Gaza Under Attack: International eyewitnesses call for action

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
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Large fire caused by an Israeli airstrike on a house in Tel al Hawa, Gaza City on Wednesday evening, November 14 2012. (Photo: Lydia De Leeuw)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012, Gaza City

Beginning at 3:35 pm today, the Gaza Strip has been shaken by several Israeli army attacks from drones, apaches, F-16s, and naval vessels. One of the first people killed was Ahmed al-Jabari, chief of staff of Hamas’ military wing. Palestinian factions vowed revenge, and their armed wings have fired dozens of rockets towards Israel. Since the first attack this afternoon, Israeli forces have carried out more than 50 airstrikes across the Gaza Strip resulting in at least eight fatalities, including two young children and a woman pregnant with twins. The Ministry of Health also reports that more than 90 people have been injured.

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Part of the car Ahmed al Jabari was driving in when he was
assassinated in an Israeli airstrike in Thalatini area, Gaza city,
(Photo: Lydia De Leeuw)

Fears are growing that Israel may launch a large-scale ground offensive, a fear fuelled by the dropping of Israeli leaflets in North Gaza warning of an imminent overland invasion in the area, as well as the ongoing attacks.

Israel launched its ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’ this afternoon with the targeted killing of al-Jabari in an airstrike on a car in the Thalatin area in the east of Gaza City. Al-Jabari’s aide, Mohammad Al-Hams, who was also travelling in the car, suffered injuries and later died in hospital. Following this attack, a series of airstrikes was launched, targeting civilian areas throughout the Gaza Strip.

In the early evening, Israeli warships encroached into the Gaza sea and took position close to the shore, firing towards land. At approximately 8:00 pm, Israeli naval forces fired between 12 and 15 shells northwest of Beach Camp in Gaza City.

Many expect that the offensive will continue for several days, since the Israeli Prime Minister has declared that he is prepared to expand the operation. In a news conference earlier today, Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, said, “[t]he provocations we have suffered and the firing of rockets to the southern settlements within Israel have forced us to take this action. I want to make clear that Israeli citizens will not suffer such actions. The targets are to hit the rockets and to harm the organisation of Hamas.” However, the majority of the victims of these attacks have been civilians. People in Gaza have stocked up on food and fuel and taken shelter in their homes, and the staffs of most international organisations have been placed under curfew.

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Injured civilians are brought into al Shifa hospital during a series of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, November 14 2012 (Photo: Lydia De Leeuw)

Hospitals throughout the Strip have been inundated with victims of the attacks. Speaking in a press conference outside al-Shifa hospital, Dr. Mafed el-Makha el-Makhalalaty, the Minister for Health, explained that hospitals are suffering shortages due to the ongoing closure of the Gaza Strip and the increased attacks over the last week, in which several children were killed. Today’s attacks have left hospitals depleted of medicines and medical supplies.

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Injured civilians are brought into al Shifa hospital during a series of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, November 14 2012 (Photo: Lydia De Leeuw)

The people of Gaza are being subjected to ongoing drone strikes, air strikes, tank shellings, and naval fire in this indiscriminate and disproportionate military offensive. Trapped within the Gaza Strip, they are easy targets of remote-controlled warfare, waged from buzzing drones and roaring F-16s.

We call on people of conscience around the world to stand up against this unlawful aggression against Palestinian civilians.

The international community must take urgent action to put a stop to these violent attacks.

For further information, please contact:

Adie Mormech (British)  +972 (0) 592280943

Adriana Zega (Italian)   +972 (0) 597241318

Gisela Schmidt Martin (Irish)  +972 (0) 592778020 blipfoto.com/GiselaClaire

Joe Catron (United States)  +972 (0) 595594326 twitter.com/jncatron

Julie Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)  +972 (0) 595419421 todayingaza.wordpress.com

Lydia de Leeuw (Dutch)  +972 (0) 597478455 asecondglance.wordpress.com

Meri Calvelli (Italian)                                     +972(0)598563299

We are a group of internationals living in the Gaza Strip, working in the fields of journalism, human rights, education, and agriculture. We seek to defend and advocate for the rights of Palestinians in the context of the Israeli occupation and military operations. Besides being eyewitnesses ourselves, we gather our information from our personal networks across the Gaza Strip, from local media reports, medical staff, and local and international NGOs in Gaza.

