If you feel powerless in front of the deepening crisis in Gaza and are horrified by the level of violence and the lopsided domination of one party to this conflict over the other one, know that this is precisely what the dark entities behind this want you to experience. What is happening right now has been carefully planned for maximum effect. This is a test... a litmus test of our ability to grow beyond the limiting confines of our emotional nature, which all too often and all too easily entrap us into a fear-laden or hatred-driven reactive mode, thus depriving us of our innate ability to radiate Love and Light and thus dispel the very cause within each one of us of such abhorrent behaviors as what can be witnessed right now in, over and around the Gaza Strip.
We are not powerless. We are not innocent either. We each played a role in allowing this situation, like so many others around the world, to degenerate into the base level of wanton violence that can only breed ever more violence, hatred and endless suffering... until one day soon when the sense of separation and the pervasive illusion of our engrossing physical reality will be dispelled for good and forever. Each time in our lives when we choose to hit back when hit, to shout back when shouted at, to react in kind or worst to whatever is done to us out of anger or any other vile emotion, we contribute to the cesspool of dark energies and enable ever more despicable behaviors like those humans have displayed for millennia. We are all connected and whatever we feel, think and do has a direct impact on everyone and everything else.
If we can heal ourselvesand yes we truly can!...as is suggested in the wonderful Ho'oponopono Hawaiian self-healing philosophy, from all past hurts inflicted on us by others or by us to others, we will then directly contribute to lessening the charge of negative energies feeding all conflicts around the world and around us and blaze a path of Light through which countless others will soon be able to walk in our collective ascension towards ever more Light and Love.
Peace and Love will prevail and the delaying tactics now used by those opposing the Light as part of their own karmically driven experiences will not slow our steady progress towards our spiritual destination and Promised Land in the higher realms of existence in this multidimensional universe. Being reminded of our spiritual headings in our long journey back to Source, we shall therefore seize this opportunity to choose Love over any other soul vibration and amplify on a daily basis, with dedication and clairvoyant understanding, the positive vibrations of Love, Compassion and spiritual embrace of our true divine nature and extend like a vast healing dispensation of Light descending from the heavenly realms over the entire Middle East and into ever human heart affected by this transitory situation, the Power of Love that is in us all.
And thus the seeds of Peace, Love and Harmony will quickly grow and flourish to heal, enlighten and raise away from the grasp of darkness the souls of our brothers and sisters in our Journey back Home.
You know what to Be now... The Light in you has always known...
This Suggestion of a Daily Vigil for the Middle East is archived at http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2009/DailyVigil.htm
"The most recent escalation of the Israeli attack against the Gaza population has led to further chaos and destruction and to rising numbers of casualties. In addition to total closure of all crossings and destruction of essential infrastructures including electricity, running water, communications and roads, hospitals are on the verge of collapse due to overload and the inability to provide adequate intensive care to the high numbers of casualties. External evacuation of the sick and wounded is completely prohibited. Due to telephone and mobile communication failures, dangerous conditions, and the limited number of foreign press on the ground, there are growing difficulties reporting the situation to the outside world. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel call for urgent and immediate intervention by the international community, and especially the Quartet, for the enforcement of an immediate ceasefire."
- Urgent Call for Immediate International Intervention by the Palestinian Medical Relief Society and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (04. January 2009)
"The situation is getting worse day by day. They're targeting everything. We don't know when or where they will strike next. They're hitting hospitals, medical centres, universities, homes, security centres, police. This morning five young sisters who lived near a mosque were killed. This is one story among hundreds. We are trying to provide support for hospitals but they are not able to deal with the injured. They have no space, no equipment. People are being treated outside hospitals on the streets. I'm homeless now after my home was destroyed. My family is afraid. My little nephew starts crying every time he hears an explosion. My mother tries to not let me go to work. The streets are almost empty. The only crowds are near bakeries. Lots of people are staying at home and trying to hide."
2. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS SPECIAL PEACE VIGIL FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Peace Vigil. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
SOME OF THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
Carnage in Gaza Marketplace (Jan 4) http://besidebeirut.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/carnage-in-gaza-marketplace/
I just received this SMS from Norway, originating from a Norwegian doctor working in Gaza: Thanks for all the support. They bombed the central vegetable market in Gaza City two hours ago. 80 wounded, 20 killed, all came here to Shifa. Hades! We are wading in death, blood, and amputees. Many children. Pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Pass it on, send it on, shout it on. Everything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We are living in history books now, all of us. Mads G. 3.1.09 1:50PM, Gaza, Pal.Mads Gilbert is Professor of Emergency Medicine at Tromsø University Hospital, Norway. He has been allowed into Gaza with his colleague Erik Fosse on New Years Eve to provide medical help at Shifa Hospital. Gilbert has been working in beleaguered areas since the 1970s, including Lebanon, Afghanistan, Burma, Kambodsja, Kurdistan, Angola, and Nepal. He has appeared on Norwegian TV regularly the past week commenting on the situation in Gaza.
War on Gaza: Annie Lennox 'Shaken To The Core' (January 02, 2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY2uAY-lhlc
High-profile campaigners have called for an immediate end to the Israeli operation in Gaza. Annie Lennox, Ken Livingstone, Alexei Sayle and Bianca Jagger were among the speakers at a news conference on the issue. Ms Lennox accused Israel of "slaughter".An almost tearful Annie Lennox described the sadness she felt when she watched news of the Israeli strikes on Gaza - attacks which Israel says were in response to rocket fire by Hamas and its allies. (...) Bianca Jagger then added her support to calls for an end to the violence and appealed to the US President Elect Barack Obama to speak up against the bombardment of the Gaza strip. CLIP
Gaza demo London solidarity (January 04, 2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXk8ekI8bjs
Tens of thousands protested in London on Saturday against the Israeli attack on Gaza which has claimed the lives of hundreds, including many children.
ISRAEL: No civilian casualties in Gaza! (December 28, 2008) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlZd3vR6Kzk
The Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni states there have been NO Civilian casualties in the Aerial Bombardment of the Gaza Strip, she agrees that the bombardment is Israels version of "Shock and Awe" designed to SURPRISE Hamas, and then goes on to make the startling assertion that the civilian population were WARNED that Israel was about to start the Aerial bombardment, so which is it? You cant warn people you are going to Bomb with a Surprise Bombardment can you? NO then Tzipi Livni must be lying!
24 hour global satellite coverage of GAZA http://www.presstv.ir/watch_live.aspx
Recommended by Larry Stell (email@example.com) who wrote: "Here is 24 hour global satellite coverage of GAZA and other Middle East News on Press TV in Iran - it is EXCELLENT... and in ENGLISH!"
Misleading Raw Video Footage - In case someone has sent this to you... http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21634.htm
(...) This video is from September 23rd 2005, and was taken in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. A Hamas pick-up truck carrying Qassam rockets detonated by mistake during a Hamas rally, leaving at least 15 killed and dozens more injured."
Note from Jean: Long-time ERN subscriber Rob Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is asking our support to help him get his excellent proposal voted in the Top Ten as explained below. Here is what he wrote: "I am asking everyone to help create a Sustainable America. A month ago I submitted a proposal to the Change.org voting website calling on the Obama Administration to Develop and Implement a National Strategy for Sustainability. My proposal came in FIRST within the category of Environmental Conservation, out of more than 7,700 ideas submitted in the first round and 250,000 votes cast. Now the voting begins again to select the Top Ten Ideas for Change in America, which will be given to President-elect Obama as the first step in a national advocacy campaign. The voting begins at 8:00 AM EST on Monday, January 5th and runs until 5:00 PM EST on Thursday, January 15. Please vote now to create a Sustainable America and urge everyone you know to do so as well. You can vote for the idea by clicking on the following link; and then click again on the blue Vote Number Box in front of the name on the left at the top of the page. After a few moments it should then turn brown and say Voted: http://www.change.org/ideas/view/develop_implement_a_national_strategy_for_sustainability
(Please go at this URL above to find our more on his proposal - I prefer to include this right away as I don't think I'll send out another compilation before January 15 - Rob just added: "We got 650 votes already today. 2/3rds of all we got last month and are in 13th place but very close to 10th. It's going great and I am getting quite excited.)
