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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2009 arrow January 13, 2009

January 13, 2009
WAWA Blog January 12, 2009: Thanking Jon, Eye Witness in Hell and Israeli Jews re: Nothing but Gaza UPDATE Jan. 14, 2009 The Spirit Leads

Jan. 14, 2009:
For Immediate Release
January 14, 2009

SPIRIT OF HUMANITY SETS SAIL FOR GAZA

 Larnaca:   At 10:30 this morning, under bright blue Mediterranean skies, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY sailed from the port of Larnaca. Undeterred by Israeli threats of  interception at sea, 21 passengers and crew waved to friends and press on shore, committed to our mission of delivering doctors, journalists, human rights observers and a shipment of medical supplies to assist the civilian population of Gaza during this emergency.


"Israel has an obligation to protect the civilian population that it occupies" stated Free Gaza delegation leader Huwaida Arraf.  "Since Israel continues to violate this obligation, we will continue to do whatever we can to deliver badly needed medical supplies, food, and to transport medical personnel, journalists and human rights workers to help and to witness the devastation Israel has wrought."

The physicians on board include a reconstructive plastic surgeron and an orthopedic surgeron and another physician.  All three doctors will bring crucial assistance to the exhausted and overwhelmed hospital staff in Gaza where emergency resouces don't begin to meet the need.

Mary Hughes-Thompson
Free Gaza Movement
Media Team
+357 96 75 00 59
http://www.freegaza.org
Contact: Mary Hughes, Cyprus +357 99 08 17 67     96 75 00 59
Karin Pally, Cyprus +357 96 48 80 15
Huwaida Arraf, Gaza +972 599 130 426
Angela Godfrey Goldstein, Jerusalem: +972 547 366 393

 

Day 18 of Israeli War On Gaza
Informative Report on Gaza War: Death toll 980, wounded 4400
By: Sameh A. Habeeb

Dear Editors, Journalists and Friends,

" Israeli MP and Leader: Afghdor Liberman says that "Gaza has to be erased from the Map by Nuclear bombs like what Americans used in Heroshima and Nagazaki."

Israeli military operation is still increasingly killing more Palestinians mostly civilians. The victims are in contrary of the announced aim of targeting militants. Around 370 of the victims are children while 160 are women. Israeli Artillery  intensified the shelling scale leaving more victims and destruction.

This is a new report for the 18th day of Gaza War:
 http://www.gazatoday.blogspot.com


 and the outcomes of Israeli invasion. For more  reporting, breaking news, interviews and accounts in Gaza, you could reach me on my contact info below. Please try both numbers below because there is a big problem in communication resulted in Israeli power cuts.

Daily Feed About Gaza War:
http://www.gazatoday.blogspot.com

Sameh A. Habeeb, B.A.
Photojournalist & Peace Activist
Humanitarian, Child Relief Worker
Gaza Strip, Palestine
 


 


 
By Vittorio Arrigoni

In Gaza, a firing squad put Hippocrates up against a wall, aimed and fired. The absurd declarations of an Israeli secret services' spokesman, according to which the army was given the green light in firing at ambulances because they allegedly carried terrorists, is an illustration of the value that Israel assigns to human life these days – the lives of their enemies, that is. It's worth revisiting what's stated in the Hippocratic Oath, which every doctor swears upon before starting to practice the profession.

The following passages are especially worthy of note: "I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity. I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity. The health and life of my patient will be my first consideration. I will cure all patients with the same diligence and commitment. I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient."

Seven doctors and voluntary nurses have been killed from the start of the bombing campaign, and about ten ambulances were shot at by the Israeli artillery. The survivors are shaking with fear, but refuse to take a step back. The crimson flashes of the ambulances are the only bursts of light in the dark streets of Gaza, bar the flashes that precede an explosion. Regarding these crimes, the last report comes from Pierre Wettach, chief of the Red Cross in Gaza. His ambulances had access to the spot of a massacre, in Zaiton, East of Gaza City, only 24 hours after the Israeli attack.