We verify the information we send out and hope our reports will contribute to accurate media coverage of the situation in Gaza.

29 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    November 14, 2012, 8:50 pm

    harry fear is livestreaming from gaza, it is intermittent
    Harry Fear on: +972 59 269 3624

    link to ustream.tv

    he’s doing an interview w/realnews network now.

    link to twitter.com

  2. Kathleen
    November 14, 2012, 9:56 pm

    Nothing on Chris Matthews about Israel attacking the Gaza today. We expect that out of the MSM..but nothing up at Juan Cole’s yet or Emptywheel’s (which is not unusual she seldom touches this issue) And at Huffington Post this issue is down at the middle of the page. Romney and the 47% hooey up on top.
    s

  3. Kathleen
    November 14, 2012, 10:03 pm

    Is Israel going to keep all international journalist out like they did before? You know how these democracies work

  4. Avi_G.
    November 14, 2012, 11:59 pm

    I was watching Israel Channel 2 news.

    The reporter asked a police commander in the Ber Sheeba district about their preparations.

    The commander stated that they have been told that they are going to be at a high level of preparedness for the coming days. The police commander may have slipped up for he let it be known that “this preparedness is nationwide, not just here [in the south of Israel]“.

    The reporter did not follow up by asking or elaborating about this Israel-wide preparedness. Normally, when Israel attacks Gaza, only the southern districts in Israel are put on high alert. Similarly, when Israel attacks Lebanon, it places the northern districts on high alert.

    It is quite possible that Israel is preparing an attack on other areas/countries in the region. The attack on Gaza could very well be a diversion. Time will tell.

    Incidentally, Israel has just called upon its military reserves.

    • thankgodimatheist
      November 15, 2012, 5:24 am

      I doubt they’re foolish enough to mess with Hizbullah up north. They may be in for a huge surprise.

    • seafoid
      November 15, 2012, 3:10 pm

      Israel is shoddier than channel 2 will admit. the report into the Carmel fire exposed deep levels of official incompetence. Eli Yishai has been a senior minister for a very long time.

      Their economy can’t afford a regional conflagration . The housing market is already overheated and if the Hezb come on line that will be very bad for prices.

      Iron Sieve is less than stunning. Who will buy it now?

      I think Milikovsky and Barak miscalculated. Those 3 dead Israelis weren’t in the spreadsheet they used to weigh up the pros and cons.

      Milikovsky needs a stunner now against Hamas to regain his credibility and it is hard to see that arriving given his political capital.

      Yesterday Al Jabari was Israel’s Bin Laden but bin laden didn’t shoot back and shatter the self assurance of the US.

  5. jon s
    November 15, 2012, 7:16 am

    As an eyewitness on the other side- (“Israel’s South Under Attack”):

    Spent a rather tense and sleepless night, here in Beer Sheva . The siren sounded again and again: three times between 8 and 9 PM, and then through the night, I lost count of the alarms. We kept running to our “security room”, waiting for the siren to end, waiting fearfully to hear an impact . In the morning: still more alarms. So far it seems that Iron Dome has intercepted a significant number of the rockets fired. As usual in these situations, many relatives and friends, here and abroad, call and write, expressing concern and solidarity, and inviting us to stay with them.
    As of now , reports are that 3 Israeli civilians have been killed, all in Kiryat Malakhi.

    • Woody Tanaka
      November 15, 2012, 9:49 am

      You’re despicable, jon s. You’re inconvenienced because you’re scared of a few fire crackers and you mean to compare it to the hell you are unleashing (yet again, for the millionth time in the last 150 years) on the native Palestinians, on whose stolen land you’re squatting upon and you dare to compare the two situation???

      • jon s
        November 15, 2012, 1:18 pm

        Woody,
        Despicable? huh? All I did was write a brief factual account of my experience, I didn’t even express an opinion.

