Gaza on the precipice


Chaos at Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza City

Gaza has become a hell disaster. A hell disaster calculated, operated and executed by people not far from here who have no idea about the humanity they’ve set about destroying. I asked in my first report from Gaza, “Which people now preparing to go to their beds, will have their lives turned upside down by the loss of a loved one these next few days?”

In the days since, over a hundred more people who were alive when I wrote that, who may have wondered the same question, have been burned, crushed, torn open or blown up by the Israeli bombardments and tank shelling. It’s horrifying to predict more death, more heartache with such certainty, but this is Gaza right now.

Despite attempts at a ceasefire in Cairo and Jerusalem, visiting Arab foreign government delegations weeping in the hospitals, and hundreds of foreign journalists coming in to Gaza, the Israeli strategy is to continue to kill.

In the next thirty minutes another Palestinian civilian will have their life ended. Soon after I’ll know where they were killed, and in 45 minutes I’ll know their name, and soon after that I’ll know the age at which they were taken away from their families and loved ones. In offices about 50 miles away Israeli military strategists are deciding which family, bank, media office or neighbourhood will be eradicated throughout the day, and public relations are deciding whether they need to say the children lived in a terrorist command centre, weapons factory, communications bureau or safehouse. They say that for every man woman and child that is killed, and media in Europe and America repeat it. With power the lies can go much further.

Yesterday, Al-Shifa hospital was in chaos. In just a few minutes I saw eleven ambulances and eight cars arrive, transporting the dead and injured from an attack on Shejaiya, East of Gaza City. Men, women and children were hauled out of the vehicles, carried, put on stretchers and sprinted in to the hospital. Doctor Ayman Asahabani, head of emergency services said:

“There had been three attacks in Shejaiya, Zaytoun and Sabra neighbourhoods that all happened simultaneously. We had ten killed and many more injured all arriving together. It is very difficult. See the people coming in, they hit everyone. We are now struggling and non-life threatening injuries are being sent away as soon as possible.” A boy was being stopped from entering the hospital. He told me, “My father, my father is inside. He has shrapnel in his chest. My street was bombed by a drone, then F16 in Shejaiya. Baghdad street, many homes and families, I saw three were dead. They talk about ceasefire, but look at this.”

Thirty-eight aid agencies warned Monday of a humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip if violence continues. Palestinian Red Crescent General Director Dr Khalil Abu Foul and Director of Al Quds hospital told us that in one day, a month’s basic provisions like bandages, anaesthetics, antibiotics, sutures will be used. There are also shortages of detergents, gloves, IVU treatments, and some serious patients have been transferred to Egypt due to a shortage of ventilators and anti-swelling drugs.

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A Palestinian child in Al Shifa hospital, November 18, 2012.
(Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills)

Overnight the attacks continued, one very close shook our building like never before, and one of the few windows we hadn’t taken down was smashed in the corridor. The piercing buzz of the drones above has not stopped for days and the shelling from the sea has intensified. The time between the thuds of the launch and the crash of the inland explosions from the gunships were much shorter indicating the Israeli navy was positioned right at the Gaza harbour. We will leave soon to see where exactly the bombs were landing.

A friend Malaka in Shejaiya messaged me last night, “Now, The IOF starts using new kinds of bombs at my region. It is like the phosphorous bomb. When they launch it, its shrapnel spread everywhere and it has a strange sound too. I don’t know what the next few moments will hold”. Dr Abu Foul confirmed to us that in each major attack new kinds of weapons have been used on the Palestinian people with unusual effects, such as the white phosphorous used in Operation Cast Lead four years ago. Witnesses are claiming similar burns effecting casualties this time. 

