Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Analyses and update on Gaza

JPN Post: List of contents:

- Links to information about Israeli resistance from Rela Mazali
- 3 analyses:
1) "Has Israel Revived Hamas?" By Daoud Kuttab in the Washington Post
2) A briefing on the Gaza crisis by Phyllis Bennis from ZNet
3) "Palestine's Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood" by Mustafa Barghouthi
- A report on the condition of the hospitals in Gaza

Rela Mazali writes:

Absent from Israeli and most other TV networks are the ongoing activism and protest inside Israel against Israel's siege and, now, war on Gaza. Immediately below is a link to a televised report on two of many such actions. In Hebrew and Arabic with no English (or other) subtitles, they nevertheless offer glimpses of current activism in Israel. The first segment documents a demonstration in Tel Aviv and bits of the police reaction. The second was recorded at a public meeting, just hours before the demonstration, addressed jointly by Palestinian and Israeli members of Combatants for Peace. The reports were created by the alternative media group, Social TV (for details on the group see: http://www.tv.social.org.il/ful-profile-social-tv-eng.rtf):

Sarah Anne Minkin writes:

Calling the Gaza onslaught "Palestine's Guernica," (first piece below) Dr. Mustapha Barghouti (founder of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and Secretary General of the Palestine National Initiative) confronts several of Israel's claimed justifications for the Gaza actions. These justifications - including the idea that Hamas unilaterally violated and ended the truce, that Israel is only attacking military targets, that Israel is attacking Hamas but "not the Palestinian people," - are being repeated in the mainstream press as if they are truths. Barghouti simply and solidly refutes them.

Judith Norman writes:

The second piece below by Daoud Kuttab shows how Israel's strikes have (predictably) boosted Palestinian support for Hamas. Both Kuttab and Phyllis Bennis (in the third piece below) indicate that Israel wanted to strike before end of the Bush administration – that Bush would be reliably supportive of the strike, perhaps more so than Obama. In the light of Obama's silence on the situation, the US anti-occupation community has a particular responsibility to pressure Obama to create a political climate in which this sort of thing cannot happen again. The final piece below, a vivid description of the nightmarish state of Gaza's hospitals, underlines the urgency of this responsibility.

Joel Beinin writes:

I would add to Daoud Kuttab's perceptive analysis that Israeli leaderships have often found it preferable to deal with hard-line Palestinian elements rather than those clearly committed to a two-state solution because it creates less pressure on them to offer reasonable terms for a viable, independent Palestinian state.

Palestine's Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood
Mustafa Barghouthi

The Israeli campaign of 'death from above' began around 11 am, on Saturday morning, the 27th of December, and stretched straight through the night into this morning. The massacre continues Sunday as I write these words.

The bloodiest single day in Palestine since the War of 1967 is far from over following on Israel's promised that this is 'only the beginning' of their campaign of state terror. At least 290 people have been murdered thus far, but the body count continues to rise at a dramatic pace as more mutilated bodies are pulled from the rubble, previous victims succumb to their wounds and new casualties are created by the minute.

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.

Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank. In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked attack throughout the period of the cease-fire.

Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in - with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time. Throughout the supposed 'cease-fire' Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.

Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change - whatever the cost.

3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with 'peaceful Palestinians'.

Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested - mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.

Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.

Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Nihlin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with 'good Palestinians', who are they talking about?

4. Israel is acting in self-defense.

It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated. Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic. They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.

It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power. Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world. Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States. In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.

5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.

Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.

In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely 'collateral damage' or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.

6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.

First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying publicly, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas - whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel's mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.

Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine's national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.

With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

The leaders Israel are holding press conferences, dressed in black, with sleeves rolled up.

'It's time to fight', they say, 'but it won't be easy.'

To prove just how hard it is, Livni, Olmert and Barack did not even wear make-up to the press conference, and Barak has ended his presidential campaign to focus on the Gaza campaign. What heroes...what leaders...

We all know the truth: the suspension of the electioneering is exactly that - electioneering.

Like John McCain's suspension of his presidential campaign to return to Washington to 'deal with' the financial crisis, this act is little more than a publicity stunt.

The candidates have to appear 'tough enough to lead', and there is seemingly no better way of doing that than bathing in Palestinian blood.

