The Gaza War Continues

A collection of articles, accounts, interviews, pictures and reports I’ve seen over the last few days.

Pictorial comparison first.

Israeli neighborhood bomb shelter.

An Israeli neighborhood bomb shelter.

A Palestinian bomb shelter.

A Palestinian “neighborhood bomb shelter.”

Breaking News Reports:

Casualties Rise in Gaza Offensive (BBC Middle East)

Dr Khamis al-Essi, an emergency doctor at Gaza’s biggest hospital, al-Shifa, said they were struggling to cope with the huge numbers of casualties.

He said they had received “all sorts of casualties, from shattered bodies, beheaded individuals and patients with superficial cuts and lacerations”.

“Most of the injuries affected civilians, especially women and children,” he told the BBC.

Among the dead was a family of seven killed by an Israeli air strike in a refugee camp east of Gaza City, health officials said.

Dr Essi said many families were in need of ambulances, but medical workers were struggling to reach casualties because they were being shot at.

Days of War, Days of Rage (Der Spiegel)

When does a legitimate act of self-defense turn into a dirty war? Are the roughly 10,000 rockets that have killed 32 Israelis in the last seven years justification enough for a military operation that has already claimed 450 lives, with one in four of the dead a woman or a child? And is the loss suffered by an Israeli girl whose mother was killed by a Katyusha rocket at a bus stop in Ashdod last week more significant than the loss suffered, on the same day, by a Palestinian girl living in the Jabaliya refugee camp when her five sisters died in an Israeli air attack?

The Israeli army distributes flyers to warn residents of upcoming attacks. According to Foreign Minister Livni, Israel made some 90,000 telephone calls to civilians in Gaza during the first few days of the offensive alone, warning them of impending strikes. Responding to one of the warnings, the Balusha family from Jabaliya sought shelter in the house of relatives until late at night, but then returned to the camp. A short time later, Israeli jets bombed the adjacent mosque. When the roof of the mosque was destroyed, the family’s house was buried, together with five of the daughters.

These are tragic events. They create the impression that Israel is interested in more than their stated aim of “destroying the terrorist infrastructure” of Hamas. Indeed, it seems that the Israelis are motivated by retribution, and are using war as a punitive measure.

On the Ground in Gaza:

It’s really hard to post from here

Last night, in a Jabaliya hospital, I talk with one nurse who tells us that his brother Adham, an 8 year old, was shot in the neck and in the chest at 4:30 pm that day (January 4th) when on his rooftop in the same northwestern area that ambulances now cannot reach.

Mohammed tells me his village, Khosar, east of Khan Younis was shelled in an agricultural area, one of the many open areas continuing to be pummelled. One of the many areas period: open, residential, market…

Painfully, I learn that after a hasty funeral, Arafa’s mourning tent was shelled yesterday, mourners inside. At least five injuries and much insult.

at 4:37, Haidar updates me that “the house of the El Eiwa family, from Shejaiyee, was attacked. Lots of casualties, including children.”

He updates me on a BBC report: “the one o’clock news on the local BBC channel interviewed a Norwegian doctor in Gaza wo [sic] said some of the victims bear traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.”

Jabalia 4 Jan 6pm – 5 Jan 5pm

6pm: To Al Awda hospital, run by the Union of Health Work Committees. It normally has a 50 bed capacity but has been stretched to 75. E and Mo interview Ala’a, the medic from Jabalia RC who was injured when Arafa was killed yesterday.

The story goes as follows:

It was about 8.30 am Saturday morning in Jabalia. Five teenagers found themselves under shell attack and tried to get away. Three escaped. One, Tha’er, 19, had his foot blown off. His friend Ali, also 19, tried to pick him up and carry him to safety, but was shot in the head and killed. It took 75- 90 minutes before a Jabalia Red Crescent ambulance could reach them. Medic Arafa, 35, and Ala’a, 22, carried Tha’er to the ambulance, and then went back for Ali’s body. As they closed the van door, they were shelled.

Ala’a says “I felt nothing – just that I was flying in the air and then falling.” Other ambulances evacuated all. Arafa, who was married with 5 children, had a severe chest wound with most of one lung gone and only survived 2 hours. Ali’s head was blown off. Ala’a is now in hospital with severe shrapnel wounds all over, especially chest and legs. Tha’er survived but also now has several lacerations to back and body from shrapel.

Arafa was a teacher for the UN, gave medic training, and volunteered as a medic after being one professionally earlier.

