Those killed in Gaza have a name, and each has a family that grieves for them

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 10 Comments
Mourners under the martyr poster of Adel Alessy  photo: Barber

I have read several accounts over the last few days of how life in Southern Israel has become unbearable for the people living there. In retaliation for the latest provocation by Israel over 200 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. 11 people were injured, one seriously. Most were suffering from “shock”. Two were injured when they tripped on the way to secure areas.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon on Thursday said, “Anyone threatening us is risking his life. We will retaliate until they beg us to stop.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel makes its “best effort to target terrorists and not the civilian population,” but added: “We will not accept the constant disruption of life in the south of Israel, and I advise all heads of terror to think well about their actions.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned “in the strongest terms” the rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. “We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts,” she said in a statement Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Meeting with opposition leader Tzipi Livni in New York, Clinton said Israel has the right to defend itself.

Why is it that the Palestinians have no right to respond to Israeli aggression? If rocket fire into Israel is a “cowardly” act, what exactly is bombing with F-16’s and drones? Why does Israel have a right to defend itself, but no such rights extend to the Palestinian people?

With the exception of the two men Israel assassinated on Friday, Zuhair al-Qaisy, secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, and Mahmoud Ahmad Al-Hanini, a Hamas military leader, the Palestinians killed remained nameless in all mainstream media accounts.

But I assure you, those killed have a name, and each has a family that grieves for them.

Adel Alessy, sixty-one-years-old, was working as a watchman on a piece of farmland. Saleh, his son, said people came to his house to tell him his father had been killed in an air strike on Sunday morning. “My father was known by all the people in this area and everyone liked him,” said Saleh, “He was working hard, trying to feed his family.” He added, “There were no rockets shot from the farm that day. The Israeli’s know that, but they wanted to do this crime to prevent our farmers from working on their land.”

Adel Alessy’s sons Saleh and Mohammed at home photo: Barber

Adel’s brother Mohammed added, “He worked hard his entire life, and he never refused to help anyone who asked for help.” Adel Alessy is survived by his wife and seven children.

On Tuesday morning Muhammed Mostafa El-Hasami, seventy-two-years-old, and his daughter Fayza, thirty-five-years-old, went to spend the day planting at their small farm. Dr Abed Allalah, his son, explains, “My father was a teacher as well as a farmer for the past 40 years.” Two rockets were fired from the adjoining property. One rocket failed and crashed into a greenhouse, starting a fire. Abed says, “My father and sister went to put out the fire when an Israeli drone targeted them. When we heard the bombing, we went to see what happened and found both my father and sister on the ground in pieces. Fayza’s mother heard her last words, “I am dying.” Her husband died within minutes of arriving at the hospital.

Abed told me, “Israel must be pressured to stop targeting innocent civilians. They must stop killing women, children, and old men. I believe Israel knows they are killing innocent people but they don’t care, because no one in the world is confronting them.” A wife, three sons and four daughters remain to grieve the loss of a beloved father and sister.

Um Mohammed, the mother of twelve-year-old Ayoub Asalya told me how her son was afraid when the air strikes began, and how he slept restlessly by her side the night before his death. Before he left for school he bargained with his mother. She would buy new sandals for him and he’d buy her a gift on mother’s day. A few minutes after he left the house his mother heard an explosion.

Ayoub Asalya’s Martyr poster  photo: Johnny Barber

She found Ayoub’s cousin, Wafi, face down in the street. Ayoub’s body was found less than fifty yards from the house in the orchard, under a lemon tree. One of the neighbors said he couldn’t recognize Ayoub. Um Mohammed said, “I can’t imagine my son, who I was just talking with, lying in pieces.” Both legs were severed. One leg was not recovered.

Ayoub’s mother in the lemon grove where he was killed photo: Barber

A breeze rustles through the lemon trees. Um Mohammed picks a lemon from a tree that is splattered with Ayoub’s blood. Shreds of his clothing lie scattered on the ground. “The Israeli’s claimed they targeted fighters,” she said, “Do they think Ayoub was shooting rockets? Where are the human rights of the Palestinian people?” Ayoub was the third child of Um Mohammed killed by the Israelis. “Now who will bring me a gift on Mothers day?” she asks.

The injured also have names, dreams, and memory. I was unable to lift my camera to record their injuries, but stood alongside them, silent. A friend did document the injured. You can view photographs of them here. No one was crying. Their injuries were severe. Moath Abo al-Eash, twenty-years-old, suffered burns to his face and hands, smoke inhalation, and shrapnel wounds to his chest, torso, hands and face. When asked what message he would like to send to the world, he said, “My picture is enough to tell the world.”

But I am afraid it is not enough. The Clintons, Nulands, Yalons, and Libermans of the world are not so easily swayed. The human misery they inflict on Palestine and the rest of the world does not influence their political calculations. They have the power, the money, the sophisticated weapons, and a complicit media. But I can also tell you this; the Palestinian people bear their burden with dignity. Like the people of Libya, the people of Egypt, the people of Bahrain, the people of Syria, and people around the world, they demand their freedom. They will never beg.

