Deaths also happened naturally during the recent Israeli attacks, as did illnesses. For the ill, most over-crowded hospitals, functioning in emergency mode, had no room for mundane everyday illnesses (however serious they would normally be considered). One of Emad’s uncle’s passed away by natural causes during the attacks. Holding the three days of mourning most families abide by becomes difficult under the bombs, particularly when the Zionist army is noted for bombing mourning tents (including in the week prior to the officially-declared Zionist attacks (Israel bombs mourning tent, Nov 10)
Walking on a Gaza backstreet parallel to the main east-west street, Omar Mukthar, I see over a low wall splatters of mud across the side of tall building. It takes me a minute to understand how the mud got sprayed there. Stepping through a space in the wall, I see the crater whose dirt was spewed onto the wall when a presumably F-16 bomb was dropped.
The space seems to be uncultivated land, save the palm and olive trees here and there. The “mini” crater whose dirt decorates the wall is roughly 8 m diameter and as deep. Across the plot, a larger crater roughly 15 m by 15 m draws passersby from Omar Mukthar street.
*part of a missile which targeted the Sharook media building
**the office of Aqsa TV, a local Gaza channel which focuses mainly on delivering satellite sports channels to Palestinians who would otherwise not be able to watch them.
At least three Palestinian journalists were killed in the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, and at least 12 reported injured. Visiting two of the main media buildings targeted by Israeli attacks during the last Israeli assault on Gaza, the level of damage highlights the clear intent of the Israeli army in targeting media offices, antennae, and journalists. The Sharook building suffered damage on its upper floors from a number of bombings including drone and possibly Apache helicopter missiles. The building housing Aqsa TV and various other media offices likewise suffered major damage on its upper floors.
One young media worker tells me of his near-death experience: after the first couple of bombs rained down on the building, a third one struck the roof just metres from where he stood, praying out loud in the face of the missile. Somehow, it didn’t explode.
The highlight of the day is seeing Saleh again. During the 2008-2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, Saleh kept media workers (Palestinian and international alike) fed, coffeed, tead, and just generally kept everyone’s spirits up in the hardest of times. Employed by Ramattan News to work in the kitchen, Saleh lost his work when Ramattan closed down later in 2009. I am very happy to see him employed again, in a Strip where unemployment is so high.
From the roof of the Sharook building, I saw the flattened Abu Khadara ministry complex, the re-flattened Saraya complex, and the bombed stadium. Since the stadium was within walking distance, I went to see. A few months earlier, I’d met some of the paraolympians and would-be olympians who use the stadium, one of very few resources in Gaza for atheletes in general, para-athletes in particular. Perhaps the Israeli war-machine didn’t like the relative success of two of Gaza’s paralympians? Or perhaps the bombing of a place of entertainment for Gaza youths and adults alike was just another Zionist act of spite.
A trip to Beit Hanoun to join a demo on international day of solidarity with Palestine results in unintended explorations. The intended demo, against the continued Israeli policy of shooting Palestinians on their land anywhere near border, despite the “cease-fire”, is called off the government, possibly because of the UN bid for Palestine today, possibly out of worry of more injured and killed following the spate of Israeli army shootings of Palestinians.
I go instead to the Beit Hanoun hospital, meet the director, learn about Israeli shelling of hospital during last attacks, which include two tank shells fired at the hospital, also not exploding. The damage, he says, would have been severe had the shells gone off.
Since two recent border shootings occurred in Beit Hanoun, I go inside the hospital to visit a young man shot in abdomen yesterday, just shy of his heart. Thankfully “only” a flesh wound, he will recover and live. But this is beside the point: he was on Palestinian land, visibly no threat to the well-equipped Israeli army with all of their war toys, when the Israeli soldier in his concrete military occupation tower began shooting without warning, without shooting in air. Shot directly at farmers.
On the ride back to Gaza, a lively conversation ensues as Beit Hanounites discuss the upcoming bid at the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state. Some are for, some are against. Even those for it realize it will mean nothing in the end, as Palestine is still suffering under occupation, whether recognized as a state or not. A woman sitting in front of the 5 seat car dominates the conversation with her own political views. All in all, as loud and energized as the conversation is, it is light-hearted, the rapid dialect of Beit Hanoun Palestinians, along with the unending grins and joking, typical Palestinian humour in the face of… occupation.