Westside Action

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

Archive for ISM

From the ISM- Open Gaza Borders

Gaza is in the grip of a man-made humanitarian crisis. Thousands of tons of food, medical and emergency shelter aid including blankets and mattresses, is being denied entry through crossings by both the Israeli and Egyptian governments.
The United Nations has stated that 900,000 Gazans are now dependent on food aid. Only 100 aid trucks are being allowed into Gaza each day – 30 less than were being brought in last year and substantially less than before operation ‘Cast Lead’. This is a fraction of the estimated 500-600 trucks deemed necessary to sustain the population of Gaza according to the United Nations. According to UNRWA, food trucks are delivering enough food to feed just 30,000 people per day.With over 5,000 injured and 100,000 homeless, admittance of aid is crucial at this time.
Hundreds of medical patients are being prohibited from leaving Gaza. Over 268 people have died of preventable and treatable conditions after being denied access to treatment since the beginning of the ongoing siege two years ago.
Israel and Egypt have designated February 5th as the final day for all foreign nationals to leave Gaza through the southern Rafah border. Egypt has said it will close the Rafah border indefinitely. Despite a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Health that humanitarian cases will be allowed through, many patients have already been turned back, before the closing of the border. Hundreds of patients and some of those wounded from ‘Cast Lead,’ are still waiting for permission to exit Gaza through Rafah for medical treatment.
The Gazan community is concerned that Israel will be stepping up its’ economic, political, cultural and militarised stranglehold on Gaza in the upcoming weeks. Post Israeli elections, Gazans fear the Israeli government will conduct extra judicial killings and continue their deadly strikes on Palestinian governmental figures, targeting of social and economic infrastructure and indiscriminate killings of civilians in the process.
Thousands of internally displaced people face an uncertain future residing in flimsy canvas tents reminiscent of the mass dispossession through the ethnic cleansing of 1948 when the state of Israel was first established on Palestinian land.
A de-facto land grab and re-colonisation of Gaza is underway, with the demolition of hundreds of homes and destruction of farms in the Israeli defined ‘buffer zone’ areas of Rafah, Eastern (Shijaye) and Northern (Beit Hanoun) areas of Gaza. The ‘buffer zone’ has been expanded to cut into Palestinian lands by one kilometre. Israeli occupation forces have shot at residents that have attempted to retrieve their belongings from the bombed and bulldozed remnants of their homes along the border of Beit Hanoun. The army also continues to fire at farmers planting their fields in village areas such as al Faraheen near Khan Younis.
The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture says Israeli occupation forces have destroyed 60% of Gaza’s agricultural land during this winter’s war.
Effective international direct action and an escalation of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign is necessary to resist the intensification of the collective punishment, imprisonment and ongoing war on the people of Palestine.
The situation is worsening: the stranglehold on the people of Gaza is tightening, humanitarian relief is being deliberately choked, trauma is deepening, people are being humiliated on a daily basis and development is not just blocked but in the process of being actively reversed.
We call on social movements, particularly No Borders networks, and people of conscience to target Israeli and Egyptian embassies, institutions, and corporations. Particularly in the coming days of intensified border closure, we must work to pressure both governments to abide by international law and open Gaza for the free movement of aid, goods and people.

End the collective punishment of the Gazan people, open the borders.

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

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.

gaza update – monday

Oj texted this evening asking for help getting hold of features editors contacts,
so maybe they had enough time to work today. She also posted me a link to some crazy
American website that’s trying to build up a hit list of ISMers, with photos,
encouraging readers to help the IDF by finding them and killing em. Like she said-
there are some sick puppies out there.

News from the north gets worse.
Here’s Sharons latest.

I am again at Ramattan watching these wierd phospherous bombs falling on the
city.

“There were indications last night that Palestinian civilians have been
injured by the bombs, which burn intensely. Hassan Khalass, a doctor at
al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, told The Times that he had been dealing with
patients who he suspected had been burnt by white phosphorus. Muhammad Azayzeh,
28, an emergency medical technician in the city, said: “The burns are very
unusual. They don’t look like burns we have normally seen. They are
third-level burns that we can’t seem to control.”

Victims with embedded WP particles in their flesh have to have the affected
areas flushed with water. Particles that cannot be removed with tweezers are
covered with a saline-soaked dressing.

