Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for January, 2009

Dukes, Squatters, Travellers and Mortgages

Three very different and apparently unrelated housing stories appeared in yesterday’s (22nd Jan) news. The biggest, and most worrying for most people who are feeling vulnerable to the effects of the recession, is the fact that house repossessions are up by 92 per cent in the last year, according to figures from the Financial Services Authority.

repo1

(above)Baliff- Scum Evict Man

The promise of home-ownership for the majority of people, including a large proportion of the working class has been the ruling classes’ most successful ‘divide and rule’ tactic to date. The fact that, for those people who are not all that comfortably off, home-ownership in reality means mortgages which are a struggle to keep up with in the ‘good times’, and impossible to do so in the bad, seems to be irrelevant to the psychology of those who now consider themselves ‘property owners’, but are in fact, in the main, only owners of large debts.

Squatting of course, for many of those struggling to keep up with their mortgage repayments seems unfair: Why should these “freeloaders” get something for nothing ?

Another of today’s housing stories was that a couple of The Duke of Westminster’s properties have been squatted. Of course, the fact that they have been empty for 20 years or so, and the injustice that property distribution is so uneven that one person can own most of the West End of London, will not be included in the undoubtedly splenetic editorials which will accompany the story.

But how did the Duke come to own all this prime real estate, and his resulting £7 billion fortune?

Duke - Trustafarian and heir to padeophile fortune

Duke - Trustafarian and heir to padeophile fortune

Well, the story starts in 1066 when a grateful William the Conqueror grants estates (which now comprise much of the Present Dukes’ estate) in London to Geoffrey de Mandeville, for services rendered. Between then and the late 17th Century it passed through many hands, until Sir Thomas Grosvenor, an ancestor of the current Duke married the heiress Mary Davies in 1677. As London grew it was developed into the fashionable areas of Mayfair and Belgravia. So in a phrase, the current Duke did sweet fuck all  to obtain his property and his fortune. Which must  make him (to use a  favourite “Daily Mail” phrase) the king of all “freeloaders”, not to mention the daddy of all trustafarians.  In fact, you could say that his fortune is based on pedophilia since Mary Davies was only 12 years old when Sir Thomas married her!

Those who have tried to avoid the property trap, generally come in for the most stick, like squatters and even more so – Gypsies and Travellers. Their transitory way of life forms the basis of hundreds of years of unreasoned hatred.

While Roma are currently persecuted in Italy, it is Irish  Travellers  who are often the vocal point of this ceaseless prejudice in the UK.  None more so than the groups of Travellers who live at Dale Farm, Basildon, Essex. Irish Travellers (and Gypsies) traditionally lived outside the property trap, either squatting land, or using land provided by law from Local Authorities.
However, in 1994, through the Criminal Justice Act (the same act that outlawed raves, for those too young to remember) combined with new local authoriy legislation removed the ‘legal’ sites and turned those on squatted site into criminals who could be moved on constantly without need for those pesky courts. Travellers were told they should now buy their own land instead and assurances were made that they would be allowed to settle it, despite suggestions that Travellers find it difficult to secure planning permission approval.

So, this is what they did. However, as most Travellers expected, local authorities were reluctant to give planning permission. The most openly unjust previous decision of this kind was at Woodside Caravan Park, Bedfordshire which not only owned by the people evicted but was previously a Caravan Park. Therefore the refusal of planning permission can only been seen as racist one, as the Commisson for Racial Equality suggested.

Similarly, in Essex today the prohibition not to build on “Green Belt” land has been used against the Dale Farm Travellers. Whilst it is not in dispute that the land is within the  greenbelt, the reality is that the previous use of the site was not a pristine water meadow, but a huge scrap yard, containing hundreds of car bodies. Nobody, it seems, complained during the forty years this was in operation, despite the heavy lorries and noise. Now today’s  High Court Decision, which reverses a previous court decision, means that Basildon Council can evict the families of Dale Farm without having to provide any alternative places for them to go, to applause of many of the locals, not to mention the rabid local Tory MP.

So the Duke and his ilk can sit pretty, comfortable in the knowledge that any resentment and anger resulting from the struggle to keep up with mortgage repayments, will not be be directed at them but on those even further down the ladder of this property-based and obsessed society.

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Support the EDO Prisoners!

Prisoner Addresses at foot of report

Three people (two of whom are from Bristol) were remanded in custody by Brighton Magistrate’s court on Monday as they faced charges in relation to the break in and decommissioning of ITT-EDO MBM late Friday night in protest at the company’s supply of components used by the Israeli military in Gaza.

