Yesterday (6 January) a UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp which was being used as a shelter, was struck by Israeli shells and about 40 people killed. Today, the Israeli military suspended its military operations for three hours, to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip. In this post we hear the reactions of bloggers in Gaza.
Prof. Said Abdelwahed, who teaches English at Al-Azhar University, writes at Moments of Gaza:
Thousands of the Palestinians took refuge into UNRWA schools. 40 of those have been killed in an air attack today on that school!! It seems even the U.N flag does not have any meaning to Israel? How can it consider itself a part of the international community?!
Canadian activist, Eva Bartlett, blogs at In Gaza:
If your unbelievably small and overcrowded land was being terrorized, pulverized by bombs from the world’s 4th largest military, and your borders were closed; if your house was not safe, mosque (church) not safe, school not safe, street not safe, UN refugee camp not safe…Where would you go, run, hide? Over 15,000 have been made homeless, internal refugees from Israel’s house-bombings, shelling, and shooting. Some have been housed in UN schools around Gaza. In Jabaliya today, Israeli warplanes bombed one such school. Shifa’s [hospital] director conservatively estimates 40 dead, 10s injured. It must be higher. […] The Shifa director also told me that emergency medics still cannot reach the Zaytoun house that yesterday morning was bombed with inhabitants locked inside. There are two main accounts of the story, both criminal. One: Israeli soldiers rounded up the inhabitants of the multi-story house, separated the men – 15, I was told – and shot them point blank in front of the women and children of the family, 20, I was told. Then, laid explosives around the house and bombed the rest of the extended family. Two: Israeli soldiers rounded up the inhabitants of the multi-story house, locked them in one room for a day, and bombed it the following morning. Either way, Israeli soldiers intentionally imprisoned and bombed the inhabitants of the house. And are actively preventing medics from reaching any potential survivors. The medics have tried to coordinate with the ICRC (international committee of the red cross) without success: no one can reach the house.
Egyptian-German Philip Rizk, who blogs at Tabula Gaza, reports a conversation he had with Dr Attalah Tarazi in Gaza:
The numbers of death and injured reported in the media are far below reality as the media is not able to cover incidents as they unfold. I know of cases where homes were surrounded by the Israeli army and people inside gave themselves up and were shot anyway when they exited. […] We have witnessed weapons we have never seen before in our lives. Some explode in the sky and scatter bombs all over. Sporadically, I have smelt smells from some of the burns and wounds that I have never before witnessed […] May god protect us, may god have mercy on us
In another post Prof. Said Abdelwahed says:
The 1:00-4:00 p.m. truce was a little bit relief to the civilians in the city. The main concern of the people was to get water from distribution centers. There were long lines of people waiting to get drinking water in plastic jugs! Tanks and artillery are still operating at the edges of Gaza city! More people evacuated their places and resorted to relatives and UNRWA schools…. but yesterday's bombing has scared everyone sleeping in the schools! Today, there were trucks of urgent food stuff and other medical aids have been allowed to be entered from Rafah into Gaza. In Gaza, we are all subject to news but we cannot see TVs. We hear about it from relatives who call us by telephones from abroad. We are still without electricity and water, plus that a great number of people are without cooking gas!
Palestinian photojournalist Sameh Habeeb who blogs at Gaza Strip, The Untold Story, explains how he is still reporting:
Dear Editors, Journalists and Friends,
Some of you do wonder how I send news in such conditions. I really suffer a lot to send you this update due to lack of power. I go around 4 kilometers a day in this cruel war where I charge my laptop battery to be able to send this work! This is very risky since shells rain down and drones hover over me! I will keep this up.
Laila El-Haddad, whose parents are in Gaza, blogs at Raising Yousuf and Noor, and she describes a conversation with her father live on Canadian Broadcasting:
I asked if he had gone out at all – he said my mother has not left the house in days, but that they needed some tomatoes to cook supper with. “The stores are empty-there is very little on the shelves; and the Shanti bakery had something like 300 people waiting in line.” Surprisingly, he said people are trying to go on with their lives. It is the mundane and ordinary that often save your sanity, help you live through the terror. It is no small thing to endure: knowing that both in deliberateness and scope, it is an unprecedented modern-day assault against an occupied, stateless people – most of them refugees.
