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Today in Gaza

You who are silent
You who leave it to others
You who do not hear the screams

Every bomb that falls
Every ‘call for restraint’
Every blood clot etched in the sand

Calls out in vain
Calls out in pain
Calls out your name

Remember you let it happen
Remember you turned away
Remember you were silent

This letter arrived this morning:
Dear Shahidul
This is from my friend Selim, about yesterday’s aggression. As you know I worked on year in Gaza (as the head of the UNRWA health services that provides primary health care to 20,000 refugees daily. So far more than 200 dead and more than 700 wounded, many civilians as there is no “clean” war in urban settings and surgical strikes; The horror is there. And foreign governments recommend restraints on both sides as if it was a solution. Hamas respected the truce for many months and saw no improvement.
Thanks for doing what you can.
Pierre Claquin
Today in Gaza
It was just before noon when I heard the first explosion. I rushed to my window, barely had I looked out when I was pushed back by the force and air pressure of another explosion. For a few moments I didn’t understand, then I realized that Israeli promises of a wide-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip had materialized. Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzpi Livni’s statements following a meeting with Egyptian President Hussni Mubarak the day before yesterday had not been empty threats after all.
What followed seems pretty much surreal at this point. Never had we imagined anything like this. It all happened so fast but the amount of death and destruction is inconceivable, even to me and I’m in the middle of it and a few hours have passed already passed.
6 locations were hit during the air raid on Gaza city. The images are probably not broadcasted in US news channels. There were piles and piles of bodies in the locations that were hit. As you looked at them you could see that a few of the young men are still alive, someone lifts a hand here, and another raise his head there. They probably died within moments because their bodies are burned, most have lost limbs, some have their guts hanging out and they’re all lying in pools of blood. Outside my home, (which is close to the 2 largest universities in Gaza) a missile fell on a large group of young men, university students, they’d been warned not to stand in groups, it makes them an easy target, but they were waiting for buses to take them home. 7 were killed, 4 students and 3 of our neighbors kids, young men who were from the same family (Rayes) and were best friends. As I’m writing this I can hear a funeral procession go by outside, I looked out the window a moment ago and it was the 3 Rayes boys, They spent all their time together when they were alive, they died together and now their sharing the same funeral together. Nothing could stop my 14 year old brother from rushing out to see the bodies of his friends laying in the street after they were killed. He hasn’t spoken a word since.
What did Olmert mean when he stated that WE the people of Gaza weren’t the enemy, that it was Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who were being targeted? Was that statement made to infuriate us out of out state of shock, to pacify any feelings of rage and revenge? To mock us?? Were the scores of children on their way home from school and who are now among the dead and the injured Hamas militants? A little further down my street about half an hour after the first strike 3 schoolgirls happened to be passing by one of the locations when a missile struck the Preventative Security Headquarters building. The girls bodies were torn into pieces and covered the street from one side to the other.
In all the locations people are going through the dead terrified of recognizing a family member among them. The streets are strewn with their bodies, their arms, legs, feet, some with shoes and some without. The city is in a state of alarm, panic and confusion, cell phones aren’t working, hospitals and morgues are backed up and some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them. Outside the destroyed buildings old men are kneeling on the floor weeping. Their slim hopes of finding their sons still alive vanished after taking one look at what had become of their office buildings.
And even after the dead are identified, doctors are having a hard time gathering the right body parts in order to hand them over to their families. The hospital hallways look like a slaughterhouse. It’s truly worse than any horror movie you could ever imagine. The floor is filled with blood, the injured are propped up against the walls or laid down on the floor side by side with the dead. Doctors are working frantically and people with injuries that aren’t life threatening are sent home. A relative of mine was injured by a flying piece of glass from her living room window, she had deep cut right down the middle of her face. She was sent home, too many people needed medical attention more urgently. Her husband, a dentist, took her to his clinic and sewed up her face using local anesthesia
200 people dead in today’s air raid. That means 200 funeral processions, a few today, most of them tomorrow probably. To think that yesterday these families were worried about food and heat and electricity. At this point I think they -actually all of us- would gladly have Hamas sign off every last basic right we’ve been calling for the last few months forever if it could have stopped this from ever having happened.
The bombing was very close to my home. Most of my extended family live in the area. My family is ok, but 2 of my uncles’ homes were damaged. We can rest easy, Gazans can mourn tonight. Israel is said to have promised not to wage any more air raids for now. People suspect that the next step will be targeted killings, which will inevitably means scores more of innocent bystanders whose fate has already been sealed.
This doesn’t even begin to tell the story on any level. Just flashes of thing that happened today that are going through my head.
Identity Card, a poem by Mahmoud Darwish

