to see if he had a traditional Ramadan lamp – he didn’t.

I jumped in a car and went to Jundy; a missile struck behind us, the people in the car craned to see, people in the street all hurried towards it. I got out of the car and went into a dress shop, looking for something light to wear inside for summer.

More bombs fell.

I went to the supermarket, bought dates, water, tomato paste. I got home, put on a load of laundry because there was electricity, and unpacked the shopping.

I began preparing the vegetables for dinner.

There was a massive explosion; I went to the balcony, and saw palls of smoke rising from behind the supermarket – and realized I had forgotten to get coffee.

I will have to go and get some tomorrow.


Israelis do NOT have any right to self defence from an occupied people

Gaza

It may seem such a basic tenet of international law that it does not need repeating, but clearly the Israelis are slow learners.

So here we go again with yet another lesson in fundamental international law:

First, Gaza is OCCUPIED. The very fact that the Israeli occupation authorities control the land and sea borders and the airspace, and are in a position to determine who can enter the occupied territory, fatally undermines their position that there is no occupation.

Further, both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court have upheld Gaza’s status as an occupied territory.

Second, a state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies, and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is ‘foreign’ and poses a national security threat. To do so, the Israeli occupation authorities are effectively asserting rights of colonial domination that simply do not exist under international law.

However, military or belligerent occupation IS a status recognised by international law – and has accompanying obligations.

An occupying power is responsible for the welfare of the population under its control. The Fourth Geneva Convention imposes obligations on an occupying power in relation to the inhabitants of the occupied territory, who are entitled to special protection and humane treatment. Among other things, the rules prohibit the occupying power from “wilfully killing” or “ill-treating” protected persons.

War Crimes are defined as:

a) Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949…
b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law….

The actions of the Israeli occupation authorities in conducting military offensive actions against the protected persons of the occupied territory of Gaza therefore are not, and cannot possibly be construed as, self-defence.

But they certainly meet the criteria for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, thus constitute WAR CRIMES.

So please, Israeli apologists – enough of the ‘self-defence’ excuses – they just do not hold any legal water.


Gaza calls for urgent medical equipment

Gaza has put out an urgent call for medical equipment to cope with the numbers of injured in yesterday’s massacre by Israeli forces.

The sheer numbers will put a strain on services for weeks and months to come.

If you can help, please contact the Director of the Gaza Ministry of Health International Cooperation Directorate to get instructions on how to donate:

Dr. Ashraf Abu Mhadi
Director General
International Cooperation Department
Ministry of Health
Email: icd@moh.gov.ps
Mobile: 00 970599 854 845
Office: 00 972 8 2826325

 

EGH


UN Human Rights spokesperson condemns “appalling, deadly violence in Gaza”

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville

 Location:      Geneva

 Subject:        (1) Gaza

We condemn the appalling, deadly violence in Gaza yesterday during which 58 Palestinians were killed and almost 1,360 demonstrators were injured with live ammunition by Israeli security forces. Of those injured, 155 are in critical condition. Six children and a health worker were among those who lost their lives, and 10 journalists suffered injuries from gunshot wounds. The already crumbling health care system in Gaza has been placed under incredible strain and those suffering life-threatening injuries face a nightmarish scenario in the absence of adequate hospital beds and medical services. We are still witnessing cases in which injured demonstrators are effectively prevented by Israel from exiting Gaza for treatment.

 The rules on the use of force under international law have been repeated many times but appear to have been ignored again and again. It seems anyone is liable to be shot dead or injured: women, children, press personnel, first responders, bystanders, and at almost any point up to 700m from the fence.

 A number of the demonstrators approached the fence, threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces personnel, and flew kites laden with petrol soaked material. Some tried to damage the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. Others burnt tires. Israeli forces responded with tear gas, plastic bullets and various types of live ammunition, some causing horrific wounds and lifelong disability. We stress, again, that lethal force may only be used as a measure of last – not first – resort, and only when there is an immediate threat to life or serious injury. An attempt to approach or crossing or damaging the fence do not amount to a threat to life or serious injury and are not sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition. This is also the case with regards to stones and molotov cocktails being thrown from a distance at well-protected security forces located behind defensive positions.

 Again, we call for independent, transparent investigations in all cases of death and injury since 30 March. Since 30 March, 112 Palestinians, including 14 children, have lost their lives at the fence and thousands have been injured.

