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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Naomi Klein: Enough. It’s time to Boycott Israel

It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is forIsrael to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa. In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era”. The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause – even among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the anti-apartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves … This international backing must stop.”
Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can’t go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. But they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tool in the non-violent arsenal: surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counter-arguments.
Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis.
The world has tried what used to be called “constructive engagement”. It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures – quite the opposite. The weapons and $3bn in annual aid the US sends Israel are only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first country outside Latin America to sign a free-trade deal with the Mercosur bloc. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45%. A new deal with the EU is set to double Israel’s exports of processed food. And in December European ministers “upgraded” the EU-Israel association agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.
It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s flagship index actually went up 10.7%. When carrots don’t work, sticks are needed.
Israel is not South Africa.
Of course it isn’t. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, backroom lobbying) fail. And there are deeply distressing echoes of apartheid in the occupied territories: the colour-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said the architecture of segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”. That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.
Why single out Israel when the US, Britain and other western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the strategy should be tried is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.
Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less.
This one I’ll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.
Our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, emails and instant messages, stretching between Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Paris, Toronto and Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start a boycott strategy, dialogue grows dramatically. The argument that boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at each other across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.
Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don’t I know that many of these very hi-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel’s Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, managing director of a British telecom specialising in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax: “As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company.”
Ramsey says his decision wasn’t political; he just didn’t want to lose customers. “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients,” he explains, “so it was purely commercially defensive.”
It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it’s precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.
A version of this column was published in the Nation (
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Perverted truth: How rebel mourning MH17 victims was turned into looter with trophy

Published time: July 21, 2014 22:23 
Edited time: July 22, 2014 13:57

A member of the  self-defense forces holds up a stuffed animal as others look on at the site of the crash of a Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in east Ukraine, on July 18, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dominique Faget)
A member of the self-defense forces holds up a stuffed animal as others look on at the site of the crash of a Malaysian airliner carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in Grabove, in east Ukraine, on July 18, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dominique Faget)
Twitter is quick, but too quick sometimes – recently it burst with photos of an evil Ukrainian militiaman who took a teddy bear from the victim of Malaysia plane crash as a trophy. But the full video shows he was just paying the tribute to the dead.
“Pro Russian holds up stuffed toy like trophy. Mr @PutinRF_Eng, are you proud of your compatriots?" wrote a twitter user John Gosling.
A photo signed “pro-Russian fighter holds up a toy found among the debris at the crash site of MH17” has been used by such major media outlets as the BBC and NBC. Some outlets went as far as to say that ‘pro-Russian fighters’ were collecting the belongings of passengers of the doomed Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight.
“Pro-Russian Militants Pick Through Debris at Jet Crash Site,” wrote NBC and supported the headline with the photo.
The internet users posted this photo saying the self-defense forces with OSCE observers were “picking through #MH17 jet debris.”
View image on Twitter
Putin supported Ukraine separatist holding a child' toy monkey like a trophy. The family would probably like it back.
Some Twitter users called out for a ‘response’:
Pic of separatist holding child's stuffed monkey toy in wreckage is infuriating as a parent. US response lacking. We used to call out evil.
Ukraine’s news outlets were crueler to the members of self-defense forces at the scene of a crashed plane; they called the man terrorist who stole the toy.
“The militants are taking the toys of the children, the tourists’ maps, the notebooks of the businessmen,” wrote Ukraine’s sans census news website
“Terrorist of people’s Republic of Donetsk with a trophy. [He is] ready for the negotiations,” comments Ukraine’s news portal
View image on Twitter

Unf**king believable holding up this teddy bear as a trophy ...

A poignant and defining image of my day is a man in Ukraine, weapon and fag in one hand, and a murdered child's toy monkey in the other.

What really happened?

In reality, the photo was taken during a visit of 30 OSCE international observers who arrived at the scene of the crashed plane to investigate the area. Among the OSCE group were the members of self-defense forces in Donetsk region who accompanied them.

