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