panicked residents unable to flee

dsc02148Back in Gaza city with a ride from the ambulance, after a night at the Jabaliya Palestinian Red Crescent Socitety (PRCS) station, in eastern Jabaliya, 1 km from the border, where we rode with the ambulances and endured a night of shelling, without armour, without safety, as did the population of northern Gaza.

From the news office in central Gaza, I cannot believe the sounds of bombing, though they are targeting the area from which I’ve just come, as they did throughout the night. From here it sounds like…like a massive sledgehammer smashing this land, smashing to pieces. The louder thuds rattle this building, as if being hit by a battering ram, though it is just the impact of the shockwaves from some kilometers away. Try to imagine how it is to actually be hundreds of metres from those blasts.

The hits are seconds apart, relentless. Somehow the drone’s buzz manages to be louder, its high pitch advertising that everything is still being surveyed, everything will still be bombed.

The 9th floor affords a view of tunnels of smoke everywhere, thick, dark, noxious, and concentrated especially in the Jabaliya region and further north and west, in Beit Lahia.

I smelt this smoke throughout the night, the sky illuminated with explosions and Israeli flares. At one point, in the lightless PRCS bathroom, I looked out the window. Here, without voices to distract, it was the night and I: the bombing hundreds of metres away, the senseless killing. I lost my faith in humanity again.

The medics, and the ordinary Palestinians who endure an on-going Nakba, occupation, invasions, imprisonment, and starvation rations are what brings me back to life, gives me hope, though their own situation is utterly hopeless.

Starting around 3 pm, with Israeli tanks amassed along Gaza’s border, the medics report that already then they couldn’t reach the injured in many places. Before the Ibrahim al-Makadma Mosque near Beit Lahia was hit, killing 16 and seriously wounding 50, 25 in critical condition, the warplanes struck a large, cement water tank atop the hillside overlooking the Dawwar Zimmo area of eastern Jabaliya.

What strikes me more now, more than the dismembered and burned corpses I saw two nights ago, more than the intensity of the missiles hitting all around us last night and the feeling that at any moment… was the panic on residents faces. Panic fleeing, panic trying to flag an ambulance for the wounded, the dead, panic even in the ambulance drivers and teams.They’ve seen a lot, many have done this work for a decade or more, but this is far, far worse than any have seen, or imagined, they tell me. In the morning light, as our ambulance tries to reach another wounded, I see new streams of women, children and men, carrying some few possessions.T

nakba1

nakba5

nakba3Heading to the hospital with an injured man, our ambulance meets another going in the opposite direction.“Walla, montica khateera!” our driver says, leaning out the window [“really, its really dangerous there”]

I work on different updates, I forget where I am and am rudely drawn back by renewed thuds. I hadn’t noticed their lapse.Was it 5 minutes? 10? 2? Whatever, they’re renewed, and are they louder than ever?

How any earth is left, let alone people, I do not know.

The urgency to report this slaughter, overcomes any need for sleep (two nights without) or warmth (windows blown out in the office I work in).

I think of the ambulance drivers and medics, with their fantastic personalities, humour, courage, and know that somewhere they are working amidst this.  I think also of the children i photographed in that area yesterday.

medics1childrenLast night, on one of the mad scrambles in the ambulance, we rushed, then inched, towards an injured person.  In the northwest, in an area Israeli tanks were shelling particularly hard, the ambulance was wary.  They’d already had missiles launched at them on a previous run in the area.  This is the region where so many phone calls were coming from, so many desperate people, trying to get out.

The driver turns up a dirt road, blares the horn, blares it more: a warning, ambulance coming, and a call, where are the bodies, the injured? Locals, including children around 10 years old, wave us on, give directions on how to avoid the army’s shelling.  As we crawl further up the track, the driver gets agitated, though he is competent and experienced.  Further on and no injured, no people, we turn back.

A man looking more panicked than I could imagine ran at the ambulance, waving at the hill to his left.  “They’re up there, three dead,” he tells the driver.  “There’re soldiers up there also.”  There is no way to retrieve the bodies, and the man has to return to his heavily-shelled neighbourhood.

Alberto points to a school 20 metres down the road.  “There’s a massive hole in the side of it; direct hit,” he says.  He’d been in an ambulance earlier which had retrieved two injured young men, family members,  who’d been delivered by cart and donkey.  “I tried to help.  The medics picked up one guy, and another medic started to pick up the second.  I tried to grasp his shoulders, to help.  My hand went inside him.”  The medics explained the man’s shoulder was torn open.  Alberto adds: “I could see his chest open, from the neck to his ribcage.  I could see his lung.  And two ribs.  His right arm had completley fallen off.” The dead was 25 years old.  The other, unknown age, “had an eye out” and severe head injuries.

As daybreak came, the smoke from the missiles continued to hang in a thick, thick haze.  The drones still loud, tanks still shooting, Apaches still chopping above.  And what seemed like the loudest F-16 bomb, I don’t know how it got louder than the previous blasts.

The dispatcher announces more casualties who cannot be reached, again in the northwestern area, beyond that blasted school, where a man with a gunshot in the leg, and another with an amputated leg, wait for some sort of aid.

Back in the Gaza city media office, I’m updated: 473 dead.  No, wait, 20 more from a new strike in the north, 5 more from a strike on a shopping area in Gaza city.  Over 2300 injured.

Osama, an EMT, calls to see where I am. We worked together two nights ago. I’d thought I wouldn’t be there last night, was going to write instead. But the urgency prevailed and we went out. Osama asks where I am and I tell him, I’m writing, I have to tell people, they need to hear this, see this. If only you could hear this, smell this, feel the vibrations, taste the terror.

dsc02144UPDATE: 25 new dead: bombing in northern Gaza kills 20, firing from tanks into a residential area, landing on houses and in the streets; another 5 dead after a stike on a central square in Gaza city, 2 tank shells onto a shopping area.

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31 comments

  1. keep up the great work, my heart goes out to you and everyone who is in gaza now, i cant imagine what everyone is going through right now but keep strong, many many people are with you you in spirit around the world.

    in solidarity

    bob

  2. We are so disappointed in humanity… Politicians destroy our World. We say a pray for you all.

  3. Thousands demonstrated against these crimes on the streets of Toronto yesterday. If more people read your blog or knew the true nature of the destruction in Gaza it would have been hundreds of thousands more.
    We will keep writing and begging our politicians and media to act with human compassion.

  4. thank you for trying to get word out, and thank you for helping there. May you stay safe. your words are being widely passed around here in the US where it is so difficult to get info on what is truly happening.

  5. just a quick word to let you know that people around the world are outraged by what is going on. My heart is with you

    Hamdu l’Allah x

  6. Thank you for these eyewitness accounts. Words cannot express my rage against the innumerable forces that continue to allow – no, worse, encourage – this slaughter to continue.

  7. Best text from inside Gaza that I’ve read the last days. Keep up the good work!!

    Gustav, Sweden

  8. We have not forgotten you. We have been out on the streets every day since the bombing began and have been getting some media attention. A lot of people have joined the protests and we managed to tie up downtown traffic during rush hour on the 28th.- we are sounding the alarm and won’t let San Francisco citizens go about daily life without knowing what is happening. We are taking it to our congress people and standing in front of the Israeli consulate condemning their criminal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Our voices were loud enough to be heard by the Israeli Consul General in his office high up in the sky scraper. Please let let your friends know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. Notre coeur est blessé. Nous sommes avec vous, de Paris.
    Solidarité! Courage! Espoir! Vie! Vie et sécurité aux enfants Palestiniens.
    Cette guerre, cette attaque barbare qui vous cause tant de souffrances, sera un échec politique pour Israël. Elle ne leur apportera pas la sécurité. C’est la Paix qui apportera la sécurité!

    Our heart is wounded. We are with you, of Paris.
    Solidarity! Courage! Hope! Life! Life and security with the children Palestinians.
    This war, this barbarian attack which causes you so many sufferings, will be a political failure for Israel. It will not bring the security to them. In fact the Peace will bring the security!

  10. As Amber, I will tell you that “We have not forgotten you”. Also, in France, there are demonstrations for the people of Gaza. We are with you and I hope this bloody bath will stop as soon as possible.
    Hope to read you tomorrow…

  11. merci pour ce travail exemplaire Dites aux palestiniens qu’avec eux nous crions résistance et que nous faisons tout ce que nous pouvons pour obliger la communauté internationale à réagir

  12. I’am here in france very terrified by the pictures of palestinian children’s killed by Israel.

    We must stop this holocaust.

    I pray for all palestinians.

    Laurent, Paris

  13. Hi, all my best wishes are sent to you and all the people of Gaza strip.
    Here is my last editorial I have writen in french for my weekly sold by homeless people in France…
    I am so sad!…
    ————————–
    Les vœux d’Israël
    Il est facile de “cogner” sur Israël. Mais ce n’est pas parce que c’est “facile”, qu’il ne faut pas se poser des questions. L’Etat juif, puisqu’il faut bien l’appeler comme cela, alors qu’il n’a de “juif” ni la morale ni le cœur, a terminé 2008 et commencé 2009 en nous offrant ce qu’il sait à présent le mieux faire, des massacres. Oh… je sais. Il s’agit de légitime défense. Des villes proches de Gaza, comme Sderot, le port d’Ashkelon, les kibboutz d’Eshkol et d’Hermesh, reçoivent régulièrement des missiles meurtriers. Ce sont les terroristes du Hamas qui les envoient. Ces fusées kassam tuent des innocents, des enfants, des femmes… Et nous en général, moi en particulier, dans le douillet confort de mon deux-pièces-hlm-cuisine, je n’ai aucune idée de ce que peut représenter vivre sous la menace d’une explosion venue du ciel. Je n’ai pas non plus la moindre idée de ce que peut représenter le bruit d’un hélicoptères d’assaut, armé de canons de 20 millimètres, ni du fracas d’un missile tirés par un F-16. Ces hélicoptères et ces avions qui tuent des innocents, des enfants, des femmes…
    Ce que je sais, c’est compter. Primitivement. additionner. De l’arithmétique é-lé-men-taire. Un missile kassam, tue. Oui. Mais pas “beaucoup”. Et “mal”. C’est une arme de pauvre, imprécise. 40 kilomètres de rayon d’action au maximum. Les terroristes artisans qui les fabriquent, les font de bric et de broc. C’est une arme de désespérance. Une arme qui tue, oui, lors de sa chute, dans un rayon de 25 mètres. Pas mieux. Pas pire. Que dire d’un missile à 50000 dollars, payés avec de l’argent prêté ou donné par l’Amérique ? Un missile perfectionné, plein d’astuces létales, qui tue, et bien, fort bien, même.
    Que dire des dizaines de morts juives, victime des terrroristes du Hamas… Rien, sinon se taire en baissant les yeux devant l’immonde bêtise du monde. Que dire des centaine de morts palestinienne, en une semaine, victime des pilotes et autres soldats juifs ? Beaucoup, et hurler. L’Etat juif et son armée se comportent comme des sauvages. Il n’y a aucune comparaison entre la guéguerre imbécile et désespérée du Hamas et la guerre totale que mènent les soldats juifs.
    Même les premiers intéressés, certains Juifs de Sderot, la première ville bombardée ne sont pas d’accord. Une pétition signée par des centaines de personnes de bonne volonté de cette ville et de ses alentours, réclame le retour du statut quo, le retour de la paix, missiles kassam compris. Arik Yalin, 43 ans, habitant de Sderot, a déclaré que plus de 1800 Israéliens et Palestiniens avaient déjà signé cette pétition : « Il y a environ un mois, nous nous sommes rendu compte que la situation allait se détériorer et mener à un chaos total. Il est important pour nous de faire entendre une opinion qui représente de nombreux habitants qui se trouvent à portée de feu, mais qui croient que nous pouvons et devons essayer de résoudre ce conflit d’une manière pacifique. Pendant 8 ans, nous avons vécu l’expérience très dure que constitue la vie sous le feu des roquettes. Nous avons été gravement atteints, physiquement et mentalement. Notre besoin de faire entendre une voix différente découle de notre ardent désir de modifier la situation et d’entamer des négociations avec l’autre côté afin d’arrêter les violences. » D’après Arik Yalin, l’opération militaire ne fera qu’augmenter la haine des deux côtés et diminuer les chances de parvenir à un accord. « Nous supposons qu’au bout du compte, il y aura un accord, d’une manière ou d’une autre. La seule question est : combien d’innocents vont se faire tuer en attendant. » Ce groupe, Une Voix Différente, formé par Arik Yalin et ses amis, souhaite promouvoir le dialogue entre Israël et les responsables du Hamas à Gaza. Plusieurs dizaines de membres du groupe maintiennent un contact régulier avec des habitants de Gaza.*
    Les psychiatres affirment qu’un enfant battu, devient souvent hélas un adulte violent. L’“enfance” de l’Etat d’Israël, s’est sinistrement déroulée dans la colossale violence des camps nazis. Il ne faut donc peut-être pas s’étonner que les Juifs de Palestine soient si violents, si pleins de haine… Mais quel malheur pour le monde ! Toutes nos valeurs occidentales, à commencer par les Droits de l’Homme, nous ont été donné par les Juifs.
    Des valeurs dont témoignent magnifiquement les habitants de Sderot membres du groupe Une Voix Différentes.
    … Nous ont été donné par les Juifs… à commencer par un Juif, juif entre les Juifs, Jésus de Nazareth.
    Rodolphe Clauteaux n
    *La Paix Maintenant, et Yediot Aharonot, 29 décembre 2008, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3646184,00.html).

  14. Toutes nos prières et notre amour vous accompagnent, courage et compassion; vous n’^etes pas seuls

  15. When I hear the silence of our politics in Europ I wonder what we could do to make them change up their mind ! I cann’t anymore believe in what they call democracy!
    We have to fight in the street of our contries again and again till they say the truth. We are with you each day and I beleive that what happens to you is going to be extended to the rest of the world if we don’t react before what happens to you.
    We think of you

  16. Merci de témoigner de la terrifiante réalité de cette guerre menée au mileu de la population. L’interdiction de Gaza aux journalistes est en soi un aveu et rend votre action infiniment utile.

  17. Je suis femme écrivain, vivant en france. Je milite pour le respect des droits de l’homme.
    Je voudrais vous prendre tous dans mes bras, que vous puissiez y trouver de l’amour. Mais que puisje faire? Je suis désespérée de voir votre pays souffrir autant. Ecrivez moi? Je vous embrasse très fort

  18. Thank you for telling us what really happens. Tell the people in Gaza we are helpless and despaired to see how you’re suffering. You are in all our thoughts in Germany and in France.
    Ich hoffe, der Krieg endet schnell und die Leute kennen Freiheit und Frieden.
    J’espère que ces attaques, cette guerre sera arrêtée, vite, et que paix et liberté vous soient rendues.
    Protect the children as far as possible.

  19. You are very brave for doing what i did not dare do. Thank you very much for your description, what’s happening there is just inacceptable. They are trying to hide it by not allowing reporters in, but thanks to your blog all the world can know. Please check this link, they used your blog to describe what’s happening in Gaza in a very well read French Newspaper –http://www.lemonde.fr/la-guerre-de-gaza/article/2009/01/05/sur-les-blogs-de-gaza-chronique-d-une-vie-en-etat-de-siege_1137851_1137859.html–People pray for you all around the world. This is extremely hard and unfair, but please hang on. Soon these crimes that can only be described as a second holocaust will be over. Allah m3kom!

  20. Shame on Israel leaders and his army for being such barbarian! What will they do now..bring palestinian to ovens and burn them??
    About UN .. what a comedy!
    Im Canadian and christian and im absolutely shocked!
    20 years ago they were throwing stones to israel army..and still they were shooting the kids! Give them Freedom and dignity.. this should bring peace!

  21. It is a shame because some across the Atlantic want to enrich, to kill innocent!
    One day will pay for all the crimes they have done and then I would ask for help
    but all have closed their ears.
    We are with you and we have not forgotten you.
    I pray for all palestinians.

  22. I am from vancouver,canada and yesterday i went to a rally here in vancouver in support of the people in Gaza.I heard Eva speaking from Gaza at the rally.It is good to hear a good revolutionary person speaking about what is going on in Gaza.The truth gets out to thousands of people in the world because of the good work of Eva.Don Davies,NDP member of parliament here in vancouver spoke at the rally.He was like a lot of other politicans who was only putting part of the blame of this massacre on the gov.of Israel.The full blame of this genocide falls on the shoulders of the fascist israeli gov.To blame anyone else is been a traitor to the palestinian people.
    The Cuban gov. is one of the very few govs.in the world that honestly supports the palestinian people.The Cuban gov.made a major effort to help the people in South Africa get rid of the apartheid gov.and Cuba also helped Algeria in their war of independence from France.Cuba is a beacon of hope for oppressed people around the world.Victory to the Palestinian people and long live Revolutionary Cuba.

    Stan Squires

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