Malaka had also received leaflets dropped over many areas on the eastern side of Gaza yesterday evening. It was an Israeli Military Order to Gaza residents of Sheikh Ajleen, Tal Al-hawa, Al-Rimal Janoob, Al Zaytoon neighborhood, Shejaiya, Al Turkman, and New Shejaiya, Al-Shatey, Al-Atatrah, Beit Lahia, and Beit Hanoun to evacuate. It is impossible for over a third of Gaza’s population from some of the poorest areas to evacuate. No one was sure if this was the sign of upcoming ground invasions or more psychological warfare. “I’m really really sad. We had to leave our house in Altwaam,” one of my students told me. “We are in Rimal now. It’s not too safe but better than my area”. Thousands of others have left their homes.

The order exemplifies the Israel expectation that Palestinians should not argue when being forced out of their homes. Yahya Nahal said, “I was forced from my house where Israel is now. I have lived my life under military occupation and the siege of Gaza. Where do they want me to go now?” He was outside his house in Northern Gaza along the beach when he and other family members were hit on Sunday by an F16 bomb. He was in hospital when we met him with shrapnel deep in his leg and torso. “My nephew is dead. My cousins are in intensive care. My nine year old niece Tasmine was buying something for her little brother from the shop nearby. She came out and shrapnel flew in to her, she had no chance.”

The news and many visits over the last few days confirmed that the carnage brought about by the initial attack has been dwarfed as we have entered a new chapter of violence. The latter half of the week saw four times more dead than the first half with the current Palestinian death toll at 149 compared to five Israelis killed in the same period. Again the majority are civilians and over 1200 have been injured, with 35 Palestinian children killed.

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Ruins of a Palestinian stadium hit by an Israeli airstrike, Gaza City, November 19, 2012.
(Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

On Saturday we ordered a taxi and sped round to see what had been the damage by the previous night’s attacks. The Gaza Interior Ministry, where I had been regularly on my arrival and from where I was still expecting to receive my foreign ID card, had been turned to rubble. A large school next door was burnt out, and as F16s were heard in the distance we ran back to the taxi. The Government Headquarters was also destroyed, and we went round a neighbour’s house that had been severely damaged in the attack. Four huge craters marked the side of the Palestine Stadium, each one about 20 metres across and dropped in a near perfect line, the stink of sulphur still rising.

Also on Saturday, a Palestinian friend described how his cousin’s house was destroyed along with the Bureij Al Rahman Mosque in a F16 and drone attack. Around 3am early on Saturday morning two drone missiles hit the roof of the house. Within two minutes of leaving the house, a two ton F16 missile was dropped on to the mosque next to their house. When they came back the next morning the explosion at the mosque had partially destroyed his house. Shaban Alashkar, the father, said, “after the first drone missile we didn’t go out so they knew we were still there, they were watchinig us, 2 minutes later they bombed the house. When the family went up to the roof for the first time, it was then that they all began to weep, as the extent of the damage was understood.”

As well as many mosques, three media buildings have now been targeted, and three journalists killed. We saw Al Shawa building hit by a drone, three floors of the Shorouq building burnt out and Na’ama building has just been attacked as I write. These buildings host ITN, Russia Today, Sky, French Press and Aljazeera among many other international news stations, and I have previously reported from all of them. Israel claims it is targeting Al-Aqsa, the government media station, which again contravenes international law.

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Khader Haidar al-Zahhar, 20, in Al Shifa hospital’s
intensive care unit. (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills)

Khadar Zahar, was a twenty year old cameraman for Al-Quds TV. He lost his leg in the attack on Al Shawa building top floor by three missiles from a drone. “Friends came to carry me but another missile hit.” He told us in the intensive care unit. “I fell down and everyone fled for cover.  While I was bleeding I went down two floors, crawling with my leg dragging behind. I had to wait for ambulances. It was three missiles so we were clearly targeted.”

Many have been injured in the ongoing attacks on media. Also in intensive care was a six year old girl who fell out of the third floor of a building next to the Shorouq building because of the blast there. The doctor told us she was haemorrhaging and had a 50-50 chance of survival.

