Westside Action

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

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

n550296671_1898334_7111

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.

Advertisements

No comments yet»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: