Israeli authorities benevolently announced that today, January 2nd, the 7th day of Israel’s air attacks throughout Gaza, internationals would be permitted to leave through the Erez crossing.
As I write, the radio reports the latest attack: a drone rocket targets an area near Al Quds Open university in Khan Younis, killing 3 young girls from the same family, al Astal, between the ages 10-13, I’m told.
I write from the Al Shifa hospital ICU staff room, where I’ve just seen another recently-dead patient, 13 years old. “He died as a result of his different injuries: internal bleeding,and the most important injury, brain trauma, brain matter out,” Dr. Rami tells me. “He arrested, we administered CPR for 30 minutes and no response.”
The next bed contains a woman in her thirties, unconscious, injured in the 1st day of attacks as she went to her work.
Another bed holds a youth, Mohammed,15, injured yesterday afternoon in the bombing of al Farooq mosque and the house of a nearby politician, Abu Narr. “The boy was returning to his house. The injury was to his head: head trauma, massive injury, shrapnel in the foot, in the back. The most dangerous injury is in the head. The patient is unconscious now, under sedation, connected to the ventilator. His case is too critical, too critical.”
“Now another child died, in the operation room,” a nurse tells me. Mohammed Abu Aju, 13 years old, explosive wounds, in Shejaiee. “He was in the street, ” I’m told. “He was hit around 1 pm. He had head trauma, amputation of the lower limbs, shrapnel wounds all over –more than 100,” he tells me.
We discuss the unfathomable situation here, how incredible it is that it’s gone this far, that it began at all.
“My brother is a policeman, not hamas, not fatah, just a policeman. He worked as a policeman before Hamas came to power, and he continued. Thankfully, he wasn’t near any of the many targeted police stations on Saturday, he is alive,” one of the ICU nurses tells me.
Approximately 435 internationals are said to have left, from what journalists have told me, but I have no intention of doing so, we have no intention of doing so.
Here are some reasons why we stay:
Israel not only controls who is unable to leave Gaza, but who is unable to enter Gaza. Since November 4, Israel has banned foreign journalists from entering Gaza, making a minor exception for a few days in early December. At present, with the over 420 dead, over 2,100 injured and the many civilian homes and buildings destroyed, there is an urgent need for foreign journalists.
I’ve seen the demolished houses, mosques, universities, water lines. I’ve seen the newly-homeless, asking where they will live now that their home is rubble, now that the winter cold combines with rain, now that there are continually drones, helicopters and F-16s overhead.
I’ve heard the accounts of recently-killed: the 5 girls living next to a targeted Jabaliya mosque; the 2 boys collecting wood; the 55 year old mother of my friends; the 9 and 12 year old girls who stopped in a grocery store after school and were killed by the missile which targeted the police station across the street [“One girl had shrapnel injuries all over her, it took a long time for her to die from her internal injuries,” the ICU doctor tells me. The other, he says, “lost half of her head and a shoulder” in the blast (at just after 11 am, the time when many civilians are on the streets)], and the 50 year old father of a patient in the nearby hospital, also killed; the family attempting to work collecting scrap metal, even despite the siege, despite the air invasion, blown to piece and burned.
I’ve felt the terrifying impact of missiles landing 30 metres from a thin-walled ground-floor room hearing the screams of terrorized families trapped in their homes, 50 metres from a thin-walled apartment room, 100 metres from hospital buildings windows already shattered. I’ve been rocked awake night after night, if I’ve fallen asleep, by missiles outside of whatever building in whatever region I stay: Gaza City, Jabaliya, beside the port… I avoid the coastal road where Israeli naval boats continue to fire upon Gaza, but I walk under buzzing drones every day and night, under the warplanes, leaving one truly feeling like a target, no matter where we are.
I’ve heard time and time and time again, “They call us the terrorists, yet it’s our kids, our wives, our mothers, our brothers dying. What can we do? This is our life,” from Palestinians, even before the attacks, when it was Israel’s siege on Gaza that was the most urgent factor. Now that urgency is amplified beyond imagination by the on-going attacks.
1.5 million Palestinians throughout the Gaza Strip are unable to run from, escape from, these illegal attacks. My life, internationals lives, are no more important than Palestinians’ lives. We will stay on during their suffering, in solidarity and to document the illegal acts Israel is doing, the war crimes Israel clearly does not want the world to see, to understand, and is preventing journalists from reporting. To see, to understand, means to stop Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, its contravention of international humanitarian law and international law.
[facts below according to the latest stats journalists are publishing. Again, bearing in mind that the attacks CONTINUE and the dead and injured are still being brought in from new attacks, absolute numbers are presently impossible. Certainly the numbers may be higher]
*428 dead from Israel’s indiscriminate missile attacks throughout the Gaza Strip
*2100 injured, many of these critically-so, standing death, lasting brain damage, lasting internal problems, amputations
Of the dead and injured, significant numbers of civilians: children, women, elderly, and innocent men who have been targeted.
*2 emergency medical personel targeted, killed; 15 further injured
* at least 8 mosques targeted, destroyed
*a park in Rafah targeted, killing two civilians (22 and 33 years old) and injuring 10s
* 3 different universities targeted, including Islamic University, repeatedly targeted.
* schools targeted, including a secondary school
* UN schools suffering damage from targeting near the schools
*a kindergarten targeted
*charitable societies, providing life-skills training, targeted