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‘Killing Gaza’ gives faces to statistics of 2014 massacre, echoing Goldstone

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After he visited Gaza in 2009 investigating the recent Israeli onslaught, Judge Richard Goldstone had nightmares, and he tried to communicate some of that trauma to readers of his famous U.N. human rights report. He did that by appending many personal stories from Palestinians who had survived violence. I remember the youth who calmly described a missile “truncating” his legs as he and others huddled in a shelter across from a UN school. I remember the young boys who told of being forced terrified into a bombed out house as human shields.

The 2014 assault on Gaza – Operation Protective Edge – was far more devastating than Cast Lead of ’08-’09, but till now, no reports of individuals’ experiences have approached Goldstone’s  standard. That is the power of “Killing Gaza,” the haunting new documentary by Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen. It offers a series of intimate portraits of Palestinians who witnessed hellish events during the seven-week attack. These people tell their stories with clinical detail, surprising restraint, and the poetics of the sufferering; and the effect on the viewer is scarring. No dispassionate person can watch “Killing Gaza” without being crumpled by the echoes of persecution.

And if the documentary is showing only one side of the conflict, it hardly matters, because the filmmakers are transparent about their one-sidedness and we know the statistics: more than 2200 Palestinians killed, including 500 children, while some 67 Israeli soldiers were killed, and a half dozen civilians. Israeli missiles destroyed so many buildings that 100,000 people (more than 5 percent of the population) was left homeless. This was a one-sided conflict.

Ali Ahmed Qudeh, in Khuza’a, from the documentary Killing Gaza.

The heart of the documentary is a speech by Ali Ahmed Qudeh in Khuza’a, a town bordering Israel east of Khan Younis that was all but demolished by Israel. Qudeh is gratified to learn that American journalists have arrived and explains that he has lost two sons in the onslaught, and then directs the cameras toward his grandchildren.

One day this boy will make an atomic bomb in his house to wipe out Israel. How do we lift the hatred and anger from the hearts of these children? How do we remove it? How do we teach them to feel joy again? Why don’t you kill them all with missiles? We aren’t terrorists. We’re a civilized people.

He goes on to detail America’s role in the onslaught, in supplying Israel with weapons and diplomatic support.

You think they want a loaf of bread from America? Ask them! [He turns to his grandson] Do you want balloons from Obama? No! I leave it to God to deal with all who wrong the Palestinian people.

Just look at Qudeh’s face: the intelligence, passion and need to be understood. The wonder of this moment is that a humble man in devastated surroundings delivers profound political and spiritual insights with far greater eloquence than any of our leaders have re Palestine. As Isaac Bashevis Singer once said, a poor nobody walking down the street is a millionaire when it comes to emotions.

There are several other meetings in “Killing Gaza” that approach Qudeh’s speech. Hadya Najjar imparts great insight when she says that the force of the onslaught was worse than the violence of the 1948 Nakba: “This was a war of eradication. It is as if Israel is infuriated by us.” And she adds: “We will remain until the last drop of blood.”

Or there is the glamorous young man at violent border demonstrations (in the screenshot that tops this post) who explains why young men demonstrating at the border fence take such incredible risks in the face of Israeli guns.

Blood is the way to fight, so as to liberate our land. We are manifesting our choice. We are defending a belief in a stolen homeland.

The protester’s speech is a reminder of the fact that Palestine is thoroughly politicized, and its youth are sophisticated political actors, who are generating consequences today in Israel’s growing isolation. And he reminds us that Palestinian dispossession cannot be answered, as it has been for 70 years, with more force.

Many images in the documentary are searing. A young man is hoist through the air by a cable and winch to the top of a ruined 10-story building because the stairs have been bombed out. Five hyenas in a zoo in which 85 percent of the animals have been killed circle madly and endlessly, evidently having lost their minds due to bombing and starvation. Or there is the Israeli army video of the soldier calmly anticipating the demolition of the mosque in Khuza’a, moments away on the bombing schedule, which he dedicates to the memory of three comrades. The soldier’s lack of concern for the victims is chilling. I was reminded of Judge Goldstone’s epiphany when he saw images of the massive Star of David that Israeli tanks carved in fields in Gaza in ’09; as he later explained to a Zionist who attacked him at Yale, the sight deeply disturbed him.