1. Civilian casualties rise as Israel presses in on Gaza City
2. Aid agencies say Gaza needs food, medicine -- and body bags
3. VOICES FROM GAZA: 'We are living a nightmare'
4. Attacks on Medical Personnel and Serious Obstacles to Evacuation of Wounded within the Gaza Strip
Fighting rages in Gaza (January 06, 2009 ) http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/200915174731392162.html
Heavy fighting has taken place in and around Gaza City with Palestinian fighters putting up a stiff resistance to advancing Israeli ground forces. Large explosions and intense gun battles were reported from the Shejaiya neighbourhood late on Monday. Flares lit up the skies as Israeli helicopter gunships and fighter jets flew low over the the city.A spokesman of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, told Al Jazeera that Israeli tanks were trying to move into Gaza City. (...) "All of Gaza is dark except for the flares fired by F-16s and Apaches [helicopter gunships]. The F-16s for the first time are flying very low and shooting missiles everywhere," Moussa el-Hadda, a retired doctor in the Gaza Strip, said. "Nobody can leave their home, we have no shelters and Israel knows this. They just bombed everywhere and most of their bombs are hitting houses," he told Al Jazeera. Earlier, Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, told members of parliament that Gaza City was partially surrounded."We have hit Hamas hard, but we have not yet reached all the goals that we have set for ourselves," he said. Dozens of Palestinians were reported to have been detained during the Israeli push into the Gaza Strip. Despite 10 days of constant bombardment of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military, causing the deaths of at least than 548 Palestinians, a senior Hamas official said on Monday that "victory is coming" for Palestinian fighters. CLIP
Civilian deaths mount in Gaza war (January 05, 2009 ) http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/200915143237167997.html
Palestinian civilians are continuing to suffer as the Israeli military pushes deeper into the Gaza Strip. At least 548 people have been killed in the territory in the last 10 days, with at least 100 deaths reported since the Israeli ground offensive began on Saturday.Among the dead on Monday was a family of seven from Shati refugee camp, who were killed by Israeli navy shelling. Three siblings from one family, as well as a girl and her grandfather, also died in the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza during artillery shelling.Emergency medical services have also come under attack with the al-Awda hospital in Jabaliya being hit by two Israeli shells, foreign human rights activists said. "Two consecutive shells just landed in the busy car park 15 metres from the entrance to the emergency room," Alberto Arce of the International Solidarity Movement said in a statement."The entrance of the emergency room was damaged. At the time of the shelling ambulances were bringing in the wounded that keep pouring in." Medics killed - On Sunday, an Israeli raid killed at least four paramedics as they tried to reach wounded Palestinians. Ambulances have also been hit in the attacks, Palestinian sources said. Israeli government officials say they are not targeting civilians, but only seeking to halt rocket fire from the Palestinian Hamas movement governing Gaza. There are also fears that the humanitarian situation will further deteriorate as the strip, home to 1.5 million people, is suffering from acute shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies. Iyad Nasr of the Red Cross in Gaza City said that the military operation has worsened the hardships created by the Israeli blockade over the last 18 months."The size of the operations and the size of the misery we are seeing here on the ground is just overwhelming," he said. "We are trying our best to support the infrastructure that has been depleted ... and prevent the total collapse of the medical systems. CLIP
Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus shells http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5447590.ece
Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.As the Israeli army stormed to the edges of Gaza City and the Palestinian death toll topped 500, the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles of thick white smoke to cover the troops advance. These explosions are fantastic looking, and produce a great deal of smoke that blinds the enemy so that our forces can move in, said one Israeli security expert. Burning blobs of phosphorus would cause severe injuries to anyone caught beneath them and force would-be snipers or operators of remote-controlled booby traps to take cover. Israel admitted using white phosphorus during its 2006 war with Lebanon. The use of the weapon in the Gaza Strip, one of the worlds mostly densely population areas, is likely to ignite yet more controversy over Israels offensive, in which more than 2,300 Palestinians have been wounded. The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. However, Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said: If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin. CLIP
War on Gaza: More Civilian Deaths; Olmert Lies: 'No Humanitarian Crisis' (January 5, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/117404/war_on_gaza%3A_more_civilian_deaths%3B_olmert_lies%3A_%27no_humanitarian_crisis%27/
Despite Olmert's claims, reports of civilian causalities and brutal firsthand accounts continue to pour in. On CNN yesterday, Olmert informed us that:Israel would not "allow a humanitarian crisis to be created in the Gaza Strip.""We will help supply food and medicines like any enlightened and moral country must do," he said. (...) The ICRC reports this morning that:The situation in Gaza since the Israel Defense Forces launched their ground offensive on Saturday night has become both chaotic and extremely dangerous. It is difficult for the ICRC to move around and assess the urgent humanitarian needs created by the continued shelling and bombing, and by fighting on the ground. The ground attack has forced a number of people in the north of the Gaza Strip to flee their homes.The fighting is causing damage to hospitals, water supply systems, government buildings and mosques. A number of water supply lines have been severed during bombardments, making it very difficult for families in certain areas of the Gaza Strip to get hold of safe drinking water.And the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports:According to the Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities (CMWU), about 70% of the Gaza Strip population has no access to water Gaza City and northern Gaza are particularly affected due to electricity cuts and a lack of fuel for back-up generators .The Palestinian Red Crescent Society estimates that thousands of homes have been damaged since the beginning of military operations, exposing their residents to cold weather There is an almost total blackout in the governorates of Gaza, North Gaza, Middle Area, and Khan Yunis. Most of the telephone network (both land lines and cell phones) is also not functioning, since it now depends on back-up generators with dwindling fuel stocks.In todays Haaretz, Amira Haas quotes a Palestinian friend, after recounting more stories from the Gaza Olmert does not want us to see: It's cold and the windows are open; there's fire and smoke in open areas; at home there's no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?"