The rescue-workers state they found themselves faced by a blood-curdling scenario. "In one of the houses four small children were found near the body of their dead mother. They were too weak to stand on their feet. We also found an adult survivor, and he too was also too weak to stand up. About 12 corpses were found lying on the mattresses." The witnesses to this umpteenth massacre describe how the Israeli soldiers, after getting into the neighbourhood, gathered the numerous members of the Al Samouni family in one building and then proceeded to repeatedly bomb it. My ISM partners and I have been driving around in the Half Red Moon ambulances for days, suffering many attacks and losing a dear friend, Arafa, struck by a howitzer shot from a cannon. A further three paramedics, all friends, are presently inpatients at the hospitals they worked in until a few days ago. Our duty on the ambulances is to pick up the injured, not carry guerrilla fighters. When we find a man lying in the street in a pool of his own blood, we don't have the time to check his papers or ask him whether he roots for Hamas or Fatah. Most seriously injured can't talk, much like the dead. A few days ago, while picking up a badly wounded patient, another man with light injuries tried to hop onto the ambulance. We pushed him out, just to make it clear to whoever's watching from up above that we don't serve as a taxi to usher members of the resistance around. We only take on the most fatally wounded – of which there's always a plentiful supply, thanks to Israel.

Last night at Al Qudas hospital in Gaza City, 17-year-old Miriam was carried in, with full-blown labour pains. Her father and sister-in-law, both dead, had passed through the hospital in the morning, both victims of indiscriminate bombing. Miriam gave birth to a gorgeous baby during the night, not aware of the fact that while she lay in the delivery room, her young husband had arrived in the morgue one floor below her.

In the end, even the United Nations realised that here in Gaza, we're all in the same boat, all moving targets for the snipers. The death toll is now at 789 dead, 3,300 wounded (410 in critical conditions), 230 children killed and countless missing. The death toll on the Israeli side has thankfully stopped at 4. John Ging, chief of UNRWA (UN agency for the rights of Palestinian Refugees) has stated that the UN announced they shall suspend their humanitarian activities in the Gaza Strip. I bumped into Ging in the Ramattan press office and saw him shake his finger with disdain at Israel before the cameras. The UN stopped its work in Gaza after two of its operators were killed yesterday, ironically during the three-hour truce that Israel had announced and as usual, had failed to comply with. "The civilians in Gaza have three hours a day at their disposal in which to survive, the Israeli soldiers have the remaining 21 in which to try and exterminate them", I heard Ging state two steps away from me.

Yasmine, the wife of one of the many journalists waiting in line at the Erez pass, wrote to me from Jerusalem. Israel won't grant these journalists a pass to let them in and film or describe the immense unnatural catastrophe that has befallen us in the last thirteen days. These were her words: " The day before yesterday I went to have a look at Gaza from the outside. The world's journalists are all huddled on a small sandy hill a few km from the border. Innumerable cameras are pointed towards us. Planes circle us overhead – you can hear them but you can't see them. They seem like illusions, like something in your head until you see the black smoke rising from the horizon, in Gaza. The hill has also become a tourist site for the Israelis in the area. With their large binoculars and cameras, they come and watch the bombings live."

While I write this piece of correspondence in a mad rush, a bomb is dropped onto the building next to the one I'm in now. The windowpanes shake, my ears ache, I look out the window and see that the building gathering the major Arabic media agencies has been struck. It's one of Gaza City's tallest buildings, the Al Jaawhara building. A camera crew is permanently stationed on the roof, I can now see them all bending around on the ground, waving their arms and asking for help as they're covered by a black cloud of smoke.