7 men have so far been charged with Burglary and Criminal Damage and those who entered a plea said they were not guilty. The CPS said they expected to charge another arrested woman as soon as she was released from hospital after being injured during the action.

One man from Brighton who was arrested outside the factory premises and states he had no knowledge of the intentions of the decommissioners was remanded till a committal hearing in the Crown Court next week, another man from Brighton was bailed not to return to the city and given curfew conditions.

In the afternoon two men who had admitted intending to smash up the factory in a video made before the action and posted on the internet were remanded, while three others were bailed not to return to the city with other conditions including not to protest against ITT EDO MBM.

The CPS said the company estimated the cost of material damage at £250,000 before any loss of business was taken into account. The threshold of £10,000 is required to justify a Crown Court jury trial.

Three of the arrested were remanded into custody at Brighton Magistrates court on Monday, They are:

Christopher Osmond VT7548 HMP Lewes 1 Brighton Road Lewes East Sussex BN7 1EA

Elijah Smith VP77551 HMP Lewes 1 Brighton Road Lewes East Sussex BN7 1EA

Robert Alford VP7552 HMP Lewes 1 Brighton Road Lewes East Sussex BN7 1EA

Please now start sending letters of support to keep their spirits up. We will try and find out what can be sent in to this prison, but envelopes, stamps, paper, postal orders and newsletters are usually ok

Advice on what you can do to help:

e- mail smashedo@riseup.net

ideas on prisoner support: http://bristolabc.wordpress.com/

gaza comes to broadmead

LATEST; LLOYDS TSB PAINT BOMBED, DIE IN AT TESCO BROADMEAD

“GAZA COMES TO BROADMEAD”

diein2

From Midday today, a protest will tour Bristol City Centre,
highlighting various companies’ links to the Israeli state, and thus
to the “War Crimes” (UN) committed against the people of Palestine
for the last 22 days.

Jason Bruton a resident of Easton, said :

“Everyone has seen the pictures on the mainstream media, they’re bad
enough, but my friend who is working as a medic out there has sent me
pictures so terrible that they wouldn’t be allowed to be published
here.”

Sheila Crawford, Horfield, said

“The Bombing of the UN HQ in Palestine was the final straw for me. I
had to do something. Over 1,000 Palestinians dead! It makes me angry
that the UK has done so little to halt this massacre. I feel that
companies who are happy to sell Israeli produce are complicit in the
war crimes taking place in Gaza.”

die3

Companies which may be visited on Saturday include:

1. Lloyds-TSB. Has closed its account with Palestinian charity
Interpal, based on false US accusations of links with terrorism. These
allegations have been investigated by the UK Charity Commission, who
found that Interpal is a “well run and committed organisation which
carries out important work in a part of the world where there is great
hardship and suffering.”

2. Boots The Chemist. Trades with Israeli pharmaceutical companies.

3.Tesco. Stocks much Israeli produce. Including that of fruit and veg
producer Carmel-Agrexco (50% owned by the Israeli State).

4.The Body Shop. Formerly with ethical reputation, long since gone
after being bought by L’Oreal who among other things have extensive
commercial interests in Israel, including selling ‘Dead Sea’ products
from the occupied West Bank.

5. Marks and Spencers. Also sells Israeli fruit & veg.

This follows a protest last Saturday at Broadmead’s Marks & Spencer’s.

Protesters will also be informing shoppers of the links between War
Crimes taking place in Palestine and Arms companies based in Bristol:

Bristol, of course, is home to some of the biggest names in the arms
industry. You can watch F-16’s (components manufactured by British
Aerospace) bombing Palestinians on YouTube now. In fact, arms
companies Raytheon, Boeing, Thales, Rolls Royce and BaE all have
factories and offices in Bristol and contracts with Israel.

In 2007, the UK government blocked “almost one-third of British
Military exports to Israel, citing possible threats to regional
stability and fears the equipment might facilitate human rights
violations” Quite. However last years UK arm sales to Israel were up
by £14 million on 2007.

While many skilled engineers in Bristol have their talent wasted,
ordered to build weapons of destruction (incidentally, subsidised by
the British taxpayer to the tune of £890 million pounds a year –
that’s about £13,000 per worker) surely it would be possible for them
to put their skills to better use.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1.Location of protesters during the afternoon can be found by
calling:07917383517

2.Pictures and Film of protest can be obtained by request to the above number.

