Palestine: “I see hatred in every blast pounding Gaza”

In this roundup of Gaza's blogs we hear about living without electricity, ways of getting the latest news, and white phosphorus shells. And an 11-year-old girl jokes: “It's like we are a scary movie. I'm sure people eat popcorn as they watch.”

The team that brought us Alive in Baghdad has now set up Alive in Gaza, with first-hand accounts from the Gaza Strip. Mohamed Al-Jabowe reports:

The situation is not improving inside the strip, due to the constant bombing by the Israeli Army in the northern and middle areas of the strip. A battle started today between Hamas’ Marine forces and the Israeli Naval forces. The situation here is like a cage burning from the inside. […] My cousin has a Satellite TV system that works by a car battery, and what I see now in the news has nothing to do with reality, the loss of life must be more than 800. It’s very difficult to have even one hour without sounds of explosions, and this what I have to post for now. I will try to send you more information as soon as I have another chance. I have to go back and help my sister with getting milk for her baby. I hope I can make it alive back home tonight, I'll keep you posted.

Journalist Nazek Aburahma writes at AlJazeeraTalk and cross-posts to her blog:

ستة أطفال مع أمهم ” أم انس” يعيشون داخل بيت لا تسكنه سوى العتمة منذ أيام طوال وتحت أوتار المدفعية الإسرائيلية التي تدك قطاع غزة على وتيرة واحدة […] فتقول أم انس :” الكهرباء مقطوعة ولا توجد أي وسيلة قد نعلم من خلالها عما يحدث في غزة , لا نسمع سوى دبيب المدفعيات التي تقذف نيرانها في كل مكان ” وتتابع أم انس حديثها من بعد تنهيدة استغرقت ثوان معدودة :” نعلم ما يحصل في غزة من دمار وقتل وقصف عبر الهاتف فأمي تسكن في الضفة الغربية وترى كل شيء عير شاشات التلفزة فتهرع على الهاتف مفزعه لتطمئن علينا و وتبلغنا بمستجدات ما يحصل في قطاع غزة “.
أما إبراهيم 22 سنة وهو صحفي لإحدى الوكالات الأنباء العالمية في قطاع غزة والذي يتنقل بعجالة بين بيت لآخر باحثا عن كهرباء ليشحن بها هاتفه الخلوي كي يستطيع التواصل مع طاقم وكاله الأنباء التى يعمل معها فيقول على عجالة :” في الفترة الأخيرة اشعر كأنني كنغر انتقل من مكان الى مكان بحثا عن رائحة الكهرباء , فبطارية هاتفي الخلوي قد نفذت ويجب على ان اشحنها لأتواصل مع وكاله الأنباء التى اعمل معها في الخارج “.
Six children with their mother Umm Anas have been living in the house for long days with only the darkness and the sounds of the Israeli artillery pounding the Gaza Strip in a monotone. […] Umm Anas says: “The electricity has been cut. We have no means of knowing what is happening in Gaza. We don't hear anything other than the artillery firing everywhere.” She continues, after a sigh lasting a few seconds: “We know about the destruction and killings and bombing happening in Gaza by means of the telephone. My mother lives in the West Bank and watches everything on the television screens, then runs terrified to the telephone to make sure that we are fine, and tells us about the developments in Gaza.”
As for Ibrahim, who is a 22 year old journalist for one of the international news agencies in Gaza, and who hurries from one house to the next, in search of electricity to charge his cell phone in order to be able to communicate with the agency's crew, he quickly says: “Lately I have been feeling as if I were a kangaroo, jumping from one place to the next, in search of a whiff of electricity. My cell phone battery has run out and I have to charge it in order to communicate with the news agency I work with abroad.”

Freelance journalist Safa Joudeh writes at the group blog Lamentations-Gaza:

Our entire lives is now one long chaotic stream of existence: waiting in line each morning to fill up containers with water from the only working tap on the ground floor of our building, baking homemade bread from the depleting supply of flour we managed to obtain a few days into the offensive, turning on the power generator for 30 to 50 minutes in the evening to charge phones and watch the news. Meanwhile, the constant in our lives has become the voice of the reporter on the small transistor radio giving reports every few seconds of the location and resulting losses from the explosion we just heard, or other attacks farther off on the Strip. This is not to mention the relentless sound of one or more of the Israeli Apache helicopters, F-16's or drones flying overhead. […] We are now unable to distinguish joy from fear. My 11-year old sister laughs as she imagines how people all over the world watch the horrific events taking place in the Gaza Strip. “It's like we are a scary movie. I'm sure people eat popcorn as they watch,” she says. My 12- and 14-year old brothers act out scenes from our reality while quoting Metal Gear Solid 4 and Guns of Patriots, their favorite video game, and we laugh hysterically at their performance. Moments later we tense up at the sound of a violent, close by earthquake-like explosion, and resume our laughter when the building stops shaking. Before returning to our building, I couldn't help but stare at it for a moment and think that our homes might not always be safe places. But, still, they give us a sense of warmth, security and protection that are worth fighting for till the very end. I also couldn't help staring at the sky. The stars were beautiful and seemed to shine brighter than ever. I could make out several constellations and I counted five Israeli warplanes.