Gaza hospital overwhelmed by dead, wounded (January 5, 2009) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5ukGZlGEJappCF6BQoPU6pIRibgD95H6UN80
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) Wailing in grief, Salah Samouni banged his head against a wall inside the hospital morgue where the bodies of his three young nephews lay on the floor Monday.After 10 days of a relentless Israeli assault, Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest, is overwhelmed. Bodies were crowded two to a morgue drawer, and some like 3-year-old Issa, 4-year-old Mohammed and 5-year-old Ahmad were on the floor.Shifa's shabby halls echoed Monday with the sounds of people screaming and the wail of ambulance sirens. Many of the wounded were being treated in hallways by harried doctors and nurses running on little sleep. The hospital was powered by emergency generators after shelling damaged power lines.Since Israel began a ground offensive Saturday, most of the dead and wounded arriving at Shifa are civilians, as Israel's offensive shifts from airstrikes to artillery shelling and fighting close to densely populated areas. Israel says it is targeting only the Hamas militants who control Gaza in an attempt to halt seven years of rocket fire at Israeli communities. But the 550 Palestinians who have been killed include at least 200 civilians, according to Dr. Moaiya Hassanein of the Gaza Health Ministry.On Monday, 20 children between the ages of 2 and 15 were killed, he said. Since the military offensive began Dec. 27, three Israeli civilians and two soldiers have been killed.Nurse Ahmad Abdul Salam, 34, red-eyed and smelling of sweat, his clothes stained with blood, said he couldn't sleep. "When my shift ends, I help my colleagues. These are our brothers and friends who are being harmed," he said. CLIP
Depleted uranium found in Gaza victims (4 January 2009) http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=80443§ionid=351020202
Medics tell Press TV they have found traces of depleted uranium in some Gaza residents wounded in Israel's ground offensive on the strip. Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies. The report comes after Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground operation after eight days of intensive attacks by Israeli air and naval forces on the impoverished region. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that the wide-ranging ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would be "full of surprises." CLIP
In the US, Gaza is a different war (January 05, 2009) http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/war_on_gaza/2009/01/20091585448204690.html
The images of two women on the front page of an edition of The Washington Post last week illustrates how mainstream US media has been reporting Israel's war on Gaza.On the left was a Palestinian mother who had lost five children. On the right was a nearly equally sized picture of an Israeli woman who was distressed by the fighting, according to the caption. As the Palestinian woman cradled the dead body of one child, another infant son, his face blackened and disfigured with bruises, cried beside her. The Israeli woman did not appear to be wounded in any way but also wept. Arab frustration -- To understand the frustration often felt in the Arab world over US media coverage, one only needs to imagine the same front page had the situation been reversed. If an Israeli woman had lost five daughters in a Palestinian attack, would The Washington Post run an equally sized photograph of a relatively unharmed Palestinian woman, who was merely distraught over Israeli missile fire?When the front page photographs of the two women were published on December 30, over 350 Palestinians had reportedly been killed compared to just four Israelis. What if 350 Israelis had been killed and only four Palestinians - would the newspaper have run the stories side by side as if equal in news value? Like many major news organisations in the US, The Washington Post has chosen to cover the conflict from a perspective that reflects the US government's relationship with Israel. This means prioritising Israel's version of events while underplaying the views of Palestinian groups. CLIP
Bush stands firm by Israel (5 January 2009) http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=80748§ionid=351020202
US President George W. Bush has continued to support Israel's attacks on Gaza, saying that the Hamas movement caused the disaster in Gaza. "I understand Israel's desire to protect itself and that the situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas," Bush said on Monday. Earlier, the Bush administration blamed Hamas for provoking Tel Aviv by firing rockets into Israel from Gaza. "In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe had said. Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip say they fire rockets into Israel in retaliation for the daily Israeli attacks against them. Unlike the state-of-the-art Israeli weapons and ammunition, the home-made Qassam rockets rarely cause casualties. At least 555 Palestinians have been killed and some 2,790 have been wounded since December 27, when Tel Aviv began its military campaign on Gaza. This is while Israeli daily Haaretz said on its website that 55 Israeli soldiers had been injured in clashes with Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip since Saturday and reports say that some. CLIP
Paul: Israel had US OK for war on Gaza (5 January 2009) http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=80686§ionid=3510203
Outspoken Republican congressman Ron Paul says Israel had received a green light from the United States to launch an offensive in Gaza. The Texas congressman said the Israeli attack on the impoverished Gaza Strip shapes a bleak future for the whole world as it means that, "the whole idea of preemptive or preventive war is spreading." He went on to challenge the idea of Hamas threatening Israel's security and argued that "Palestinian missiles are so minor compared to the fire power of Israel, who has nuclear weapons." The US Congressman's remarks come as Israel continues to rebuff international efforts to end the assault on Gaza, and Israeli troops and tanks -- protected by heavy air, sea and artillery fire - have sliced through the center of Gaza and surrounded the main city. The tenth day of the assault brings the number of Palestinian casualties to 530 with over 2,600 others wounded. The UN says that about 25 percent of the casualties were civilian deaths. Paul added that the escalation of war in Gaza would contribute to the fall of economy on the global stage and in the US, explaining that the US involvement in too many wars is "draining us emotionally and financially". Congressman Paul said that even though Israel has carried out the invasion of Gaza, "the United States will be blamed for it." "Israel depends on us; they depend on us economically, they depend on us for their military power and all their weapons and they really got a green light from our administration," he explained. CLIP
Silence is Complicity: Were All War Criminals Now (January 05, 2009) http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21645.htm
(...) The situation in Palestine, along with many of the violent conflicts in the world, is nothing more than a symptom of the disease that is U.S. Empire. Gaza is just one more bloody scene in an ongoing imperial nightmare of death and destruction. If we want to stop the senseless killing taking place in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan and so many the other places, we must stand up and say no. Not just to the acts themselves, but to the fetid imperialist jugernaut which exports and cultivates them. Until we disrupt this cycle of corporate power mongering and violent militarism by refusing to participate in it, we have only ourselves to blame for the deaths of the innocent men, women and children who are the targets of our bombs. The blood is on your hands and mine. We are all war criminals now.
Muslim anger grows over Israeli strikes on Gaza http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iraC-DY0uP9IdsCvA1k6J4DxC3Xg
(...) In London, protesters gathered outside the Egyptian embassy, urging Cairo to open its border with Gaza, in the latest in a week of demonstrations over the Israeli military clampdown.The demonstration came as a group of artists and writers including singer Annie Lennox and rights activist Bianca Jagger urged US president-elect Barack Obama to back calls for Israel to end its bombing campaign."I would like to make an appeal to president-elect Obama to speak up," said Jagger."People throughout the world were hopeful when he was elected and we must appeal to him to ask for the immediate cessation of the bombardment of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip."Rallies were also held in a number of other major European cities including Stockholm, Prague and Vienna, where demonstrator numbers reached 5,000, according to Austrian police. In Iraq, senior clerics condemned the international community for not doing enough to help the people living in Gaza.Iraqi preachers speaking at Friday prayers denounced Israel's deadly air strikes and urged international leaders to try to make the Jewish state call a halt to the blitz."We ask the international community to use all means to put pressure on the Zionist regime to stop the savage attacks," Iraq's supreme Shiite religious authority Ali Husseini al-Sistani told worshippers."We ask the humanitarian organisations to support Gazans by providing them with the needed aid," Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai said during prayers in the holy city of Karbala, as both Shiite and Sunni clerics denounced the raids.On the streets too, Muslims across the world protested the continuing violence, which on Friday claimed the lives of three young brothers, the latest civilian casualties in the bombings. From Jakarta to Amman and Istanbul to Nairobi thousands took to the streets to chant slogans attacking Israel and burn the Israeli flag. CLIP
Protests condemn Israel offensive (January 05, 2009) http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/01/20091416255233877.htm
As international protests against the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip continue, Israel is facing a fresh round of condemnation from around the world.The protests followed on the heels of the UN Security Council's failure to issue a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire despite hours of closed-door talks.On Sunday the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union pledged an additional $4.2 million in emergency aid for Gaza and called on Israel to respect international law."Blocking access to people who are suffering and dying is also a breach of humanitarian law," Louis Michel, EU's humanitarian aid commissioner, said in a statement."I call on the Israeli authorities to respect their international obligations and ensure a 'humanitarian space' for the delivery of vital relief," he said.
Thousands march through New York City as Israel invades Gaza (5 January 2009) http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/jan2009/nyga-j05.shtml
Thousands of people demonstrated in New York City Saturday, just as Israeli forces launched their ground assault on Gaza after a week of aerial bombardment that claimed the lives of nearly 500 and left more than 2,000 wounded. The protest was the largest of a number of demonstrations that have taken place across the US in recent days. These have included a march of thousands outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as a vigil held by dozens at the entrance to President-elect Barack Obama's vacation home in Hawaii. Thousands also took to the streets in Los Angeles, and protests and rallies were organized in many other American cities.Saturday's protest, held in bitterly cold weather, saw several thousand gather in New York's busy Times Square, filling up several blocks, before marching to the Israeli consulate on Manhattan's East Side. CLIP
Tragedy in Gaza -- Desperately Seeking Leadership from Obama (January 5, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/audits/117216/tragedy_in_gaza_--_desperately_seeking_leadership_from_obama/
Unfortunately, Obama is missing in action and silent on this first foreign policy challenge to his presidency. (...) The current Israeli attack is being attributed by some commentators to the machinations of Israeli politicians jockeying for power in the upcoming elections in that country. But there is another consideration that is far more important. Of all the Middle Eastern countries, it is Israel that stood to lose the most with the incoming presidency of Obama later this month. Obama promised to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and committed his administration to pursuing diplomatic and political solutions ahead of military ones, not only in Iraq, but also in other conflicts within the region. Iran has been strengthened by the U.S. defeat in Iraq, while Israel was outmaneuvered by Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The writing has been on the wall for the Israelis. The carte blanche given to that country by past U.S. administrations to destabilize the region and pursue its territorial ambitions could no longer be counted upon. The worldwide enthusiasm for the election of Obama signaled a global desire for change, people around the world are sick of the lies and wars, of the guns and bombs. A return to the rule of law and an end to the Iraq war is what Obama promised, not only to the American electorate, but to the entire world. (...) In one fell swoop, the Israelis have destroyed whatever momentum Obama might have mobilized for a peaceful resolution of the blockade of Gaza and the siege that Gazans and Hamas have endured. Israel has pushed Obama into a corner with this attack, intensifying the suffering of the Palestinian people and making it all but inevitable that retribution will follow. A state of war with its neighbors benefits Israel's ambitions in the region, even as it secures support for Zionist lobbies in the Western world. During the U.S. election campaign, Vice President-elect Joe Biden had warned that Obama would be tested early in his presidency. Few expected the challenge to come from a staunch U.S. ally and not from those contesting U.S. power. Obama's silence on the Gaza crisis grows more curious by the day; it has already cost him much political capital. He appears weak and ineffectual even before his inauguration, one more symbol of hope capitulating to the realpolitik of the "special" U.S./Israel relationship. CLIP
Two of the many comments to this article above...