3. Attachment is pdf of leaflet to be handed out

4.There have been many statements of condemnation by United Nation
representatives These include the U.N. Special The special UN
representative on the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, has also
criticized Israel for committing “crimes against humanity”.Falk has
called on the International Criminal Court to determine whether
Israeli leaders and military commanders “should be indicted and
prosecuted for violations of international criminal law”.

More recently, Human Rights Watch says it has observed “dozens and
dozens” of white phosphorus shells being fired by Israel at the Gaza
Strip – a heavily populated civilian area where its use is prohibited.
The phosphorous on contact with human skin causes severe burning, and
is very painful to treat.

Gerald Kaufman, Labour Lord and son of holocaust survivors made a
speech in the House of Lords comparing current Israeli actions to
Nazis:

5.Documentation concerning commercial links between the companies
listed above, both military and non-military are widely available on
the Internet, including the companies own websites and press releases.

lastest gaza update from oj

Last night I got to have a proper long conversation with OJ, who was on good form. One of the families that first evacuated to where she is staying is still with them, and others drop by if there is increased shelling in their areas for a time. They were sitting on the floor wrapped in blankets as they have to keep the windows open in case they shatter. They can hear artillery fire now in the distance. There was electric today so the laptop was being passed about and she managed to get the following out. It seems that the Egyptians have randomly been letting some people through at the border, and today she’s going to be accompanying some Greek politicians who want to get a bit of an understanding. She talked a little about when she might leave if things stop (she wants to stay and help pick up the pieces for a while). And she asked me to send loads of love to everybody.
Devastation in the village of Khoza’a
This video accompanies the report sent yesterday about the Israeli ground incursion on Tuesday 13th January into Khoza’a, a small rural community east of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip. This attack followed heavy missile strikes on Khoza’a over the course of the last week.

Local resident, Iman Al Najar, describes her experiences on 13th January and how events unfolded, including the destruction of her family’s home. She indicates to the devastation in her neighbourhood around her.
Then her neighbour, pictured in the wreckage of his burnt-out home, explains how it was attacked by a strange type of missile, possibly containing white phosphorous. This is followed by the testimony of a woman whose home was so badly damaged she had to evacuate it. During the incursion she was imprisoned by Israeli soldiers in a nearby building, along with Iman’s younger brother. Scenes of destroyed homes are also shown.

Iman’s older brother talks about how he sustained a head injury as he tried to help neighbours who were wounded after the Israeli army fired a flaming material at them, again, believed to be white phosphorous. The young teenager seen with him is the brother who was detained and forced at gunpoint to dance and sing when Israeli forces shot a local woman in the street.A father and his son show the viewer around their demolished home, where the basement is the only room of the house still intact, at least partially. The family gathered in the basement as the rest of the house was being destroyed above them. They escaped through the cave-like hole shown in the film.

An old lady sitting on her front steps gives passionate account of how her daughters’ homes were destroyed. She highlights the plight of the Palestinian people.

Amazing speech by Gerald Kaufman. Amazing.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGuYjt6CP8

More Amazing Action by People at EDO Factory in Brighton Early This Morning: https://publish.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/01/418777.html

fuller report from Gaza -“It was the hardest day of our lives”

Wednesday 14th January, 2009

In an escalation of the ground offensive in the south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces terrorised the population of Khoza’a, a small rural community east of Khan Younis. They entered the area at about 3.00am on the morning of Tuesday 13th January in an incursion lasting until Tuesday evening. This follows heavy missile strikes on Khoza’a in recent days, notably on Saturday 10th January.

According to a local municipality official, approximately 50 homes were bulldozed along with farmland, olive and citrus groves. The scent of lemons could faintly be determined whilst navigating the wreckage, emanating from so many mangled trees. A family explained how their home was demolished with them inside it. They sheltered in the basement as the upper storeys were destroyed. Later they realised the basement itself was being attacked and narrowly missed being crushed to death by escaping through a small hole in the debris.

Iman Al-Najar was with her family in their home when military D-9 bulldozers began to demolish it. They managed to escape and Iman then encouraged some of her neighbours to try to leave the vicinity. The group of women were instructed by Israeli soldiers to leave by a particular street. They had children with them and carried white flags, yet when they reached the street Israeli special forces concealed in a building opened fire on them and shot 50 year-old Rowhiya Al-Najar. The other women desperately tried to rescue her but the gunfire was too heavy and they had to flee for their lives. An ambulance was also prevented from reaching her and she bled to death in the street.