Paramedics and journalists, the most heroic occupations in this corner of the world. At the Al Shifa hospital yesterday I paid Tamim a visit – he's a journalist who survived an air raid. He explained how he thinks that Israel is adopting the same identical terrorist techniques as Al-Qaeda, bombing a building, waiting for the journalists and ambulances to arrive and then dropping another bomb to finish the latter two off as well. In his view that's why there've been so many casualties among the journalists and paramedics. As he said this, the nurses around his bed all nodded in agreement. Tamim smilingly showed me his two stubs for legs. He was happy he was still around to tell the story, while his colleague, Mohammed, had died with a camera in his hand when the second explosion had proved fatal. In the meantime I asked about the bomb that was just dropped on the building next door, where two journalists, both Palestinian, one from Libyan TV and the other from Dubai TV, were injured. This is a harsh new reminder that this massacre must in no way be described or recorded. All that's left for me to hope is that among the Israeli military summit no one reads Il Manifesto, or habitually visits my blog.

Stay human

Vittorio Arrigoni


The following excerpted from an email from "New Profile"
< >


“Yesterday we had very large demonstrations throughout the UK including Edinburgh but for some reason your government feels it is outside criticism, “no one tells us what to do’ is the message they send.” [Janet Powney, below]


Dear Friends,

Janet is of course correct (above).  The reason that Israel can “feel it is outside criticism” is because not only do most governments support Israel, but the American Congress voted to say that Israel’s attack on Gaza is a defensive act.  Defensive my foot!  There is criticism of Israel--more criticism of Israel now than I ever recall having been in the past.  But it’s grass roots, not governmental.  Until the grass roots movements can convince governments to place sanctions on Israel will Israel stop its atrocities.  Meanwhile, Israel is not merely the neighborhood bully.  It continues to be the neighborhood persecutor, tyrant, terrorist.

The news from Israel continues to be depressing and appalling.   Tonight we learn that Israel is now deploying some of its reserve troops.  I don’t know whether Israel is doing this as a scare tactic implying that it intends to intensify its operations, or it actually intends to do intensify them.  I hope that it’s the former and not the latter. But with our government (no more intelligent than Bush) it’s hard to know.  Tomorrow will tell, I guess.

Amira Hass (below) ends her report with a Palestinian joke.  A couple of years ago I heard one that seems even more apropos the situation.  My rendition very likely changes some of the details, but the gist remains the same:

‘In hell were three men—a Frenchman, an Englishman, and a Palestinian-- who longed to contact their families.  The devil agreed, but said that each would be charged for the phone call.  The Frenchman made his call and spoke for about 5 minutes.  The charge was $5000.00.  The Brit also spoke for 5 minutes and was charged the same as the Frenchman.  The Palestinian then spoke for 2 hours, after which the devil charged him $5.00.  The other two were furious.  The devil explained: your calls were long distance.  His was local.  Indeed, the Palestinians have lived in hell for the past 60 years.  Now in Gaza they are literally burning.  And most Israelis not only don’t care.  Most Israelis believe that the Gazans deserve what they are getting.-Dorothy

 
Last update - 06:40 11/01/2009
Life in the Gaza war zone
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054273.html

By Amira Hass


Access to Gaza's new cemetery near the Israeli border has been cut off, forcing Palestinians to bury the increasing number of dead in old graves near the city center, Palestinians told Haaretz Saturday.

Gaza's morgues are filled with bodies not yet identified by relatives, many of whom cannot travel to claim and bury their dead.

Elsewhere, relatives have complained of difficulties in reaching the many mourners' tents erected by families around the Gaza Strip. Also, because of the collapse of the phone system many families are not informed of the death of a relative for days.

In the past three days the Israel Defense Forces has held a three hour unilateral ceasefire each day allowing rescue forces to clear dead bodies buried beneath rubble. Dozens of bodies were evacuated from the Zeitoun neighborhood on Wednesday and Thursday. For five days, nearly 120 civilians were not allowed by the IDF to leave the area.

For many, the afternoon lulls in the fighting were an opportunity to bathe for the first time in two weeks. Families of up to 30 or 40 people have taken refuge in apartments with only three or four rooms. Residents of the Jabalia and Shati refugee camps, affiliated with both Hamas and Fatah, worked together to provide blankets and food to people who fled their homes closer to the fighting.

