Westside Action

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

Archive for phospherous

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 – 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