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 15, 2012, 2:55 pm

        The hell that’s all you did. The false-equivalency garbage in your first line is proof of that. South israel is not “under attack.” Your nuclear-armed and first-world-military-equipt state is watonly and inhumanely assaulting a captive population who you’ve impoverished after stealing their land, for no reason, and they’ve fired a few rockets. When they’ve deployed the types of jets and guided missiles and drones that you have, then, maybe, you get to play the equivalency card.

        And your state has already burned up four children to death (and god knows how many more will be on the alter to your national ideology before this thing is done) and how did you react, the supposed leftist? Did you make one phone call to your government, march in protest in front of the Knesset or PM’s residence demanding they end this attack?? No, you sit around and pretend that your enduring the blitz while your countrymen on the front lines saying, “Arabs are less than dogs, kill them all.” And you complaint about being called despicable??? You’re beneith contempt.

      • Mooser
        November 15, 2012, 4:47 pm

        “And you complaint about being called despicable???”

        Now comes the part where “jons” assures everybody that he, personally, is such a mensch and he cries into his pillow at night over all the violence.
        Talk to him about criminal responsibility, accounting, reparations, and punitive damages, and see how fast he hardens up. Like almost any Israeli, he feels he has the right to keep what Zionism has stolen.
        Of course, if it’s necessary to comfort and cosset every Zionist who doesn’t sink to the level of vicarious war-cries, pejorative names for Palestinians, and calling for atrocities, I guess that’s what we gotta do.
        Of course, the best clue that someone is not a decent human being is usually how much time they spend insisting that they are.

    • Cliff
      November 15, 2012, 11:37 am

      Jon s, you don’t seem to be so inconvenienced as to stop posting about your inconvenience on an anti-Zionist blog and news site.

      I do hope you and your family are safe. Hamas rocket fire on civilians and civilian infrastructure is terrorism.

      Unlike you, we don’t justify the deaths of civilians by superficial bureaucratic bullshit (collateral damage/war on terror).

      • jon s
        November 15, 2012, 1:28 pm

        Cliff,
        Well, truth is that on a day like today we’re not at work, staying close to the security room, not going out much -so I really don’t have that much to do…
        In any case, I appreciate your concern for our safety. Thanks.

      • James North
        November 15, 2012, 1:48 pm

        Jon: I join with Cliff in hoping that you and your family stay safe. I have read your comments with interest over time, and it seems clear that you are not a hasbara robot, (some of whom I suspect are posting their bloodthirsty cries from the safety of the suburban United States).
        So I have a question for you. It is not a trick. You probably and understandably see the people who are launching rockets in your direction as primarily responsible for your sleepless nights. But don’t you also see that Benjamin Netanyahu is using you and your family as pawns in his re-election campaign? Isn’t any of your anger directed toward him?

      • eljay
        November 15, 2012, 2:17 pm

        >> Jon: I join with Cliff in hoping that you and your family stay safe.

        +1. I also wish safety to the citizens of Gaza. I hope jon s does, too.

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 15, 2012, 2:56 pm

        I join in eljay’s wish for the safety of the citizens of Gaza.

      • seafoid
        November 15, 2012, 3:02 pm

        I hope it goes well Jon .

        I believe that if Gaza isn’t safe Israel can never be.

        You are also a victim of the system although it may not always look so.

        This breakdown will hurt the Israeli economy if it lasts more than a few days. It’s a waste of time to have productive people like you at home when you could be working.

      • Mooser
        November 15, 2012, 3:11 pm

        “But don’t you also see that Benjamin Netanyahu is using you and your family as pawns in his re-election campaign? Isn’t any of your anger directed toward him?”

        I don’t need “jons” to answer this question! Every real Jew knows the answer. Netanyahu is ultimately carrying out the will of G-d! And who on earth would speak up against that? (Oh sure, maybe he’ll risk lisping a shy admission in the Mondoweiss comment section; ‘Well, it’s not what I would do’, as if his personal disapproval invalidates the entire thing that’s, you know, actually happening.)

      • jon s
        November 15, 2012, 4:10 pm

        James, I appreciate your concern, much thanks.
        I certainly have no sympathy for Netanyahu. He’s a slimy demagogue and I don’t believe a word he says. He sure as hell doesn’t get my vote.