The footage shows that one of the members of self-defense troops suddenly saw a teddy bear which apparently belonged to a child who was among the 298 passenger on board the Malaysian jet.
“We want those bastards to see whom they shot down,” the man said, “Do you see?” meaning that there were innocent children who died in the crash.
Then he carefully put the toy back to a heap of other items that used to belong to the passengers. After that he took off his cap and marked himself with a sign of the cross paying the tribute to the memory of the victims of the catastrophe.
A member of Donetsk self-defense forces takes off his cap and crosses himself to pay tribute to the victims of the Malaysia plane crash (screenshot from infrocorpus)
A member of Donetsk self-defense forces takes off his cap and crosses himself to pay tribute to the victims of the Malaysia plane crash (screenshot from infrocorpus)
The MH17 flight crash site is a vast territory, from 10 to 50 square kilometers according to various sources, as the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 came apart kilometers above the surface and the debris rained down on the fields around the village of Grabovo.
That explains why Donetsk People’s Republic emergency services opted to collect the located belongings of the passengers from the territory and bring them to one spot. If not taken to a single place, they could be lost later, as mapping such a huge number of fragments and items appears to be a monumental task.
Though international expert community insisted on not touching the bodies, after several days of waiting in vain, when no international experts managed to leave Kiev to see the crash site, where daily temperature reached +30 Celsius, the self-defense forces opted to collect the decomposing bodies and loadedthem on to a refrigerated train.
Now that first Dutch forensic experts – first international investigators - havearrived in eastern Ukraine to assess the aftermath of the Malaysian plane crash, they will finally get a first glimpse on the crash site and probably share their preliminary findings with the media.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The dialectic of victory: how I learned to stop worrying and love the rocket

An Israeli police man inspects a building in a Kibbutz near the border with the Gaza Strip on July 9, 2014, after it was hit and damaged by a rocket fired from Gaza. (Photo: AFP-Menahem Kahana)
Published Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A year from now, give or take, we should be able to read the documents from the 2015 Herzliya Conference, and we would know then what exactly was on the minds of Israel’s most important strategists in July 2014.
“If you take up arms, you’ll end it, but if you sit around and wait for the one who’s in power to make up his mind that he should end it, you’ll be waiting a long time.”
– Malcolm X, speech at Oxford University
After carefully reviewing the documents produced by previous conferences and the literature published by the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies in previous years as well, one can safely conclude that their eyes will not be only focused on Gaza and the Shujayeh district, but also on the United States and the assessment American strategists would come out with behind the scenes of Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza.

One can also infer that Israel's leaders will be extremely concerned about the implications of what is happening on the ground in the Gaza Strip for the status of the Zionist entity and its position in overall U.S. strategy. Indeed, any setback for Israel undermines its position and importance for the United States, which is an existential issue for the Israelis as their documents and studies tell us.
The reason is actually very simple. Measuring gains and losses in wars, which the Israelis are very skilled at, is never just about the number of victims or the scale of destruction, no matter how great. On the contrary, the barbarism and unfettered brutality, as seen for example in the Shujayeh massacre, is actually a sign of defeat, as we learned from the 2006 July War in Lebanon.
This is exactly how the White House saw the urgent Israeli request for a large quantity of guided missiles on July 21, 2006, after Israel depleted its stockpiles in the brutal bombardment of Beirut’s southern suburbs and South Lebanon. For the Americans, the request signaled that the aerial campaign meant to destroy Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal had failed miserably and that Israel was in a military predicament, especially since only once had Israel made such a request to the White House before, at the height of the October 1973 war. One former Pentagon official even commented, “This [request] can only mean one thing. They're on the ropes.” (See: How Hezbollah defeated Israel, Part 2: Winning the ground war, by Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry). That day, the Americans realized that the war was over and that Hezbollah had won.
From Gettysburg to Gaza: The ground war