 We are extremely worried about what may happen today – an emotional day on all sides – and in the weeks ahead. We urge maximum restraint. Enough is enough.

 (Arabic version available on http://www.ohchr.org/AR/Pages/Home.aspx)


UNRWA dismayed by loss of life and injuries in Gaza

Statement by UNRWA Spokesperson, Chris Gunness

Jerusalem 14 May 2018

UNRWA is dismayed by the deaths and injuries in Gaza today of dozens of civilians, including children. The Agency unreservedly condemns the excessive use of force employed against demonstrators, who have the right to peaceful assembly and expression.

 The population in the Gaza Strip has been exposed to the consequences of repeated armed conflicts and a stifling blockade over the past decade. Today’s violence and loss of life will add yet another layer of trauma onto an already untenable situation.

 UNRWA is specifically alarmed by the impact the latest developments have had on Palestine refugees, who constitute over 70 percent of Gaza’s population. Since 30 March, when what has become known as the “Great March of Return” started, at least 4 UNRWA students have been killed and some 125 injured.

 Behind the numbers, there are shattered lives, destinies and limbs. In many cases the injuries sustained are very severe and likely to result in life-long disabilities. UNRWA supports calls for investigations into these grave incidents in accordance with international standards to ensure accountability for violations of international law.

 The risk is high to see similar violence occur again in the coming days. Collective international mobilization is  therefore urgently required to prevent further loss of life and injury. Every additional casualty is a defeat for humanity.


B’Tselem: Firing live ammunition at Gaza demonstrators shows appalling indifference to human life

PRESS RELEASE

B’Tselem

The demonstrations held in Gaza today came as no surprise. Israel had plenty of time to come up with alternate approaches for dealing with the protests, apart from firing live ammunition.

The fact that live gunfire is once again the sole measure that the Israeli military is using in the field evinces appalling indifference towards human life on the part of senior Israeli government and military officials.

B’Tselem calls for an immediate halt to the killing of Palestinian demonstrators.

If the relevant officials do not issue an order to stop the lethal fire, the soldiers in the field must refuse to comply with these manifestly unlawful open-fire orders.


Gaza border protests to continue as Public employees go on strike

 

The Public Employees’ Union in Gaza has announced a comprehensive strike on Tuesday and closes all ministries, institutions and government departments except for hospitals and emergency medical services.


Gaza Journalist moved to ICU

motasem

Motasem Dalloul, Palestinian journalist and Middle East Monitor’s Gaza correspondent, is now in a critical condition, and has been moved to the intensive care unit in Shifa hospital.

Dalloul was shot in the abdomen and back by Israeli snipers using explosive bullets while he covered the #GreatReturnMarch protests at the border on Friday, 11 May.


Gaza MOI confronts fake news

Press Statement

There is no truth to what is being propagated through some media about the Interior Ministry’s demand for citizens to evacuate the Great March of Return camps.

Iyad al-Bazem

Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior and National Security

Monday 14 May, 2018


UN MEDIA ADVISORY ON GAZA

GENEVA (May 14, 2018) — At the conclusion of its 95th Session, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued the following Statement:

 PREVENTION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, INCLUDING EARLY WARNING AND URGENT ACTION PROCEDURES

 Statement

 Israel

 The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, meeting in Geneva at its ninety-fifth session, from 23 April to 11 May 2018,

 Acting under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedures;

 Alarmed by the disproportionate use of force displayed by the Israeli Security Forces (ISF) against Palestinian demonstrators who have been taking part, since 30 March, in the so called ‘the Great March of Return’ in Gaza, which has resulted in the death of at least 40 people, among them five children and in thousands of persons being injured;

 Gravely concerned that many of the persons who died or were injured were reportedly posing no imminent threat at the time they were shot;

 Alarmed also by the many reports according to which Israeli authorities have denied and continue to deny access to urgent medical treatment to injured Palestinians;

 Highly concerned that these incidents are taking place in a context marked by the 50 year- occupation of the Palestinian territory, the blockade imposed since 2007 on the Gaza strip and a rise of racist hate speech and incitement to racist violence against Palestinians by Israeli governmental officials and members of the ISF;