Canadian activist, Eva Bartlett, blogs at In Gaza:

Some mornings I wake up from a new explosion and realize I’ve somehow managed to fall into a sleep despite the blasts. Other mornings, I wake up disoriented, first wondering where I am, as I’m sleeping in some hospital waiting room or ambulance office, or the house of a driver since the Red Crescent office in eastern Jabaliya was first shelled and then made off-limits by the invading Israeli forces in the eastern Jabaliya region…and the north, the northwest, the east, the south…
3:20 am: I’ve left the bed and given up on feigning sleep. Am watching the darkness explode with the political hatred that not only kills but silences truth. Hatred in every blast pounding Gaza.
Hours later, after the sun finally rises. Women are walking onto the hospital premises, large towel-covered platters on their heads. A small electric stove is plugged in, and they take turns baking bread for their families: no gas, no electricity at home. They are lucky to have the flour to bake with, and I guess that a trickle of that aid that only trickles in has reached them. But it’s never enough.

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

My family and I have been surprised by the electric power for the first time after 15 days of utter darkness! It was a moment of excitement for the children. Now they are not scared though aircrafts are over us! Also, we can watch some TV channels as others are jammed. Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya are among the jammed ones. Now, a blast in the distance! My family are okay; my mother, sister, brothers and their families are safer than me though it is not safe for anyone in Gaza those days, but everything in life is relative.

Lebanese activist Natalie Abou Shakra, who blogs at Moments of Gaza, is staying with a Palestinian family, and can't bear the thought of anything happening to the young son, Abdel Aziz:

If something happens to Abdel Aziz… I do not think I shall be able to go on…

Look into your child's eyes… what would happen if he was massacred the way the Israelis are massacring our children… look at them as they sleep at night… in their beds… would it be alright if you didn't know if they would make it till the next day? Would it?

As I left, Sitt Wafaa gave me some bread to take with me to eat… I go outside, and “BOMB”… I fly… they bombed the adjacent building… I shield myself from dust… the ringing in my ears is deafening… dust covers my hair… I hear Sitt Wafaa scream my name… am I dead, I ask myself? No, I can still smell my dirty clothes… I am alive… and the smell of dirt if wonderful… I am alive…

Xen Hasan from Manchester in the UK writes at the Electronic Intifada about calling her husband's family in Gaza:

My husband managed to get hold of his sister today in a short and crackly phone call. She is fine, they are all fine, thank God. They have rice still, and they've managed to get some candles. We'll phone again tomorrow. I pray that soon we'll be able to have normal conversations again — what did you do at school today? How was work? What are you making for dinner? I dream of being able to ask these ordinary questions. How many more days do we have to keep making that nerve-wracking phone call, and wondering who those statistics represent?

Mohammad is in Ramallah in the West Bank, and he too writes about the phone calls he has been making to his family in Gaza, at the Arab-American blog KABOBfest:

I called Khan Younis next. Jasim didn't pick up. I hoped he was sleeping. Mahmoud answered though, but he sounded distracted. I could hear the radio blaring. I asked him what was happening. He told me the Israelis had showered the village of Khuza'a in the east with white phosphorous and that many buildings there had been set alight. He had been calling friends there. People were running from house to house and from street to street, trying to avoid the chemicals. He was trying to find out who was being brought in to Naser Hospital, the hospital a few blocks away where I was born. He said there were a lot of injuries because people were inhaling the chemical and the smoke. Nobody is sure how to treat it, and nobody is sure how to avoid it when it rains down from the sky. […] The scary thing about Gaza these days is that even Israel doesn't seem to know what it is trying to do. As I said at the opening of this post, the goals seem to be ever changing, always getting smaller and less ambitious. It is using chemical weapons in heavily crowded neighborhoods, F-16 missiles on homes, mosques and schools. It has left many hundreds dead, many hundreds more so wounded that few will ever be able to live a normal life again.

Australian activist Sharyn Lock, who writes at Tales to Tell, also relays accounts that phosphorus shells are being used:

Mo has just been speaking to his sister, his family were receiving the phosphorous bombs all night last night, in Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis, she said the bombs smell like sewage. She said just in their area there were 110 injuries from the phosphorous. Today they fled their house and went to relatives. We called the Ministry of Health to ask if they have analysed the substances involved, but they said that unfortunately they simply don’t have the resources to do so and have to wait on outside confirmation.

We end with an impassioned statement by Natalie Abou Shakra:

Take note; our pens do sway, in every direction. They insist, persist and spit out the bullets of your oppression.
Take note; our journals are filled with the acts of your wretched intentions, of your day-to-day crimes against our existence, of your delirious threats and excruciating torture.
Take note; our tongues will live to narrate, tales of the history of your racism, your apartheid world, and your ignorant hatred.