According to the last week, the media doesn’t matter and neither do ambulance workers. According to Dr. Abu Foul, “We are protected by the Geneva conventions we should not be targetted, we are trying to save lives. It is obvious who we are, we have sirens wailing and fluorescent rescuer jackets. Yet nine of our ambulance workers have been injured so far by return attacks and seventeen were killed before in the Cast Lead attacks.”

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A man holding one of the Abu al-Dalu children during the Abu al-Dali funeral in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, November 19, 2012. (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

Major casualties have been children. This was most horrifically manifested as arrived at the scene of what was the three-story Dalou family home, along Nasser street in Gaza City. With no warning, F16s dropped huge bombs, destroying the building with an estimated 15 people in it. We arrived to see the road filled with rubble, twisted metal and concrete with crowds of neighbours and ambulances waiting. Eight bodies had been pulled out, a man, four children and three women. Another woman’s body was pulled out while we were there. Four women died in total: Samah, Tahani, Suhaila and Ranim and four children – Jamal, 6, Yousef, 4, Sarah, 7, and 1-year-old Ibrahim. They were buried in Gaza City on Monday. The bombing of a family home is an evident war crime under any circumstance. The Hamas member alleged to have been targeted by Israel is understood not to have been there, and they are still searching for another little girl. Attacks on family homes have been a common occurrence.

Late Monday night Fouad Hijazi and his sons Mohammed Hijazi who is four and Suheib who is two years old, were murdered in their house in Beit Laheya. Fouad’s wife, Amna, was also pulled from the rubble. She was in intensive care but died shortly after. In all, 14 were wounded in this attack. An American friend went to the funeral yesterday.

Once the victims are counted up, the ceasefire discussions reported from Egypt and Jerusalem were appearing increasingly unlikely. Israeli F16s and drones spent the whole day and night targeting civilians, press cars, family homes. Even if you don’t understand that Palestinians have suffered years of ethnic cleansing, military occupation and in Gaza a five year encroaching siege on their land, air and sea borders, you can at least assess the recent days events. More Palestinians are now being killed each day than the total Israelis killed in eight years by Palestinian rockets.

The last days of Israeli attacks have been about the children of Gaza, as so many have been pulled limp and lifeless out of the rubble of their homes. As the mass scale bombings and gunship shellings at the beginning of the six days pulverised Gaza, the last days have seen frequent direct attacks on civilian homes, buildings, mosques, shops and factories. We’ve just heard that the Palestine stadium has been completely destroyed, a common theme as kids playing football have been attacked frequently. We will now visit an UNRWA school full of people who have evacuate, refugees for a second third, fourth time.

Its Mahmoud Darwish again:

Where should we go after the last frontiers?  
Where should the birds fly after the last sky?

Witnessing the merciless punishment of a defenceless and blameless people makes my heart heavy. Witnessing the human loss while governments and media sing for the perpetrator, makes my mind numb. It feels like you’re in no man’s land. Where dead kids don’t matter. Where it’s okay for people’s houses to fall in. Where every person living here can be executed and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. Things matter, when most of the world’s humanity decides it should. This means pressuring politicians, this means mobilisation, this means direct action, this means relentless protest, this means contacting and approaching media, and this means spreading the stories of those in the besieged Gaza Strip, the brave Palestinian youth determined to give voice to the destruction they are facing. This is what Palestinians need from you, for the whole region right now is on the precipice, and the children of Gaza will fall first.

Here are some of the names of the no longer living:

  • Gumana Salamah Abu Sufyan, 1 year old.
  • Tamer Salamah  Abu Sufyan, 3 years old.
  • Eyad Abu Khusa, 18 months old.
  • Tasneem Zuheir Al-Nahhal, 13 years old.
  • Ranin Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 5 years old.
  • Jamal Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 7 years old.
  • Yousef Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 10 years old.
  • Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 1 year old.
  • Hussein Jalal Nasser, 8 years old.
  • Mohammed Iyad Abu Zour, 5 years old.
  • Rama Al-Shandi, 1 year old

