Month: December 2008


8:33 am Wednesday:

6 more blasts from the Israeli naval ships, in 2 sets.

No power, nor internet last night, no way to keep updating.  I didn’t go to Jabaliya, to my terrified friends, because it was too late, impossible to travel there without being a target.  They live on the eastern side of Jabaliya, and the roads which lead to their home are within an even more targeted area than other parts of Jabaliya, especially Salah al Din street, a main north-south road.

At 7 am, the blasts renewed, 8 blasts in sets of 2.  Ten minutes later, 3 blasts.

I learn that the Council of Ministers, hosting the Prime Minister’s Office, was targeted last night, at 8:50 pm, along with the Ministry of Interior in Tel al Hawa, which was targeted for the 3rd time. Both were completely destroyed. The port, across from where I tried to sleep, was targeted, the Port Authority building destroyed and the dock repeatedly shelled, the impact of the shells some of the closest and most deafening I’ve felt yet, rivaling the shelling 30 m from my friends home in Jabaliya which we experienced three nights ago. The target: an olive orchard in the back yard of a fence-in neighbour’s house.

10:20 am, 6 more blasts, sets of 2, direction of the port

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The Whole Building Shook, Like an Earthquake: Dr. Haidar Eid describes attacks on Ministry buildings 500m away from his home

Interview with Dr. Haidar Eid
Diaries, Electronic Intifada   By Eva Bartlett
*testimony taken 30 December, 5 pm

Dr. Haidar Eid is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine.
*bombed Ministry Compound

“I was lying in my bedroom when the first strike happened, around 1:30 am. You know a strike isn’t just one explosion, it’s a series of explosions. Boom, boom, boom, boom. The whole building shook. I woke up and went to the bathroom first, and within 30 seconds the second strike hit. F-16s were bombing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, about 500m away. I could hear glass shattering everywhere. I went back into the bedroom and saw glass everywhere, all over the bed which is right up against the window. If I had been lying there still, it would have shattered all over me, would have seriously injured me, or worse, I don’t know. It was a very strong blast, and the glass must have hit the bed with great force.

I brought a mattress into the living room, which faces the sea, and lay down trying to sleep there. Moments later, I heard a huge explosion, the third strike, this time from an area closer to the sea. The front, sea-facing window exploded into the room, landing on the desk and the floor, thankfully too far from where I was lying.

I tried to call a friend who lives two buildings away from the Ministries. He’s got five children, ages 5 to 15. He said they were okay, but the children were terrified, screaming. post continues

wreckage trail from Jabaliya to Gaza

*bombed truck, with shelled house behind, Jabaliya

2:20 pm, Tuesday, Shifa hospital, waiting for 1st aid training (decided that having some basic first aid skills could be helpful). An explosion nearby, not far from the hospital. An Apache was flying over, and now a drone buzzes loudly as it surveys the streets (the damage?). Dr. Khaled tells us that last night the Shifa hospital director received a bomb threat. “Some one called, saying he was an Israeli army officer, and told us we had to evacuate Shifa hospital immediately as it would be targeted.” With over 600 patients in Shifa, this was more than impractical, let alone unethical.  The director refused, Shifa wasn’t bombed.  But threats like this are made by phone calls, some followed by later bombing [like that of the home next to Jaber Wishah, among others], some just pyschological terror.

Later: Dr. Khaled Hadoura has just taken us through the basics of CPR, tying a tourniquet and inserting a cannula (I.V. used for drips or blood transfusions).

Tuesday, 10:30 am

I’ve just returned from Jabaliya, in Gaza’s north, where I and another woman, Sharon from Australia, spent the night again with our friends. They, the wives, sisters and relatives of my two male friends, spend their days and nights without their husbands and brothers, afraid, hiding in their basement where they’ve been since Saturday. Their basement is by no means a bomb shelter, simply the ground level floor of the house and with the smallest windows, so when the windows shatter from the bombing, there is a bit less chance they will be injured by glass. But if a bomb hits their house, they’re dead. The house is like most, not made of re-enforced cement, crumbling easily under bulldozer blades or missile impacts.
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dangerous nights in Jabaliya and throughout Gaza

“Last night was very dangerous. Everybody on the street after dark dies. We were afraid for you,” Fatema explained to me, as Sharon and I arrive just after 6 pm on Monday night to her Jabaliya home, in northern Gaza. It’s already dark outside, and getting here any later would have been suicidal.

*Fatema’s baby, H.

We’d wanted to come back to them on Sunday night, but it was after 8pm, and H. insisted we not dare to come. “No one goes out on the streets after dark in this area,” he insisted. “No cars, no people. The Israeli drones, Apaches or F-16s will target you.” We didn’t go, knowing he knows best. Instead, we stayed at a Jabaliya hospital, talking with the doctors who were on call for an emergency. That hospital, Al Awda, doesn’t normally receive emergency patients. But nothing is normal here.

That night, Sunday, there were numerous explosions in and around Jabaliya, throughout the north, in Gaza city and the environs just outside Gaza. Everywhere. post continues

Collective Punishment

1:11 pm, 29 December

Israel continues with a campaign of targeting mosques, places of worship, which are embedded in towns and densely-packed camps, in addition to strikes on other civilian infrastructure. The al-Burno Mosque [photos] across from Shifa hospital was bombed late on the 1st night, completely leveling it. Three were targeted in Jabaliya camp, not far from the hospital where I and other internationals were staying to monitor the situation. Another 2 mosques in Gaza’s southeastern Khan Younis city were targeted.