  • Louis Godena

    hamdane recoils from the sight of injured and dying civilians on both sides. if you are a humane person you do. however, i am sure he understands that war almost certainly involves the killing of innocents. for more than sixty years (starting with the stern gang and other terrorists), each side has sought to terrorize the other by going into the bedrooms, the kitchens, the nurseries of each others domiciles. the israelis have amassed a formidable killing machine of jets, helicopters, guided missiles and all manner of small arms. the palestinians have only their own bare hands. and it is their land that has been stolen out from under them to make way for yet another theocracy (as if we didn’t have enough already!). israel, in its present form, is not a tenable state; nor are any of its neighbors. change must come. the nation-state is now passing into history. what replaces it will depend in part on what means are used to ease its transition. the israeli/hamas way is, clearly, not in the best interests of the people.

  • Hamdane

    You have made many claims here that I am not sure where to start. Your allusion to the Stern gangs abd other terror groups has no bearing on the issue, however I admit that when war happens shit happens..(pardon the slang, I do not mean any disrespect). Yes we agree that in war there are no universal good of bad guys, it just depends form which camps the lound voices have been heard. And this war has more or less turned into a news spin zone, instead of drama of war.

    My commentary was written as a response to the idea that morality is uphelp for some and cruelty is the currency for the others, I found such naive self-gratifying assumptions ridiculous. And I find it extremely boring and self-serving. NOBODY detains the moral compass of humanity, PERIOD. All we hear is hatred, hatred and hatred. Wait a minute, there is more hatred on TV screens and immam sermons, and extremists on both sides than on the battle fields. And this beckiring need to stop, because it serves no one and it is not changing people minds. There needs to be negociations.

    As for your factual claim that Israel has amassed a huge arsenal, I am not sure what are you trying to prove. What were the choices of the state of Israel? Live in constant fear of being driven to the sea. It could have happened in June 1967. I am not sure what stolen land deal are talking about. Israel as a state was created by the United Nations. It was not taken by force, although when Arabs did not want the partition, wars broke out. One cannot blame the Jewish people for wanting to come back to the land that their ancestors live in and certainly not after they were dissimated by fascist europe. The tanks did not roll in to take the land. It was a UN mandate. jewish people were living there even before the partition. The Arab absentee landlords were in Beyrouth seeping tea with their Ottoman masters,while Jewish Communities were working the land along with Arabs to make the land flourish.

    The idea of stolen land is a bit anachronistic, and cannot be used as claim. There is a saying that says: “we all live on stolen lands.” American people live on stolen land. The Argentinians, Paragueans, Chilian, Canadian, Chinese in Zia province, Australians, New Zealanders, Turks in Cyprus and Dersim’s anatolia, Russian spread in 7 time zones,and I forgot, Arabs in Berber North Africa… Well you see this stuff about stolen land argument does not hold a lots of clout. It may have been wrong at the time, but remember human are supposed to be moral individuals right? Wrong!!! Unless we ask all these invadors to go back to their country of origin right? I am not going to say anything about the rights Jewish people have on the holy land.

    It is time for arabs to try to built their communities instead of turning all resouces to fight an self-made delusional enemy. Gaza should have been a model for other arab nations, but instead of building schools, the infrastructure, educational institutions and creating a ideal (albeit islamic) community, the reverse had happen. And that’s a shame on the Arab leaders who have deceived their people on fighting and trying to lead their people on the war path.

    Peace can only come when some people come with the grip of reality and move on to better societies, instead to liberating fictiteous lands, which once retaken will fall into decay and perdition. What arabs need to do is to liberate their mind sets and attitude, and live in peace with their Jewish state, but they have proven that destruction of Israel is the main focus. And to this Israel will NEVER allow.

  • bob

    Casualties are a terrible thing but where was the outcrying when daily rocket attacks were being taken by Israel-what country would allow that for years? The leaders of the gaza strip have forced this and should be held responsible

  • Louis Godena

    There is much in what Hamdane says; one can go round and round about the “original” owners of this or that strip of land, and not only, as Hamdane points out, in Israel. However, there are very real and very contemporary political issues here, especially as they pertain to the Right of Return of more than 1 million Palestinian refugees and their descendents. On the other hand, admitting the refugees would put paid to the notion of a “Jewish state,” an anachronism in any case, and, in the modern world, an increasingly untenable and dangerous one. And, yes, the Arab world has, as one Israeli pundit said, “screwed the Palestinians more than any single Israeli government ever could.”

  • simon

    Let me articulate the global sentiments expressed against Israel. The issue is not why Israel invaded Gaza. Most rational people understand this was in response to the recent provocation by Hamas. The anti-Israel sentiments all over the world in this particular Gaza incident (and the 2006 Lebanon case as well) is about “HOW” Israel has conducted both these wars. It is the “BRUTALITY” that the world is disgusted with. Even the USA in Iraq or Afghanistan has not meted out such “SAVAGELY”! Yet the USA has the means and capability to do so if they so chose. That is why there is the Geneva convention. This Geneva convention realizes that wars will continue to be waged for a long time to come, but that if and when they do occur, nations must not descend into “BARBARIC” slaughter of civilians on the scale we have seen in GAZA.

    That is the issue here…….. un-precedented Barbarism and savagely on the part of Israel.

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