 Deeply worried about persisting discriminatory practices against Palestinians by Israel as well as the absence of adequate accountability mechanisms, which would permit Palestinians to seek justice for the human rights violations to which they are subjected and the failure to hold members of the ISF accountable;

 Concerned that while the State party publicly announced the conduct of an investigation into these events, an independent and impartial investigation has not yet taken place;

 Recalling the provisions enshrined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Israel has been a party since 1979 and in particular the obligations contained in articles 2 1), 4 and 5 b) and d) as well as the concluding observations on Israel issued by the Committee in 2012 (CERD/C/ISR/CO/14-16), especially paragraphs 10, 23, 24 and 26;

 The Committee urges the State party to:

  1.  Put an immediate end to the disproportionate use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza strip, refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties and ensure prompt and unimpeded access to medical treatment to injured Palestinian;
  1. Initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the use of force against Palestinian demonstrators in compliance with international standards and hold those responsible accountable;
  1. Ensurethat all Palestinians under its effective control enjoy full rights under the Convention without discrimination especially, their right to life and security of person, freedom of opinion and expression, as well as their right to medical care;
  1. Takeall the necessary measures to fully implement the recommendations made by the Committee in 2012 and in particular:
  1. a) To fully respect the norms of humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to lift the blockade of the Gaza strip;
  1. b) To counter the tide of racism and xenophobia in public discourse, in particular by strongly condemning all racist and xenophobic statements by public officials and political and religious leaders, and by implementing appropriate measures to combat the proliferation of racist acts and manifestations of racist hate speech that particularly target Palestinians in the territories under the State party’s effective control.

2637th meeting

8 May 2018


RED CROSS SAYS GAZA HOSPITALS ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE

Red Cross: Gaza hospitals on the brink of collapse, Shifa Hospital alone is dealing with 400 injured, and this can not continue

 


UPDATE – GAZA MARTYR LIST

14 May, 2018       17:45

43 MARTYRS                                        2,238 INJURED

UPDATE OF NAMES OF THOSE MURDERED BY ISRAELI SOLDIERS IN GAZA WHILE PARTICIPATING IN THE GREAT MARCH OF RETURN

1. Azzeddin Musa Mohammed Al-Sammak, 14 years old.
2. Fadel Fazat Izzat Sheikh Khalil, 15 years old.
3. Ahmad Adel Mousa Al-Sha’er, 16 years old.
4. Said Mohammed Abu al-Khair, 16 years.
5. Ibrahim Ahmed Zarqa, 18 years old.
6. Emad Ali Sadeq Al-Sheikh, 19 years old.
7. Ziad Mohammed Hassan Omar, 19 years old.
8. Mu’tasim Fawzi Abu Luli, 20 years old.
9. Anas Hamdan Salem Qudeih, 21 years old.
10. Mohammed Abdel-Salam Haraz, 21 years.
11. Yehia Ismail Ragab Al-Dakour, 22 years old.
12. Mustafa Mohamed Samir Mahmoud El Masry, 22 years.
13. Azzedine Nahed Al-Aweiti, 23 years old.
14. Mahmoud Mustafa Ahmed Assaf, 23 years.
15. Ahmed Fayez Harb Shehada, 23 years.
16. Ahmad Awadallah, 24 years old.
17. Khalil Ismail Khalil Mansour, 25 years.
18. Mohammed Ashraf Abu Stah, 26 years
19. Bilal Ahmed Abu Daqqa, 26 years old
20. Ahmed Majid Qassem Attallah, 27 years old
21. Mahmoud Rabah Abu Muammar, 28 years old.
22. Mus’ab Yousef Abu Lailiya, 28 years old.
23. Ahmad Fawzi al-Tatar, 28 years old.
24. Mohammed Abdulrahman Miqdad, 28 years old.
25. Salem Salem Farhan, 30 years old.
26. Jihad Al-Farra, 30 years.
27. Fadi Hassan Abu Salmi, 30 years old.
28- Bassam Kamel al-Nuno, 31, is a general.
29. Mohammed Riyad Abdel Rahman Al-Amoudi, 31 years.
30. Jihad Mohammed Osman Musa, 31 years old.
31. Shaher Mahmoud Mohammed Al-Madhoun, 32 years old.
32. Musa Jaber Abdel Salam Abu Hassanein, 35 years old.
33- Mohammed Mahmoud Abdel-Moati Abdel-Al ,39 years.
34. Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim Hamdan, 27 years old.
35. Ismail Khalil Ramadan Al Dahouk, 30 years.
36. Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Rantisi, 27 years.
37. Anwar Ahmed Al-Khatib, 28 years old.
38. Mahmoud Yahya Abdel Wahab Hussein, 24 years.
39. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Adini, 30 years.
40. Sa’adi Saeed Fahmi Abu Salah, 16 years old.
41. Ahmed Zuhair Hamed Al Shawa ,24 years.
42. Mohammed Hani Hani Al-Najjar’, 33 years.
43. Fadel Mohamed Atta Habashi, 34 years old.