Another sign of Israel’s defeat in July 2006 as interpreted by the Americans, emerged on the same day (July 21), when Israel, surprisingly, decided to call its reserve forces, something that Hezbollah did not do throughout the war and something that Israel is doing again in Gaza today. At the time, Olmert – like Netanyahu today – thought that a ground war would solve the problem that the air force could not.
But the Israelis forgot that a similar mistake by General Robert E. Lee had changed the outcome of the American civil war in Gettysburg, if not the outcome of American history itself. General Lee did not heed the advice of one of his officers, as he was blinded by the arrogance of power. “Oh I can get there, all right,” the officer said. “It’s staying there that's the problem.”
Yet Israeli leaders did not need to go back to July 1863, the date of the bloodiest and most fateful battle of the American civil war. All they have to do is go back to July 2006, and read the reports of the soldiers they had sent across the border during the war. In Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry’s analysis of the July War, they state, “Special IDF units operating in southern Lebanon were reporting to their commanders as early as July 18 (i.e. before the ground invasion) that Hezbollah units were fighting tenaciously to hold their positions on the first ridgeline overlooking Israel.”
What happened in Gaza on July 20, 2014 shows clearly that the Israelis learned nothing from the battles in Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil, which had routed the Golani Brigade (perhaps they should send this brigade to disperse demonstrations by Palestinian children before they send it to fight adults). They learned nothing from all the lessons of Lebanon and Palestine, something that the Americans also realized. (See: Hezbollah’s resistance in July: the engineering miracle, Al-Akhbar, July 22, 2013 [Arabic]).
By contrast, Hezbollah learned very well the lessons of the battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam, built upon them, and took them into astonishing new levels, as U.S. military experts studying the July War have indicated. It appears from the heroic performance of the Resistance in Gaza that they have learned the lessons of Vietnam and Hezbollah very well too. The way the Resistance has engaged enemy soldiers from point blank is reminiscent of the Viet Cong leaders’ instructions to their fighters: “Fight the Americans in small unit actions. You must grab them by their belt buckles.”
Luckily for Hezbollah, and for the peoples fighting for their freedoms that would emulate Hezbollah later, a brilliant commander had led the battle, giving students of military science, strategy, and policy something to preoccupy them with for a very long time. (Palestinian political performance even among Resistance political leaders has not yet risen up to the level of the genius and heroism of the Resistance’s performance on the ground in Gaza, which makes us concerned by the prospect of wasting yet another opportunity).
Like Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, Hassan Nasrallah knew that victory was not just about figures and numbers, and like them too, he understood that there are limits to what the colonizer can tolerate and that the colonized just needed to pay a bigger price than the colonizers in order to win. Nasrallah also knew that a noble goal is worth sacrificing for (do not trust a Palestinian leader who does not put his sons and daughters in the vanguard like Nasrallah did). More importantly, Nasrallah knew that the implications of what happens in the field on politics, culture, sociology, economics, and military strategies, locally, regionally, and even globally, are also important factors in the gains-and-losses calculations.