What the medics see, do, and are subjected to; uncensored

Warning: The images in the above link are graphic; please use discretion before following.

At the Jabaliya Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) station, the team there tells me of their injuries. Half, they say, of emergency medics and drivers in Gaza have been injured by Israel while trying to perform the duties.

One shows me a scar from a gunshot wound to his arm. Another tells of being twice injured: once, shot in the stomach, another time, also shot in the arm. The bullet holes in their ambulances speak for themselves.

The U.S. and Israel:

Tisdall: Obama is losing a battle he doesn’t know he’s in (The Guardian)

Obama has remained wholly silent during the Gaza crisis. His aides say he is following established protocol that the US has only one president at a time. Hillary Clinton, his designated secretary of state, and Joe Biden, the vice-president-elect and foreign policy expert, have also been uncharacteristically taciturn on the subject.

But evidence is mounting that Obama is already losing ground among key Arab and Muslim audiences that cannot understand why, given his promise of change, he has not spoken out. Arab commentators and editorialists say there is growing disappointment at Obama’s detachment – and that his failure to distance himself from George Bush’s strongly pro-Israeli stance is encouraging the belief that he either shares Bush’s bias or simply does not care.

AP: US blocks UN action on Gaza conflict (via truthout)

The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.

U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week’s council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement at this time “would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, would not do credit to the council.”

Greenwald: More oddities in the U.S. “debate” over Israel/Gaza (Salon)

Ultimately, what is most notable about the “debate” in the U.S. over Israel-Gaza is that virtually all of it occurs from the perspective of Israeli interests but almost none of it is conducted from the perspective of American interests. There is endless debate over whether Israel’s security is enhanced or undermined by the attack on Gaza and whether the 40-year-old Israeli occupation, expanding West Bank settlements and recent devastating blockade or Hamas militancy and attacks on Israeli civilians bear more of the blame. American opinion-making elites march forward to opine on the historical rights and wrongs of the endless Israeli-Palestinian territorial conflict with such fervor and fixation that it’s often easy to forget that the U.S. is not actually a direct party to this dispute.

Though the ins-and-outs of Israeli grievances and strategic considerations are endlessly examined, there is virtually no debate over whether the U.S. should continue to play such an active, one-sided role in this dispute. It’s the American taxpayer, with their incredibly consequential yet never-debated multi-billion-dollar aid packages to Israel, who are vital in funding this costly Israeli assault on Gaza. Just as was true for Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, it’s American bombs that — with the whole world watching — are blowing up children and mosques, along with Hamas militants, in Gaza. And it’s the American veto power that, time and again, blocks any U.N. action to stop these wars.

Ramzy Baroud: Is Israel Winning the “Media War” over Gaza? (Middle East Times)

It’s always difficult to fathom Israel’s giddiness and sense of triumph as defenseless civilians are pulverized by mostly U.S.-supplied warplanes and bombs. Even if one chooses to empathize with Israel’s dodgy claim, parroted endlessly by the George W. Bush administration, that the Israeli army is in a state of self-defense, one can never fully grasp the wisdom of its military tactics.

“Fatalities in Gaza are already over 400 and injuries close to 2,000 so far as is known. Total Palestinian civilian casualties are 400 times greater than the casualties incurred by Israelis,” wrote three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader in an open letter to Bush, five days into the Israeli onslaught. Nearly one week after the devastating airstrikes, Israel unleashed a ground offensive which is pushing the causality figures to unprecedented heights, made mostly of civilian victims.

Much of Israel’s war machine is financed, manufactured and supplied by the United States. U.S. financial and military generosity has served as the backbone of all of Israel’s wars against its neighbors, including the Palestinians. In Israel’s war against Lebanon in the summer of 2006, lest it runs out, the U.S. rushed ’emergency’ military supplies, including cluster bombs to the Israeli army, allowing the latter to ensure the demise of its arch enemy: thousands of dead and wounded Lebanese civilians.

In the ongoing war against Gaza, neither the U.S.’ “dedication to the security of Israel,” nor Israel’s dedication to inflicting maximum harm on civilians have been in any way altered. While Bush brazenly chastised Hamas and the Palestinians for the death wrought on them by Israel, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama had absolutely nothing to say.