'Look at me,' Livni says in her black suit and unkempt hair, 'I am a warrior. I am strong enough to pull the trigger. Don't you feel more confident about voting for me, now that you know I am as ruthless as Bibi Netanyahu?'

I do not know which is more disturbing, her and Barack, or the constituency they are trying to please.

In the end, this will in no way improve the security of the average Israeli; in fact it can be expected to get much worse in the coming days as the massacre could presumably provoke a new generation of suicide bombers.

It will not undermine Hamas either, and it will not result in the three fools, Barack, Livni and Olmert, looking 'tough'. Their misguided political venture will likely blow up in their faces as did the brutally similar 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

In closing, there is another reason - beyond the internal politics of Israel - why this attack has been allowed to occur: the complicity and silence of the international community.

Israel cannot and would not act against the will of its economic allies in Europe or its military allies in the US. Israel may be pulling the trigger ending hundreds, perhaps even thousands of lives this week, but it is the apathy of the world and the inhumane tolerance of Palestinian suffering which allows this to occur.

'The evil only exists because the good remain silent'

From Occupied Palestine. . .

-- Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi
[This is a guest post written by Mustafa Barghouthi, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative. These comments and views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Washington Note or Huffington Post. Barghouti is a former secular candidate for President of Palestine and has been a strong advocate of non-violent responses to Israeli occupation. Barghouti is thought by many to be a leading contender in the next Palestinian presidential election. The Washington Note has also solicited perspectives from various national leaders and incumbent Knesset leaders in Israel.]

Has Israel Revived Hamas?
By Daoud Kuttab
Tuesday, December 30, 2008; A15

JERUSALEM -- In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

For two years, the Islamic Resistance Movement (known by its Arabic acronym, Hamas) has been losing support internally and externally. This wasn't the case in the days after the party came to power democratically in early 2006; despite being unjustly ostracized by the international community for its anti-Israeli stance, Hamas enjoyed the backing of Palestinians and other Arabs. Having won a decisive parliamentary majority on an anti-corruption platform promising change and reform, Hamas worked hard to govern better than had Fatah, its rival and predecessor.

Things began to sour when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza, but even then, Hamas enjoyed considerable domestic support -- and much goodwill externally. Then the movement turned down every legitimate offer from its nationalist PLO rivals and Egyptian mediators to pursue reconciliation, and support for it began to slip.

Things got worse in November when a carefully planned national unity effort from the Egyptians failed because, at the very last minute, Hamas's leaders refused to show up in Cairo. Failure to accept this roundtable invitation greatly upset the Egyptians, and they and other Arab leaders scolded Hamas publicly. Omar Suleiman, the head of the Egyptian intelligence service who was organizing the meeting, termed Hamas's reasons for rebuffing the invitation "unwarranted excuses." Hamas sought for its leader a seating position equivalent to the Palestinian president's, and it wanted Hamas security prisoners held in the West Bank to be released. Palestinian nationalists insist that Hamas's rejection of unity talks was solely to avoid the PLO's demand for new presidential and parliamentary elections.

A poll carried out afterward by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center showed that most Palestinians blamed Hamas for the failure of the talks. The survey, which was sponsored by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, found that 35.3 percent of respondents believed Hamas bore more responsibility for the stalemate. Fatah was blamed by 17.9 percent, and 12.3 percent said both Fatah and Hamas were responsible.

The lack of international support since the 2006 elections, followed by this rebuff to Gaza's only Arab neighbor, Egypt, compounded the deterioration of Hamas's internal support. By November, the survey showed, only 16.6 percent of Palestinians supported Hamas, compared with nearly 40 percent favoring Fatah. The decline in support for Hamas has been steady: A year earlier, the same pollster showed that Hamas's support was at 19.7 percent; in August 2007, it was at 21.6 percent; in March 2007, it was at 25.2 percent; and in September 2006, backing for the Islamists stood at 29.7 percent.

That's why, as the six-month cease-fire with Israel came to an end, Hamas calculated -- it seems correctly -- that it had nothing to gain by continuing the truce; if it had, its credentials as a resistance movement would have been no different from those of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah. Unable to secure an open border and an end to the Israeli siege, while refusing to share or give up power to Abbas, Hamas could have had no route to renewed public favor.

For different reasons, Hamas and Israel both gave up on the cease-fire, preferring instead to climb over corpses to reach their political goals. One side wants to resuscitate its public support by appearing to be a heroic resister, while the other, on the eve of elections, wants to show toughness to a public unhappy with the nuisance of the Qassam rockets.

