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Palestine: “How many deaths in Gaza is enough?”

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Israel, Palestine, Disaster, Humanitarian Response, International Relations, Refugees, War & Conflict

As the Israeli attacks on Gaza continue, in this roundup of Gaza's blogs we hear about food shortages, the frustration of being stuck at home, the humour of medical workers – and a question from a young boy: “Mama – why don't the Israeli soldiers think before they shoot people?”

Palestinian photojournalist Sameh Habeeb blogs at Gaza Strip, The Untold Story [1]:

I have got three calls from anonymous persons stop blogging or I would be killed. Yet, I would keep on this track.

Laila El-Haddad blogs at Raising Yousuf and Noor, and she speaks to her parents in Gaza every day [2]:

For the first time in weeks, they have a few hours of precious electricity today. And things felt “normal” for a while, as they basked in bulb-light and their fridge hummed to life. They took the opportunity to chat with me on Skype. They wanted to talk to me hour after hour, all morning my time, about nothing in particular, before they were immersed in the dark and terror once again. After speaking to his grandfather, Yousuf looked at me and asked in the inquisitive, matter-of-fact way that he usually inquires about all things small and big in this world, “Mama – why don't the Israeli soldiers think before they shoot people?”

Mohammed Ali, who works for the NGO Oxfam, writes on the Oxfam blog from his home in Gaza City [3]:

Today, I left my neighbourhood for the first time since this waking nightmare started. As my wife and I said goodbye, I knew that we were both thinking the same thing, that this could be the last time we ever see one another. As I closed the door behind me, I heard my child sobbing uncontrollably. Just as I headed out, I heard that the Israeli government had announced a three-hour lull in fighting. I wondered what they thought we could do in three hours; banks are closed and the Israeli government is restricting money coming into Gaza, shops are shut or their shelves empty, people now have to queue for up to six hours just for a loaf of bread…or nothing… markets have very little, people cannot afford increased prices, water systems are not working, people are scared to leave their homes, roads are blocked…what real difference to people’s lives will these three hours make? […] What can we do in three hours? Bury dead bodies? No one will ever be able to bring back the lives lost during this conflict but there is still time to give those who are still living a chance for a decent life.

Prof. Said Abdelwahed, who teaches English at Al-Azhar University, writes at Moments of Gaza [4]:

In Gaza, last night was so horrible with more than 60 air raids, added to non-stop tanks and artillery shelling to different places everywhere! No place is safe at any moment in Gaza! Words stand short from describing the horrors we have been through those days.

Canadian activist Eva Bartlett blogs at In Gaza [5]:

After finishing a shift with the PRCS [6] [Palestine Red Crescent Society] yesterday morning, we went to the Fakoura school [7], to see and to listen to the voices. Prayers were happening in the street in front of the school. I’d seen prayers in open, outdoor places in Palestine, in Egypt. But these days, when I see a mass of people praying, in front of Shifa hospital, in the streets of Jabliya, I think of the mosques that have been bombed, the loss of lives and sanctuaries. And yesterday I thought of the loss of a safe-haven. The grief was very evident, as was the indignation: “Where are we supposed to stay,” one man demanded. “How many deaths is enough? How many?” It’s the question that has resounded in my mind since the attacks on December 27th. […] Nidal, a PRCS medic, told how he was at the Fakoura school when it was shelled. His aunt and uncle living nearby, he’d been visiting friends at the school. “I was there, talking with friends, only a little away from where 2 of the missiles hit. The people standing between me and the missiles were like a shield. They were shredded. About twenty of them,” he said.

Natalie Abou Shakra, a Lebanese activist, blogs at Moments of Gaza [8]:

Dr. As’ad just came in saying there is no bread. We officially have no bread.
Sitt [Mrs] Wafaa told me she put nail polish on. She said she was shy about it, and did it just to feel better. I tell her not to worry, and that from now on, both of us will look our best each day. I told her I shall put on my kohl [9] in solidarity with the nail polish. […] I am fed up of this! We are in a holocaust, mass killing, devastation and destruction of human kind, death and massacring… I am running out of words in the dictionary of death and terror that the Israelis arranged for us: Lebanese and Palestinians!
They sent us bread today… it was rotten. Dr. As'ad told me that Dr. Haidar is eating rotten bread. “He said that mold is used for making penicillin. So, it must be okay.” He joked. So, we are going to heat the bread on the stove and eat, so that the moldy taste is diminished.