Ultimately, the enemy lost the battle despite the massive destruction it inflicted and the thousands of casualties, mostly civilians, it killed. Hezbollah prevailed because the performance of the Resistance fighters on the ground and the shrewd political performance of their leader turned the outcome of the war into “a political defeat of the United States – which unquestioningly sided with Israel during the conflict and refused to bring it to an end – [that] was catastrophic and has had a lasting impact on US prestige in the region,” as Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry and other experts concluded.
Expect a similar outcome for the astounding performance of the heroes in Gaza with similar consequences for the status of Israel and its future existence. We will read about this in their documents soon.
How to change the world – with shells – in 57 days
“170 days of confrontation, 57 days of hell,” is how the tagline of one French film describes the battle of Dien Bien Phu, one of the most epic battles fought by peoples of the Global South against European colonialism. Those 57 days were enough to uproot one hundred years of French colonization of Vietnam, and to end the French imperialist campaign in Asia once and for all. A few years later, Algeria would follow suit, uprooting the French empire from Africa as well.
Preparations for the showdown began on November 20, 1953, and lasted several months until the big day on March 13, 1954. Had it not been for the extraordinary military and logistical achievement made by Hannibal the Carthaginian, who hauled a huge army of humans, elephants, and horses and their equipment from Africa to Rome via the Alps to attack Rome, what Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap did in Dien Bien Phu would have probably been the greatest logistical achievement in military history.
The Vietnamese moved hundreds of heavy artillery units and a lot of equipment for the major battle on their backs, across the most rugged and difficult mountain roads of Asia. They dug trenches and fortifications with their hands for their very simple canons, beyond the range of French artillery and warplanes, which had superior firepower.
The French wanted to use Dien Bien Phu, a remote area in northwest Vietnam, to entrap Vietnamese fighters and defeat them using their enormous firepower. However, the genius of the Vietnamese leadership, which knew very well the meaning of victory and defeat, was able to turn the ambush into an opportunity that entered history as one of the greatest military battles of all time (imagine if Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat had led the battle instead of Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap; France would perhaps have colonized the moon by now, let alone Asia). This was the first time in history that popular resistance by a colonized people developed from simple guerilla warfare into a conventional army that was able, for the first time as well, to defeat the mightiest of empires, and reshape the political map of the region and the globe.
According to the legend that the French often tell, Ho Chi Minh, in a meeting on the eve of the battle with his senior lieutenants, took off his hat, turned it over and explained to his commanders: Dien Bien Phu is a rice bowl, the French are at the bottom, and we are around the rim and we are not going to let them out.
The following day, on March 13, 1954, Vo Nguyen Giap gave his orders to open fire. Nine thousand artillery shells on the first day alone were fired at the positions of the army that, only a few years before that, and since Napoleon’s battle in Austerlitz, had been classed as one of the most powerful armies in the world. The battle lasted 54 days, but it had already been settled with the first shell.
Those great shells, simple, cheap, and easy-to-manufacture weapons of the poor, were able to root out the mightiest empires armed to the teeth with expensive aircraft. For their freedom, the Vietnamese paid a price that was many times more what the French colonists could ever bear for the sake of continuing to plunder Vietnam. The equation was simple: There are limits to what colonists can bear, and all the colonized had to do was to pay a greater cost to win.
In Dien Bien Phu, 2,293 French soldiers perished and more than 23,000 Vietnamese were martyred, but it was a French military and political disaster that paved the way for the end of the French campaign in Asia, and it completely changed the political map of the world. The Vietnamese won despite their enormous sacrifices, and the hostilities ceased on May 8, 1954 under the terms set by Ho Chi Minh and Giap, who knew that the tally of what happened on the battlefield went far beyond the casualty figures.
What makes this battle even more important, and explains the dialectic behind the phenomenal price paid by the Vietnamese in Dien Bien Phu, is that they were not only fighting the elite of the Imperial French Army and its paratroopers, but were also fighting against an army backed logistically and financially by the United States, the emerging empire at the time, which supplied the French with M24 tanks for example, and paid more than $1 billion to help the French in Dien Bien Phu before the Americans had to invade Vietnam themselves later.
Yet the same equation remained valid with the Americans as well: There are limits to what colonists can bear, and all the colonized had to do was to pay a greater cost to win. The Vietnamese lost more than 1.3 million martyrs and won, and the United States was defeated because it could not bear to lose more than 55,000 soldiers. The U.S. defeat would also become an important factor later in shaping international politics, prompting Immanuel Wallerstein to chronicle the start of the U.S. decline with the defeat in Vietnam. In other words, 1.3 million Vietnamese martyrs were the cost of changing the world, and not just liberating Vietnam.
Learning to love the rocket