Israeli military kill Gaza Ministry of Interior and National Security officers

14 May, 2018

The Ministry of Interior and National Security said among today’s slain Palestinians are four of its officers, identified as:

  1. Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein, 36 – medic, Civil Defense Department.
  2. Mo’taz Bassam an-Nuno, 30 – Internal Security Department.
  3. Mos’ab Yousef Abu Leila, 30 – Military Intelligence Department.
  4. Jihad Mohammad Mousa, 30 – Internal Security Department.

It said the slain officers were performing their duties and national services when the soldiers shot them dead.

At least one – Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein – was helping the injured when he was shot, in a clear breach of the 4th Geneva Conventions.


GAZA UNDER ATTACK

ISRAELI WARPLANES ATTACKING GAZA NOW


March of Return Updates

38 MARTYRS

31 martyrs have been identified so far:

Rafah Governorate:
1. Mu’tasim Abu Luli
2. Mohamed Abdel-Aal
3. Mohamed Altter
4. Ahmed El Shaer
5. Mohamed Mekdad

Khan Younis Governorate:
1. Anas Qadih
2. Nasser Abu Daqqa
3. Obeida Farhan
4. Izz al-Din al-Aweiti
5. Fadi Abu Salmi (Abu Salah)
6. Jihad Al-Farra
7. Abdel Salam Abdel Wahab
8. Mahmoud Moamer
9. Ahmed Hamdan

Middle Governorate:
1. Izz al-Din al-Sammak
2. Ahmed Awadallah
3. Wael Sheikh Khalil

Gaza Governorate:
1. Jihad Musa
2. Mohamed Harez
3. Shaher Al Madhoun
4. Said Abu al-Khair
5. Mohammed Al Amoudi
6. Moataz al-Nono
7. Mousa Abu Hassanein
8. Ibrahim Al-Zarqa
9. Yahya Al – Dakour
10. Ismail Dahouk
11. Mohammed alkhatib

North Governorate:
1. Musab Abu Laila
2. Mohammed Abu Sitta
3. Mohammed Hamad


MARCH OF RETURN UPDATES

20 DEATHS              500+ INJURIES

Martyrs

      1. Anas Hamdan Qdeih, 21 years, east of Khan Younis.

      2. Mus’ab Yousef Ibrahim Abu Laila, 28 years, east of Jabalia.

      3. Mohammed Ashraf AbuSettah, 26

      4. Obeida Salem Farhan, 30

      5. Ahmed Abu Daggah, 26

      6. Jihad Mofeed AlFarra, 30

      7. Izz al-Din Musa al-Sammak, 9 years, of Al-Bureij

      8. Izz al-Din Nahid al-Aweiti, 22 years, of Maan.

      9. Fadi Hassan Abu Salmi (Abu Salah) 30, Algerian, killed at Abasan al-Kabeer. Shot in the chest.

      10. Ahmed Awadallah, 24, East of Gaza

      11. Mohammed Fawzi Abu Luli, 20

      12. Hammad Mohammed Mahmoud AbdelAal

      13. Ahmed Adel Musa AlShaer, 16 years

      14. Abdelrahman Abdelrahman Ali Meqdad

      15. Unknown martyr at Al Najjar Hospital

      16. Shaher Al Madhoun

 


Great Return March spokesman: Nikki Haley’s allegations of children used as human shields are naked lies

Press statement regarding Nikki Haley’s accusations of Hamas using children as human shields during Great March of Returm

children

The U.S envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley has repeatedly and unashamedly alleged that Hamas is using children as human shields or powder for Cannon during the great march of Return totally supported by the Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine.