The disproportionate and heavy-handed Israeli attacks on Gaza have been a bonanza for Hamas. The movement has renewed its standing in the Arab world, secured international favor further afield and succeeded in scuttling indirect Israeli-Syrian talks and direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It has also greatly embarrassed Israel's strongest Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.

While it is not apparent how this violent confrontation will end, it is abundantly clear that the Islamic Hamas movement has been brought back from near political defeat while moderate Arab leaders have been forced to back away from their support for any reconciliation with Israel.

By choosing the waning days of the Bush administration to attack Gaza, the Israelis knew they would face no opposition from the leader of the so-called war on terrorism. Just as George W. Bush's misadventure in Iraq played into the hands of radicals and terrorists, this Israeli action will produce nothing less than that in Palestine. Let us hope that the Obama administration will see the consequences of what is not only a crime of war but also a move whose results are exactly the opposite of its publicly proclaimed purposes.

Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and a former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University.


The Gaza Crisis: 2008
By Bennis, Phyllis

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(28 December 2008) -- The death toll in Gaza continues to rise. The carnage is everywhere -- city streets, a mosque, hospitals, police stations, a jail, a university bus stop, a plastics factory, a television station. It seems impossible, unacceptable, to step back to analyze the situation while bodies remain buried under the rubble, while parents continue to search for their missing children, while doctors continue to labor to stitch burned and broken bodies back together without sufficient medicine or equipment. The hospitals are running short even of electricity-the Israeli blockade has denied them fuel to run the generators. It is an ironic twist on the legacy of Israel's involvement in an earlier massacre -- in the Sabra and Shatila camps, in Lebanon back in 1982, it was the Israeli soldiers who lit the flairs, lighting the night sky so their Lebanese allies could continue to kill.

But if we are serious about ending this carnage, this time, we have no choice but to try to analyze, try to figure out what caused this most recent massacre, how to stop it, and then how to continue our work to end the occupation, end Israel's apartheid policies, and change U.S. policy to one of justice and equality for all.


The Israeli airstrikes represent serious violations of international law -- including the Geneva Conventions and a range of international humanitarian law.

The U.S. is complicit in the Israeli violations -- directly and indirectly.

The timing of the air strikes has far more to do with U.S. and Israeli politics than with protecting Israeli civilians.

This serious escalation will push back any chance of serious negotiations between the parties that might have been part of the Obama administration's plans.

There is much work to be done.


Violations of International Law

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip violate important tenants of international humanitarian law, including violations of the Geneva Conventions. The violations include both obligations of an Occupying Power to protect an Occupied Population, and the broader requirements of the laws of war that prohibit specific acts. The violations start with collective punishment -- the entire 1.5 million people who live in the Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Israel's claim that it is "responding to" or "retaliating for" Palestinian rocket attacks is spurious. The rocket fire as currently used is indeed illegal -- Palestinians, like any people living under a hostile military occupation, have the right to resist, including the use of military force against the occupation. But that right does not include targeting civilians. The rockets used so far are unable to be aimed with any specificity, so they are in fact aimed at the civilians who live in the Israeli cities and towns, and so are illegal. The rocket fire against civilians should be ended -- as many Palestinians believe, because it does not help end the occupation, but also because it is illegal under international law. However, that rocket fire, illegal or not, does not give Israel the right to punish the entire population for those actions. Such vengeance is the very essence of "collective punishment" and is therefore unequivocally prohibited by the Geneva conventions.

Another Israeli violation involves targeting civilians. This violation involves three aspects. First, Israel claims the airstrikes were targeted directly at "Hamas-controlled" security-related institutions. Since the majority Hamas party controls the government in Gaza, virtually all the police departments and other security-related sites were hit. Those police and security agencies are civilian targets -- not military. They are run by the Hamas-led government in Gaza, an institution completely separate from Gaza's military wing that has carried out some (though by no means the majority) of the rocket attacks. Second, some of the attacks directly struck incontestably civilian targets: a plastics factory, a local television broadcasting center. And third, the incredibly crowded conditions in Gaza, one of the most densely populated sites in the world, mean that civilian casualties on a huge scale were an inevitable and predictable result. Such targeting of civilian areas is illegal.

