In this roundups of blogs from Gaza, we hear how an ambulance driver deals with his fear, the effect of the warning announcements made by the IDF on local TV and radio stations – and how the possibility of leaving Gaza is the only thing giving an NGO worker the strength to go on.
Australian activist Sharyn Lock writes at Tales to Tell:
Tonight, Tuesday, just before I came on shift, I caught a ride with S that turned unexpectedly into the pickup of the body of a resistance fighter. This was in fact the first time in all these days since I began riding with the ambulances, that I saw a fighter in my ambulance. Since it was just the two of us I helped to haul what was left of him – which didn’t involve a head or the top of his torso – onto the stretcher. I was glad of the darkness that blurred the details, though it also made me very aware that our every move in this apparently empty wasteland was probably being observed. […] Later on into the night, medic E asks me more specifically what I had felt when seeing the shaheed resistance guy. […] He begins to talk to me about his own feelings. He is 36, has been a medic for ten years. He has a wife and four children. He says he has never seen anything as bad as these days, in that time. And he says a lot of the time he is very frightened. Sometimes so frightened, if the area is dangerous, that he almost can’t bring himself to continue to drive towards the call-out location. He describes a call-out during the night that we had both been on (perhaps thinking I had observed this hesitation) saying that he first thought he couldn’t do it; he had to stop, talk himself through his fear, and then continue with the collection, expecting a rocket to blow him apart at any moment. It seems that with the drone surveillance technology, they really can send rockets with your name on.
Tonight, we collect two men carrying a little girl of 13 months. She is still warm, but EB finds no pulse. If I understood correctly, she has had breathing difficulties since she was born, and in the rocket attack that just happened, her mother held her so tight she wasn’t able to get enough air. I ask to clarify this story several times because I want to think I’ve misunderstood.
Prof. Said Abdelwahed, who teaches English at Al-Azhar University, writes at Moments of Gaza:
A medical doctor told me that hundreds of the injured will never recover and return to normal life! I saw a video of a 15 years old girl with legs mutilated from over knees, and another one with one leg remaining, and others … Health situation is deteriorating with the limited capacities of surgery operation rooms and poor available facilities. Some 60-70 doctors from the Arab countries and some European ones, in support of the Palestinian surgeons, is a help but it is still that some injured cannot be treated in Gaza no matter what. … Also, 13 paramedics lost their lives while on duty; many ambulances were shot at when they wanted to save injured and evacuate dead bodies! It's all exclamation marks!
The IDF have infiltrated the air waves of local radio stations and TV channels. As we watch the news all of a sudden the screen goes black and an IDF message appears: “You will witness the unleashing of our wrath!!’. We turn off the TV and turn to the radio, moments later the broadcasting is interrupted and a harsh voice comes through the speakers: “Leave your area and gather in the center of your town! We are warning you for your own safety! This is the IDF”. Where are people supposed to go? Those in the center of the city such as my family are already being bombarded, and each home is already accommodating at least 1 or 2 families that have fled their areas. UNRWA shelters are already full and the streets aren’t safe. So we are people are being forewarned when in reality, they have no option but to stay put. Many people feel that it would be more merciful not to be warned of the imminent deaths.
In my home we are taking in as many of our relatives, who live in more dangerous areas, as we can. At mealtime, several people gather in a couple of circles at 2 tables to eat, as others wait their turn. We eat in 3 shifts. When its time to sleep, some people sleep on couches, others in chairs and others on blankets on the floor. During the last 16 days, along with the entire people of Gaza we have learned how to live with the most minimal aspect of comfort, and have experienced the hardships of an impoverished life to their fullest. When the power lines were fixed 2 days ago, electricity and running water were restored to our homes for 6 hours a day. The moment the power came on in our neighborhood, you could hear the cries of happiness and celebration coming from every apartment and house within hearing, despite the ongoing bombardment.
Mohammed Ali, who works for the NGO Oxfam, writes on the Oxfam blog from his home in Gaza City:
This morning I heard people chanting outside, I wondered what it was, and then, the lights came on – the electricity had come back on, hurrah! I immediately turned on the television, charged my phone, checked emails. For a moment, I felt somewhat liberated. These things that we often take for granted have become so precious of late. We have no clean water left. Our water tank is empty. My father could not turn away the increasing amount of people knocking at our door with empty jerry cans in hand. He did not realise how much water he had given out until it was too late. Shops are running out of clean water; we were not able to find any in our neighbourhood. We can use the untreated water but we should really boil it first to avoid getting sick, but we face another obstacle; we have very little gas left. We will just have to drink the unsterilised water so that we can save the rest of the gas for cooking food. By the way, if you have never cooked with a gas burner, I can tell you, it makes the food taste of gasoline, the coffee taste of gasoline, we now even smell of gasoline. […] I applied for a scholarship in the UK several months ago. I was expecting to find out in early January whether or not my application was successful. I have been waiting impatiently for days. […] The possibility of going to the UK is giving me the hope I need to live. My wife thinks I am crazy, as I talk to her as if we are definitely going; I describe the friends we will have, the restaurants we will go to, the walks around the parks…at least if I die, I will die with a little hope, the hope that I will have the chance to live a better life, even if for now it is but a dream.
Most of the time we don't have any electricity in my house. So when the power comes for an hour or two the whole family is busy. We charge our mobiles, pump water, bake bread. But I have seen so many horrible things on TV that sometimes I wish we could stay without power. So far, my own family is okay but I feel shy to speak about my family. I don't think like that. Everyone in Gaza is my family. We are suffering collectively as we are being punished and forgotten collectively, and we are dying. […] It is not true to say this is a war between Hamas and Israel. I am an eyewitness in Gaza and though you may think that Gaza is a country and Hamas is a great and powerful army, these are lies. The Palestinian factions do not own tanks, warplanes, or warships. They have homemade rockets, simple weapons. They cannot do anything against Israel's great and powerful army. We are living under complete siege with daily killings and our houses destroyed. Hamas and other Palestinian factions are trying to defend Palestinians from the continuing massacres, invasions and air strikes. The Israeli occupation and actions in Gaza are terrorist actions, as are many of their actions and policies dating back to their ethnic cleansing campaign in 1948. I don't have any guns or weapons. I struggle by simply telling the truth.