Meanwhile Iman and about 200 other residents whose homes had been destroyed had gathered near her uncle’s house which was protecting them to some degree from the shooting. However, this area in turn was also attacked. Iman described how the bulldozers began piling debris up around them, effectively creating a giant hole that they were standing in. They were literally about to be buried alive. By some miracle they managed to also escape from this situation by crawling on their hands and knees for about 150 metres. It was extremely difficult for them to move, especially with the injured and the elderly.

The terrified residents then sought sanctuary at a local UNRWA school. But when they got there missiles were being fired around it and they had to retreat. Finally they managed to leave the area entirely and walked several kilometres to where friends were able to pick them up. Iman’s 14 year-old brother Mohammed was missing for 12 hours and she feared he was dead. He had been detained by soldiers in a house along with a neighbour who had begged to be let out to find her children but was not allowed to do so. When the soldiers had shot Rowhiya Al-Najar, Mohammed said they had been singing and dancing and forced him to do the same. When he refused, they threatened to shoot him too.

“It was the hardest day of our lives,” repeated Iman over and over again. She had nothing left in the world but the clothes she was standing up in, but under the circumstances she was lucky to escape with her life. As in so many other parts of the Gaza Strip, the atrocities committed against civilians in Khoza’a amount to war crimes.

Missiles believed to contain white phosphor were deployed by the Israeli military during this attack. ISM volunteers photographed a fist-sized lump of flaming material found on the ground next to a burnt-out home. It was still burning from the previous day. The only way to extinguish it was to bury it, but it would instantly re-ignite if uncovered. It was giving off a thick grey smoke with a foul stench. Doctors at the Al Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which received 50 casualties that day from Khoza’a, described serious chemical burns and victims being covered in a white powder which continued to burn them. Many people were also suffering from serious breathing difficulties after inhaling smoke emitted by this weapon.

Dr. Ahmed Almi, a member of the delegation of Egyptian doctors who finally gained entry to the strip to support Gazan hospitals during the crisis, outlined some of the most serious cases. Four of them died in the hospital after doctors battled to save them. He commented that some of the injuries were so horrific they must have been inflicted by abnormal munitions. He gave the example of a man who had been shot and sustained a small entry wound but massive exit wound, 40-50 cm wide. 13 people were killed overall during this incursion according to medical sources.

Before the Israeli war on Gaza began, the ISM team here had been working with the farming community in Khoza’a, accompanying local farmers as they succeeded to access their land to plant winter wheat. The IOF had prevented them from reaching their fields, in some cases for over five years. Israeli soldiers shot at them, even during the ceasefire. The same ceasefire which Israel claims was broken by Palestinians.

Footage from Al Nasser Hospital

https://rcpt.yousendit.com/642329846/41a331f648ecb11f4e45374ded1e6a89

Photos from Khoza’a and Al Nasser Hospital

https://rcpt.yousendit.com/642278194/6be1fcdaa81b316f50424c012f2188ff

Benefit Cheats ?- What About the bankers?

img02

You’ve all seen those posters: “Benefit Cheats – We’re on to you” with a nasty stereotyped image of overweight working class woman . Well, it seems that benefit fraud costs the taxpayer (so not the untaxed super-rich) £3 billion pounds a year, whereas Octobers bank-bail out cost us £39 billion pounds…so far. So wheres the posters depicting greedy investment bankers making investments in funds they don’t know the value of?

gaza update – thurs 15th jan

WARNING ! POST BELOW CONTAINS VERY DISTURBING PICTURES

Just spoke to OJ. Yesterday they went to a rural area nearby where she worked last time she was in Gaza. There was an incursion there on Tuesday, troups entered and left again. They started bulldozing her friends house while she and her family were still inside, when she and another group of women and old people tried to escape the area troups proceeded to directly attack and nearly kill them 4 times in one day. OJ documented the remains of a white phospherous flare and did interviews. Fida is currently writing a piece about it for the Guardian Weekend. OJ’s writing a short factual report out soon on palsolidarity.

Then they went to the hospital in Kahn Younis and interviewed one of the doctors who has been seeing injuries that are made by weapons he’s never encountered before, including bullets that create 50cm wide exit wounds. OJ said that she hadn’t slept for a couple of nights, or eaten that day, and colapsed when she saw the intesive care ward. I mention this because I doubt she will in her report. But she says she was so knackered last night she slept through the shelling, and today they have some electric so are getting on with phone interviews to Russia (!? and other places)and report writting.