Emad Akal mosque

The first mosque, Emad Akal mosque, was leveled, killing 5 young girls, ages 4, 8, 12, 14, 17, and endangering the lives of a 1-week old baby, a 1.5 year old child, and countless other civilians living and sleeping in their homes next to the mosque when the F-16’s missile struck it, causing the walls and rooves of neighbouring homes and buildings to crumble, burying and pummeling people inside. post continues

Shifa ICU: a glimpse of hospital critical injuries

Dr Khaled from Shifa hospital ICU told me today around 10 that the majority of cases in the ICU are critical, with an approx 80% who will not survive.  The normally 12-bed ICU was caring for twice as many as normally capable, extra beds and extra rooms made to care for ICU patients. At that time, the 24 beds in the ICU were the 4th shift of critically injured, the former 3 having died from their injuries.

There is a critical need for more ICU beds, as well as mechanical ventilators

the majority of injuries were “multi-explosive injuries” with a concentration of head injuries (“head trauma”) resulting from the explosions, from shrapnel in the brain. Other injuries included abdominal injuries resulting in internal bleeding, from shrapnel in the abdomen.  The majority of head injuries were not expected to survive, and those who do are expected to have brain damage, some full paralysis (quadroplegea).  Because of the shortage of spaces and equipment, the ICU has had to turn patients away, others waiting in the reception until a patient dies and his space can be used.

among the critically wounded were a number of children and minors:

a six year old down’s syndrom with brain trauma

an 11 year old with brain trauma, not likely to survive

a 13 year old with a head injury (“brain matter out”)

a 21 year old, leg amputated, various shrapnel injuries over body and face, loss of hearing in one ear

a 21 year old, braindead, “hopeless” case

a man in his fifties, neither police nor resistance

a man in his forties, on the beach when struck, head trauma (“brain matter out”)

a man in his fifties, head trauma

a 53 year old, shrapnel in the brain, no surgery possible

many other men in their 20s and 30s, head injuries (shrapnel in brain), and abdominal injuries, some policemen.

*deceased, quickly replaced by newly arrived & waiting critical cases
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widespread attacks on Gaza leave nearly 300 dead, hundreds seriously injured

**above: destroyed police station, Omar Mukthar street

[Dec 28: 12:00 pm Gaza time] 285 have been killed and over 750 wounded in attacks beginning Saturday (Dec 27) morning after 11 am, in which over 100 bombs were dropped by 80 helicopters and Israeli warplanes, according to the Union of Medical Health Workers. Hospitals are overflowing with the wounded, and seriously incapable of dealing with all of the injured.

Among the civilians killed, the mother of my good friends in Jabaliya. post continues

christmas in Gaza


Christmas was sad, bleak, here, not for me on a personal level, but for fatigued Palestinian Christians denied every joy of celebrations because of the siege and the Israeli military occupation of Gaza. At Gaza’s Catholic church, the priest, Father Manuel Musallam, led a sad congregation in a Christmas Eve service which barely feigned joy. An attractive false Christmas tree, a manger scene, and a table dressed in white linen and adorned with seasonal red and greens didn’t manage to add cheer to the celebrants.Most couldn’t even watch the Bethlehem celebrations on tv because of power cuts or poverty. What do they have to celebrate? It wasn’t the absence of incense, nor certainly the lack of commercialism and shops selling trinkets, that left Christmas gasping and Christians grim in Gaza.

It was the siege.

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More missile strikes, more victims

published: The Electronic Intifada, 22 December 2008   By Eva Bartlett

Journalist and student Moh’min Krekay lies in his hospital bed in Gaza City after losing both of his legs in an Israeli air strike.

The young man pictured above, originally said to be Hamzi Shaheen, (a miscommunication by doctors), is actually Moh’min Krekay. Hamzi Shaheen received similar injuries resulting in the amputation of his legs, like Moh’min. Shaheen passed away on December 26, after complications resulting from his injuries.]

Salah Oukal, 46 years old, had gone outside to collect herbs for dinner, harvesting in the dark as the power was out again. It was just before 9pm and he was watering the trees next to his home in Jabaliya, when the missile struck, killing him instantly. A second missile followed immediately but did not explode. Oukal’s family spent the next hour searching without success for the father of seven and the family’s sole provider. Only with the headlights of an ambulance was Oukal’s dismembered body finally retrieved.

The ground-to-ground missile fired from the Israeli side of Gaza’s eastern border injured an additional three residents, including Oukal’s son Ahmed, seven years old, who suffered rocket shrapnel wounds to his hand and head. Israeli authorities claimed that the missile was a response to rockets being fired from the area. However, Oukal’s family and neighbors report all had been quiet.

“He wasn’t one of the resistance fighters,” his teenage daughter explained. “And there weren’t any rockets being fired before he was hit. It was quiet, and the shelling was sudden,” she said. post continues

No Falafels


[falafel maker, Tel village, occupied West Bank, Dec 2007]

“You’ll find the best falafels in Gaza, behind al Shifa hospital,” a knowing friend advised me.

She’d been right about the sunsets, which she said were the most beautiful, an intense, burning sun that slips quickly into the sea.

As for the falafels, my expert friend was spot on again. The stand behind Shifa serves passersby, local workers, people in transit at the taxi stand down the block, taxi drivers, and those in the know of the falafel hot-spot. And now, with gas shortages Strip-wide, the stand is haunted by those who cannot find falafels in their local stands –many restaurants economizing on cooking gas and leaving falafel off the menu –and those who cannot cook at home.

“I haven’t had cooking gas for 10 days now,” Abu Amer said over a round of tea heated during the brief hours of electricity. “We can’t cook at home, we order out all the time. My kids are asking for our usual food –cooked vegetables, rice, soups… not to mention meat.”

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