Some of the most effective imagery in “Killing Gaza” is not video, but the drawings of traumatic scenes. Because the filmmakers did not have video of several incidents that Gazans describe to them — for instance, the death of a girl in a wheelchair whom her family has no choice but to abandon as they flee violence, or the killings of paramedics trying to rescue a wounded man tied to a tree — they commissioned art by Khloaris. The renderings are charged with stillness, dignity and terror that rise above the actuality of video. I recalled John Ging of UNRWA telling my group when it visited Gaza in ’09, The Palestinians are a deeply civilized people.

Khloaris image of ambulance drivers seeking to rescue wounded man tied to a tree, at night, Gaza 2014, from movie Killing Gaza.

The Goldstone Report had a lasting effect, despite the judge’s recantation of portions of his findings (under pressure from the South African Jewish community), because of his team’s inarguable documentation, which survived; and “Killing Gaza” has the potential to shape understanding of the 2014 Gaza war. It supplies names and stories to complement Norman Finkelstein’s book Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, which offers a reading of international law and human rights reports on the war to arrive at the same truth: “Arab life was worthless and Jewish life worth its weight in gold.”

It has been four years since the events of “Killing Gaza,” and the slaughter has been eclipsed by the indiscriminate Israeli shooting on the border of the last few weeks, in which 4116 have been injured by live ammunition (!), and over 140 killed. So, Protective Edge feels a long time ago, but the lessons of “Killing Gaza” are fresh. Violence delivered on the scale of the Israeli onslaught will never resolve the political and justice issues at the heart of the conflict. It only prolongs the suffering.

Famously, 20-year-old Salem Shamaly was killed in Shejayia on July 20, 2014, perhaps the most documented assassination in Palestinian history; and Blumenthal and Cohen feature a desolating interview with Salem’s younger brother Wassin who confesses that he is so depressed by his brother’s absence, even a year later, that he barely shows his face at festive events. He visits his brother’s grave every Friday and wishes to join him.

“I wish to become a fighter to avenge my brother’s murder,” Wassin says. “Everyone who has lost a sibling, they want to become a fighter, to get their sibling’s blood back from the occupier.”

From the time of its birth, Israel’s leaders have believed that if they caused enough violence the Palestinian problem would go away, or at least be kept at a distance, subject to the occasional two month long war– variations on the famous iron wall doctrine. This film shows us the spiritual dead-end of such thinking.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on July 13, 2018, 11:13 am

    “Killing Gaza” with Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen

    RT America
    Published on May 19, 2018

    Max Blumenthal, Director and Writer of “Killing Gaza,” and Dan Cohen, Cinematographer and Editor of “Killing Gaza,” discuss their documentary “Killing Gaza” that details the Israeli War crimes committed against the people in Gaza.

    • JLewisDickerson on July 13, 2018, 11:32 am

      Siege, censorship, subversion: International assault on Palestine – with Ali Abunimah (Ep. 20)

      Moderate Rebels
      Published on Jun 21, 2018

      Moderate Rebels episode 20 – Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton speak with journalist Ali Abunimah about the global assault on Palestine — by the US, Israel, Gulf monarchies, and regime changers. We detail Israel’s massacre of protesters in Gaza’s Great March of Return. We discuss the censoring of Al Jazeera’s groundbreaking documentary on the Israel lobby in the US. And we explain how Syria regime change trolls divided the movement for Palestinian rights.
      0:00 INTRO
      (PART 1 – Israel’s butchering of Gaza’s Great March of Return)
      2:00 Killing Gaza
      4:55 Great March of Return
      10:17 Kites and tires
      12:51 IDF’s intentional disabling of Palestinian protesters
      20:43 Nikki Haley and the US at the UN
      22:43 BDS victories
      25:28 The Democratic Party and Bernie Sanders
      (PART 2 – Israel lobby censors groundbreaking Al Jazeera documentary on Israel lobby)
      31:05 Al Jazeera documentary on Israel lobby in US
      34:30 Qatar
      39:31 Pro-Israel community split over Qatar
      42:49 Washington, DC and the Saudi-Israel alliance
      44:02 The neutering of Al Jazeera
      (PART 3 – How Syria regime change trolls divided the Palestine solidarity movement)
      48:07 Attempts to sow division in the movement for Palestinian rights
      53:21 Pro-Israel groups’ alliance with Syria regime change trolls
      56:53 Attacks and censorship
      1:00:50 OUTRO

