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).


  • Zeev

    To “open your eyes”:

    In my 7 statements I stated FACTS. Th only possible reason of your “not seeing the point” in disputing them is that you cannot dispute them. Instead you are throwing empty statements like “repeating the same old record that Israeli lobbying is feeding” etc. This is an empty propaganda. The facts do get older with time but this does not make them less true. Either accept them or accept them.

    As to the on point where you did venture an attempt at a logical discussion: you bet we need to control the borders of Gaza, since if we don’t the Hamas mudrerers will import an unlimited number of rockets financed by Iran, and turn them against the Israeli population. There is nothing we would like better than to totally disengage from Gaza and let it stew in its own juice, totally independent of us. Controlling Gaza borders costs us a huge amount of money, and one third of Israeli children live below the poverty line. We have much better use for our resources than that.

    We are also crazy and humanitarian enough to supply Gaza – that is constantly firing rockets at us – with all of its electricity and fuel! We attempted to totally disengage 3 years ago. The Palestinians immediately responded by voting the Hamas murderers into power and firing rockets at us.

    You bet we reserve the right to make surgical military incursions – ALWAYS intended to take out, militants just before or after they fire a rocket, or to take out senior terrorists who are defined as “ticking bombs”, and NEVER TARGETING CIVILIANS. We vowed MANY times that if Hamas stops firing, we stop our retaliation immediately. They never stopped, even during so called “ceasefire”.

    These are the facts. I am here to add mor facts and to conduct a logical and civilized discussion if you want to dispute them, but PLEASE do not insult the intelligence of the readers of this blog by the empty statements like “Jews have all the money and the power in the world” and “Israel targets civilians” and “this is the same old record Israeli lobbying is feeding the world”. Facts please.

  • Zeev

    to Zainab Salem:

    Your post sprinkles such a venomous and unconditional hatred of Israel that it is difficult to glean a point to respond to. I will however try:

    1. Based on my personal experience and years of discussions with my friends, family and colleagues, the huge majority of the Israelis do not hate Arabs or Moslems in general. Hatred is almost entirely in your own department, do not assume that other people hate you just because you are full of hatred for them.

    2. We did displace several hundreds of thousands of Arabs (who became what is called today Palestinian refugees) in the course of 1948 war of Independence of Israel. The war started on the day of declaration of Independence of Israel that was sanctioned by the UN. On the same day 6 Arab countries outnumbering Jewish Israeli population hundred to one, launched a massive attack at the country that did not even have a regular army. That the one day old country survived this and won the war, seems today – in the historical retrospect – a rare and miraculous show of heroism and self-sacrifice.

    3. The several hundred thousand Palestinians who fled to Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza strip have forever remained and suffered in the refugee camps, all located in Arab countries till the 1967 Six Day War. The Arab states never did anything to get their Palestinian “brothers” out of the camps and help them lead normal lives. They kept them poor and starving, feeding on hatred to Israel.

    4. Such displacement of population happened several times in the history during international military conflicts – Sudet Germans after WW2; Cypriot Greeks in the Cyprus conflict to name a few. In every case the country where the refugees fled – to which they ethnically belonged – helped them assimilate and lead normal lives. Not so in the Arab Israeli conflict – at least not on the Arab side.

    5. As a result of the conflict 600 thousand Jewish refugees fled to Israel from the Arab countries and were placed in refugee camps in Israel. Several years down the road not a single Jewish refugee was living in a refugee camp – they all assimilated and became Israelis. The Jewish refugee camps were therefore dismantled. The Jews lost all their property and homes in the Arab countries which they fled. They never tried to launch an attack on their former countries in an attempt to return or recover their property.

    6. I and most Israelis acknowledge and deeply regret the suffering of the Palestinian refugees. Every time an innocent Palestinian child gets killed or hurt – and they do in the military actions – my heart aches just like it does when an Israeli child gets killed or crippled by a Palestinian rocket. No less.