Where are the ordinary Jews? (January 5, 2009)
Obama has responded with deafening silence? What about American Jews? Where is their outrage to this genocide? One has to assume that the American public supports genocide and occupation since they are also silent. The entire Muslim world is expected to speak out for every lone random Muslim who acts out yet here we have not one word from American Jews on their beloved Israel and its repeated state sponsored campaigns of slaughter.
Well, he isn't president yet... (January 5, 2009)
So until he is, he can't be. Don't give up on him yet, before he is even inaugurated. However, I am also disappointed that he has not spoken out against the 100 to 1 killing in Gaza; and that his pledge to end the war in Iraq has -seemingly- fallen by the wayside.Meanwhile, do we even HAVE a president now? Doesn't seem like it. The Bush administration has blocked the U.N. in trying to get a cease-fire in Gaza. And of course, a lot of U.S.-made armament is being used to kill the people in Gaza. Who makes the bombs, the bullets, the planes? Many are made here in our "land of peace". In my opinion, any person who holds stock in, or works for, an arms manufacturer is as guilty as the man who pulls the trigger on his weapon, or drops U.S. made bombs on other people, whether it be in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.
Obama sends personal, private Envoy to Gaza http://halturnershow.blogspot.com/2008/12/obama-sends-personal-private-envoy-to.html
The Gaza Strip, Palestine -- President Elect Barack Obama has sent a personal, private Envoy to the Gaza strip with instructions to report on the situation there as an eye witness. Obama did not go through normal Diplomatic channels when dispatching the Envoy, deliberately keeping Israel out of the Diplomatic loop!Instead Obama operatives quietly contacted Egypt and secured their help to smuggle the Envoy into the Gaza Strip without Israeli knowledge, consent or cooperation. The Envoy arrived inside Gaza just over 24 hours ago and has already begun reporting back directly to Obama. The information came to light when the National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted several satellite telephone calls from Gaza to a secure telephone at Barack Obama's vacation retreat in Hawaii. The NSA informed President Bush about the calls and Bush is said to have laughed then commented "The Jews are going to shit their pants when this gets out."Information that has reached me indicates Obama is personally furious at the "barbaric" Israelis but intends to remain silent until he becomes President on January 20.On that day, relations between the United States and Israel will take a dramatic turn for the worse, with Israel on the losing end.
The Long and Bloody Hypocrisy of U.S.-Israeli Acts of Terrorism (January 5, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/audits/116726/the_long_and_bloody_hypocrisy_of_u.s.-israeli_acts_of_terrorism_/
Without an extreme double standard on terrorism, it's hard to see how today's bloodbath in Gaza would be possible. -- Israel, a nation that was born out of Zionist terrorism, has launched massive airstrikes against targets in Gaza using high-tech weapons produced by the United States, a country that often has aided and abetted terrorism by its client military forces, such as Chiles Operation Condor and the Nicaraguan contras, and even today harbors right-wing Cuban terrorists implicated in blowing up a civilian airliner.Yet, with that moral ambiguity excluded from the debate, the justification for the Israeli attacks, which have killed at least 364 people, is the righteous fight against terrorism, since Gaza is ruled by the militant Palestinian group, Hamas.Hamas rose to power in January 2006 through Palestinian elections, which ironically the Bush administration had demanded. However, after Hamas won a parliamentary majority, Israel and the United States denounced the outcome because they deem Hamas a terrorist organization. CLIP
America's Hidden Role in Hamas's Rise to Power (January 3, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/audits/116855/america%27s_hidden_role_in_hamas%27s_rise_to_power/
No one in the mainstream media or government is willing to acknowledge America's sordid role interfering in Palestinian politics. -- The United States bears much of the blame for the ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip and nearby parts of Israel. Indeed, were it not for misguided Israeli and American policies, Hamas would not be in control of the territory in the first place.Israel initially encouraged the rise of the Palestinian Islamist movement as a counter to the Palestine Liberation Organization, the secular coalition composed of Fatah and various leftist and other nationalist movements. Beginning in the early 1980s, with generous funding from the U.S.-backed family dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, the antecedents of Hamas began to emerge through the establishment of schools, health care clinics, social service organizations and other entities that stressed an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam, which up to that point had not been very common among the Palestinian population. The hope was that if people spent more time praying in mosques, they would be less prone to enlist in left-wing nationalist movements challenging the Israeli occupation.While supporters of the secular PLO were denied their own media or right to hold political gatherings, the Israeli occupation authorities allowed radical Islamic groups to hold rallies, publish uncensored newspapers and even have their own radio station. For example, in the occupied Palestinian city of Gaza in 1981, Israeli soldiers -- who had shown no hesitation in brutally suppressing peaceful pro-PLO demonstrations -- stood by when a group of Islamic extremists attacked and burned a PLO-affiliated health clinic in Gaza for offering family-planning services for women.Hamas, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was founded in 1987 by Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who had been freed from prison when Israel conquered the Gaza Strip 20 years earlier. Israel's priorities in suppressing Palestinian dissent during this period were revealing: In 1988, Israel forcibly exiled Palestinian activist Mubarak Awad, a Christian pacifist who advocated the use of Gandhian-style resistance to the Israeli occupation and Israeli-Palestinian peace, while allowing Yassin to circulate anti-Jewish hate literature and publicly call for the destruction of Israel by force of arms. CLIP
Israel's fait accompli in Gaza (January 05, 2009 ) http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/war_on_gaza/2009/01/200914102257130539.html
(...) While firing rockets at civilians is a crime so, too, is the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which is an egregious violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. According to the UN, most of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinian refugees subsist near the edge of hunger. Seventy per cent of Palestinian children in Gaza suffer from severe malnutrition and psychological trauma. Medical facilities are critically short of doctors, personnel, equipment, and drugs. Gaza has quite literally become a human garbage dump for all the Arabs that Israel does not want. Gaza is one of the world's most-densely populated places, a vast outdoor prison camp filled with desperate people. In the past, they threw stones at their Israeli occupiers; now they launch home-made rockets.Call it a prison riot, writ large. (...) A fait accompli - When the air raids on Gaza began, Barak said: "We have totally changed the rules of the game." He was right. By blitzing Hamas-run Gaza, Barak presented the incoming US administration with a fait accompli, and neatly checkmated the newest player in the Middle East Great Game - Barack Obama, the US president-elect - before he could even take a seat at the table. IN DEPTHLatest news and analysis from Gaza and IsraelSend us your views and videosWatch our coverage of the war on Gaza The Israeli offensive into Gaza now looks likely to short-circuit any plans Obama might have had to press Israel into withdrawing to its pre-1967 borders and sharing Jerusalem. This has pleased Israel's supporters in North America who have been cheering the war in Gaza and have been backing away from their earlier tentative support for a land-for-peace deal. Israel's successes in having Western media portray the Gaza offensive as an 'anti-terrorist operation' will also diminish hopes of peace talks any time soon.Obama inherits this mess in a few weeks. During the elections, Obama bowed to the Israel lobby, offering a new US carte blanche to Israel and even accepting Israel's permanent monopoly of all of Jerusalem. As he concludes forming his cabinet, his Middle East team looks like it may be top-heavy with friends of Israel's Labour party. Obama keeps saying he must remain silent on policy issues until George Bush, the outgoing US president, leaves office, but his staff appear happy to avoid having to make statements about Gaza that would antagonise Israel's American supporters. Obama will take office facing a Middle East up in arms over Gaza and the entire Muslim world blaming the US for the carnage in Gaza. Unless he moves swiftly to distance himself from the policies of the Bush administration, he will soon find himself facing the same problems and anger as the Bush White House (...) Israel is confident that its mighty information machine will allow it to weather the storm of worldwide outrage over its Biblical punishment of Gaza. Who remembers Israel's flattening of parts of the Palestinian city of Jenin, or the US destruction in Falluja, Iraq, or the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in Beirut? Though the torment of Gaza is seen across the horrified Muslim world as a modern version of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising by Jews against the Nazis during World War Two, Western governments still appear bent on taking no action. Though Israel's use of American weapons against Gaza violates the US Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts, the docile US Congress will remain mute. Israel's assault on Gaza was clearly timed for America's interregnum between administrations and the year-end holidays, a well-used Israeli tactic. Hamas refuses to recognise Israel as long as Israel refuses to recognise Hamas and the rights of millions of homeless Palestinian refugees. It calls for a non-religious state to be created in Palestine, meaning an end to Zionism. CLIP
ISRAELI LEAKS MONEY-LAUNDERING INFO ON U.S. CONGRESS! REVEALS HOW ISRAEL MIS-USES FOREIGN AID FROM USA TO "BRIBE" CONGRESS WITH CAMPAIGN FUNDS (December 31, 2008) Explosive breaking news! http://halturnershow.blogspot.com/2008/12/israeli-leaks-money-laundering-info-on.html
Impossible to verify if anything of this is true (however this assertion is supported by Tom Heneghan in his Blog where he wrote "I am well familiar with the SECRET accounts of U.S. Congressmen and media types aka the Israeli BRIBERY.") but it would explain why Israel enjoys so much protection in the US...