About Adie Mormech

Adie Mormech is a human rights advocate based in the Gaza Strip.
Posted in Gaza, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, On the ground reports

{ 0 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. jon s says:

    The Israelis killed:
    Mira Scharf,27
    Itzik Amsalem,24
    Aharon Smadja,46
    Corporal Yosef Partok, 18
    Eliyan Salem el-Nabari,33

    • seafoid says:

      The sociopaths shot themselves in the feet, Jon

      ” The real enemy is never the Iraqis, or the Serbs, or the Afghans (or the Jews or the Palestinians) . The real enemy is the war itself and the system that sustains it”

      Those Israelis were fodder for the system. RIP.

      link to haaretz.com

      “This may seem an insignificant anecdote, but it says something about the situation in which Israel finds itself at the end of a week of hostilities in the Gaza Strip and on the cusp of a potential cease-fire. When dozens of kilometers from Gaza, the prime minister of Israel was unable to speak live on Israeli television, it’s difficult to convince the Israeli public that the Israeli military operation, Pillar of Defense, had been replete with success.

      Netanyahu and Lieberman came to power in no small measure because of Operation Cast Lead. The residents of the south voted in their masses for the pair, who had taken Olmert and Livni to task for their failure to get rid of Hamas. The challengers from Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu promised in every setting before the 2009 elections that they would accomplish what Olmert and Livni didn’t. Ultimately, their own past criticisms have come crashing into the reality of the present. What remains of their fiery speeches is the understanding of the limits of force.
      What remained for Netanyahu to do at the Sde Boker ceremony was present his alibi to the south’s residents and Likud’s voters. What remained was for him to explain why he was willing to settle for a cease-fire that included concessions to a terrorist organization, rather than overthrowing Hamas as he had promised.
      Netanyahu’s first line of defense was to underline the accomplishments of the past week. We had hit the leaders of the terrorists, destroyed thousands of missiles, we had hit Hamas installations and restored deterrence. Netanyahu’s second line of defense was to explain the complications that made him reluctant to launch a ground operation in Gaza. “Israel is at the heart of an unstable, complex and dangerous region … and we must act with diplomatic wisdom,” he said. His third line of defense was to repeat election promises to residents of the south: We will look after you, repair the damage and give you compensation.
      Although the exit strategy from Pillar of Defense is almost identical to the one from Cast Lead, the balance of power it leaves between Israel and Hamas is worse. Rocket fire on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and a parade of Arab foreign ministers to the Gaza Strip, giving legitimacy to Hamas, are just two examples. “

    • eljay says:

      >> The Israelis killed:

      Unfortunately, the Zio-supremacist state of Israel will not be deterred from its immoral and unjust, 60+ years, ON-GOING and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.

      The dream of a Promised Land of Greater Israel must be fulfilled!

    • jon s says:

      The number of Israeli dead has risen to six, after a reserve officer died of his wounds:
      Capt. Boris Yarmulnik, 28

      • eljay says:

        >> The number of Israeli dead has risen to six …

        Meanwhile, the illegal and immoral occupation and colonization of Palestine continues.

        • Obsidian says:

          Illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine?

          Eljay. The Occupation isn’t even illegal. What on earth are you talking about?

        • eljay says:

          >> Eljay. The Occupation isn’t even illegal.

          When was the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestine – of land outside of its declared 1948 borders – declared legal?

        • Hostage says:

          Eljay. The Occupation isn’t even illegal. What on earth are you talking about?

          Oh yes it is. Any military occupation in violation of the UN Charter is contained in the General Assembly’s Definition of the Crime of Aggression. So are blockades. The ICJ has already cited that definition as a reflection of binding customary international law in several cases, including the Nicaragua vs. the United States case which it cited in the “Construction of a Wall” advisory opinion. The General Assembly’s definition was incorporated into an amendment to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression during a review conference in 2010.