      • James North
        November 15, 2012, 4:19 pm

        Jon: I already guessed you wouldn’t be voting for him. My question is: Aren’t you angry with him for jeopardizing your family’s safety so he can win reelection?

      • jon s
        November 16, 2012, 1:40 am

        James,
        Of course I’m angry, but there’s still no excuse for the rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population .
        Another point, in response to your earlier comment: I know what you mean about people posting from their comfortable suburban US homes. Like relatives of mine over there who urge us to bomb the shit out of Gaza. Their mirror-image : the commenters- some on this forum- who try to out-Palestinian the Palestinians, who urge the Palestinians to reject any compromise or settlement – all from the comfort of their homes in Manhattan or Berkley or London.

      • eljay
        November 19, 2012, 9:24 pm

        >> Like relatives of mine over there who urge us to bomb the shit out of Gaza. Their mirror-image : the commenters- some on this forum- who try to out-Palestinian the Palestinians, who urge the Palestinians to reject any compromise or settlement …

        So…Pro-Palestinian commenters who advocate for a just and mutually-beneficial solution to the I/P issue are the mirror-image of Zio-supremacists who advocate for devastation and murder. Interesting.

      • jon s
        November 20, 2012, 12:44 am

        No, what I said was that extreme -Right “pro-Israel” activists abroad are mirrored by”pro-Palestinian” activists, also abroad, who urge the Palestinians to adopt the most extreme positions and actions. In both cases , the “armchair-supporters” are not the ones who will pay the price, in blood.

      • eljay
        November 22, 2012, 9:02 am

        >> No, what I said was that extreme -Right “pro-Israel” activists abroad are mirrored by”pro-Palestinian” activists, also abroad, who urge the Palestinians to adopt the most extreme positions and actions.

        No, what you said – verbatim – was:

        I know what you mean about people posting from their comfortable suburban US homes. Like relatives of mine over there who urge us to bomb the shit out of Gaza. Their mirror-image : the commenters- some on this forum- who try to out-Palestinian the Palestinians, who urge the Palestinians to reject any compromise or settlement – all from the comfort of their homes in Manhattan or Berkley or London.

        You compared your relatives who “urge us to bomb the shit out of Gaza” to pro-Palestinian commenters who urge the Palestinians to reject any compromise or settlement.

        Perhaps, as a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist, you’re unable to see it, but there’s a huge difference between rejecting “any” compromise or settlement, and urging people to “bomb the shit out of” others.

        As far as compromises or settlements go:
        – I haven’t seen anyone urge the Palestinians to reject just and mutually-beneficial compromises or settlements.
        – I also haven’t seen the government of Israel offering any just and mutually-beneficial compromises or settlements for the Palestinians to accept.

        Perhaps the government – like your relatives – simply prefers to “bomb the shit out of” the Palestnians.

  6. JoshL
    November 17, 2012, 4:02 am

    The article above fails to mention a few things about the current situation in Souther Israel and Gaza:

    Over 600 rockets had been fired from Gaza into civilian Israeli cities and towns BEFORE Israel executed an airstrike killing the man coordinating those attacks. (I read the article multipule times, and nowhere does in mentions the rockets falling on southern Israel from Gaza, or the families who for weeks have had to sleep in bomb shelters)

    Gaza has no military bases. Although the IDF is doing its best to not target civilians as it tries to end the Gazan rocket attacks on southern Israel, the rockets being fired on Israel are coming out of civilian population centers in Gaza. Instead of being placed in open areas away from civilians (which would help protect non-combatant Gazans if Israel decided to stop “absorbing” (the word used by the Israeli press to describe the government allowing rockets to fall in Israel without retaliating) rocket fire), Hamas has chosen to use cities as bases of operation. This forces the IDF to risk civilian casualtiese when they try to stop the rockets, or take no steps to defend the civilian population centers. I wonder if the leaders of the militant wing of Hamas asked the civilian in Gaza City or Rafah how they felt about that?