In my capacity as international spokesperson of the great March of Return I can categorically and confidently reject such allegations as brazen and naked lies

Ms. Haley is only regurgitating the very words and notorious propaganda of the military spokesman of the Israeli occupation army dubbed as the Israel Massacres Army by the Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy.

Haley keeps using such cheap propaganda to encourage the Israeli occupation for commit more crimes against the Palestinian people, including children.

Haley is incessantly and impertinently blaming the Palestinian victim and exonerating the Israeli criminal army which kills in cold blood, using sniper fire, live ammunition, tank shells and airstrikes.

She has always been justifying the crimes of the Israeli Occupation Forces who are ordered to shoot to kill and shoot to maim.

Let me remind Ms. Haley that the noble goal of this Great March of Return is to peacefully and nonviolently implement our right of return to the homes and property from which we were uprooted and driven out by the Zionist groups in 1948. This right of repatriation and compensation is provided for by the UN resolution 194 Dec 11, 1948. And reinforced by the UN Resolution 3236- Nov 22, 1974 entitled the inalienable national rights including

Our right to self-determination without external interference

Our right of return

Our right to independence and sovereignty

Our right to use all methods to end the Israeli occupation of our lands.

We have been waiting for justice for the last seventy years. It is high time that our right of Return and compensation was implemented. We cannot wait any longer.

The Palestinian people ask the U.S. envoy Nikki Haley to stop using her doubled standard policy and be honest at least once in her lifetime.

We will continue our peaceful and nonviolent march of Return till we achieve our goals and realize our rights.

We can’t be overcome

We will win

We will return.

Dr. Asad abu Sharkh

International Spokesperson of the Great March of Return

28/4/2018

Saturday

 


The face of Zionist terrorism in Gaza

This child died today, after being shot in the face with a tear gas canister by the Israeli military at yesterday’s March of Return inside the Gaza border.

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Second Palestinian journalist dies from injuries sustained covering Gaza protests

PRESS RELEASE
Committee to Protect Journalists – MENA

Washington D.C., April 25, 2018–Ahmed Abu Hussein, a Palestinian photographer for the Gaza-based Voice of the People Radio, died today from bullet wounds to his abdomen sustained on April 13 while he was covering protests in the northern Gazan city of Jabalia, according to news reports citing Gazan Health Ministry officials. Hussein is the second journalist to die from injuries sustained while covering protests in Gaza that began on March 30, according to CPJ research.

“Protective gear that clearly indicates individuals are members of the press should afford them extra protection–not make them targets,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour. “The death of Ahmed Abu Hussein underscores the need for Israeli authorities to urgently scrutinize its policies toward journalists covering protests and take immediate, effective action.”

Yaser Murtaja, a photojournalist and cameraperson for the Gaza-based media production company Ain Media, was injured when a live round hit him while he was covering protests in the area east of Khan Younis on April 6 and died the next day from injuries, CPJ documented. Both Hussein and Murtaja were wearing protective gear marked with PRESS at the time they were shot. CPJ in a letter April 19 called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to review the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) policy on mass protests and the press and to ensure that the shooting of journalists in Gaza is quickly and thoroughly investigated.


Pregnant women, newborns contaminated with heavy metals linked to Israeli attacks

Shujeiyah400-x-300

Newborn babies and their mothers exposed to Israeli attacks in 2014 have a high level of heavy metal contamination in their hair, reports a study published in the latest British Medical Journal (BMJ Open). The research was carried out in Gaza on 502 women who were pregnant at the time of the 2014 Israeli offensive.

Italian, Finnish and Gazan researchers analyzed the quantities of 23 kinds of metal in the hair of the women and the children they subsequently gave birth to, and compared them with the metal content in women’s hair outside of war zones. They also studied in utero transmission of heavy metals, as well as the hypothesis of contamination unrelated to war.

“Heavy metals used during wars are toxic, teratogenic and carcinogenic, and this study has shown they pose a health risk to pregnant women and their children, now and in the long-term” said lead researcher, Paola Manduca.

Teratogens disrupt the development of the embryo and can cause birth defects, while carcinogens can cause cancer.

“They are known as endocrine disruptors. They remain in the environment, remain in bodies and accumulate due to chronic exposure if their sources are not eliminated from the environment,” said Manduca.

Such sources include weapon remnants themselves, substances released during the explosion of missiles and shells, and contaminated ruins.