Remember this date: November 16, 2012. Your children and grandchildren will learn that this day was the turning point in the history of the Arab-Zionist conflict. They will learn that on that day, the Resistance bombarded Tel Aviv for the first time in its history. After that, bombarding Tel Aviv on the first day of any confrontation would become natural and expected, rather than an extraordinary event.
They will learn that on November 16, 2012, and in heroic and great Gaza, rockets became more than a weapon. Rockets became midwives of history. Gone forever are those days, which now seem so far in the past, when bombarding Tel Aviv was a distant dream, as we once thought, or a red line, as the enemy once thought.
In Gaza, which many have betrayed on dirty political grounds, these rockets were the title of the greatest military-logistical achievement in the history of the Palestinian revolution, if not in modern Arab history. After these rockets were moved across thousands of kilometers, cutting through borders, countries, and even continents, and bypassing spies and spy satellites, the Resistance dug trenches for them in preparation for the decisive moment. On November 16, when the promised day finally came, the land of Palestine smiled, and Gaza’s soil parted to unleash a Fajr-5 rocket. The sky caught fire that day, portending the inevitable epic battle between us and them.
This wonderful rocket, the rockets made by the heroes of Gaza, and the rockets that followed in their footsteps in July 2014, are like a history book that came to us from the future: We read it to see the current battle as only a prelude for a major battle that will no doubt culminate with the demise of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine.
Those who did not see the end of Israel with the first rocket that struck Tel Aviv, and did not see all of Palestine free, from the river to the sea, with the first siren that echoed in what was once an Arab city, is blind in sight and insight. Those who did not read the history-to-come of the coming great battle written on the fuselage of every rocket that emerged from Gaza’s belly, about the Arab Dien Bien Phu to come in Palestine, is ignorant of the simplest lessons of history.
Everyone who betrayed Gaza, or conspired against its people, will rue the day. We, those who are fond of great and heroic Gaza and its people, say that our sorrow for the children and civilians will only make us more determined, and more fond of those wonderful rockets.
How we wish we could speak to those rockets, and tell them of our great longing for the coming inevitable battle with the enemy. How we wish we could send the enemy a letter on board those rockets to say: We shall fight you, we, our children, and our grandchildren and their children if we have to. We will fight you until the last inch of Palestine is recovered, and every Arab who doesn’t is a traitor. Only after that will the world change.
Saif Daana is a professor of sociology at the University of Wisonsin-Parkside. He is also associate editor of Arab Studies Quarterly and contributes to Al-Akhbar 
Arabic and English, as well as Al-Ahram Weekly.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Tens of thousands march in London to say, "Gaza, we will never forget you"

Stop the War Coalition 

“Why the double standard?” asked George Galloway MP, speaking at the demonstration.”Why is the blood in Ukraine so much more noteworthy than the blood in Gaza?”
Saturday 19 July will long be remembered as the day many tens of thousands of protesters from all over Britain marched in London to call for Israel’s bombing and killing to stop, and an end to the siege in Gaza and Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
The huge turnout marched from outside prime minister David Cameron’s residence in Downing Street to the Israeli embassy in Kensington. The placards said “Gaza: Stop the Massacre”, “Stop Israel’s War Crimes”, “Freedom for Palestine”, “End Israeli Apartheid”.
So packed was the crowd in the sweltering heat that more than 20 people fainted.
Among the many speakers who addressed the crowd was the Labour MP Diane Abbott, who said, “I am here to show solidarity with the people in Gaza:
“Today’s national demonstration will give people from across the country the chance to say enough is enough, Israel’s siege of Gaza and its occupation of Palestinian land has to end now. People want justice and freedom for the Palestinians, and they will be voicing this in their thousands.”
Baroness Jenny Tonge said: “What on earth is Israel doing? It has lost its legitimacy, it is no longer a democratic state. It breaks international law, Geneva conventions, it has no respect for human rights. Israel must leave the international family of nations.”
Andrew Murray from Britain’s largest union, Unite, told the protesters Israel’s barbaric attack will not break the spirit of the people of Gaza. And it will not break the spirit of demonstrations like this one in London, determined to show solidarity with Palestinians as they face Israeli war crimes and illegal occupation.
When the marchers reached the Israeli embasssy they were met by a police blockade protecting the building.
Speakers told the crowd that the numbers killed in Gaza has now risen to over 330, and more than a fifth of those were children. George Galloway MP highlighted the disparity in the coverage of a similar number killed when the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight was shot down in Ukraine, the day before the Gaza march.
“The 300 Palestinians are completely ignored by the same newspapers, by the same television stations and by the same political leaders who are threatening sanctions and war against Russia but who are supporting, with weapons and money and diplomatic political and media support, the Israeli killers.
“In fact, if whoever fired that missile in Ukraine had fired it instead at the beach in Gaza, the media could have knocked off for an early lunch and saved themselves all of this work.
“Why the double standard? Why is the blood in Ukraine so much more noteworthy than the blood in Gaza?”
One of the chants from the protesters was, “Gaza, we will never forget you”, and as Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu declared that Isael planned at least another two weeks of carnage in Gaza, we can be sure there will be solidarity protests and demonstrations across Britain

