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Palestine: On the Ground in Gaza

In spite of the continued attacks on Gaza, and the loss of electricity in many places, there are Gazan bloggers who are managing to write about what is going on. In addition, there are a number of foreign human rights activists in the Gaza Strip who are providing eyewitness accounts.

We start with a Gazan blogger who is actually in the United States at the moment. Laila El-Haddad, who blogs at Raising Yousuf and Noor, writes about what her parents are experiencing:

My parents live in the the city center, and the Israeli war planes attacked people and locations all around them. Over 50 “targets” by 60 warplanes, read the headlines in Haaretz. And over 220 killed – in broad daylight; in the after-school rush.
Like a movie tagline. Or a game. If you say it enough times, it does not sound real anymore: 50 targets, 60 warplanes, 200 people, 1 day.
All very sanitary. Very sleek. Neatly packaged: war in a gift-box.
“There is a funeral passing every minute. The bodies are piling up.” Gaza's air is saturated with the smell of burning human flesh. There is panic, as one would imagine dogs would panic in an overcrowded cell when several of their own are violently, abruptly killed. But dead dogs – in a cage, no less, would create an outcry.

A Canadian activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Eva Bartlett, blogs at In Gaza, and she describes the aftermath of one attack:

Among the civilians killed, the mother of my good friends in Jabaliya. Every loss is atrocious, but it is more poignant when you see it or know the dead. […] Another international human rights activist and I spent last night with the family, not sleeping, crowded into a cold basement room made colder by opened windows, in hopes they would not shatter when the inevitable shelling re-commenced. Indeed, the front window, closest to the street and site of shelling hours later, did shatter.
The family worried that Israeli ground-troops might invade and occupy their home, as they did in March 2008, and so we stayed with them, in support, though they certainly are strong and have weathered many past terrible days alone. Mostly women and children, we rested fitfully, calling and texting those in other areas of Gaza with each new explosion, as the blasts continued from 11 pm on through the night. Apache helicopters circled above throughout the night, and the buzz of an Israeli drone could constantly be heard.
At 10:10 pm, a text from another international [activist], in Rafah: “Israelis just phoned on the land-line to say that every house with weapons is a target.” How Israel knows which houses have ‘weapons’ is one question, and what gives Israel the right to blanket bomb civilian areas is the greater question. In our house, 13 women, 3 men (including one elderly man), and 6 children under the age of 3, one more girl 14 years old. Should Israel decide to know the house has weapons, that’s 23 more civilians lost. […] I will update more when time and electricity allow. For now, I want to go to the home of my friends whose mother was killed, I want to pay my respects and to cry with them, for she was as gentle a woman as my own mother.

In another post, Eva Bartlett has written about the situation at Shifa hospital in Gaza City (please be aware that many of the images are disturbing).

Sameh A. Habeeb, who is a blogger and journalist in Gaza City, has also described the situation in hospitals:

Gaza hospitals announced inability of receiving the wounded due to lack of medical equipment and tools. Corpses of Palestinians were thrown on the corridors, rooms and units of hospitals. Meanwhile 2-3 wounded victims shared one bed due to lack of medical equipment, a result of the Israeli siege imposed 2 years ago. Basim Nai'm, Health Minster in Gaza said that Gaza medical sector needs tens of kinds of medical equipment and tools. A number of 70 wounded were referred to an Egyptian hospital.

Fida Qishta, who blogs at Sunshine, is a Palestinian ISM activist in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip:

Shortly before 7:00am local time, yet another Israeli missile strike hit the residential neighbourhood of Hi Alijnina in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. This time a pharmacy was targeted, totally destroying the building and causing severe damage to surrounding homes. Electricity lines were torn down during the blast and the street was littered with medicines. … Shocked residents poured into the streets, some still wearing pyjamas.