    6. Israel has successfully led multiple attempts to reach piece with Arabs. It has signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1978 – returning every inch of the territory captured in the 1967 6-day War. Also we have peace treaty with Jordan. These peace treaties work very well and we have a lasting peace with these countries. The effort to reach piece made by Israel has been enormous. I do not know aof another nation that is more piece loving. You have mistaken this for weakness and attacked.

    7. Israel led peace talks and signed the Oslo peace agreement with Palestinians. What did we get in return? Murderous Intifada full of suicide bombings.

    8. Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza 3 years ago in order to give Palestinians a chance to establish democratic self-rule on their own piece of land that would eventually lead to independent Palestinian state and end of conflict. What did we get in return? Hamas murderers voted to power and unprovoked continuous rocket power.

    9. It is clear from your post that your solution of the conflict is that all Israelis commit a collective suicide in order to solve the problem of displacement of population during war, which we Israelis and the other countries hove solved so efficiently for our own refugees. Well, do not count on this one. We know how to defend ourselves against terrorists, fanatical as they may be.

    10. We are in a violent conflict with the murderous and fanatical Hamas terrorists (internationally recognized as such by most Western countries, including those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause) that Gaza Palestinians had voted into power. They are financed by Iran, just like the Lebanese Shiite murderer Nasralla (quote: the Jews like Life, we like Death, so we will win, unquote). Moderate Arab states detest them. Just listen to what the foreign minister of Egypt said a day ago: Hamas are responsible for the Israeli attack on Gaza…

    11. In this conflict we and Palestinian terrorists use different weapons. The key weapon of Palestinian terrorists is their lack of respect for human life, including that of their women and children whom they send on suicide bombing missions that killed many hundreds of Israeli civilians. The same lack of respect for human life drives them to fire rockets on Israel in anticipation of inevitable Israeli retaliation where Palestinian civilians would inevitably also get killed, and then send forward their children to throw stones at tanks just to get a photo op for their propaganda. Israel is a democratic Western country that does not and will not use this kind of weapons.

    12. We defend ourselves with the kind of weapons we can use, which includes modern warfare and special technologies for taking out terrorists with minimal chances of hurting uninvolved civilians. This includes hugely expensive unattended airplanes that surgically take out terrorists from the air. Only a country with enormous respect for human life would go though such a painstaking effort in order to minimize civilian casualties. The fact is, almost all the casualties in this conflict on Palestinian side were filmed wearing uniform – a propaganda disaster no doubt deeply regretted by Hamas.

    13. Finally, please do not try to impress me with body count. Counting dead bodies is in your murderous department, this is not our way fo measuring success. We will take out as many Hamas terrorists as needed to forcethem stop them firing at our civilians. Every civilized country would do the same.

  • […] Khodr – The Hanukkah Massacre in Gaza: The Sacrificial Lamb to Israeli-American-Arab Interests. Palestine: On the Ground in Gaza via Global Voices. Israel, Stop! Just. […]

  • First of all, I did not response not because what I’ve poseted are empty words and I couldn’t face “facts” you’ve posted. YOU’ve said that:”It is clear from your post that your solution of the conflict is that all Israelis commit a collective suicide in order to solve the problem of displacement of population during war”…well,I did NOT say this & I will NOT say it. Regarding to your list of FACTUAL points, one should be objective when s/he read any “fact”. You are saying that some Arab countries did not do anything to help the refugees, I do not think so; I’m an MA student in one of these Arab countries who is always helping us in our lives and education. Yet, I’m not saying that all Arab countries have done what they are supposed to do regarding the Palestinian Cause as a whole not the status of the refugees only. Also, I think not because “I” but becasue it is obvious that there is a quite gab between some Arab governers and the Arab people. You misunderstood what I’ve posted, I’ve posted : “You but not all of you of course just hate Arabs to unbelievable degree”, I do realize that not all Israelies hate Arabs, I have my own experience as well. Moreover, I’m not not full of hatred at all except for some Arab and non-Arab politicians. Re-read what you’ve write to support my point that Israel has money & power. All humans like life, but any kind of life? either life with proud or death with proud. Then, I think we all “the People of the Book” believe in the eternal life after death,in this sense death is a transitional more. Isn’t the Apartheid Wall an enough proof of not having a serious will to make real peace?! Then since you have mentioned that YOU are democratic WESTERN… etc. Democracy from the WEST perspective is different from that in the EAST due to the different cultures (Intercultural Communication)and hence WESTERN democratic does Not fit EASTERN countries: Iraq represent the clearest example. I’m not insulting any; is or isn’t logical that the reaction of such war on Gaza will produce more viloence…would any expect that people in Gaza would easily forget what is happeninh now?! What you need to know that I myself have friends from various ethical and relegious backgrounds including Jewish, and we all respect one another. So, it is my turn to ask you not to accuse me of being full of hatred for any and of trying to insult the readers. The readers have an access to the internet and they can read from carious sources and judge. The readers could check your list of facts as well as checking what I’ve mention. But, no need to check that YOU have “displaced” US and instead of being responsible of this, you are saying how Arab brotherhood looks like!! this is also funny!