Using Plasma-Mass-coupled spectrometry (ICP-MS), the researchers made comparisons with groups exposed to domestic and agricultural chemicals.

Although women’s heavy metal load was higher than that of the newborns, it was not enough of a difference to protect the babies from harm: the study found an increase in birth defects and preterm births from 2011 data.

The rate of birth defects reported in the Gaza study was 4.5%, compared for example to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) figure of 3% for the United States – the Gaza rate is 50% higher.

Equally worrying, the study documented that the frequency of exposure to military attacks was about 70% in the random sample of 502 mothers, suggesting overall contamination of the entire population.

“Surveillance, bio-monitoring and further research on this subject is essential,” said Paola Manduca. “The risk of transgenerational genetic mutations can not be ruled out.”


Remembering 2014

As we have reached the third anniversary of the most horrific months of my life, I am re-posting a record of a day in Gaza in July 2014

Noor

Noor Abu Jarad, survived but 8 of her family were killed

The scenes as I go to work each day are harrowing – I must walk past the morgue of Al Shifa Hospital. For the first few days I didn’t even realise it was the morgue – a few cars parked outside, small groups of people clustered against the walls, some obviously grieving – in the hospital grounds during a war, not an uncommon sight. But each day the numbers of cars, and of people grew, and one morning the stark reality of what it was hit me. As I walked a car drove past me and stopped, and a man approached it cradling a bright white tightly swaddled body in his arms, that of a very small child. I went around the car to let him through, and met men running with a stretcher with a covered body on it – or so I thought.

As they ran past, a bloodied limb fell onto the ground in front of me. It was not a body on the stretcher, but a collection of body parts – the horrific evidence of the type of weapons being used by Israel, some prohibited, others so new they are still in the testing stages – on Gaza civilians. Norwegian surgeons Mads Gilbert and Eric Fosse who are working in the hospital say they have never seen some of the injuries before, in 30 years of work in war zones.

I carry on, past the young men sitting sobbing against the wall, heads on knees. I can barely restrain my own tears.

The numbers outside the morgue swell, and subside, but the numbers inside continue to grow. Some days I can’t even get through, some days ambulances or cars arrive and bodies are removed in front of my eyes, while relatives scream, faint, or numbly watch as yet another family member is taken from them. The misery, the grief, the sheer human pain is overwhelming. And I walk on past, and go upstairs to report the dead and injured in facts and figures, my heart bursting, my soul shaken, and desperately trying to cling to that thing called humanity when there is so little evidence of it in what I have just seen.

I go upstairs and see the exhausted doctors and surgeons, who two weeks ago were healthy, vibrant human beings now reduced to haggard, pale ghosts of themselves, struggling to keep going, to provide care and save lives when there is so little care to provide, no medicines, no supplies, no equipment, and where lives that might be saved are lost to the sheer numbers demanding their attention. Doctors who must decide on the spot which patients live and which die, not because clinically they couldn’t all be saved, but because there are only resources enough for one.

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff who all now know that even in the hospitals they are not safe, because Israel is now deliberately attacking them.  Three hospitals have had to be evacuated since Thursday, seven hospital staff have already been killed or injured. Ambulance drivers and paramedics who know that when they go to retrieve the injured, they may not return – 12 ambulances have been destroyed, one driver killed and five ambulance officers injured. All in a day’s work – and these people have not been paid for months, they are doing this out of their own sense of compassion and duty.

I go to the wards to interview survivors and their families. One might think that this would be less traumatic – at least they are alive, there is hope. It is not – babies whose bodies are blasted with shrapnel so they look more like a pepper steak than a human baby, unconscious children with tubes going in and out crying for mothers and fathers who will never comfort them because they are dead, mothers sharing a room with several of their children, all sliced, diced, minced or shredded by Israeli arms made in or funded by the US, not knowing if or which of them will get out of there, and if and when they do, will they be able to walk, talk, feed themselves, study, work or have any semblance of the normal future she hoped for them. Fathers collapsed into themselves, wracked with guilt that they did not, could not, protect their family.

I walk outside, and the sky is blue, the sun is shining. Birds are even singing. I want to scream at them “Don’t you know what is happening?” I walk home beneath the ever-present drones, the sound of explosions almost keeping pace with my footsteps. I go back past the morgue, now shut up, and deserted – on the outside at least. A group of children run past carrying bottles of water, giggling and falling over, helping each other up. I pass the maternity ward, see a man in the street calling to his wife, who appears in a window and holds up their new-born baby for him to see.