      • Rusty Pipes on July 13, 2018, 4:34 pm

        The last fifteen minutes or so of this conversation between Abunimah, Blumenthal and Norton is very revealing about the effect that divisions over Syria have had on solidarity work within communities supporting Palestinian rights over the past seven years. I find it especially interesting because, in 2011, all of them accepted, if not heavily promoted, the “Syrian Revolution” narrative. Both Blumenthal and Norton over time rejected that narrative; although Abunimah says that he tried to stay neutral, EI attracted attacks from “regime change trolls” when Rania Khalek starting reporting stories that challenged that narrative (and ultimately left EI). Abunimah says that the “regime change trolls” don’t allow neutrality, make it difficult for people to focus on Palestine solidarity alone, apart from Syria. Blumenthal and Norton see a confluence of interests between pro-Israel trolls and regime-change trolls.

    • JLewisDickerson on July 13, 2018, 11:45 am

      Conversation with Dan Cohen & Max Blumenthal on their latest documentary “Killing Gaza”
      The Naked Empire
      Published on Feb 21, 2018
      Watch Killing Gaza on Vimeo on Demand

    • JLewisDickerson on July 13, 2018, 12:00 pm

      ‘Killing Gaza’: A New Documentary on Palestinians Under Siege

      Published on May 18, 2018

      In their new film “Killing Gaza,” journalists Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal capture the harrowing stories of Palestinians who survived the 2014 Israeli assault, and their struggles to recover and persist under a crippling blockade.
      Notice: Age-restricted video (based on Community Guidelines)

    • Misterioso on July 14, 2018, 11:08 am

      Breaking News:

      Times of Israel, July 14/18
      “As dozens of rockets hit Israel, IDF pounds Gaza in heaviest strikes since 2014.”

      “Palestinian terror groups fire 60 projectiles at Israel on Saturday afternoon; residents in border communities told to remain close to shelters, public gatherings canceled.”

      “Israeli aircraft on Saturday attacked more than 40 targets in the Gaza Strip in the most extensive daytime assault since 2014’s Operation Protective Edge as Palestinian terror groups fired repeated salvos of rockets and mortars into Israel.

      “The surge in violence intensified after midnight Friday-Saturday as the Israel Defense Forces hit an attack tunnel and Hamas training bases in Gaza in response to the moderate wounding of an IDF officer by a hand-grenade thrown during a border riot on Friday.”

  2. Rob Roy on July 13, 2018, 11:42 am

    If you are unable to see the film, read Max Blumenthal’s great book, “The 51-Day War.” Best to both read the book and see the film.

  3. inbound39 on July 13, 2018, 6:14 pm

    In this modern age there is one nation that stands out amongst all others as different but not in a good way. It is divisive and destructive and insidious and hideous. It is supported unquestioningly and unconditionally by the governments of America, UK and EU……All three, therefore, are complicit in all this one nation does. That one Nation is Israel…….an Apartheid, colonial, supremacist state. The only state that enjoys complete and utter impunity regardless of what it does or how often it does it. We are subjected to watching it slaughter Palestinians like Romans sat and watched Christians slaughtered at the Colloseum. Absolutely repulsive.

  4. Rudolph on July 13, 2018, 6:21 pm

    ==THREE UNFORGIVABLE HAMAS CRIMES== (1) “In its 2006 election manifesto, Hamas made no reference to Israel’s destruction. It spoke instead about ‘the establishment of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalem.’ After its surprise victory, Hamas leaders did not offer to recognize Israel. But Zahar did declare that, in return for ‘our independent state on the area occupied [in] 1967,’ Hamas would support a ‘long-term truce…” (Israel did not support the prospect of a truce.) (2) Also “after its election victory, Hamas proposed a unity government with Fatah ‘for the purpose of ending the occupation and settlements and achieving a complete withdrawal from the lands occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, so that the region enjoys calm and stability during this phase.’” (Israel did not support the prospect of a unity government.) (3) In 2007, after frustrating the creation of the Palestinian unity government, the US and Israel, in a failed effort to destroy Hamas, “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.” When the plot failed, Israel, with the support of the US and Egypt, “imposed a blockade designed not only to prevent Hamas from importing weapons, but to punish Gazans for electing it.” The result has been devastation for Gaza’s economy.

    • annie on July 13, 2018, 10:08 pm

      “imposed a blockade designed not only to prevent Hamas from importing weapons, but to punish Gazans for electing it.”

      hamas won in the west bank too.