    Israel does have military bases. Unlike US military bases, Israeli military bases do NOT have civilians living there. The rockets from Gaza have not been aimed toward those bases, though. Instead, they target fields at times of day when they are being worked and towns and cities full of civilians who want more than anything to be non-combatants. The weapons used by the Gazans are not “smart”. They are not capable of being targeted against individuals, only areas. They may not harm anyone (Baruch Ha’Shem, rockets from Gaza often hurt property and miss people!) when they fall, or they may strike schools, malls, and family homes.

    There are casualties on BOTH sides. The article only mentions the harm to civilian Gazans. When citing the targeted killing of Ahmed al Jabari, the article says he is the chief of the Hamas military. It does not mention that he ordered the firing of THOUSANDS of rockets over the years against Israeli population centers. Israel has known who he is for years- he is a public government figure after all. Why the government chose now to go after him, I don’t know. Instead of sending ground troups knocking on doors, however, Israel took the time to gather enough intelligence that when it chose to move against him, it bombed one car, in an intersection, AFTER the car had passed by a school bus. If you have seen the video of the bombing, then you saw that the car was in traffic. The bomb was not released until there were no other cars nearby.

    I write all of this not to say Israel is right in engaging in an armed response. Or wrong to. I merely want to offer perspective. For the longest time Israel did nothing to protect its civilian population centers, and instead allowed rockets to continue falling unchecked. People’s lives were punctuated by sirens and sprints to bomb shelters. The only media I say covering the multiple rockets that fell each day was Israeli. The world stood silent. Why?

    Now that Israeli civilians are not the only ones being targeted by explosions, the world cries out. Some are calling for a mutual ceasefire, and I love the idea of that! But some, like this article, make NO mention of the attacks that have been falling on Israel all year, and that in the past week have escalated dramatically.

    In the past three days, Rockets have also fallen on Israel from the Egyptian and Syrian borders. Where is the international outcry? Where were the activists demanding the fire cease? Why did it take Israel shooting back before they spoke up? And why doesn’t the article mention any of the above?

    I want to live to see the day where there is a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one. Each respecting the other’s laws, borders, sovereignty, and rights to trade whatever they want with whomever they want. When rockets fall on cities year after year, when governing bodies warn they are readying suicide bombers…it does not help the cause of peace.

    With statehood comes a military. Without a military, Hamas has launched ceaseless attacks on Israeli population centers. They claim these attacks are for the freedom of all Palestinians. Maybe, just maybe, those attacks are frightening the Israeli government? If they choose to rain down this much trauma without the tools statehood would make available (an air force perhaps? The ability to legitimately engage in international trade to equip a military with a larger quantity of more effective weapons?), what assurances would the Israeli government have that this behavior would stop after statehood?

    When we view this conflict from afar, when we ask why Palestine does not exist as a self-governing state yet, we have to bear in mind the full picture. When we see bombs fall, we have to ask “Why now?” Articles like the one on Mondoweiss fail to acknowledge, explore, or contextualize the events they report on.

    The activist comunity has a loud voice. Let it be one that reports ALL conflicts, that mourns ALL deaths, and call for peace from ALL side.

    (The Rabbi in my heart wants to end this with a prayer for peace. Not all who will read this are religious, and those who are may not share MY religion. If you pray, and you want, please let your soul yearn for those who battle to find the strength to end the fight, look each other in the eyes, and TALK their way to mutual respect, security, and…may it be in our lives…Statehood.)

    • eljay
      November 22, 2012, 10:12 am

      >> I want to live to see the day where there is a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one. Each respecting the other’s laws, borders, sovereignty, and rights to trade whatever they want with whomever they want. When rockets fall on cities year after year, when governing bodies warn they are readying suicide bombers…it does not help the cause of peace.

      If you truly want to stop the rockets and co-exist with a new Palestinian state, you could, at a minimum:
      – end the illegal and immoral occupation of Palestine;
      – dismantle the settlements; and
      – enter into sincere negotiations with Palestinians for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

      But, yeah, it’s just so much easier to blame the Palestinians your supremacist state continues to oppress and whose land you continue to occupy and colonize. :-(

  7. jon s
    November 20, 2012, 12:47 am

    Joshl,
    Welcome. You won’t have an easy time on this forum.

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