  • Zeev

    To Zeinab Salem:

    You wrote: “you guys [=Jews] have the money leave out of OUR HOME and buy a home not occupy it!!”. This means you suggest that you only agree to end bloodshed when we Israelis all leave our country – i.e. commit collective suicide as a nation. So I say again: don’t count on it, we will NEVER leave our homeland. You are fooling yourself and causing blood to flow because of this belief of yours. You better stop this, as well as “you guys have the money” and “some of my best freinds ar jewishsong. This is an ages long anti-Semitic tune for ill-informed brainwashed peasants and students of radical Islamic medresses that does not become an “MA student”.

    What you call Apartheid Wall is a wall that we absolutely need for our safety. You Palestinians have a nerve – you are murdering our women and children by sending suicide bombers and then demanding that we do not erect a wall whose sole purpose is to stop the brainwashed bloodthirsty fanatics wearing bomb belts to enter our territory! Stop suicide bombings and we would never need this ugly but life-saving wall.

    That the Arab countries have kept the refugee camps and let them drown in poverty is a fact you cannot dispute. Every a single refugee camp – dating back to 1948! – located on the territories of Arab countries continues to exist and has only swollen in population. This is the real Arab Apartheid.

    You are saying that people of Gaza will not easily forget the current bombings. You also have a nerve to demand that we do not attack Gaza – from which we withdrew 3 years ago – after Hamas shoot rockets at us for 6 months during which we were grinding our teeth and absorbing the fire trying to find a non-bloody solution – asking Egypt to pressure Hamas while acting as a mediator. No wonder Egyptians blamed Hamas for the Israeli attack when their efforts proved futile.

    We TRIED for a very long time to stop the conflict and the violence by making peace with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Rabin – who fell victim of a Jewish extremist murderer for this – shook the hand of lifelong terrorist Arafat whom Rabin detested and fought all his life, and signed the Oslo agreement. Israelis were euphoric – so strong was our desire for peace with Palestinians. What did we get in return? Treachery, intifada and suicide bombings.

    No my friend, we Israelis are through caring what you will or will nor forget. You hate Israel too much for any of our actions to make any difference, and you have proven this time and again. The result is that Israelis like Anat – who left a post in this blog – who were once quite numerous, are now few and far between. Thanks to your actions a huge majority of Israelis are now united in not being impressed by Palestinian whining and appeals and hand waving because their other hand is pressing the deadly rocket launch button at the same time, and this rocket – or suicide bomber’s belt – is ALWAYS aimed at innocent Israeli civilians.

    So we choose to defend our civilian population forcefully, no matter what you say and what you will or will not forget. Only the actions matter. We will continue destroying Hamas terrorists and their infrastructure until they stop firing rockets. After they stop, we can talk business.

    On at least one thing you and I ar in agreement – Western democracy will never work for Arabs and Moslems (although they cunningly appeal to the Western values in their propaganda, trying to dupe the Western people into supporting the “victims”).

    I was once a student in a European university and an Arab student there told me “You Israelis do not udnerstand the basic law of the Middle East: Kiss the Arm that You Cannot Break”. He was mistaken: it’s the Americans who do not understand this – see their stupid attempt do instill democracy in Iraq and their pressure on Israel that resulted in democratic elections in Gaza that in turn brought the Hamas terroristss to power. We Israelis, one the other hand, have been here long enough. We do understand the laws of the Middle East.