She sent me the following email first thing yesterday morning-

Received this from a guy I know from Rafah in 2003 (he was with James Miller when he was killed). NB – Very shocking photos of children at the end. The type you’re not likely to see in mainstream media. The type that show the truth.

Love and rage

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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n550296671_1899028_70902

“ I left Gaza , by a miracle, only 4 months ago. I can’t imagine what would happen to me, my wife, and my two small children if we were there during these bloody attacks and bombings which have not spared any inch in Gaza .

Part of hiding the truth from the American and the Western public is the U.S media’s practice of purposefully prohibiting showing real pictures of the crimes in Gaza. If these were Israeli casualties there would be plenty of pictures, but because they are Palestinian casualties, the American media will not show the images.

Before I came here, I knew that the American media was biased, but I never expected that it is biased to the extent that the oppressed are turned into the oppressor, and that reporters don’t feel ashamed to justify the killing of civilians. “

I’ve attached some of the accompanying photos which I haven’t already seen in UK papers, in case they are useful to people on forthcoming demos. While UK press hasn’t been as appalling as the US, there’s still a very concerted media machine that is frantically spinning. On Tuesday one of them had a spanner in its works.-

Activists disrupted the offices of the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in central London. The lobby group’s media centre, which is playing a key role in Israel’s public relations operation during the assault on Gaza, was shut down as protesters occupied the building.

Photographs of civilian casualties from Gaza were pasted on to the computer screens of public relations executives, phone lines cut off to halt the organisation’s media rebuttal unit and leaflets thrown out of window on to the main road and handed out to staff pressing them to confront the truth about the human cost of Israeli aggression.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/01/418434.html

There was a benefit gig that did a live link up with OJ and Eva and raised two grand in London earlier in the week and a Free Gaza banner hang off the pier in Brighton. For those who’ve not yet seen today’s news on Free Gaza, here it is-

(Mediterranean Sea, 15 January 2009) – The Israeli navy today threatened to kill unarmed civilians aboard a mercy ship on its way to deliver medical supplies and doctors to besieged Gaza.

The Free Gaza Movement ship, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, left Cyprus Wednesday morning carrying doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and parliamentarians.

At roughly 3am UST (1am GMT), in international waters 100 miles off the coast of Gaza, at least five Israeli gunboats surrounded the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY and began recklessly cutting in front of the slow-moving civilian craft. The Israeli warships radioed the SPIRIT, demanding that the ship turn around or they would open fire and “shoot.” When asked if the Israeli navy was acknowledging that they intended to commit a war crime by deliberately firing on unarmed civilians, the warships replied that they were prepared to use “any means” to stop the ship.

An earlier attempt by Free Gaza to deliver doctors and medical supplies ended on 30 December when Israeli gunboats deliberately and repeatedly rammed the DIGNITY, almost sinking that ship. Rather than endanger the lives of its passengers, the SPIRIT is now returning to Cyprus.

Israel’s reckless and shocking threats against an unarmed ship on a

mission of mercy are a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that “the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes.”

CALL the Israeli Government and demand that it immediately STOP attacking the civilian population of Gaza and STOP using violence to prevent human rights and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s office:

+972 2670 5354 or +972 5 0620 3264

mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il

Shlomo Dror in the Ministry of Defence:

+972 3697 5339 or +972 50629 8148

mediasar@mod.gov.il

The Israeli Navy Spokesperson:

+ 972 5 781 86248

———————————–

To finish, this is Sharon’s most recent post-
Last night, Monday, at about 5am, one of our calls was to Jazeera Hotel in Al Mina (the port area) which had been shelled by Israeli ships. When we first arrived it seemed there was no-one there, but eventually the medics retrieved the two caretakers from under the rubble. 50 year old Faieq Moshtaha had shrapnel injuries but was able to walk and was put into our accompanying ambulance, 33 year old Helmi Moshtaha had shrapnel inuries and a deep head wound and was stretchered into my ambulance.

I filmed the first bit of this but then had to stop to help staunch bleeding; they might post the footage up on the ISM website but it’s not the best quality. (My voiceover sounds like I’m stoned, but it honestly is just lack of sleep!) Living by the sea as I do, I know the shells are usually followed by another lot of shells five minutes later, and I was really thinking the medics were going to get hit before they got Faieq and Helmi out, but all was well. As I held a compress to Helmi’s head I noticed something strange. If you have a woodburning stove, like I do, you often burn yourself mildly, and the hairs on your hand go all crisp. All of the hair on Helmi’s head was like that.