In another post, Natalie writes [10]:

As Dr. As'ad comes in the house after leaving to bring in some groceries. He tells us that there are no vegetables and no cheese, no milk and no bread near us… so, we decide to write down a schedule of the quantity and quality of food to be eaten per day… […] I went out to the veranda. It was the first time since the massacring began that I had gone out on the veranda. […] The sky was clear with no clouds and the sun shined, to me, like never before… the sun became so precious, and realized I never appreciated it as much as I do now… it made my cold body warm. Abdel Aziz hugged his mother as she laid her shoulder on the wall. We looked at the sun shining on all the destruction. I wished at that moment that the whole world was with us, looking. We stayed outside for around thirty minutes, after which they bombed close in Hay [neighbourhood of] el Zaytoun (tanks are shooting extensively as I am typing). We saw the Apache as it came closer after it bombed. (Where is my bazooka?). I was wearing my pink pajamas, and was afraid that the Israelis might mistake me for Hamas. (Remember? Israelis targeting children in pajamas on the donkeys… I am staying away from donkeys, as there are many now in Gaza since there is no petrol… and the donkey proves its efficiency again in history! The donkeys in Gaza are so courageous. Now, donkeys are martyrs in Gaza). My pajamas are pink. Are there any pink Qassam rockets? Please assure me so that I stop wearing pink pajamas. I cannot jeopardize my “family's” (surrogate family?) safety.

Australian activist Sharyn Lock writes at Tales to Tell, and has been helping out at at Al Quds hospital [11]:

There is a collective strength to these people that dumbfounds me. Medical folks are quite a comic crew; one of them last night was carefully explaining to me that he didn’t have to worry about dying of lung disease, because he was careful not to buy the brand of cigarettes that had the man dying of lung disease on the front. Later on one of the ambulance crew had thrown us all out of the operations centre and was washing the floor. It was chilly outside, so we were all lurking at the door wanting to come back in, but he was shouting the Arabic equivalent of “Keep your filthy shoes off my nice clean floor!” Finally he installed the widest paramedic to function as a guard; who took up his position outside the door with folded arms, doing an excellent imitation of a nightclub bouncer. I suggested that when the Israelis got here (the tanks are shelling from 2 km away now) we give him the task of keeping them out of the operations room. He assured us he was up to the job. These people have lost friends and family in the last days, and face the risk of death each day. But Palestinians have a sort of collective unspoken agreement – everyone has to keep going for everyone else. I don’t know what it does to their mental health; but then again I don’t know what choice they have.

Abu el Sharif writes at Shajar El Ba6a6a [12]:

إيش ممكن أحكي…جد ؟
الحمدلله على كل إشي، أسبوعين الواحد قاعد بالبيت…علقليل أهل الكهف كانو نايمين..بس إحنا صاحيين و شايفين مع إنو تعمى قمارنا
What can I say, seriously?
Thank God for everything, two weeks sitting at home…At least the People of the Cave [13] were sleeping…But we're awake and watching, even if the world's become dark around us.

Louisa Waugh writes at New Internationalist's Gaza Blog [14]:

It took me ages to get through to Adham at his home in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The phone lines are down most of the time, and even when they are working, they're usually jammed by Palestinians desperately trying to contact family and friends inside Gaza. After two days I finally manage to get hold of Adham on his landline at home, and ask him if he and his family are OK.
‘We are still alive,’ he says. ‘But you would not believe what we are going through. I have never seen or heard anything like this.’
[…] When, after eight days of bombing the entire Gaza Strip, the Israeli military invaded northern Gaza on 4 January, they drove tanks and snipers into Jabaliya, and began shelling, and shooting to kill. Adham and his family remain trapped inside their home in the middle of the camp. ‘We’ve been locked inside our house for 12 days now,’ he says. ‘We can’t leave – it's too dangerous.’ He tells me he has been no further than 100 metres down his street since 27 December. […] Adham just hopes he will live to see the end of this hell.
‘In my worst moments, I wonder if I care whether I die,’ he says. ‘Because at least then I will not have to face whatever is going to happen to us next.’