Gaza-Gate is Madoff-J. P. Morgan ChaseMossad-Gate (January 4, 2009) http://blogs.myspace.com/tom_heneghan_intel
We can now report that the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip is, to a large degree, a disguise in an attempt to divert people's attention away from the escalating Bernard Madoff scandal now involving the theft of over $100 BILLION of investors' money, which has found its way, with the assistance of J.P. Morgan Chase and Swiss bank UBS Warburg, into SECRET national security accounts in Tel Aviv, Israel. (...) These shell Swiss corporations, tied to Swiss bank UBS Warburg and J.P. Morgan Chase, helped facilitate wire transfers of BILLIONS of dollars of stolen Madoff funds into Israel, where only the Jewish foundations can reclaim their lost investment. AND IT GETS WORSE! We can also divulge that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York forwarded the wire transfers disguised in Euro currency after converting the dollars into Euros at the noted New York Israeli Discount Bank (also linked to Bernard Madoff). If you do not think it can get any worse, you are wrong it is going to get a lot worse! SEC whistleblowers have also tied Madoff and J.P. Morgan Chase to an Islamic charity, Jama'at-ud-Da'wah, which has been tied DIRECTLY to financing the Mumbai/Bombay, India terrorist attacks with the bagman and triggerman of the attacks being CIA-Mossad former Iran-Contra operative Dawood Ibrahim. (...) International Intelligence Expert, Tom Heneghan, has hundreds of highly credible sources inside American and European Intelligence Agencies and INTERPOL -- reporting what is REALLY going on behind the scenes of the controlled mainstream media cover up propaganda of on-going massive deceptions and illusions.
Robert Fisk: Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony (30 December 2008) http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-bombing-ashkelon-is-the-most-tragic-irony-1216228.html
How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which in any other conflict journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it Askalaan in Arabic were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.But watching the news shows, you'd think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story. CLIP
Robert Fisk: United States of Israel? (27 April 2006) http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-united-states-of-israel-475811.htm
When two of America's most distinguished academics dared to suggest that US foreign policy was being driven by a powerful 'Israel Lobby' whose influence was incompatible with their nation's own interests, they knew they would face allegations of anti-Semitism. But the episode has prompted America's Jewish liberals to confront their own complacency. Might the tide be turning? (...) "Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct US economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since the Second World War. Total direct US aid to Israel amounts to well over $140bn in 2003 dollars. Israel receives about $3bn in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America's foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year."*"This largesse is especially striking when one realises that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain."
Civilian casualties rise as Israel presses in on Gaza City
By Dion Nissenbaum -- January 5, 2009
JERUSALEM &mash; Israels military push to cripple Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip claimed more civilian lives Monday as European leaders renewed a push to bring the 10-day-old conflict to a swift end.
Israeli soldiers tightened their hold on the Gaza Strip in the second full day of a ground offensive that's so far faced lighter-than-expected resistance from Palestinian militants.
Israeli tanks, armored personnel carriers and special forces began to close in on Gaza City methodically after encircling the Gaza Strips largest city in the first hours of the ground offensive.
Israeli soldiers advancing on Gaza City warned families in outlying towns and neighborhoods to flee as the military pressed forward with its attempt to undermine Hamas and curb the rocket fire that's traumatized southern Israelis for years.
The ground operation is taking an increasingly deadly toll on Palestinians in Gaza, who have few ways to escape the fighting.
Medical officials in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip said Monday that Israeli attacks had killed 523 Palestinians, including 111 children. Israel has barred international news media from Gaza since the operation began, and the numbers couldn't be verified.
If they're confirmed, that would mark a dramatic spike in civilian casualties from the early days of Israeli airstrikes that primarily targeted Hamas-controlled police stations, the homes of Hamas leaders, government buildings and mosques that the Israeli military said were being used to store weapons.
Eleven members of one family, including five children, were killed in a northern Gaza City neighborhood early Monday morning after Israeli forces ordered them to leave their home, medical officials said. The family members said they'd sought safety in another apartment that was then hit by an Israeli strike.
Civilian deaths are likely to rise as the Israeli forces move in on the narrow city streets and refugee camp alleys where Gaza militants have taken up positions.
Usually you have people trying to flee the area of conflict, said John Ging, the head of the United Nations refugee agency in the Gaza Strip. But they dont have this choice in Gaza because they are trapped in a very, very densely populated area.
Palestinian militants continued Monday to fire sporadic volleys of rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel, even as Israeli soldiers sought to seize areas of the Gaza Strip from which they're routinely fired. Palestinian rocket attacks have killed four Israeli civilians in the past 10 days.
European leaders are making a new push to broker a cease-fire.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to arrive in the Middle East on Monday evening for separate emergency meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
In parallel, a three-person European Union delegation met Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday to call for an immediate cease-fire.
The European Union insists on a cease-fire at the earliest possible moment, said Karel Schwarzenberg, the foreign minister for the Czech Republic, which became the leader of the 27-member body last week. We are not sharing the view that the cease-fire is only possible if all possible aims of the Israeli action are achieved.
Israeli officials rebuffed an early attempt by Sarkozy to broker a 48-hour truce, but are beginning to outline the parameters for ending the fighting.
A senior Israeli official said the government was exploring ways to marginalize Hamas in any peace deal. Israel has three major objectives, said the official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks: substantially curbing Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, boosting Israels image as a feared Middle East military power by severely damaging Hamas' military capabilities, and ensuring that Palestinian militants aren't able to continue rearming by using smuggler tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.
While Israeli soldiers were preparing for a fierce fight, they've so far faced lighter-than-expected resistance from Gaza militants. So far, only one Israeli soldier has been killed in the fighting.