Tonight, Tuesday, just before I came on shift, I caught a ride with S that turned unexpectedly into the pickup of the body of a resistance fighter. This was in fact the first time in all these days since I began riding with the ambulances, that I saw a fighter in my ambulance. Since it was just the two of us I helped to haul what was left of him – which didn’t involve a head or the top of his torso – onto the stretcher. I was glad of the darkness that blurred the details, though it also made me very aware that our every move in this apparently empty wasteland was probably being observed. Back at the hospital I discovered that in the basement there is a man who washes and dries any of your clothes that have got blood on, within an hour.

For the medics here, it seemed this episode meant I had crossed some sort of line that brought me a little closer to their own lives. Several asked me if I had been afraid, and I gave the answer I’ve given you, but with the increasing feeling that not to be afraid is meaningless when it’s probably just because you really don’t quite get what awful things can happen to you and your friends and family. I have started to answer apologetically, “I’m not afraid, but I’m sure I should be.” Later on into the night, medic E asks me more specifically what I had felt when seeing the shaheed resistance guy. I think about it for a while and say,

“I think my strongest feeling is that I am very sad that any of us can do this to each other. Any human to any other human, no matter what reason. And, I feel respect for the strength of someone who does this job.”

He begins to talk to me about his own feelings. He is 36, has been a medic for ten years. He has a wife and four children. He says he has never seen anything as bad as these days, in that time. And he says a lot of the time he is very frightened. Sometimes so frightened, if the area is dangerous, that he almost can’t bring himself to continue to drive towards the call-out location. He describes a call-out during the night that we had both been on (perhaps thinking I had observed this hesitation) saying that he first thought he couldn’t do it; he had to stop, talk himself through his fear, and then continue with the collection, expecting a rocket to blow him apart at any moment. It seems that with the drone surveillance technology, they really can send rockets with your name on.

Arafa was a good friend of his, he told me, and described phoning Arafa’s wife several times since his death. He tries to talk to her but she can’t stop crying.

His family worry about him very much; when he visits his parents his father begs him to take a different job. But this job is important to him and he knows someone must do it. He tells me that if he came across an injured Israeli he would treat him with the same care he would anyone.

I want to hear more, but at this point that, in true Palestinian style, some of the others start getting actually distressed about the fact that there is hot food next door and I am not there eating it. It isn’t good enough that I can come and have some later, or that some can be put aside for me; it doesn’t matter that this is an important conversation, I am A Guest And I Must Eat Now.

Tonight, we collect two men carrying a little girl of 13 months. She is still warm, but EB finds no pulse. If I understood correctly, she has had breathing difficulties since she was born, and in the rocket attack that just happened, her mother held her so tight she wasn’t able to get enough air. I ask to clarify this story several times because I want to think I’ve misunderstood.

At one point tonight I come out of the Disaster Management room and am confronted with a family of about 12 small children, 1 old women, and a couple of young women, all on a sofa and all looking at me with mute appeal. The effect is so overwhelming I have to retreat back into the Disaster room again. Ambulance convoys were allowed to come up from Rafah today, and it seems this family caught a ride; whether they’re here to return home or to stay with relatives because Rafah is under attack is unclear. Shortly after we load them all into an ambulance and drive them to their destination.

This appears to be a bit of town that our driver considers extremely dangerous. They have all started smiling, he is getting more and more stressed, and the fact that they are all shouting directions at him does not help. We manage to suppress all but one set of directions, and then tip out the family at their door, trying to do it all at top speed. Our driver screeches off, shouting in one-part jest and three-parts panic that we are crazy to be here at all, that look! there isn’t even a cat or dog on these streets, they have too much sense, that this is all a game to the Israelis, a computer game, that we and our ambulance are just blips on their computer screens, that they’ll destroy us just for fun.

In the light of dawn, we collect an old woman and a young man from a shelled building down near Gaza beach; I clean the young man’s head wound. A couple of times tonight, I’ve look round for the medic and realised I’m it.

By the way – it turns out the triplets (Abdullah, Mohammad, and Samih) are about 28 days old, and have been separated from their family ever since their birth. They needed hospital care at first, but now could go home – except their home is in Khan Younsis, which is cut off. Their poor mother is phoning every day. They are getting great care here, but an incubator is a poor replacement
for a mother’s arms.