There are human rights activists from Lebanon, the UK, Poland, Canada, Spain, Italy and Australia currently in Gaza; many of them arrived with the Free Gaza movement's boats. Not all have blogs, but you can read their eyewitness accounts of events in Gaza at the Free Gaza website, and at the International Solidarity Movement website. There are photos of the aftermath of the attacks on Rafah at Rafah Today (once again, please be aware that the images are disturbing).

188 comments

  • What do you care about Ashkelon, Netivot,etc....

    Hello my dear frined,
    I see that you don’t care about us, the israelin citizens.
    However, don’t worry, there are an alarm every few min., but it’s OK, the Palestinian are more important than us…
    The news is talking about them only, not about us, but not long ago more than 20 people got hurt from their artillery.
    Considering the fact that Sderot is being bombed for more than 8 years.
    so I invite you to live somewhere here….

  • ... an innocent victim ...

    Maybe the enemy fire of the Palestinians has not been as accurate or effective as the Israeli’s, but the rocket attacks on Israel have been continuos for years and directly targeted at the CITIZENS of Israel. Also less effective rockets make for living in fear, when knowing they are aimed at your house.
    Israel’s intent has solely been aimed at the Hamas infrastructure and rocket launch sites which have been INTENTIONALLY located amongst civilian areas. Civilian casualties are never acceptable, but intent should not be negated or ignored.
    This is not a clean fight. No one should pretend to be an innocent victim.

  • Awareness

    When will the leaders meet?
    Or do both sides wait, for more children MADE OF PAPER
    die??

    First believe in your brother, which is POSSIBLE and a FACT!!
    God is there with you, not for you, just with you.
    In you, in your brother, around you , around your brother,and yet your brothers scream as if GOD was a million miles away??!!
    God is even in everybody’s head right now, yes right now!! And always and FOREVER.
    Is that NOT WONDERFULL?? That is also a FACT!!
    But…………….the devil comes from time to time, and all God can do is have patience, that is a fact too.

  • Open your eyes...

    My dear friend, don’t worry, everybody is talking about you. Everybody is taking care of you, so don’t get angry when you are not the centre of attention when the issue is “On the ground in Gaza”.
    I am not enjoying you living in a situatin of fear, but if you want the people to be sensitive to what is happening to you, try to be sensitive and informed to what was and is happening to the Palestinian people every single day in Gaza and the West bank. You have to keep in mind that this people is living occupation and is not accepting it and this occupation is lead by your governement. You have the responsability to go down to the roots of the conflict, resisting the brain washing that your leaders are doing on you and speak up. How can you expect living in peace when your repesentatives are spoliating and humiliating other people? Why are you accepting this?

  • Eyes wide shut...

    Unfortunately there seems to be a misunderstanding about the occupation. Gaza has no longer been occupied for a number of years now. Any occupation the Hamas is talking about, is concerning the right of Israel to exist at all (quote: “Israel should be obliterated”). According to Hamas any existence of Israel is an occupation of Palestine land.

  • I am Canadian. 3 generations so. I cannot tolerate this attack by Israel.
    All my MPs are on a break from our Parliament. I leave messages.
    I sign petitions, and I will join with others to demand a halt from both sides, but Israel: I think your actions are criminal: bombing a university is totally wrong.

  • Zeev

    Johnstone:

    1. The “university” you are talking about houses Hamas lab for developing and manufacturing lethal rockets which they fire EXCLUSIVELY at civilians. Thanks God we destroyed it and prevented hundreds of deaths of innocent civilians.

    2. The attack by Israel is after 8 years of Israeli civilians bleeding under terrorist rocket fire including last 6 months of “ceasefire” during which they continued totally unprovoked fire – always at carefully chosen centers of civilian population.

    3. Hamas is an Al Qaeda-linked organization of murderers. They send their children on suicide bombing attacks. They praise and worship DEATH, with strong fanatic religious undertones. They are committing a double crime of firing rockets at civilians and hiding from Israeli retaliation behind their own women and children who were taken hostage by them. Hamas is internationally and officially registered (including by all major European countries) as murderous terrorist organization. Are you disputing that?