    • Misterioso on July 14, 2018, 10:28 am

      For the record:

      In response to Hamas’s victory over Fatah (132 seats to 43) in the January 2006 election – certified as honest and democratic by international observers – for representation in the Palestinian Legislative Council (i.e. to govern both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), Israel and the Quartet (the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the U.N., established in 2002) imposed economic sanctions, including customs duties, against the Palestinian Authority throughout the occupied territories. The United States had ignored warnings from Fatah that Hamas may win the election.

      Through various means, including Israel’s arrest of 34 elected West Bank members of Hamas, Washington and Israel installed a “moderate” (i.e., anti-Hamas, “pro-western” and relatively compliant) Fatah government led by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the occupied West Bank. The U.S. Congress also thwarted an attempt by Fatah and Hamas to work together by holding back funding to the Palestinian authority.

      In June 2007, Hamas retained control of the Gaza Strip by carrying out a preventative counter-coup or counter-putsch against a U.S. orchestrated attempt by Fatah, known as the Dayton Plan, to take control by military means. In an article for the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, investigative journalist Peter Rose reveals the details: “Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by [Fatah’s Mohammed] Dahlan and armed with new weapons at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.) But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S. backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.” (Peter Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April 2008)

      Following the Hamas government’s defeat of Fatah, Israel and the Quartet along with Canada, imposed a crippling and inhumane blockade against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip that denied them sufficient amounts of food, water, medicines, fuel and electricity. Previously imposed sanctions against the Fatah controlled West Bank were lifted. In violation of the terms of the 17 June 2008 cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Israel permitted only 20% of the amount of essentials agreed to into the Gaza Strip which led to sporadic rocket fire into Israel (causing no casualties) by Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, not Hamas, which attempted to stop the rockets. On November 4 – significantly, the day of the U.S. presidential election – Israel crossed the border and killed six Palestinians. As Middle East scholar Sara Roy put it, this attack by Israel was “no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce.” (Sara Roy – “If Gaza Falls”, London Review of Books, 1 January 2009) Hamas responded with rocket fire but at the same time offered to extend the June 17 truce if Israel would end the siege. Israel refused. Hamas rocket fire resumed and although no Israeli was killed, it was used by Israel as a justification for its murderous rampage that started on December 27.

      During its 2008/09 “Operation Cast Lead” assault on the Gaza Strip, Israel illegally used white phosphorous, which burns flesh to the bone, in attacks against civilians along with flechettes, i.e., 4-cm metal darts fired from missiles, planes or tanks “that penetrate straight through human bone and can cause serious, often fatal, injuries.” (It has also used cluster bombs during its attacks against and invasions of Lebanon.)

      In response to Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead,” the United Nations Goldstone Report charged Israel with using phosphorous incendiary shells on a UN compound sheltering more than 600 civilians, using phosphorous and high explosive artillery shells on Al-Quds hospital and it rejected Israel’s assertion that Hamas or other militants were using the hospital. Israel was also accused of attacking a crowded mosque during evening prayers (the panel rejected the contention that armed militants were inside), with flechettes and of using Palestinians as human shields during house searches, a “war crime under the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court.” No evidence was found that Hamas had used Palestinians as human shields.

      In a report issued on 2 July 2009, Amnesty International states that “more than 3,000 homes were destroyed and some 20,000 damaged in Israeli attacks which reduced entire neighborhoods of Gaza to rubble and left an already dire economic situation in ruins. Much of the destruction was wanton and could not be justified on grounds of ‘military necessity.’” Amnesty also noted that “During Operation ‘Cast Lead’ Israeli forces made extensive use of white phosphorus, often launched from 155mm artillery shells, in residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians. Homes, schools, medical facilities and UN buildings – all civilian objects – took direct hits.”

      Neither Amnesty nor Human Rights Watch accused Hamas of using “human shields.” Amnesty, however, accused Israel.

  5. echinococcus on July 13, 2018, 8:06 pm

    a series of intimate portraits of Palestinians who witnessed hellish events during the seven-week Israeli attack of 2014 and demonstrates that the political issues at the heart of the conflict can never be resolved by more violence

    If you had written that you wish it wouldn’t need more violence to reach a solution, almost everyone would second that; that you believe it won’t need violence to get solved, some people would agree. But an absolute, like a law of physics, that it can “never’be solved by violence, totally counter-intuitive, flying in the face of 120 years of experience? At that point, you may as well call it a matter of religious belief.