Published inGlobal IssuesWorld


  1. Shreeram Vidyarthi Shreeram Vidyarthi

    These Zionist Nazis, who have been cashing their holocaust cheques for decades,are guilty of perpetrating same atrocities on Palestinian people that they calim were perpetrated on them. The western powers which have been siding with them and supporting their ’cause’ meekly and unconditionally are the sinners and guilty of crimes against humanity. The moster caled Zion is not interested in peace in the Middle-east; it just wants to grab all resources of the land and enslave the people around their territories. Shame on these criminal minds, playing as politicians and statesmen.

  2. John Berger (through Omar Barghouti via email) John Berger (through Omar Barghouti via email)

    “We are now spectators of the latest – and perhaps penultimate – chapter of the 60 year old conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. About the complexities of this tragic conflict billions of words have been pronounced, defending one side or the other.
    Today, in face of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the essential calculation, which was always covertly there, behind this conflict, has been blatantly revealed. The death of one Israeli victim justifies the killing of a hundred Palestinians. One Israeli life is worth a hundred Palestinian lives.
    This is what the Israeli State and the world media more or less – with marginal questioning – mindlessly repeat. And this claim, which has accompanied and justified the longest Occupation of foreign territories in 20th C. European history, is viscerally racist. That the Jewish people should accept this, that the world should concur, that the Palestinians should submit to it – is one of history’s ironic jokes. There’s no laughter anywhere. We can, however, refute it, more and more vocally.
    Let’s do so.”
    John Berger
    27 December 2008

  3. Omar Barghouti (via email) Omar Barghouti (via email)

    BRICUP is publishing the following Statement of Determination to Boycott Israel.
    Please take up this statement and promote it wherever you can — in newspapers, professional and trade union journals, on internet sites.
    Boycott is the key sanction we as citizens can apply to Israel. Palestinian organisations are appealing to us to do it. See and
    We have created a page on the BRICUP website to post key documentation on the Israeli attack We are not trying to replicate the the archives being created elsewhere but will post items of special significance to BRICUP’s contribution to the worldwide campaign.
    Let us do it!
    A Statement of Determination to Boycott Israel Sponsored by The British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)
    Gaza’s Guernica
    Enough is enough
    The Israeli government is sending waves of F16 fighter jets to bomb the Palestinian population of Gaza, many of whom are already weak and sick from two years of siege and encirclement by Israel. Children, says an Israeli spokeswoman, are legitimate targets because if they inhabit a house allegedly being used to manufacture home-made rockets to fire into Israel, they are ‘terrorists’ themselves. On Saturday December 27, Israel says it dropped 100 tonnes of bombs on Gaza.
    We say enough is enough. As long as the state of Israel continues to defy humanity and international law, we, the citizens of the world, commit ourselves to boycotting Israel.
    When Nazi planes firebombed the Basque town of Guernica in 1937, to advance General Franco’s revolt against the democratically elected Republican government, Britain, France and other European powers continued to refuse military and political support to the Republic, and Franco and his Nazi allies prevailed.
    Since our governments decline to take action against Israel, we, as citizens, must act.
    We declare that, in solidarity with the bombed, maimed, tortured and ethnically cleansed people of Palestine, we will, individually and collectively:
    refuse to buy any fruit, vegetable, flowers, cosmetics, underwear, swimwear or piece of technology manufactured or produced in Israel or the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and we will inform shops that we object to them stocking Israeli products;
    we will not go on holiday to Israel;
    we will research which brands of computer contain Israeli-designed and manuctured components, make the information public, and and press all computer manufacturers to end research partnerships with Israel;
    we will boycott Israeli films, theatre companies, dance groups and orchestras, and make known our objections to the management of theatres and cinemas;
    we will campaign actively for our governments not to allow citizens of our countries to serve in the Israeli army, navy, airforce and security services;
    we will lobby in our professional organisations and trade unions for Israeli institutions to be boycotted unless they state publicly that they oppose their government’s actions, will not co-operate with the state (for instance by teaching courses for the security services, which all Israeli universities do), and support the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.
    Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, London
    Professor Haim Bresheeth, London
    Abe Hayeem, London
    Mike Cushman, London
    Professor Keith Hammond, Glasgow
    Professor Ghada Karmi, Exeter
    Jenny Morgan, London
    Dr. Sue Blackwell, Birmingham
    28 December 2008