(Crossposted at Johnny Barber’s blog oneBrightpearl  and oneBrightpearl Photography)

About Johnny Barber

Johnny Barber has traveled to Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza & Afghanistan to witness and document the suffering of people affected by war advocating reconciliation and nonviolent strategies in the face of violence and oppression. and

Other posts by .

Posted In:

10 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    March 20, 2012, 10:26 am

    it’s strange just the other day posting about shayna wanting to see a photo of Ayoub Asalya alive…and here is his martyrs photo.

    it’s crushing. these are all very powerful images.

    • Hostage
      March 21, 2012, 12:28 am

      The General Assembly seems to have reconvened the 10th Emergency Special Session. The Observer for Palestine circulated a two page letter containing the names and ages of the dead which complained that: “This letter is in follow-up to our previous 420 letters regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000″.

      After outlining a litany of serious crimes it said:
      We again repeat that the international community, including the Security Council, cannot remain silent or continue to only express regret or disappointment at Israel’s violations. It is the responsibility of the international community to put an end to these crimes by the occupying Power, and this begins with holding Israel accountable under international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions. The Palestinian people cannot remain the exception to this responsibility to protect civilians from such war crimes and atrocities. . . . I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.
      link to

  2. eljay
    March 20, 2012, 10:28 am

    >> “Anyone threatening us is risking his life. We will retaliate until they beg us to stop.”

    The Jewish state may threaten and may retaliate against threats, but Palestinians are entitled to do neither of the two.

    >> “We will not accept the constant disruption of life … and I advise all heads of terror to think well about their actions.”

    1. Why should Palestinians accept the constant disruption of life by the Jewish state?
    2. Terror has heads?

    >> “We call on those responsible to take immediate action to stop these cowardly acts”

    The call goes out to both the Palestinians and the Jewish state…yes?

  3. lysias
    March 20, 2012, 11:09 am

    EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said, in reference to the killings in Toulouse, “all should remember the young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances – the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”

    Avigdor Lieberman’s response:

    Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman critisized the EU FM’s comments, saying they were “inappropriate and I hope that Ashton reexamines and retracts them.”

    Israel is the most moral country in the world, despite having to fight terrorists operating from within a civilian population. The IDF is doing everything it can to not hurt that population even though it is defending terrorists,” Lieberman said.

    The FM added that the “children Ashton needs to focus on are the children of south Israel, who live in constant fear of Gaza rocket attacks.”

  4. Kathleen
    March 20, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Johnny such an important post. Outrageous double standards. No names no faces. Same is happenning for the 9 children and 7adults allegedly killed by American soldier Robert Bales in Afghanistan. All through the MSM people like Joe Scarborough, Mika etc all begin their responses to this massacre by saying “there is no excuse” then they spend the next five minutes going over multiple deployments etc etc. Issues many of us have begged the MSM to focus on 7, 8 years ago. Begging them to cover the Winter Soldier hearings where soldiers who had served in Afghanistan and Iraq testified about horrific crimes committed by some of them and horrific crimes by other American soldiers that they had witnessed. Many of us begged the MSM to interview returning soldiers years ago who some of us were talking to about what they were experiencing. They ignored the Winter Soldiers hearings. And when another horrific massacre takes place they put their spotlight on the stress our soldiers are under but do not have Winter soldiers on their programs. Then they help set the stage for Robert Bales insanity case which will more than likely allow him to go unpunished for these horrific crimes “no excuses” And on top of that Joe, Mika, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Diane Rehm do not give the adults and children massacred in Afghanistan names, faces, families. No they ignore them further dehuminizing these people. Shameful Shameful Shameful

  5. optimax
    March 20, 2012, 2:54 pm

    Thank you for your reporting on the living humanity of these innocent lives ended forever. It touches the heart with sadness. And it is the heart that connects all people that is the only way to peace. That they were alive, loved and loving, are facts the most jaded hasbarist cannot refute.

    It’s frustrating to see the media being used to make excuses for Sgt. Bales mass murder in Afghanistan, while ignoring the victims. Last night the news showed a picture of an adolescent Bales as the all-american kid in a baseball uniform. I’m sure it is his lawyer seeking public sympathy. But it comes across as racial and cultural arrogance in the absence of sympathy for the victims. All my sympathy goes to the Afghani victims, like the six year-old girl he shot between the eyes.

    There are some who say being anti-Bales is anti-American. Strange. When did being American become synonymous with the mass murder of innocent victims. That shows how far America has traveled since its founding (Jefferson wanted it written into the Constitution that we would not have a standing army during peace time) to become a culture of war. The reason the US keeps fighting unnecessary wars is because we have this huge military our Commander-and-Chief usually finds too convenient a tool to “rid the world of evil.” Clinton said that every great President is a War President, and what striving ego can resist inflating to the point of bursting. So go great nations too. Some here are trying to stop America and Israel from pursueing greatness through military actions before our beloved countries burst. And I commend thee.

