So Many Tragedies in Such Little Time
BBSNews 2008-01-20 — By Mohammed Omer. Where to start? What to talk about? The crippling electricity shortages, affecting hospitals as well as civilians? The air strikes & on-going, daily bombings by the Israeli army, their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and police stations? Israel’s non-accidental, enforced starvation of 1.5 million people by closing off ALL borders and not allowing in even UN aid, let alone basic medicinal, food, and construction needs?
|Palestinian young man running from an Israeli rocket which hit one of the houses in Gaza City.Image Credit: Mohammed Omer, Rafah Today 2008-01-20.
Shortages of fuel have re-surfaced in Gaza: Most of Gaza has no electricity and even more importantly, the shortage of medicine in Palestinian hospitals continues to increase, with the Ministry of Health reporting a looming humanitarian catastrophe.
Or should I begin with the bomb which just hit a wedding close to the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City, with 15 apartment buildings within the bomb’s target range? One woman was killed and 47 others were injured – mostly children and women who had been inside their homes or playing on the street! Scenes of children injured, bleeding and crying just moments after they had been enjoying a wedding celebration in a Gaza wedding hall … a horrific sight likely to go without mention of that in most news sources.
The injured were evacuated to Al Shifa hospital, where it was then hard to find enough beds and blankets for them, with children crammed three to four on a bed due to overcrowding.
Earlier Friday, Israel closed its border with the Gaza Strip to all traffic in what officials say is response to cross-border rocket fire, preventing even UN humanitarian supplies from getting in. The decision came after Israel vowed to broaden its military campaign against Gaza militants who have fired more than 110 home made rockets at southern Israel in the last three days resulting in the injury of two Israelis.
In contrast, 19 Palestinians were killed in one day last Wednesday during another Israeli attack, this one targeting the eastern part of Gaza City.
These are the latest attacks, but not the only: Since the visit of US president and ‘peacemaker’, George W. Bush, within only 74 hours, Israel has killed 37 people and injured more than 90. Those numbers, which could again go up at any minute, were confirmed by Khaled Radi, the Ministry of Health spokesman in Gaza. Radi also said that Israel is using internationally illegal weapons, which makes it impossible for people to identify the bodies of their relatives as they have been destroyed to unrecognizable ends.
Among the tens killed were a 13 year-old boy and his father and uncle, killed in what Israel claims was “a mistake”. Another Israeli attack killed a mother, Maryam Al Rahel, and her son, Mohammed, who were on a donkey cart when an Israeli warplane bombed them. Their bodies, like so many others, were rendered into small pieces of flesh, scattered everywhere!
An Even Blacker Night!
I and some journalist colleagues went to offer condolences to a journalist friend of ours for the death of his cousin as a result of medicine shortages on Wednesday. While on the way, there was a lot of shooting going on, from funerals and demonstrations. Later, as we were starting to drive off from our parking spot, Mohammed, another journalist, suggested waiting for a moment. But as others preferred to not wait around, we eventually left.
After we had gone just a few minutes down the road, we learned that the place where our car had been parked had just been bombed, targeting and killing two Palestinians, injuring another three. “It could have been us who were killed,” one of the journalists said to me. I answered: “Thanks to God, it wasn’t. But this is so sad; it must be terrible for their families, with children left behind and no one now to support them.”
Update on Killings
As predicted, the death toll has risen since I began this report: Another two have been killed in northern Gaza, and another 4 badly injured. Israeli Ministry spokesman, Shlomo Dror says that: “It’s unacceptable that people in Sderot are living in fear every day and people in the Gaza Strip are living life as usual.”
And I wonder, what exactly does he consider “life as usual”? For if he means it is normal that over 35 civilians should be killed in 4 days, an entire population should be on the verge of starvation and should be forced to shiver through winter nights without electricity or sufficient blankets, that hospitals and medical centers should be forced to shut down or operate at sub-par capability and without needed medicine, food, blankets, and even space, the list goes on … well then yes, we are living life as usual.
From Ma’an News
DEATH AND DARKNESS IN GAZA, PEOPLE ARE DYING, HELP US!
A humanitarian crisis is underway as the Gaza Strip’s only
power plant began to shut down on Sunday, and the tiny
coastal territory entered its third full day without
shipments of vital food and fuel supplies due to Israel’s
The Gaza Strip’s power plant has completely shut down on
Sunday because it no longer has the fuel needed to keep
running. One of the plant’s two electricity-generating
turbines had already shut down by noon.
This will drastically reduce output to 25 or 30 megawatts,
down from the 65 megawatts the plant produces under normal
conditions. By Sunday evening the plant will shut down
completely, leaving large swaths of the Gaza Strip in
Omar Kittaneh, the head of the Palestine Energy Authority in
Ramallah, confirmed that by tonight, the one remaining
operating turbine will be powered down, and the Gaza power
plant will no longer be generating any electricity at all.
“We have asked the Israeli government to reverse its
decision and to supply fuel to operate the power plant”,
Dr. Kittaneh said. “We have talked to the Israeli
humanitarian coordination in their Ministry of Energy
[National Infrastructure]. We say this is totally Israel’s
responsibility, and that reducing the fuel supplies until
the plant had to shut down will affect not only the
electrical system but the water supply, and the entire
infrastructure in Gaza – everything.”
After months of increasingly harsh sanctions, Israel imposed
a total closure on the Strip’s border crossings, even
preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Israeli
government says the closure is punishment for an ongoing
barrage of Palestinian homemade projectiles fired from the
180 fuel stations have shut down after Gaza residents to buy
gas for cooking.
A Palestinian economist Hasan Abu Ramadan said the current
humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip will be deepened by
the blockade on fuel and food supplies. He warned that Gaza
Strip could go from a situation of deep poverty to all out
famine, disease, and malnutrition.
Abu Ramadan said that more than 80% of the Strip’s 1.5
million residents have been surviving with the help of food
aid from international organizations such as UNRWA for
Most international actors in the region believe there
already is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the UN’s
Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Undersecretary-general for
humanitarian affairs John Holmes, who said at a press
conference at UNHQ in New York on Friday that “This kind of
action against the people in Gaza cannot be justified, even
by those rocket attacks”.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed particular
concern, in a statement issued later on Friday through his
spokesperson, about the “decision by Israel to close the
crossing points in between Gaza and Israel used for the
delivery of humanitarian assistance. Such action cuts off
the population from much-needed fuel supplies used to pump
water and generate electricity to homes and hospitals”.
The UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the
situation of human rights in the occupied territories, John
Dugard, also issued a much sharper statement on Friday,
saying that Israel must have foreseen the loss of life and
injury to many nearby civilians when it targeted the
Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City.
This, and the killings of other Palestinians during the
week, plus the closures, “raise very serious questions about
Israel’s respect for international law and its Commitment to
the peace process”, Dugard said. He said it violates the
strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the
Fourth Geneva Convention, and one of the basic principles of
international humanitarian law: that military action must
distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.
Maan News Agency