Nafez Abu Shaban, the head of the burns unit at al-Shifa hospital, said: “I
am not familiar with phosphorus but many of the patients wounded in the past
weeks have strange burns. They are very deep and not like burns we used to
see.”
Read more at http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/01/09

“The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be
used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under
international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. However,
Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said:
“If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone
would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The
descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin.”
Read more at
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5447590.ece

Footage here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVY4NUKowzg

Mo has just been speaking to his sister, his family were receiving the
phosphorous bombs all night last night, in Khuza’a, east of Khan Younis, she
said the bombs smell like sewerage. She said just in their area there were 110
injuries from the phosphorous. Today they fled their house and went to
relatives. We called the Ministry of Health to ask if they have analysed the
substances involved, but they said that unfortunately they simply don’t have
the resources to do so and have to wait on outside confirmation.

Osama from the Jabalia medics appeared briefly yesterday at Al Quds, with an
ambulance with bullet holes in. It had been shot at by an Israeli sniper
apparently on Friday between 1.30 and 2pm, and had to turn back without
reaching its call-out. Five shots were fired, Osama said.

“Please take care of yourselves,” I said to him.
“If we die, it’s ok.” he said. “What will be left? I think no-one will
help us.”

Last night I stayed near Al Quds but at a friend’s house – they have no
water. It was another night of heavy shelling, with shells falling near the
hospital, constant rockets, and Apache shooting. By the early hours of the
morning there was shooting between the Israeli army and the Palestinian
resistance very near, so that local people were coming to take refuge in the
hospital. They left in the morning, but a steady stream of people, escaping
their houses near the fighting, began to trickle past Al Quds.

The Israeli army refused the Red Cross permission for more evacuations from
Zaytoun and other cut-off areas yesterday and today.

I went home to get my things so that if we in the hospital are cut off by the
army, I’ll have most of what I need. This could happen tonight, or this whole
thing could drag on for days…

Dr Halid has managed to get to his family in Khan Younis, the first time he has
seen them since their house fell down around them. He will try to get back as
soon as possible since now Al Quds ICU has only one staff nurse running it. The
little boy who he was caring for the other night when I posted died several
hours later. His place has been filled by another explosion victim.

Referring to the shooting of medic Hassan Al Attal, you can see the footage
ISMers took here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAPQXtvC6us

raytheon protest continues as gaza burns

injured by sundays ground offensive

injured by sundays ground offensive

a report from a friend in Gaza:
12.00 Sunday 4th
“Tanks and ground forces moved into Gaza yesterday night. The BBC reports that there were clashes between Israeli ground forces and Palestinian fighters around the towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jebaliya refugee camp as well as tanks being present in the Zeitoun area south of Gaza City. The main north-south road is blocked. Troops also crossed near to Gaza’s defunct airport to the south of Rafah. F16s continued to pass overhead last night, but there was less shelling. OJ is waiting for the tanks to arrive to document the incursion, and to ride with ambulances. Her sister spoke to her an hour ago but the phone network is down again now. From a conversation I had with OJ last night it seems that Sharon and the in Gaza city ISM group were together at Jebaliya refugee camp when it started, waiting to be sent out with ambulances, but that it was impossible to get to some of the places where people had been injured.”

Those “internationals” bearing witness and providing medical assistance(including OJ and Ewa) , the have refused to leave Gaza.

As the tanks roll into Gaza, westsiders are showing solidarity with gazans in a variety of ways. for over 3 weeks now the roof of the raytheon office has been occupied, made even more pertinent by the israeli attack:

“Despite the cold weather…around a dozen people turned out to support the regular Thursday vigil in support of the Raytheon Rooftop Protest.

A fourth member has joined the protest, bringing an extra tent to the rooftop which now resembles a campsite! Plus a tripod and lock-on tubes have been added to resist any attempt to evict the protest. There was also a march through Bristol City Centre on Saturday, attended by hundred people. This was one of dozens acrioss the country.

Windows have been reportedly smashed at neighbouring merchant of death Boeing:

“around 10 windows were smashed at boeing opposite Raytheon on news years eve. They make the bunker buster bombs being used in Palestine right now. The GBU 39 check http://www.boeing.com/ for the proof. A quick google reveals where its being used. the time to act is now.

sorry if this effects the on going Raytheon protest next door but i had to act i was angry”