    Make no mistake – that we continue to act according to Western values – e.g. not targeting civilians, allowing Red Cross to visit Palestinian prisoners when Hamas keep our prisoner in some underground dungeon for years without any contact with outside world, etc. – is not a sign of weakness or misunderstanding of your laws of conduct. It is our choice, our moral fibre and the reason why we are stronger than you.

    You will forever loose the fight with Israel BECAUSE we are a Western democracy AND know how to speak the only language that you understand. So I tell you in plain Middle East speak: stop firing the rockets. Stop killing our civilians. I guarantee you that this time we will NOT stop our attack until you stop firing the rockets, and will destroy Gaza entirely if needed. I also guarantee you that we will stop after you stop firing the rockets, and that despite everythng we will continue to allow 100 tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza EVERY DAY as we did in the 6 days that passed. I think the message is clear, truthful and simple enough for you to comprehend, despite our cultural differences.



  • Zeev, I am not Jewish, but I have signed up with Jewish People for Peace,on Facebook.
    I also learned a new word: Shimistim.
    About those 100 tons of ais: does Israel weigh each ton and when the count is 1oo, say: closed. Not another ton?
    Or is there some flexibility?

  • well, whether you like it or not, I’m an MA student who is NOT radical & ill -formed ..etc as you said because if so, I would NOT have the offer to travel to USA in an educational cultural well-known program and hence have USA & Jewish Friends as well. So, stop judging me for you do not know me in person. A very smart and outstanding Jewish person who is very interested in politics and who disagrees or as we both ( me & him) agree to call it as “we are standing on opposite sides” ..this person have known me in person to some extent & told me me that PhD is mandatory for me!

    When I said “you guys leave” means NOT what you understood as “collective suicide” and you can check with a linguist or with someone who studies pragmatics.

    My point was & is either real intention to make Peace and Justice by the Israelies leaders or “leave” because people in Gaza specifically and in west bank besides Jerusalem will not bear anymore. Your leaders are responsible for reactions of Palestinians whether of Hamas or of any other party.

    There is a doubt about the owner of the land, if some Israelies have legally bought some pieces of lands does NOT mean that Your leaders have FORCEFULLY NOT displaced the majority of the real owners of the land.

    According to the International Law not to me, Israel has no right to hit Gaza in this way even if the intention is to stop Hamas rockets.

    Now, according to reality, the number of rockets is in a progress increase and is targeting new places inside Israel. So, it seems according to YOUR saying that Gaza will no longer exist.

    Even “Arafat” is a terrorist in your eyes?!

    well, regardless of everything Israel has NO right to solve the problem of firing Hamas rockets by this Bloodish war. This my opinion, the opinion of Arab and non- Arabs people including Jews who do realize that one cannot make Peace by launching a War. You as a one Jewish person I’m talking to & your government have another opinion. Oh ya, plus some Arab governers who just want to get red of Hamas at the expences of souls of any.

    Again, people in Gaza prefer to die & NOT to give up, if Hamas was about to stop firing the rockets, Israel does NOT give them another choice after destroying almost everything and killing hundreds including childrens. I think, firing rockets now mainly means we won’t accept Israeli conditions of Peace, and not to kill hundreds of your people since all are aware that almost no one still in his/ her place in the areas the rockets reach.

    If you watch news of your own channel, you will observe that many Israeli experts believes what Israel has been doing in Gaza is not the right solution.

    Finally, since I”m MA student I have more practical issues to deal with rather than responding regularly to your posts. I do understand your points of view but I strongly disagree with you.


  • Zeev

    please see this Al Jazeera LIVE broadcast (=there was no possibility to edit it)

  • Israeli tanks are welcomed by GAZA land …yes we are the triumphants …Allah Akbar :)

  • Zeev

    Yes now you will finally have a chance to spill some blood while chanting Alla Akbar. I can see why you are so happy.

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