Some analysts suspect that Hamas fighters are trying to draw Israeli soldiers into densely populated urban areas, where street battles would be more difficult for the Israel Defense Forces.
Hamas glorious fighters have disengaged from the IDF, leaving their bombs behind them as they fire mortar shells on the fly, Israeli columnist Ben Caspit wrote in Mondays edition of the newspaper Maariv. It turns out that theres a real difference between the ridiculous parades they put on in their camouflage uniforms and the dramatic shows of military prowess that get broadcast on TV and between the real thing.
He warned that a tougher fight may still be ahead, however.
True, Israel overestimated Hamas strength and capabilities, but we mustnt now fall into the trap of underestimating them, Caspit wrote. All of the explosives that were packed into the rockets that were fired at Israel could be fit into just two bombs that the IAF (the Israel air force) dropped on them. And the IAF has already dropped a thousand such bombs on them.
Aid agencies say Gaza needs food, medicine -- and body bags
Jan 5, 2009
By Angus MacSwan
JERUSALEM, Jan 5 (Reuters) - People in Gaza were in dire need of food and medical supplies, aid agencies said on Monday, but Israel's ground assault and air raids were hampering relief efforts.
Freezing cold is compounding the misery of children caught in the conflict. And body bags for victims are in short supply.
"The situation in Gaza since the Israel Defense Forces launched their ground offensive on Saturday night has become both chaotic and extremely dangerous," the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a situation report.
Air raids had damaged hospitals, water supply systems, government buildings and mosques but it was difficult for ICRC staff to move around to assist, it said.
About 530 Palestinians have been killed, at least a quarter of them civilians, since Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27 to curtail Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.
Ground troops invaded the enclave, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, on Saturday night after a week of bombardments from the air and from naval vessels.
Hospitals were inundated with Palestinian wounded, the ICRC said. Fresh supplies were urgently needed, including painkillers and anaesthetics but also body bags and sheets to wrap corpses.
The hospitals were relying on generators for electricity because of damage to the main power system but they can break down at any time.
An ICRC surgical team was due to move into Gaza on Monday to help surgeons after waiting for several days in Jerusalem for permission from Israeli authorities.
"We are seriously concerned about the reports we are receiving with regard to civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Work on the ground was also perilous for medics. Three paramedics and three volunteers have been killed so far and planes have bombed the Health Care Union in Gaza City and destroyed four ambulances, Palestinian medical officials said.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said the combat had prevented ambulance staff from responding to many calls.
On Sunday, a pregnant woman in Zeitoun in northern Gaza had to be taken to hospital on a donkey cart but did not make it in time. The baby was stillborn and she suffered a ruptured uterus.
Save the Children staff began to deliver food aid to families on Sunday but air assaults and ground fighting made it dangerous for staff, the agency said in a statement.
"The situation has reached a critical level for children who are exposed to and experiencing violence, fear and uncertainty," Save the Children emergency team leader Annie Foster said.
Some families fear to leave their houses while others are being forced to flee them.
The winter cold was also a danger to children as electricity cuts have mean many homes lack heating.
"Families must leave windows open at night so that they will not be broken by percussive shocks or flying debris from the ongoing bombardment. This means that children, the majority of them poor and malnourished, are essentially spending the night exposed to the elements," Foster said.
Israel has accused Hamas of sheltering among the civilian population and using sites such as mosques and schools as military posts. It has allowed some convoys of trucks with food and fuel to enter the blockaded enclave.
At least three children were among a dozen Palestinian civilians killed on Monday. Since the fighting began, 59 children have been killed, Palestinian health officials say.
Palestinian women and children flee an area hit by an Israeli air strike [GALLO/GETTY]
As the death toll from Israel's aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip continues to climb, Al Jazeera asked Gazans to describe the situation where they are and to explain how the offensive is affecting them.
Majed Badra, 23, Gaza City, cartoonist and student at the Islamic University
"Unfortunately the situation is very bad in Gaza city - the Israeli occupation is striking more and more organisations, more houses and the mosque, and my university was hit last night.
They focus on the civilians. It is easy for them.
Nothing is working in Gaza and we don't do anything. We stay inside the house, my family and I. Every family in Gaza is doing the same.
We are used to hearing these airstrikes, everybody here is used to it and we don't have any way to protect ourselves. We just stay inside the home, hearing the news, hearing where the Israeli [army] strikes, hearing the F16s and Apaches and waiting to see what will happen.
We were not prepared for the war. They attack civilians and children and don't care if we are armed or not.
"The world looks at unarmed Palestinian people as though they are a nation with an army, as though we are equal to the Israelis ... but this is not true"
Majed, Gaza City
Yesterday, my sister's house was damaged in a strike on a target nearby. Every room was damaged except for the kitchen, where she and the children were. Allah kept them alive.
The world looks at unarmed Palestinian people as though they are a nation with an army, as though we are equal to the Israelis. They think we have real rockets that cause a lot of damage or have a big effect, but this is not true.
The reality is that we don't have anything and they have struck everything in Gaza.
I have exams coming soon in my university and I want to study but I can't in this situation. So they affect my future, the future of all students here.
Why does the Israeli army strike my university and mosques and houses? I don't know the answer. You have to ask them.
The coming days will be very bad. There will be more and more deaths."
Nida' Aniss Abu al-Atta, 26, Gaza City, projects officer
"At first, the Israeli opening raid was unexpected for normal people. We were totally shocked and for the first minutes we didn't realise it was new Israeli military aggression against Gaza.
Children thought there would be new clashes between Hamas and Fatah supporters. They were afraid and started crying and running to their mothers.
I and my family were so angry, believing that no one made enough effort to avoid this. Israel planned for this and we show readiness to resist despite being powerless compared to the Israeli arsenal.
I feel angry with the Palestinian internal scene. They were unable to show themselves unified even before this tragedy.
I hate the way Hamas leaders try to reflect our people's will by claiming that we can face this horrible military machine. Palestinian people are bleeding and shouting "enough". Even our president [Mahmoud Abbas] was powerless to the extent that it makes me sick and makes me lose faith in anybody.
I expected nothing from the international community, the Arab world and Muslims. It is not adequate anyhow; they just shout and burn flags.
At the same time, I would say that I really value the world reaction in Europe and in France in particular. I call on the Arab community to be more effective and to practice its responsibility and power against governments, like the Lebanese did before in Beirut.
We all, the Palestinian people and leaders, are responsible for this crime. We execute the Israeli plans without thinking who would be the only ones benefitting from our division.
My French teacher keeps saying: "Nida' you should not feel this normal, you have to keep saying it is horrible and feel angry. Don't get used to this."
Well, I feel normal. It is strange when there are no martyrs, no helicopters in the air or reconnaissance aircrafts in the Gaza sky."
Hamoudi, Tal el Hawa
"More than three buildings have been brought to the ground in my area.
Two of my neighbours were killed on their way back from school - sixteen-year-old Yasmeen and her sister, 15-year-old Haneen. They were innocent girls.
In my household, where I live with my brothers, sisters and my sister's eight-month-old baby, we have been sleeping far from the windows and living in darkness due to the lack of power.
But despite all of that we are still alive. Life is precious and worth fighting for.
All I seek in these moments is for the truth to get out there. Let it be known that in the 21st century this is happening while the whole world is watching but remains silent.
I wonder how cheap Palestinian blood is."
Amin Asfour, Gaza City, doctor in a public hospital
"The situation here is very difficult. They are shooting at us from everywhere, at all targets - military or not.
Many have been killed and more injured, especially in the first two days.
They are using all sorts of bombs. They weigh up to 500kg and can take out a 15-storey building in a second, like an earthquake.
Everyone is living in fear. You never know who they are going to hit.
Obviously, there is anger. It's our people dying - our kin, our relatives, not strangers. But people stick together. They live because they have to live.
We're just waiting for the next bomb to fall and wondering whether it will hit us or the neighbours. We are not afraid of the bombs falling, just anxious about who they will fall on. It's war.
In the hospital, we are short on medicine, but we work with what we have. We do miss many supplies and the equipment we work with is really old but our doctors are hardened - no situation will surprise them."