“The scale of bloodshed in Gaza over five days is the same as if almost 2,000 Israelis had been killed and 9,000 wounded in the same period. Imagine the consequences for Israel in such an event,” wrote author and former BBC correspondent Deepak Tripathi. Would Obama find the staggering number worthy of cutting short his Hawaii vacation, even for a brief comment, if the tables were turned? Candidate of change, he said.

Meta-War Talk:

Juan Cole: Gaza 2008: Micro-Wars and Macro-Wars (Informed Consent)

Israel’s political tradition seeks expansion if possible; if not possible, it seeks a balance of power with its enemies. If that is not possible, it seeks to be held harmless from its avowed foes. If that is not possible, it is willing to wage total war to punish the enemy population until it accepts at least a cold peace. (I mean by “total war” war on the civilian population in which the guerrilla group is embedded, as for instance dropping a million cluster bombs on the farms of south Lebanon in 2006 or half-starving Gazan children in 2007-2008, methods illegal in international law but routinely deployed by Israeli leaders and defended by most Zionists everywhere.) Where necessary, Israel is willing to give up territorial expansion to get the cold peace.

Chris McGreal: Why Israel Went to War in Gaza (Guardian)

Just a few months ago Livni was talking of wiping out Hamas, but that would be unpalatable to much of the outside world as a justification for the assault. So now the talk is of pressing Gaza’s government to agree to a new ceasefire. Occasionally someone has got off-message. A couple of days into the assault on Gaza, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, said it would continue for “as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely”. Infuriated Israeli officials in Jerusalem warned her that such statements could set back the diplomatic offensive.

Gershom Gorenberg: The Other Housing Crisis (Foreign Policy)

From my home in West Jerusalem, the road that Israelis use to head south toward Hebron runs through two tunnels in the mountains. Known simply as the Tunnel Road, it was built in the mid-1990s during the Oslo peace process, when Bethlehem was turned over to Palestinian rule and Israelis wanted a way to bypass the town on their way to settlements that remained in Israeli hands.

A turn from the Tunnel Road takes you past the Palestinian village of Hussan to Beitar Illit, a settlement covering two hills. The streets are lined with apartment buildings, faced in rough-cut, yellowish-white stone, all with red-tile roofs, so alike they could have been turned out by the same factory. In 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands and peace seemed close enough to touch, about 4,000 people lived in Beitar Illit. Now, 34,000 live here, and more will soon move in.

The message written on the landscape is simple: Every day, the settlements expand. Every day, Israel grows more entangled in the West Bank. To a large degree, the Israeli and Palestinian publics have accepted the need for a two-state solution. But time, and the construction crews, are working against it. No one knows exactly where the point of no return is—when so many Israelis will have moved into so many homes beyond the pre-1967 border that there is no going back. But each passing day brings that tipping point nearer. If a solution is not achieved quickly, it might soon be out of reach.

UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali: “Israel Has a Habit of Closing Its Eyes to Hard Facts” (Der Spiegel)

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why do you have such a negative view of the future — especially you, who have earned a reputation for being a person of hope in stormy times? Right after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when no one wanted to believe in the possibility of peace, you helped former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sign a peace accord with Israel at Camp David, a pact which continues to be honored to this day.

Boutros-Ghali: It is different this time. The current decision-makers in Israel, who ordered this attack on Gaza, haven’t thought about the future. That was a mistake of momentous consequence.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What has led you to this conclusion?

Boutros-Ghali: Israel has a habit of closing its eyes to hard facts. In geographical terms, the Gaza Strip represents almost exactly 2 percent of the total area of Palestine. There is no getting around the fact that this area would have to be greatly expanded as part of the scope of a genuine peace agreement. An additional fact on the ground, which the Israelis prefer to forget about, is the 1.3 million Arab Palestinians who remained in their villages and cities when the state of Israel was founded in 1948 and who make up about one-fifth of Israel’s current population. By around 2060, the Palestinians will account for roughly half — if not more — of the inhabitants of Israel and the areas occupied by Israel.

More information forthcoming, as it becomes available. Many thanks to brownfemipower at Flip Flopping Joy for her Twitter updates, @gazanews on Twitter, @AJGaza for ongoing Al-Jazeera coverage, matttbastard, and countless other people and sources.

5 Responses to “The Gaza War Continues”

  1. first step says:

    In my opinion the U.S as well as Israel are trying to break the Palestinians the way America broke the slave. Through heavy physical abuse and mental deception. In hopes to have them play the role currently played by those of us in America who carry a prefix before our right as citizens. Ex: African-American, Hispanic-American etc. So I believe Israel is seeking to pound the Palestinians “NOT JUST HAMAS” into submission and agree to staying in their own land as second class citizens.