    4. Israel has withdrawn out of EVERY INCH of Gaza strip 3 years ago. The only logic behind Hamas firing rockets at Israel – which does not Hamas them unless provoked for a long time and under pressure from its civilians to protect them from the rockets – is its animalistic hatred of Israel and desire to see it destroyed, no less. Destruction of Israel is the cornerstone of the Hamas Charter.

    5. Last but not least: I can imagine NO other country that would show the kind of restraint that Israel has shown. I can vividly picture you jumping at your MPs demanding that they physically annihilate the terrorists (women and children or not) if somebody would fire ONE rocket at your neighborhood. Israel’s restraint is unprecedented and CERTAINLY cannot be matched by North Americans, as recent history shows. You have no moral call here at all; Israel has EVERY moral call and right to defend itself from the murderous war criminals.

    6. Israel, in an unprecedented move, is letting in caravans of truck with medications, food and other human relief. Unlike the Hamas murderers, Israel NEVER targets civilian population. Its air strikes wer designed for surgically taking our Hamas militants in the impossible environment of the world’s most densely populated piece of land. Some lamentable civilian deaths are inevitable in such situation, but the responsibility for them is on Hamas who attack civilians and then hide behind their own civilians.

    7. Hamas was democratically elected under a pressure on Israel from North Amercians who thought they can teach the Palestinians democracy. Tried it in Iraq, too. We all know the result. You do not understand the Middle East and the fact that Israel is a Western democracy island dfendng itself against a sea of hatred, culture of death and religious fanaticism. You are choosing the wrong side because you chose to believe the cunning Palestinian propaganda.

  • Open your eyes...

    Zeev, Read again your “statements” … There is no point to answer to all of your 7 points especially the #7, condescendant and ill informed, repeating the same old record the Israeli lobbying is feeding you and the world. Hopefully, all Israeli don’t have the same minding and only those can save Israel.
    As for the occupation “misunderstanding”, there is no misunderstanding. The definion of occupation under international humanitarian law can be found in Article 42 of the 1907 Hague regulations. Israel remains the occupying power despite its “disengagement plan” because 1) it states in its didengagement plan (revised in june 2004) that “Israel will guard the perimeter of the Gaza strip, continue to control gaza air space and continue to patrol the sea off the Gaza cost” 2) Israel regularly makes military incursions, controls movement of people and goods, controls the civil population registry and tax system. This information was taken from El Haq website that you can visit to see other legal statements in relation with Israel policy in Gaza and the west bank: http://www.alhaq.org

  • Isreal NEVER targets civilians?!! is it a joke? if so, it’s so funny!! and some wondering why the focus is not on the Isreali civilians…some tell remind me 400 Isreali civilians killed in air strikes within 4 days by any Palestinian party…could any tell me who is the greatest hero of doing Massacares since 1948? read the histroy please… stones against tanks almost all the time..how you Isreali want peace by doing this? logically speaking..what you are expecting from those who are watching their babies, friends, fathers, mothers & nieghbours to do? won’t they be mad at you!?! do you want them to forget what happens & simply say: “OK..let us live in peace”..come on! you have ever show a sincere will to have peace with Palestinian or Lebanese ..You but not all of you of course just hate Arabs to unbelievable degree..howcome & YOU WHO GATHERED YOURSELF & LANDED IN OUR LAND!! Then, if you cannot bear living with some “rockets” AS A REACTION TO WHAT YOUR CRIMINAL GOVERNMENT IS ALWAYS DO, then leave because I assure you ALL that WE & OUR PEOPLE IN GAZA SPECIFICALLY & IN WEST BANK WILL NOT LEAVE THIER LANDS…YA THEY PREFER TO DIE RATHER THAN TO LEAVE IT..THEY WILL NOT DO THE SAME MISTAKE WHICJ SOME DID IN 1948…WE HAVE TAUGHT THE LESSON VERY WELL…you guys have the money ..so leave out of OUR HOME and buy a home not occupy it!!

  • Blogring for gaza+map…

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