Westside Action

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

gaza/rafah update – thurs

I got a text through from OJ half an hour ago, asking me not to ring as the house was full of sleeping kids.
She’s been in the ambulences documenting the bombing which went on last night and this morning. Fortunately there were few injuries, as they were mainly targeting the relatively small area that has already been evacuated. Since then she’s written the report below. Apparently the area that she talks about holds nearly a third of Rafahs population, and it’s cold tonight.

Rafah Exodus
7th January 2009
(Link to photos expires after 14 days)
Shortly before midnight last night missiles began raining down on Rafah in one of the heaviest Israeli air strikes since the current atrocities began. Continuous sorties pounded the southern Gaza city for over 12 hours. Many homes were destroyed or severely damaged, especially in the neighbourhoods along the border with Egypt.
Residents reported mass leaflet drops in these neighbourhoods by Israeli ‘planes this afternoon. The papers ordered them to leave their homes in the areas stretching from the borderline all the way back to Sea Street, the main street running through the heart of Rafah, parallel to the border. This area is hundreds of metres deep and the site of thousands of homes. Most of these areas are refugee camps, where residents are being made refugees yet again, some for the third or fourth time following the mass home demolitions of 2003 and 2004 by Israeli military D-9 bulldozers.
A three hour respite was announced in the local media and residents saw this as the last possible opportunity to salvage some of their belongings despite F-16 fighter jets remaining in the skies over Rafah during this time. There were scenes of people picking through the rubble, children carrying bundles, donkey carts piled with bedding and trucks loaded with furniture.
Where will these families go? They are afraid to seek sanctuary in local UNRWA schools following yesterday’s massacres in Jabaliya. They are being temporarily absorbed by the rest of Rafah’s population – friends, neighbours, relatives. We have a friend in Yibna, directly on the border, who refuses to leave his home. We spoke to one woman in Al Barazil who has a family of 12 and simply doesn’t know where to go and another woman in Block J who is literally in the street tonight. Her father is in his nineties.

The family home where ISM volunteers are staying is on the other side of the city centre and has become a refuge for three other families tonight. The house is filled with excited chatter and lots of children. Palestinians have a long-learned talent of making-do, but there is no escaping the deep sense of uncertainty.

What follows is a report sent yesterday by Ewa, a Polish/English ISM activist and writer who’s working in the North.
Sharon also has a new peice up on talestotell following the school bombings whch can be found on her blog.

Inside Gaza
By Ewa Jasiewicz

WHEN I got there, the gates of Beit Hanoun hospital were shut, with
teenage men hanging off them. The mass of people striving to get inside
was a sign that there had been an attack. Inside the gates, the hospital
was full. Parents, wives, cousins, emotionally frayed and overwhelmed,
were leaning over injured loved ones.

The Israeli Apache helicopter had attacked at 3.15pm. Witnesses said that
two missiles had been fired into the street in Hay al Amel, east Beit
Hanoun, close to the border with Israel. With rumours of an imminent
invasion this empty scrubland is rapidly becoming a no-man's land which
people cross quickly, fearing attack by Israeli jets.

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