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

In Gaza’s al-Shujayeh: ‘I just survived a massacre’

A displaced mother from the Shejaiya neighborhood in the Gaza Strip cuddles her baby daughter at the UN school where she and others have taken refuge after fleeing heavy fighting in their area, on July 21, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Marco Longari)
Published Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“A massacre, a massacre!” were the words my brother, who works as a doctor at Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, said as he yelled over the phone urging me to come to Gaza’s main hospital immediately. “Come witness the massacre,” he said.

At first light, as I readied myself to go to the hospital, I heard knocks on my door. Three young men in tattered, seemingly burned clothes stood there. They asked me if I knew of any flats in the area they could rent. They were survivors of the yet unfinished massacre. “We’ve just fled from Shujayeh, there’s a massacre there,” they told me before they walked away.

On my way to al-Shifa, I saw scores of people roaming the streets, some barefoot, others weeping. They had fled the “Death Zone.” Drones were still buzzing overhead, warships shelled sporadically, and Israeli jet fighters roared intimidatingly before the roaring soon faded into the distance. But it all somehow felt so quiet.

I soon arrived at al-Shifa. Flabbergasted, I made my way through the crowds of people who had already gathered there seeking shelter with their families and children. Some lay on the ground, and others wailed the death of their children and relatives. Some stood by the morgue looking for their lost family members. These were some of the survivors of al-Shujayeh massacre.

“We were sitting at home after iftar when suddenly shells started raining down on us,” 42-year-old Fatima al-Dib told Al-Akhbar. Fatima and her family hid under the stairs and were stranded for nearly 10 hours unable to escape while Israeli mortar shells fell on and around their house.

“There was a blazing fire outside,” Fatima, a mother of two boys and three girls, recalled the past night. “My daughter was injured, so we carried her and hid under the stairs. We stayed there all night long from 8:30 in the evening until 6:00 in the morning as we heard the Israeli artillery fire shells in our direction nonstop,” she told us tearfully, her daughter in her arms.

Surviving a massacre

On their way out, Fatima saw houses left in ruins, glass shattered, corpses strewn on the sidewalks, some disfigured and others ripped apart. “They must have been trying to flee when they were killed… When I got to al-Shifa, I realized I have just survived a massacre,” Fatima commented.

”When I got to al-Shifa, I realized I have just survived a massacre.” Gaza resident Fatima al-Dib

On July 19, Israeli forces perpetrated a vicious massacre against residents of al-Shujayeh area, east of Gaza City. When night came, Israeli artillery intensified its bombardment of al-Shujayeh throughout the night. Ambulances and civil defense forces were prevented from entering the targeted areas to evacuate the dead and injured. Houses were destroyed with their residents trapped inside, and other houses burned all night long. Corpses were buried under the rubble, and the injured bled to death. Children screamed for their lives. More than 70 have been killed, and more than 250 others were injured, the vast majority of them civilians. Over half of them are women and children.