I wonder, was this deliberate, the siting of the maternity unit next to the morgue? So that as one leaves, the affirmation of life is what remains?

After all, this is Gaza, where mere existence is resistance.


Hemaya: Gaza Inquiry appointments raise questions

PRESS RELEASE
Hemaya Center for Human Rights

hemaya logo (400 x 107)

Hemaya Center for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the events leading to the resignation of Professor William Schabas as Chair of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and his replacement by Ms Mary McGowan Davis.

We consider that best practice requires that potential conflicts of interest are explored PRIOR to appointment to such inquiries, and we are most concerned that this appears not to have been the case in regard to Professor Schabas. We remain concerned that it has also not been the case re Ms McGowan Davis, given her hasty appointment. (more…)


Huda hits Gaza hard

Laila

This storm Huda is truly the most terrifyingly noisy, bitterly cold and miserable storm imaginable.

Even in a house with fully-glazed windows shut, the wind whistles seemingly straight through them. Imagine how it is for the thousands of families with plastic (if it has not blown away), wood, rusty iron sheets for windows, or none at all – if I couldn’t sleep with four walls, a roof and theoretically intact windows then how could anyone with less? Imagine Gaza’s homeless’ night of bitter hopelessness…

The gusts were so strong I thought the windows were going to blow in. I could not decide whether to drag a mattress into the internal room away from the windows and risk my core body temperature dropping to a hypothermic level, or staying where I was huddled under a quilt and blanket, four layers of clothing and socks, with a coat on and a woollen shawl over my head, where at least I was maintaining an almost normal temperature. Imagine what it was like to be in the ruins of part-destroyed houses – maybe one or two walls, a bit of roof or nylon above your head if it hasn’t been ripped away by the wind – or even just a tent, which thousands of Gazans are forced to live in? With only the few clothes they were able to salvage from the dust and destruction of their homes?

Even with all my windows closed, the wind still forced the rain in, and it still lays in pools on the floor of two rooms. Even with internal doors closed and towels rolled and stuffed along the bottom to stop the draughts the towels literally flew across the floor halfway into the room. The wind even whistled between the joins in the wood of the doors. The internal room, even with all doors closed, was like a wind tunnel. Imagine a room with two walls…or none at all.

How can this family stay warm in this house in Beit Hanoun?

How can this family stay warm in this house in Beit Hanoun?

I took my chances and stayed in my bed – but I could not sleep – the noise was terrifying, the gusts battering against the glass, the rattling and tearing of the frames made any attempt at rest futile. Waiting for the windows to explode or the frames to be ripped from the walls was just like waiting for another Israeli missile during the last aggression – will THIS be the one that gets me? Imagine the families huddled together in the rubble, freezing, wind-battered, terrified, wondering which of them will not wake in the morning, which seems never to come…

Just like unified government. Just like reconstruction materials. Just like the lifting of the siege. Just like Palestinian rights. All promised but never delivered, like a day that never dawns.

Huda. Not just a storm, but an allegory.

The morning may now have broken, the winds died a little – but the bitter cold remains. And while the Palestinian Authority continues the tempest of its soft coup against Hamas, its collaboration with Israel and Egypt, and its apartheid policies against Gaza, there can be no thaw, no calm.

Like Huda, the PA is almost spent. The people who have survived will salvage what they can from the wreckage and work together to rebuild what it has destroyed. Only then can there be a sunny new day for Gaza – and Palestine.


Beit Hanoun: Homeless but not utterly hopeless, thanks to NZers

By Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Gaza SCOOP

Receiving clothes, blankets and schoolbags in Beit Hanoun 30/11/14

Receiving clothes, blankets and schoolbags in Beit Hanoun 30/11/14

With the help of New Zealanders the Palestinian Family Charitable Association in Beit Hanoun has done it again – provided warm winter clothes and blankets for some of the neediest children in Gaza as the wintry weather begins to bite.

Not that there are very many children in Beit Hanoun who are not needy – 1,500 apartment blocks were destroyed in this town during the 51 day Israeli offensive in July-August, leaving many thousands homeless and their schools full of displaced families. (more…)