  6. Denis
    March 21, 2012, 12:43 am

    Optimax: “There are some who say being anti-Bales is anti-American.”

    Please don’t try to project such statements onto the whole country. There are idiots in every country. Many Americans are very upset.

    Speaking of upset Americans and the names of victims, there’s a list of the Panjawi Massacre victims at:

    Here’s what the blogger had to say:

    “Even those of us who are non-religious, or anti-religious, or atheists, or agnostics, or whatever sometimes pray in response to tragedies like these. We pray, like everyone else, because it is the only possible way we could hope to affect the outcome. I pray for Mr. Wazir and the other surviving family members who are now condemned to the quiet, burning hell of waking up every morning for the rest of their lives without their loved-ones. And I pray, also, that there is another Hell, an appropriately painful and eternal one, waiting for Bobby Bales, and anyone else responsible for this massacre.”

    • optimax
      March 21, 2012, 12:30 pm

      How can you misrepresent what I said by saying ” don’t project such statements onto the whole country.” even after you copied my sentence with the qualifier “SOME” in it. I don’t understand how you can be so illogically offended, and it is waste of time to even respond.

      Justin Raimondo does blame American culture for producing the mass-murder Bales, a man who has run from personal responsibilty his whole life–the product of a narcissistic culture.

      link to

      Disclaimer: this does not mean every American is a narcissist, but it is a character flaw pervasive enough that it has a cultural momentum pushing us into unnecesary wars, where predominant concern is with the well-being of our soldiers and little thought or feeling is given to the people we terrorize and murder.

      A good movie about civilians as victims of war is the 1952 French movie “Forbidden Games.”

  7. Denis
    March 21, 2012, 2:37 pm

    @ optimax “my sentence with the qualifier “SOME” in it”

    I don’t know if it was your intention, but the fudge-word “SOME” is often used in a sentence like yours to cover up the fact that the writer cannot name a single person, or instance, or example, but just wants to stir up a controversy. Other cover-up words are “many” and “most.” They usually signal that the writer is blowing bubbles.

    Let’s say, arguendo, that you have a concrete example in mind, say some lout from Newark, NJ, who actually said such a thing. So what, unless you are trying to imply that the sentiment is a common one in the US? If you have data or examples that indicate the sentiment is prevalent, give them to us.

    I would be both delighted and grateful if you would provide us with all of the examples you can substantiate of Americans saying that being anti-Bates is being anti-American. I think we should put their names out there for the public to see, and I will applaud your efforts sincerely. But if you are just throwing out fiction to gain attention, bugger off.

    Thanks for the movie suggestion. I think in the Bales context a more appropriate movie might be Causalities of War, based on the true story of US servicemen Tony Meserve, Thomas Clarke, Herbert Hatcher, and Antanio Diaz kidnapping, raping, and murdering a Vietnamese girl, Pham Thi Mao. The movie ends on their conviction and so it doesn’t show how they eventually got off virtually scot-free or had their sentences reduced to a wrist-slap. Most servicemen accused of atrocities face no penalty, which is why these atrocities keep happening. As a lawyer and an ex-combat Marine following this Bales story, I find that fact of life very disturbing. I’m sure you feel the same way.

  8. optimax
    March 21, 2012, 4:41 pm


    You never did say why you changed “some American’s” to “whole country”.
    Oherwise, the rest of your interegation deserves an answer.

    First,I believe the following from an essay currently making round on the right-wing-side of the internet to imply being anti-Bale is anti-american:

    “What should really fall under scrutiny, then, as the facts of the Bales’ case come out, is the way certain media outlets undercut military morale in an underhanded way. It is one thing to condemn a soldier and lament an atrocity. That is understandable and worthy of public discussion. But what is not excusable is the slippery way the left tries to insinuate the actions of one soldier are in any way reflective of the entire armed services, the aims of the wars, or even the country itself.”

    In other words, Bales is not a product of American culture, of a war culture, and we are not responsible, and to question American exceptionalism as anything but a force for good (god even) is to be anti-American. But it is ok to to say the Muslims hate us for our freedoms and kill because they are a savage people with an evil religion. We are rational and they are not was also the the prevailing belief of many people(I don’t know how many. You do the research: look at WWII posters, movies, any war time propaganda or talk to some really old folks), if not most, (that evil fudge word, full of lard and sugar, and rots the teeth, makes you fat and lazy like quite a few (shit, I’m sorry) Americanskis (that’s anti-American) I see waddling (anti-penguin) down the street. (can’t remember the name of the street.)

    Here is the article:

    link to

    This is an interesting site it looks like nobody visits, but I like the way Bales’ wife (and I make no claims about the veracity of her quote) blames Obama for her husband’s rampage. In other words, anti-Americanism made Sgt. Bales shoot a six year-old between the eyes. All my sympathy goes to the victims and zero to Bales.

    link to

Leave a Reply