Safa Joudeh writes at Lamentations-Gaza about making the most of ordinary moments:
I woke up to the smell of freshly baked bread, at around noon today. I stay up most of the night and catch a few hours sleep after the sun rises. […] My mother has taken to making homemade bread the last ten days. Thanks her careful management of the small amount of cooking gas we have, and to her idea of buying a gas oven in anticipation of an Israeli invasion only days before the attacks began, she is able to bake occasionally. Furthermore, we had found a store with its doors partially open in our area a couple of days ago and were able to stock up on flour. Having lunched with my younger siblings and my parents on bread, cheese, eggs and some leftover pasta, we all went out onto the balcony, and what a beautiful sunny day it was! The iciness had dissipated somewhat with the early day sun, the few trees outside were green and luminous and birds were singing! We all stood for about half an hour, looking out through the metal railings like caged birds. We could hear an occasional explosion in the distance but that did not deter us from standing there breathing in the fresh air we so longed for.
RafahKid is in disbelief:
what's to say? would you believe back in October we had our first Opera [music concert] in Gaza. Life is hard when you are kept prisoner your whole life even though you are acknowledged as the victim. But we try hard to live a life and we study very hard. Even to say Hamas is the cause of this is to blame the rape victim for what she was wearing.
Vittorio Arrigoni is an Italian activist blogging at Guerrilla Radio
Ho scattato alcune fotografie in bianco e nero ieri, alle carovane di carretti trascinati dai muli, carichi all'inverosimile di bambini sventolanti un drappo bianco rivolto verso il cielo, i volti pallidi, terrorizzati. Riguardano oggi quegli scatti di profughi in fuga, mi sono corsi i brividi lungo la schiena. Se potessero essere sovrapposte a quelle fotografie che testimoniano la Nakba del 1948, la catastrofe palestinese, coinciderebbero perfettamente. Nel vile immobilismo di Stati e governi che si definiscono democratici, c'è una nuova catastrofe in corso da queste parti, una nuova Nakba, una nuova pulizia etnica che sta colpendo la popolazione palestinese.
In another post, Eva Bartlett says:
To walk in Gaza city now is to walk through a ghost town, passing shells of buildings, rubble-filled streets, closed shops, and streets barren of life. Before Israel’s attacks across the Gaza Strip’s densely-populated civilian areas began on December 27th, Gaza was a different scene: it was stifled under a siege […] but Palestinians in Gaza still walked the streets, still frequented the parks and public spaces, still pursued education within the Strip and had weddings. On any given day, the main street, Omar Mukthar, would be crowded with taxis heading along the east-west road, kids going to and from school, shoppers, and vendors. Walking Omar Mukthar now is an eerie experience […] In the first days after the missiles hit police stations, mosques, civil administration buildings, Municipal buildings, cars, houses, iron and metal workshops, and universities across the Gaza Strip’s tiny length, people walked carefully, avoiding the bombed sites, very aware they could be re-bombed. […] But now its gotten to such a point, all over Gaza is so completely and thoroughly bombed, that the initial detours we took are pointless: there are simply too many bombed-out buildings and sites to bother avoiding the street. […] So a bombed population already besieged, with no where to run, shot and shelled when running no where, already deprived of medicines and medical care, is now on a new level of starvation, deprivation of water (70 % of people are without), and continues to be psychologically-terrorized by the air activity and bombing. Where to walk? Anywhere, it doesn’t really matter.
Fida Qishta, who blogs at Sunshine, is a freelance journalist, filmmaker and activist who lives in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip:
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 air strikes 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 air strikes she would do it.
Nader Houella, who manages the group blog Moments of Gaza, writes a post explaining what people who wish to help can do.