Food shortages have been reported, mostly in more isolated refugee camps such as Nusirat. Occasional water shortages are said to be even more serious. In the past two days, electricity was restored for a few hours in some of Gaza's neighborhoods, allowing water to be pumped to the top floors after being out for about a week.

Palestinians complain explosions are constantly heard as are the constant movement of tanks on the ground and planes and drones in the sky.

In the Gazan neighborhood of Tel Hawa, which is home to the Doghmush clan that held British journalist Alan Johnston, local residents stayed in their homes hoping not to be caught in the crossfire. The former photographer of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was killed, along with his wife and her mother, when a missile struck their apartment.

Many Palestinians have started telling jokes to help them get through the hard times. Saturday a Palestinians man named Mustafa retold a joke given to him by his 17-year-old son Basal.

"One Hebron resident tells another that every missile fired by the Israelis costs 100,000 dollars." Mustafa said: "The man replied: 'He's lucky to have such an expensive commodity fall on him from the sky.'"



From JVP [Jewish Voice of Peace]

Just a few days after the bombing of Gaza started, my rabbi, Rabbi Brant Rosen here in Evanston, Illinois had the courage to write something on his blog* that may forever change his life, and the lives of those around him. As I read it, I could literally feel the earth shift beneath my feet. He said,

Send a note to Jon Stewart:

http://www.thankyoujonstewart.com/


We good liberal Jews are ready to protest oppression and human-rights abuse anywhere in the world, but are all too willing to give Israel a pass. It's a fascinating double-standard, and one I understand all too well. I understand it because I've been just as responsible as anyone else for perpetrating it.

So no more rationalizations. What Israel has been doing to the people of Gaza is an outrage. It has has brought neither safety nor security to the people of Israel and it has wrought nothing but misery and tragedy upon the people of Gaza.

The earth is shifting on this issue when the people to whom we look for guidance about right and wrong, people like Rabbi Brant, finally speak the truth- that killing will not bring peace. Not for the Israelis, not for the Palestinians, not for anyone. Many people from my own congregation, including my own daughter, wrote him to say "Thank you, thank you for finally saying these words out loud."

I felt something similar when I saw Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on Monday night. While almost all of the mainstream news in the United States has reported the story without any context whatsoever, repeating the lie that this is a simple case of Israel defending its people against irrational attacks, it was Jon Stewart, the main source of news for an entire generation of Americans, who got it right**.

He talked about the "soul-crushing" siege of Gaza, the occupation that has forced Palestinians to go through checkpoints to do anything at all, the perverse logic of trying to "get a war in" just before Obama's inauguration. When I watched this segment, I knew the earth was shifting. And I knew I had to thank Jon, and to make sure everyone I know watches his segment.

We all know that if every Jew in America said no to Israel's occupation of the Palestinians, it would still happen, because it has is seen as serving the interests of our country's foreign interests. And it is supported by Christian fundamentalists who believe it is one step closer to the end times. That's why we all need to work together- every single one of us.

So thank Jon by going here. And then tell everyone you know to watch this video.

http://www.thankyoujonstewart.com/

Tell your friends that if it seems like what is happening now is wrong, that's because it is.

By the way, the last haunting words of Rabbi Brant's post were these: "There, I've said it. Now what do I do?"

At Jewish Voice for Peace, it's our mandate to answer that question. We're planning a broad-based response that we know will make a difference, and the heart of that response will be every single one of you. We'll ask you to have those conversations with everyone you know, to educate yourselves, to let the world know peace with justice is possible.

Stay tuned,

Lynn Pollack
Jewish Voice for Peace

* Rabbi Brant's blog:
http://rabbibrant.com/2008/12/28/outrage-in-gaza-no-more-apologies/
 

** Israel losing the PR war (print headline)/In U.S., war of words over Gaza, San Francisco Chronicle:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/10/MNGU156LEQ.DTL&tsp=1

   
 
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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
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If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
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The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
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