The U.S. is also directly complicit in the violations of the Geneva Convention inherent in Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel's actions -- keeping Gazans locked in the Strip; closing the border crossings to almost all fuel, food, equipment and other basic humanitarian goods; preventing UN and other international human rights monitors and journalists from entering, and more -- have all been backed and supported by the U.S. and others in the international community. The resulting humanitarian crisis -- reaching catastrophic proportions even before the current air attacks -- is partly the responsibility of the United States.

Still another violation involves the disproportionate nature of the military attack. The airstrikes have killed at least 270 people so far, injured more than 1,000, many of them seriously, and many remain buried under the rubble so the death toll will likely rise. This catastrophic impact was known and inevitable, and far outweighs any claim of self-defense or protection of Israeli civilians. (It should be noted that this escalation has not made Israelis safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed by a Palestinian rocket attack on Saturday after the Israeli assault began, was the first such casualty in more than a year.)

Key human rights officials, particular the UN's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Professor Richard Falk, as well as Father Miguel d'Escoto, President of the General Assembly, have issued powerful statements identifying Israeli violations of international law as well as the UN's obligations to protect the Palestinian population. But so far there has been no operative response from the UN Security Council. The Council statement, issued 28 December, was completely insufficient, essentially equating the culpability of the Occupying Power and of the occupied population for the violence that has so devastated Gaza. And the statement makes no reference to violations of international law inherent in the Israeli assaults, or in the siege of Gaza that has so drastically punished the entire population. There is a clear need for the General Assembly to step in to reclaim the UN's role of protecting the world's people, certainly including the Palestinians, and not
just responding to the demands of the world's powerful.

U.S. Complicity

The United States remains directly complicit in Israeli violations of both U.S. domestic and international law through its continual provision of military aid. The current round of airstrikes have been carried out largely with F-16 bombers and Apache attack helicopters, both provided to Israel through U.S. military aid grants of about $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer money sent to Israel every year. Between 2001 and 2006, Washington transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts for its fleet of F-16's. Just last year, the U.S. signed a $1.3 billion contract with the Raytheon corporation to provide Israel with thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and "bunker buster" missiles. In short, Israel's lethal attack today on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military support of the United States.

Israel's attack violated U.S. law -- specifically the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits U.S. arms from being used for any purpose beyond a very narrowly-defined set of circumstances: use inside a country's borders for self-defense purposes. The Gaza assault did not meet those criteria. Certainly targeting police stations (even Israel did not claim Gazan police forces were responsible for the rockets) and television broadcast centers do not qualify as self-defense. And because the U.S. government has confirmed it was fully aware of Israeli plans for the attack before it occurred, the U.S. remains complicit in the violations. Further, the well-known history of Israeli violations of international law (detailed above) means U.S. government officials were aware of those violations, provided the arms to Israel anyway, and therefore remain complicit in the Israeli crimes.

The U.S. is also indirectly complicit through its protection of Israel in the United Nations. Its actions, including the use and threat of use of the U.S. veto in the Security Council and the reliance on raw power to pressure diplomats and governments to soften their criticism of Israel, all serve to protect Israel and keep it from being held accountable by the international community.

Timing of Israel's Attack on Gaza

The Israeli decision to launch the attacks on Gaza was a political, not security, decision. Just a day or two before the airstrikes, it was Israel that rejected Hamas's diplomatic initiative aimed at extending the six-month-long ceasefire that had frayed but largely stayed together since June, and that expired 26 December. Hamas officials, working through Egyptian mediators, had urged Israel to lift the siege of Gaza as the basis for continuing an extended ceasefire. Israel, including Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, of the "centrist" (in the Israeli context) Kadima Party, rejected the proposal. Livni, who went to Egypt but refused to seriously consider the Hamas offer, is running in a tight race for prime minister; her top opponent is the further-right Benyamin Netanyahu of the officially hawkish Likud party, who has campaigned against Livni and the Kadima government for their alleged "soft" approach to the Palestinians. With elections looming in February, no candidate can afford to
appear anything but super-militaristic.

Further, it is certain that the Israeli government was eager to move militarily while Bush was still in office. The Washington Post quoted a Bush administration official saying that Israel struck in Gaza "because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in. They can't predict how the next administration will handle it. And this is not the way they want to start with the new administration." The Israeli officials may or may not be right about President Obama's likelihood of responding differently than Bush on this issue -- but it does point to a clear obligation on those of us in this country who voted for Obama with hope, to do all that's necessary to press him to make good on the "change" he promised that gave rise to that hope.