          In the “Certain Expenses” case, the ICJ noted that the Security Council has primary, but not exclusive jurisdiction, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It noted that the General Assembly’s powers and functions are not limited to making hortatory recommendations and that it can adopt “decisions” with binding legal effect on any question in accordance with Article 18 of the UN Charter.

          Article 13 of the UN Charter also assigns the General Assembly with responsibility for the progressive codification of international law. After 50 years of effort in the International Conference of American States and the League of Nations, the international community developed the consensus “Definition of Aggression” contained in General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) 1974. The relevant portion of the Rome Statute reads:

          Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, qualify as an act of aggression:
          (a) The invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of
          another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof;
          (b) Bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State or the use of any weapons by a State against the territory of another State;
          (c) The blockade of the ports or coasts of a State by the armed forces of another State;
          (d) An attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or
          marine and air fleets of another State;

          link to icc-cpi.int

          The General Assembly long ago demanded that Israel immediately and unconditionally withdraw its armed forces from all of the Arab occupied territories. The Assembly also determined that Israel’s continued occupation of the Arab territories captured in 1967 in violation of UN resolutions violates the terms of the UN Charter and satisfies the UN’s Definition of Aggression. See
          *General Assembly Resolution ES-9/1 link to un.org
          * General Assembly resolution 39/146 link to un.org

        • Hostage says:

          When was the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestine – of land outside of its declared 1948 borders – declared legal?

          For many years Prof. Rosalyn Cohen Higgins wrote journal articles which suggested that military occupation was not illegal per se:

          “ [t]here is nothing in either the Charter or general international law which leads one to suppose that military occupation pending a peace treaty is illegal.”

          — Rosalyn Higgins, The Place of International Law in the Settlement of Disputes by the Security Council, 64 AM. J. INT’L L. 1, 8 (1970).

          Many Zionists grew accustomed to using that argument, even after the UN General Assembly and other UN organs declared Israel’s continued occupation and settlements in defiance of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions to be flagrantly illegal and violations of its treaty obligations under the Charter and Geneva Conventions. The adoption of the Definition of Aggression, including military occupation in 1974 should have settled the matter.

          In the 2004 advisory opinion, the ICJ also found the settlements and the associated Israeli administrative regime in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, to be illegal (not just the construction of the Wall). Judge Higgins dispelled any lingering doubts when she advised that:

          “A binding determination made by a competent organ of the United Nations to the effect that a situation is illegal cannot remain without consequence.” She said “That an illegal situation is not to be recognized or assisted by third parties is self-evident . . . Although in the present case it is the Court, rather than a United Nations organ . . . that has found the illegality; and although it is found in the context of an advisory opinion rather than in a contentious case, the Court’s position as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations suggests that the legal consequence for a finding that an act or situation is illegal is the same.

          — See Her Opinion in Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory link to icj-cij.org

        • RoHa says:

          “The Occupation isn’t even illegal.”

          It is illegal, but, far more importantly, it is immoral.

          However, it is clear that Zionists just do not understand morality.

      • Bumblebye says:

        In which incident was he wounded, jon s? Was it before or after the Jabari assassination? Like, maybe he was wounded in one of the incursions designed to ignite this awful situation? Because sure as eggs is eggs, Israel won’t be counting in the kids it killed playing footie before that! It’ll be shouting look how moral we are! Only killed this many, not that many! And it won’t be counting in any Palestinians who die subsequently of their wounds.

  2. Israel is the Nelson Muntz of the international community.

    “Stop hitting yourself.”

    Their media enablers ask in all seriousness, “Why won’t Palestinians stop hitting themselves?”

    The message needed to break through their spin is this -

    MURDER as cover for THEFT is *not* SELF-DEFENSE!

  3. Citizen says:

    Cease fire announced in Cairo by Hillary.
    US taxpayers: I predict U will soon B borrowing $ billions more from China 2 pay 4 yet more military freebies 2 Israel. US IS ISRAEL’S ATM.

    No “fiscal cliff” for Israeli jews, just for All Americans.