  6. Qualtrough on July 14, 2018, 1:35 am

    I just saw that Israel shot a 14 year old in the back. A very Zionist way to mark the 100th day of the protests.

  7. Boomer on July 14, 2018, 6:43 am

    This morning I heard BBC mention more Israeli attacks on Gaza. As yet, I haven’t seen anything about it on the usual U.S. MSM I follow, but a Google News search turned up this (plus several other reports from overseas).

  8. Bumblebye on July 14, 2018, 9:40 am

    There’s been overnight bombings continuing now. Gaza residents on fb are putting out the word so it pops up in my feed.

  9. Jackdaw on July 14, 2018, 11:30 am

    When Hamas ordered the kidnap/murder of three innocent Jewish boys, they sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.

    BTW. How many Gazans would be alive today if Hamas had accepted the Egyptian brokered unilateral ceasefire? Fifteen hundred? One thousand?

    • Talkback on July 14, 2018, 1:37 pm

      Ask the Zionists terrorists who keep killing them. Obviously these terrorists can’t stop and keep reigniting violence.

      Btw. How many Palestinians would be alive today in a world without Zionism and its terrorists who began their terror campagne in the late 30s?

    • echinococcus on July 14, 2018, 3:55 pm


      Some “what if” questions are a good exercise indeed.

      As in:
      How many generations would have avoided being wasted on all sides, had the Palestinians succeeded in their anticolonial resistance to the British invaders, and put the Zionist varmint on all available boats the very day Balfour’s note was made public?

    • eljay on July 14, 2018, 4:50 pm

      || Jackdaw: … BTW. How many Gazans would be alive today if Hamas had accepted the Egyptian brokered unilateral ceasefire? Fifteen hundred? One thousand? ||

      Had the rapist not kidnapped them, chained them in his basement and raped them, those women might have fallen prey to some other evil-doer. But there’s no getting around the fact that right now those women are where they are – kidnapped, chained and raped – entirely because of the rapist.

      So, how many Gazans would be alive today if Jewish supremacists hadn’t:
      – desired to create a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of geographic Palestine;
      – used terrorism and ethnic cleansing to establish a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of geographic Palestine; and
      – embarked up on a decades-long and on-going campaign of oppression, colonialism and (war) crimes to enlarge and secure their religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of geographic Palestine?

  10. Ossinev on July 14, 2018, 2:36 pm


    ” How many Gazans would be alive today if Hamas had accepted the Egyptian brokered unilateral ceasefire? Fifteen hundred? One thousand?2

    How many innocent native Palestinian men women and children would be alive today if foreign Ziobarbarians had not invaded stolen and colonised Palestine massacring them at will and driving them from their homes. You are so full of it.

  11. lonely rico on July 14, 2018, 9:14 pm

    > echinococcus

    How many generations would have avoided being wasted on all sides, had the Palestinians succeeded in their anticolonial resistance to the British invaders, and put the Zionist varmint on all available boats the very day Balfour’s note was made public?

    What d’ya think JACKDAW?

    Missed opportunity in 1917?

    A century later …

    Enough with racist settler colonialism?
    Enough with violence and death and cruelty?
    Time to try something different?

  12. inbound39 on July 17, 2018, 12:08 am

    Netanyahu is talking up another huge invasion of Gaza in near future and preparations for a large scale exercise of invasion of Gaza by IDF. The war criminal Livni is calling for help from International Leaders to put pressure on Hamas as they cannot do it on their own. It is laughable. Israel saw fit to finance and arm Hamas during the Sharon years when Fatah became Israel’s big problem. Israel financed and armed Hamas to overthrow Fatah so Hamas is Israel’s creation. The Occupation is Israel’s creation so any trouble they have is of their own creation. Had Israel complied with International Law and Resolutions of UN it would not be in this predicament. Time for World Leaders to tell Israel ,firstly, that it is Israel’s problem to resolve legally by ending Occupation and ending b;ockade of Gaza. Secondly, any further large scale attacks of a murderous scale on Gaza will be met by stringent sanctions being placed on Israel by World Leaders. Time for World leaders to step up and tell Israel its over and no help will be forthcoming for Israel until it ends the Occupation. All it will get is sanctions.The ;problem is Israel not Hamas.

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