Obama and Future Options

The escalation in Gaza will make it virtually impossible for any serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at ending the occupation. It remains uncertain whether sponsorship of an immediate new round of bilateral negotiations was in fact on Barack Obama's initial post-inauguration agenda anyway. But the current crisis means that any negotiations, whether ostensibly Israeli-Palestinian alone or officially involving the U.S.-controlled so-called "Quartet," will be able to go beyond a return to the pre-airstrike crisis period. That earlier political crisis, still far from solved, was characterized by expanding settlements, the apartheid Wall and crippling checkpoints crippling movement, commerce, and ordinary life across the West Bank, and a virtually impenetrable siege of Gaza that even before the current military assault, had created a humanitarian catastrophe.

So What do We Do?

The immediate answer is everything: write letters to Congressmembers and the State Department, demonstrate at the White House and the Israeli Embassy, write letters to the editor and op-eds for every news outlet we can find, call radio talk shows, protest the U.S. representatives at the UN and their protection of Israeli crimes. We need to engage with the Obama transition process and plan now for how we will keep the pressure on to really change U.S. policy in the Middle East. We should all join the global movement of outrage and solidarity with Gaza. There are a host of on-line petitions already -- we should sign them all. The U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation is compiling action calls on our website -- www.endtheoccupation.org. We have to do all of that.

But then. We can't stop with emergency mobilizations. We still have to build our movement for BDS -- boycott, divestment and sanctions, to build a global campaign of non-violent economic pressure to force Israel to comply with international law. We have to challenge U.S. military aid that scaffolds Israel's military aggression, and U.S. political and diplomatic support that prevents the UN and the international community from holding Israel accountable for its violations. We have to do serious education and advocacy work, learning from other movements that have come before about being brave enough to call something what it is: Israeli policies are apartheid policies, and must be challenged on that basis.

We have a lot of work to do.

Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. Her books include Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer in FAQ format which many will find useful for education work in this urgent period. (www.interlinkbooks.com)

Thanks to Josh Ruebner of the U.S. Campaign for some of the background on U.S. military aid.


'The injured were lying there asking God to let them die'
Fikr Shaltoot
The Guardian, Monday 29 December 2008

Being a health worker, I had to check the needs of Shifa hospital and the other hospitals in Gaza. The situation in Shifa is really bad. There were corpses in corridors covered with blankets. The mortuary couldn't cope with the number of bodies. Two bodies were left on stretchers, one wrapped in a blanket. They leave them until families can recognise them.

There were mothers, fathers looking for children, looking for relatives. Everyone was confused and seeking support. Mothers were crying, people were asking about relatives, the medical team was confused.

Some people were just lying there, some were screaming, some were very, very angry. There were a lot of injured arriving, ambulances coming in and out. The injured were coming by private cars and they were being left wherever. You could see blood here and there.

There is talk [the Israeli air strikes] were targeting the police and security forces but in Shifa hospital, I saw many, many civilians, some dead, some injured, some were children, some were women, some were elderly people.

There are people without their legs in very severe pain. The doctors and nurses were trying to give them painkillers and to keep them alive. Patients are lying there knowing they've lost their legs. Some were asking God if they could die. They were in a terrible psychological state.

The doctors and nurses were trying to do their best. They discharged all the patients from the chronic diseases ward and from the oncology ward to make way for the injured. They were using whatever they could.

There's no gauze so they are using cotton, which sticks to the wounds. They can't sterilise clothes for the operating theatre. They're using wrong sized syringes. They're working 24 hours. They're referring cases from one hospital to the next. One hospital was running out of anaesthesia. They're also drawing blood and there's no alcohol. This is a disaster.

Fikr Shaltoot is a programme coordinator for Medical Aid for Palestinians, a British non-governmental organisation that provides medical supplies in Gaza

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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1 comment:

berd said...

The editors of JPN have a tremendous amount of information here, that is a real service to the interests of understanding and promoting nonviolent solutions to this terrible conflict.

There is no violent solution. JPN is commendable for living in the solution.

Thank you for providing this service and resource, I appreciate having this source of information to learn about the aspects of the conflict that I will not hear about or learn about from mainstream media sources. (Reality is radical in the MSM.)