Ghada Snunu, 30, Gaza City, human rights worker
"What is happening here is unbelievable, it's shocking a catastrophe. We've been living a nightmare for the past two days because of what's happening around us.
I fear for myself, my family and the people I care about. In all my life, I've never had such a bad feeling.
The children, my nephew and niece, are so scared. They hide under the beds, terrified, and I can do nothing to help them, except to sing soothing words to them. But nothing can help them in this situation.
A Palestinian man looks at a destroyed building of the Islamic University in Gaza City [AFP]
We need serious action to be taken right now to end this violence against our people. I am so angry with the world we hear nothing but words and there is no action, no real change. Enough, we are sick of hearing just words even from the Arab countries. We are human beings living here in Gaza just like animals although maybe animals live in better conditions. We don't have medicine, food, cooking gas, fuel, power we haven't seen electricity for a week now.
Every single person in Gaza is in a very bad psychological state what is happening here is urging you to be unhappy, it is pushing you into despair. I feel depressed and sick and bored of everything around me also because of the internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah.
I feel so bad for our people being separated from each other we should unite in this bad situation. But while we are under siege and ongoing attacks, Hamas and Fatah are still fighting. This is the time for them to re-unite and work together and put an end to this deteriorating situation.
In the beginning I thought that Israel is targeting Hamas, but then I saw houses and other buildings and roads being destroyed, and innocent people being killed and injured. Now I think that Israel is targeting Gaza and not Hamas. We never expected an attack of this scale and this number of people killed. It is a massacre. I didn't believe my own eyes at first, because it is so disgusting to see such a thing."
Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA director in Gaza
"The problem is very complicated. Even before the bombing Gaza was in need of everything.
Hospitals lack everything - equipment, doctors. The world should help.
We hear that Israel opened the crossing today for materials etc. We're welcoming this step but it is not enough. Israel should open it not just for a few hours or a few days.
The people feel very angry and abandoned. What they want before anything else is to stop the killing.
Education has been suspended, not allowing school children and teachers to go to school. Medical workers are not going to work because of the danger.
Eight of our students were killed by a rocket as they left their classrooms to get the bus home."
Baha' Enaya, Gaza, engineer
"At the beginning the targets were mainly stations of security forces, but later the operations expanded and targets also included police stations, societies, organisations and other infrastructure.
Those targets are just in the middle of residential areas because of the nature of the surface in Gaza and the high density of the population. Naturally, the casualties will mostly be civilian.
"... It is just an episode in a bigger project which aims to kill people's will"
If we add to that other difficulties like the shortage of fuel supplies, food and electricity then you can imagine how the situation on the ground looks.
The bombing of the underground tunnels adds another hardship by cutting off fuel supplies. Many people used to obtain their fuel through those tunnels.
Surely the main blame goes to the Israeli occupation that uses this collective punishment policy. Palestinian factions have recently tried to commit to the ceasefire. Israel, however, did not fulfill its responsibilities. When the siege continues it is hard to ask the factions to maintain a one-sided truce.
The closure of the crossings is killing us slowly.
While the Israeli response has been beyond any expectations, it is just an episode in a bigger project which aims to kill people's will and turn them into cattle whose top priority is not to resist the occupation but just to survive."
Date: 5 Jan 2009
Subject: PHR-Israel: Gaza Update 5.1.09 - Attacks on Medical Personnel and Serious Obstacles to Evacuation of Wounded within the Gaza Strip
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel Gaza Update
Attacks on Medical Personnel and Serious Obstacles to Evacuation of Wounded within the Gaza Strip
After calling yesterday for international intervention for an immediate ceasefire, PHR-Israel today sent two urgent requests to the Israeli Military Chief of staff regarding protection of medical teams, internal evacuation of the wounded, and evacuation of the wounded to external medical care. We have also called upon foreign diplomats to press Israel to enable "corridors" for referral of the wounded to external medical centers, until the implementation of a ceasefire.
Moreover, PHR-Israel has collected personal testimonies from patients it had assisted in the past, in order to hear from them about conditions on the ground during the current Israeli offensive.
Below is the information collected by PHR-Israel on medical issues since the start of the land offensive:
Attacks on medical personnel:
· December 31, 2008: Helicopter fires on medical crew evacuating wounded: in Jabal Kashif in northeast Gaza a crew set out to offer assistance. While approaching the bleeding victim on foot, they were hit by helicopter fire. Dr. Ihab Madhun, medic Muhammad Abu Hasireh, as well as the injured victim, were killed.
· January 3, 2009: Second attack on a house after medical crews enter to evacuate the wounded: The house of the Dabbabish family in Sheikh Radwan had already been bombarded. As a crew of medics dressed in medical vests arrived on the scene to tend to the wounded the house was bombarded for a second time. One person was critically wounded: Ayyad Ahmad.
· January 4, 2009: Ambulance belonging to the Al Awda Hospital in Beit Lahiya was hit by helicopter fire. Arfa Abd al Daim, a senior volunteer medic was killed and two other medical personnel were critically injured.
· January 4, 2009: Tank fires on ambulance during attempts to evacuate a family in Tel Alhawa. Inass Fadil Naim, Yassir Shabir and Rifaat Abdel Al were killed.
Difficulties in internal evacuation of the wounded:
· According to the head of the Palestinian emergency health services in Gaza Dr. Mu'awiya Hasaneen, and the MoH spokesperson Hammam Nasman, there are many wounded and dead, but access to them is impeded by ongoing gunfire.
· According to information collected by PHR-Israel, the ICRC, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the hospitals meet severe difficulties in evacuation of the wounded, due to the ongoing fighting, due to the refusal of the Israeli army to enable passage between the north and the south of the Gaza Strip, and due to unwieldy bureaucratic procedures, whereby the security forces demand coordination between the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee and the Israeli authorities at Erez Crossing for each case. It should be noted that during hostilities the ICRC of which PRCS is now a member should enjoy full authority and protection for evacuation of wounded.
· The PRCS reported to PHR-Israel that they have no way of dispatching ambulances without prior coordination since ambulances that set out for evacuation duties at AlAtatra were fired at by apache helicopters. They appealed to PHR-Israel after attempts to coordinate passage via the ICRC have failed since yesterday. AlAwda hospital in Beit Lahiya also asked for our assistance since they must send out ambulances to AlAtatra and Tel Zaatar but cannot dispatch ambulances without being shot at. The hospital is urgently requesting coordination to enable evacuation.
· According to our information, between 2 hours and 8-10 hours pass between a request by the ICRC for coordination until the Israeli authorities actually coordinate passage. In some cases teams waited for 24 hours for coordination.
· A shortage of ambulances has been reported: patients are often evacuated in private vehicles either because of shortage or because ambulances cannot access the areas.