  2. first step says:

    Israel timed this knowing fully well through insiders of our government that democrats usually go domestic before international, so the attack was to take place while Bush is still in office to limit Obama’s stance again knowing through those same insiders again that a President – Elect can not step on the Presidents toes while he is still in office. For these two reasons alone prove the timimg was everything. And the more time it take Obama to make any type of statement the more the boiling waters heat up until all is lost for Obama he will lose any hope he had of working with those who we say are not willing to talk yet are willing to work with Obama. Bush policy is still killing Obama as well as the help Bush is receiving from the Israelis. By the way what is the percentage of Israeli influence in the U.S. government, politians and supporters together as a whole? Someone please share this information if you have it, it vital information that will possibly speak volumes.

  3. tas says:

    Nice post, Sylvia. Now if the rest of the nation could read posts like this, instead of having national outlets like WaPo giving us John Friggen Bolten, maybe people might get edjamacated..

  4. jim says:

    the world has been murdering jews for 2000 years and now it thinks it has the moral right to act as judge and jury on israel. what chutzpah. in case anyone noticed jews aren’t walking into gas chambers anymore. ‘never again’

  5. single_fighter says:


    “Oh, God! I have never seen such a terrible scene,” cried Kayed Abu Aukal.

    The emergency doctor could not believe himself seeing the remains of what was days back Shahd, a full-fleshed 4-year-old Palestinian girl.
    She died when an Israeli shell was fired at the backyard of her home in the Jabalya refugee camp northern Gaza strip, where she was playing.
    When her parents attempted to rush to the rescue of their kid, who fell to the ground amid a pool of her blood, rains of Israeli bullets kept them a distance.

    For the next five days Shahd’s which was left lying in the open left for dogs to tear out.
    “The dogs did leave one single part of the poor baby’s body intact,” said a tearful Abu Aukal.

    “We have seen heart-breaking scenes over the past 18 days. We picked up children whose bodies were torn or burnt, but nothing like this.”

    For five days Shahd’s brother, Matar, and cousin, Mohamed, tried in vain to reach her body. They were fired at by the Israeli occupation forces every time.
    Seeing the body of the little angel torn to piece by the assaulting dogs, the two made one final attempt, and it was their last.
    They were showered by Israeli bullets before they could reach Shahd’s body, joining a long list of more than 920 Palestinians killed by Israel since December 27.


    Omran Zayda, a young neighbor, said the Israelis knew very well what they were doing.
    “They chased her family and prevented them from reaching to her body, knowing that the dogs would eat it,” he said.
    “They are not just killing our children, they are intentionally doing so in the most heinous and inhuman ways.”
    Zayda said words, and even cameras, can not describe the horrific scene.
    “You can never imagine what the dogs have done to her innocent body,” he said, fighting back his tears.

    Many Palestinians insist Shahd was not the first or only such case.
    In Jabalya, when Abd Rabu’s family was trying to bury three of its dead, the Israeli forces started firing at them, witnesses said.
    They then released their dogs at the bodies, deserted by mourners who sought shelter from the Israeli gunfire, they added.
    “What happened was awful and unthinkable,” Saad Abd Rabu, the deceased uncle, told IOL.
    “Our sons died before our eyes and we were even prevented from burying them,” he cried.
    “The Israelis just released their dogs at their bodies, as even they have not done enough.”

    (Gaza City –


    God’s chosen IsraeHell planning the slaughter of Lebanese (2006) and Palestinian again & again (2009).

    “It is permissible for Israel defense force to attack in the course of warfare a civilian population that is ostensibly innocent of wrongdoing. The law of Torah is to have no mercy upon them and save our civillians and our soldiers, and this is the true morality of the Torah of israel…”
    (Rabbi Dov Lior, Chairman of the Council of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in “Settler Rabbi; Killing Civillians Permitted”, Forward, New York, 28th May 28 2004, p,,5)

    “And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them…” (Deuteronomy 7 : 16)

    “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail”.
    (Israeli Rabbi Yacoov Perrin (Daily News, New York, 28th February 1994, p,6)

    “Killing Palestinian is comand of God, don’t let anyone breathe, although man or woman, old man or children, human or animal, kill them all…!!!”
    (Deuteronomy 20:16-17 | Joshua 6:21 | Joshua : 10:28)

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