Abu Mohammed al-Helo and his family were some of the survivors. Abu Mohammed came to al-Shifa and was frenetically looking for his brother Jihad and his family. Neighbors told him that Jihad’s house was shelled but that he was still alive. “My brother and his family are trapped under the rubble,” he told us. “Neighbors say they heard them shouting for help as they escaped the area but couldn’t rescue them because of the strikes,” With tears welling up in his eyes, he walked away, looking for help.

As I stood by the morgue to meet some of the families of the victims, very few people came to see the corpses and identify their relatives. It was simply unclear who was dead and who was still alive. Some were also completely disfigured that it was impossible to identify them. Most of the families were either still stranded in Shujayeh or just unaware that their family members have been killed. They were instead waiting for them to join them at UNRWA schools where families sought shelter.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has come under fire for failing to intervene and rescue the injured and evacuate residents of al-Shujayeh whose calls went unanswered.

Ahmed Jindiyya lost his brother Mohammed after a missile landed on his house. He called the Red Cross, which told him they will come to their rescue but never really turned up. “We were at home when our neighbor’s house was bombed. We tried to escape but the shells soon hit our house,” Ahmed toldAl-Akhbar.

Ahmed Jindiyya lost his brother Mohammed after a missile landed on his house. He called the Red Cross, which told him they will come to their rescue but never really turned up.

“As the shells hit around us, I hugged my children and tried to calm them down. But the shelling got closer and closer, so we covered our heads with pillows and a mattress. Then a missile hit our house. Mohammed [Ahmed’s brother] got killed, and some others were injured”

An ambulance finally arrived, and the injured were picked up. Ahmed, whose family is comprised of five sons and three daughters, escaped with his family in the middle of the night. According to Ahmed, a family including women and children was running away ahead of them when a shell hit and killed them.

“We decided to hide by walking on the sidewalk close to the wall,” Ahmed narrated how he and his family barely escaped death as mortars fell near them. “My children were crying and we walked as fast as we could till we got to al-Shujayeh Square where ambulances picked us up.”

When they got to al-Shifa hospital, Ahmed was reunited with the rest of his family. He saw his dead brother for only a short time as bodies were being piled on top of each other as new ambulances arrived.

Hamada al-Ghafeer described his and his family’s survival as “a miracle.” As bombs fell down, he and his family hid under the stairs, broken glass showering over them. “I prayed that I’d die before my kids and not live to see them torn and burnt in front of my eyes,” 39-year-old Hamad said.

“They were bent on obliterating all of al-Shujayeh. I can’t believe we outlived this massacre. It’s a miracle, a rebirth.”

Follow Mohammed Suliman on Twitter | @imPalestine


Zionist Massacres in Gaza Continue: Death Toll ’Rises above 600’

Local Editor


The death toll in Gaza rose above 600 on Tuesday as emergency teams pulled dead bodies from the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli strikes on the 16th day of the assault, Maan news agency reported.

The latest martyrs, who have yet to be identified, died in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City as a result of Israeli artillery shelling, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.

Before that, al-Qidra said 22-year-old Mahmoud Salim Mustafa Daraj succumbed to his wounds in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

The deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation army on Tuesday to 31.

Palestinian medical sources earlier announced the death of Ahmad Abu Seido by Israeli shelling on a park in eastern Gaza City.

Rescue teams removed body of a man from rubble in Shujaiyya neighborhood.

Al-Qidra earlier announced another martyr as four-year-old girl Muna Rami al-Kharawt in the northern Gaza Strip.

The bodies of two women were also removed from the debris of their homes in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, al-Qidra said.

He identified the two martyrs as 70-year-old Fatima Hasan Azzam and 50-year-old Maryam Hasan Azzam.

Additionally, emergency teams pulled the body of Muhammad al-Hindi from a destroyed building in Tal al-Hawa in southern Gaza.

Earlier Tuesday, over dozens of Palestinians were killed after Israeli airstrikes and artillery hit their homes.

Source: Agencies
22-07-2014 - 16:40 Last updated 22-07-2014 - 16:40
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