January 4: Hasin al 'Aiedy, along with his two brothers and their families, among them 6 injured awaiting evacuation, called PHR-Israel after being trapped in an isolated area south east of Gaza City surrounded by the Israeli Army. Hasin al Aaiedy and two of his brothers live together with their families in an isolated area, empty of other residents, halfway between Nezarim junction and Karni Crossing. Soon after the Israeli Army began their ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the house sustained missile fire. As a result of the bombardment, sections of the roof were destroyed, many of the doors were unhinged, all glass was broken and the water pipes burst. Six members of the family sustained injuries: Kamala, 80 years old, was hit in the face and head; Taha 80 years old was hit in the face; Daa, 18 years old was hit near her eye, Nur, 16 years old was hit on an entire side of his body and is bleeding; Raad, 13 years old was also sustained injuries to half his body and is bleeding; and Lid, 3 years old has sustained shrapnel wounds to half his body. To the damages inflicted on their home, the family members, 28 in all (15 children and 8 adults) are now outside in an open area without food, water, light or heat. Since the bombardment, Israeli troops have surrounded the area on all sides. The family members cannot move more than several meters from where they are currently located because every movement - even to look for water- is met by artillery fire. Upon receiving notification of the event on the morning of January 4th, PHR-Israel immediately contacted the Israeli District Coordination Office at Erez Crossing and was assured the army would look into the matter. Since then, the DCO has not got back to PHR-Israel regarding the incident; the status of the al 'Aiedy family remains unchanged. Members of the family and representatives of PHR-Israel have contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza with hopes that they may be able to evacuate the family members with one of their ambulances, however as noted, the Israel army has surrounded the area and until now has not allowed for the evacuation of the wounded and trapped victims. For additional information see Haaretz Article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052606.html
January 4th: PHR-Israel tried to coordinate the evacuation of a family of 6 via the coastal road: The family had left from ShifaaHospital towards their home in Southern Gaza. Salah a- Din St. was blocked near the area of Nezarim Junction so the family took a detour via the coastal road. There they were fired upon by tanks. The family called ShifaaHospital to send an ambulance. At that time others informed PHR-Israel that they were unable to coordinate the evacuation. PHR-Israel immediately called the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO) at Erez, who after much pressure claimed that they had sent an army vehicle to the scene though were unable to locate the familys car. The DCO claimed that without a telephone they were unable to locate the family. They also informed us that they had not received any requests to coordinate the evacuation, after which they told us that the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee had in fact inquired regarding the transfer. The lack of clarification and the misunderstanding have made clear to us that that there is now total chaos regarding the coordination of the ambulances to evacuate the wounded. The fate of the family is unknown.
Hospitals: Needs vs. Reality and the need for evacuation to external medical care
According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel medical experts, in a situation of multiple casualties with multiple injuries in any medical system, medical preparedness will be conducted according to the following three principles:
1. Every wounded person with multiple injuries in need of pulmonary support (ventilation), medicinal support or surgical procedures needs an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed.
2. Due to the simultaneous arrival of high numbers of wounded persons, there is a need for an increased number of surgical teams: one surgeon and two nurses per patient. Each patient will also need an operating room and necessary equipment: monitor, ventilation machine for every ventilated patient, automatic syringes, haemodynamic medications and blood products.
3. Since even in advanced medical systems there are usually not enough teams and equipment, there is usually need of emergency modification of the health system to increase services, import of external surgical teams and equipment, and arrangements with external hospitals for referral of the overflow of wounded. Such hospitals must be as close as possible.
According to information collected by PHR-Israel, although over 2,400 people have been injured since the start of the operation, and 110 people were injured between the 3rd and the 4th of January, there are currently less than 100 ICU beds and only 32 operating rooms throughout Gaza.
There are 190 surgeons in Shifaa' hospital, working around the clock, but the system lacks expert capacity on neuro-, vascular-, orthopedic- and open heart surgery.Moreover, the security situation, as well as damage to roads and bridges, is preventing staff from reaching health facilities. Foreign teams currently in Gaza include 2 surgeons from A Norwegian NGO, NORWAC, (1 thoracic surgeon and 1 anesthesiologist working at ShifaHospital) and 5 Egyptian surgeons.
An ICRC team of war surgeons has been waiting since Friday to be granted access to the Gaza to address the lack of surgical staff. They have now received notification that they will be granted access when Erez re-opens but the crossing is closed.
Referrals: At the start of the land operation, all crossings were closed, including Israeli controlled Erez Crossing and Egyptian controlled Rafah Crossing. The army claims Erez was opened for a few hours this morning, but it re-closed at noon. As a result any overflow of patients at any given time cannot be referred outward, resulting in overload and inadequate medical care inside Gaza.
Internal access to the crossings is also impeded: While 45 ambulances are waiting on the Egyptian side to transport patients to Egyptian hospitals, the security situation and damage to bridges and roads prevent ambulances from reaching Rafah.
It should be noted that the Israeli Ministry of Health has expressed its willingness to admit wounded from the fighting. Israeli hospitals have prepared for their absorption. However, the closure of Erez Crossing by the Ministry of Defense prohibits such arrangements at present.
Medical supplies: A substantial volume of supplies was delivered to Gaza last week. Trucks with drugs and consumables reached all MoH hospitals yesterday but shortages are still reported.
Food supplies: WFP, which provides food aid to some 350,000 Gaza residents, estimates that the daily need for all Gaza population would be 1,200 mt of basic food commodities, meaning 40 trucks a day. WFP currently needs to deliver about 4,000 mt of food commodities (150 trucks) asap to fill its warehouse.
Despite the entry of some food and medical supplies last week, and contrary to Israeli claims the amounts are not sufficient for the needs of the population and the needs are growing. The current closure of the crossing poses a real threat to the population in general and the hospitals in particular in this respect.
Personal Testimonies: Life under Fire
Testimony from Khan Younis, 5.1.09 11am
"Conditions in our neighborhood are very dangerous. Buildings keep collapsing because of the bombardments and shelling of houses on top of their inhabitants. The Israeli army is shelling anything that moves, especially to our east. There is electricity only 6 hours a day, and then it's off for 16 hours. When there is electricity we call our family inside Israel, they hold their telephone to the television so we can hear what is happening, because we have no radio or TV. Around us is much destruction and a terrible noise of bombings and dust and smoke. In order to cook, we light a wood fire on the steps, because on the roof it is too dangerous. There is no food left at home, we eat whatever we can find with a lot of zaatar. The kids can't sleep. They are very much afraid and the noise of the planes is terrible. Last night we slept perhaps two hours. Half an hour ago an F-16 bombed the Jam'iyat AlNour building. It's a medical association with equipment and everything. It's very close to us. We keep hearing the shells and the gunfire. At night some people were called and told to leave within 24 hours. In this area there are no armed people, no guns, no tunnels. Often they never destroy anything in the end, but yesterday one family reached us by luck half an hour before their home was bombed. (the son of a 67 year old patient we have assisted in the past. He asked not to use his name).
Testimony from AlTufah neighborhood, 5.1.09, 11:30am
The situation is very bad. The worst is we have no water. There is really so little, and what there is is not clean. People use what there is, usually not for drinking. There are whole areas cut off from water. There is no bread. People stand in lines of hundreds of people outside the bakeries and there is no bread. Three days with no electricity and the cold is killing. There is no gas either. We managed to smuggle in some fuel through the tunnels but it smells so bad in the food we're sure it's unhealthy. There is no food supply. We eat what's left over, mainly rice and potatoes. In the Jabel AlRis area, where Jaber's family lives [he is referring to a 15 year old boy who lost both legs in a shelling by the Israeli army in March; because he is disabled and his aunt also lost a leg at the same time, their escape from danger is even more difficult PHR-I], the danger is very present and many have escaped as far as they can. We have internally displaced people. Here at AlTufah, too, many houses were destroyed by shelling and bombardments. People escape but the planes and helicopters chase them. They are in the air all the time, nonstop. Yesterday five people escaped to the beach and were shot there, from the air. It's a lie that most of them are armed. In every place civilians are killed due to collapse of buildings and on the beach. There is no escape. No safe place. In Gaza everything is so close. I am less than a kilometer from the border and I cannot avoid seeing or hearing. Eyewitnesses told me that the Israelis are also using cluster munitions, and I myself have experienced explosions with strange smoke and very strange sounds.
Sameh, 23, blogger http://www.gazatoday.blogspot.com/ was in touch with us regarding the case of Jaber.
Testimony from Deir AlBalah, 5.1.09, 11:45am
The situation is very bad, there is deep fear, and desperation. People around here aren't leaving their homes. There is no water. We drink from containers and these are running out. Before, we had 6 hours of electricity [per day], but now it's been a whole day and there is no electricity. So it's cold, there is no way to heat water, food or our home, and we cant refrigerate our medicines. The border to Egypt is cold, and it's all full of checkpoints and tanks. To get to hospital [this is a person with a chronic disease PHR-I] I have to find someone with a car and they take a lot of money for each journey because of the danger. My brother's kids are very fearful, the sounds of explosions are very loud, day and night, and it's not even in our area. But there is no water or food and we are all trapped in our homes.
For more details please contact Miri Weingarten at +972 546995199 or Ran Yaron at +972 547577696.
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