    More Americans than ever are using food stamps to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving.
    But it will be Israel’s Thanksgiving Day, not America’s.

    The US House busy passing a resolution now in total support for Israel’s actions in Gaza. Lame duck Kucinich seems the lone dissenter. He points out to nobody listening that Israel’s “self defense” justification is not an endlessly stretching rubber band, that is, actual factual context to why those homemade rockets are ever fired at Israel.

    More Iron Dome for Israel, more food stamps for Americans.

  4. Citizen says:

    Israel has agreed to nothing except cease fire at time certain today, everything before and after is totally up to Israel–here’s the document: instagram.com/p/STUY-cgSro/

    For that flimsy guarantee, stay tuned for how much more Obama has bribed Israel at the expense of the US taxpayers on food stamps to get their turkeys on Thankgiving Day next: instagram.com/p/STUY-cgSro/

    Cease fire takes effect in 15 minutes.
    Bibi is about to speak (on how his campaign to win reelection is doing great).

    Why don’t the US just devote half of its total pentagon spending to Israel?
    Obviously, there is no fiscal cliff involved when it comes to support of Israel uber alles. (Egypt gets next biggest chunk of US aid, but only so long as it kisses Israel).

    Bibi is speaking now about cease fire, on CNN. Bibi is the clear winner here. He learned his lessons well when hob-nobbing in elite USA way back in the day. He will win reelection in Israel and in USA.

  5. Hostage says:

    US taxpayers: I predict U will soon B borrowing $ billions more from China 2 pay 4 yet more military freebies 2 Israel. US IS ISRAEL’S ATM. . . . More Iron Dome for Israel, more food stamps for Americans

    Well yeah, Defense Secretary Panetta had already promised 650 million dollars more for additional Iron Dome launchers and missiles.

    • Theo says:

      In my simple opinion the Iron Dome provides fake security!
      Sure, they can shoot down a missile or two, but what happens if the palestinians fire 200 at once? How many will be intercepted and how many will hit the target?

  6. American says:

    Cease fire declared.
    Let’s see what comes out of it….’if’ Israel doesnt lift the Gaza blockade (re to Egypt)and cease targeted assassinations of it leaders which were Hamas conditions in return for not mounting rockets into Israel ‘and’ rooting out other groups who do…then the cease fire isn’t worth shit.
    Not worth shit anyway cause Israel has never, ever upheld it’s word in anything.

    The summary is this…..
    Palestine/Hamas says it wants a ”permanent” solution……which is what they’ve always said.
    Israel wants to keep doing what they’ve always done…which is what they’ve always done…despite whatever they’ve always said.

    So nothing’s changed except the Arab Spring has made more ME countries and leaders come out publicaly on Hamas’s side in direct opposition to the US.

  7. piotr says:

    There are news that a ceasefire agreement was reached.

    It is a bit of tradition over there to rush through the last hours of “official conflict” and bomb. Still, even though every war, however small, is terrible, this one pales in the dreadful comparison to “Cast Lead”.

    Because of that I expect big frustration in Israel, although I do not know if far-far-right will gain in the process. Surely there will be a lot of talk about IDF fighting with one-hand tied etc.

    Thus I would not be surprised if Israel makes another assassination few days from now. If not, I would give some credit to Obama.

  8. Jan says:

    I am so afraid that once again Israel will break the cease fire especially as the Israeli elections grow near. They will, of course, lie and make some phony excuse. To trust Israel is totally crazy. They have broken so many cease fires, killed so many innocent people that it makes Jon’s list seem insignificant by comparison. I don’t want anyone to die but when Jon tries to compare the number of Israelis killed to the number of Palestinians killed not only in this assault but over the years his number fades into the background.

    Israel makes no friends by what they are doing. Maybe they need to think twice before they embark on another killing spree with US weapons. The US needs to think twice before it gives Israel more weapons and support and proves to all, if they didn’t know already, that it is not and has never been “even handed.” It is a new Middle East and the US and Israel had better wake up…….and soon.