  4. Lyndall Stein (by email) Lyndall Stein (by email)

    The Veteran and the Youth
    I was on my way to an exhibition and the sales yesterday – seeing the headlines on a poster about demonstrators at the Israeli Embassy, I changed my plans. Only a small but furious crowd , no one I knew, no banner or posters identifying who anyone was, all united by our righteous anger at the cruel and barbaric bombing of Gaza.
    It is a strange and lonely place, to be of Jewish origin in such a situation, thinking of friends and family living in Israel, who also question the hubris and violence of their government. Difficult also when one of the young men started shouting ?Nazis!?, but he stopped when I quietly suggested that it was not a good slogan.
    It is not difficult to understand his visceral rage and youthful urge to hurl the worst of all insults, and not difficult to understand why the boy wearing a combat jacket was clutching a home made catapult, after the arrests and assaults the day before, it seemed best to just tell him to put it away and warn him of possible trouble ahead from the police.
    The media were out in force, they focussed on the young and angry, we the elderly and middle aged had gathered by now – alongside the miracle of London?s magical mixture, veiled, unveiled old and young, punky and respectable, Islamic men in long robes and an elderly Jewish man in a tweed hat who spoke with passion of the special responsibility that Jews carry – not to be merely spectators to barbarism and his urgent need to come and protest, he had a warm exchange with a young man by his side explaining why it was the Israeli State that must be condemned not the Israeli people.
    It was bitterly cold but as I turned to leave I saw the amazing veteran Tony Benn, a retired British MP, who passionately opposed the dreadful war in Iraq, and has become a beacon of progressive thinking in the UK, at least 25 years older than me out at a edgy demonstration, in the freezing cold, an inspiring model for all of us -young and old.

  5. – On Thu, 1/8/09, RSF ASIA wrote:
    From: RSF ASIA
    Subject: request about Gaza from RSF
    Date: Thursday, January 8, 2009, 8:21 PM
    You know that the Gaza Strip is closed to reporters. We are collecting support from world media to denounce this situation.
    Can you forward this appeal to your management (if you are working in a media) or to your contacts.
    Thanks in advance.
    Gaza – Media appeal
    Allow the news media into the Gaza Strip!
    Appeal by the world’s media and Reporters Without Borders to the Israeli authorities
    We, the news media of the entire world, join the international press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders in urging the Israeli authorities to allow our reporters back into the Gaza Strip.
    In view of the scale of the military operations and the repercussion they are having throughout the world, we believe the Israeli government’s decision to exclude the press from the Gaza Strip is untenable and dangerous.
    It is incomprehensible that Israel is preventing the press from providing independent coverage of events that concern us all.
    There is only one solution to this situation: while taking the necessary security measures, the Israeli authorities must grant immediate access to the Gaza Strip to the media personnel who have been sent to cover this conflict.

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