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Truth and Trauma in Gaza

Kathy Kelly
NationofChange / News Report
Published: Monday 3 December 2012
The 8-day Israeli offensive in November lasted for fewer days and brought fewer casualties, but it was nonstop and relentless, and everywhere.
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Dr. T., a medical doctor, is a Palestinian living in Gaza City.  He is still reeling from days of aerial bombardment. When I asked about the children in his community he told me his church would soon be making Christmas preparations to lift the children’s spirits.  Looking at his kindly smile and ruddy cheeks, I couldn't help wondering if he’d be asked to dress up as “Papá Noel,” or Santa Claus.  I didn't dare ask this question aloud.  “The most recent war was more severe and vigorous than the Operation Cast Lead,” he said slowly, leaning back in his chair and looking into the distance.  “I was more affected this time. The weapons were very strong, destroying everything. One rocket could completely destroy a building.”  

The 8-day Israeli offensive in November lasted for fewer days and brought fewer casualties, but it was nonstop and relentless, and everywhere.

“At 1:00 a.m. the bank was bombed, and everyone in the area was awakened from sleep.  Doors were broken and windows were shattered.  There was an agonizing sound as if we were in a battlefield.” 

“The bombing went on every day.  F16 U.S. jets were hitting hard.” 

“This is more than anyone can tolerate.  We were unsafe at any place at any time.”

U.S. media and government statements are full of accounts about the scattershot Hamas rocket fire that had taken one Israeli life in the months before the Israeli bombing campaign.  The U.S. government demands that the Gazans disarm completely.  Due to simple racism and a jingoistic eagerness to get in line with U.S. military policy, Western commentators ignore the bombardment of Gazan neighborhoods which has caused thousands of casualties over just the past few years. They automatically frame Israel’s actions as self-defense and the only conceivable response to Palestinians who, under whatever provocations, dare to make themselves a threat.  

“Any house can be destroyed.  The airplanes filled the skies,” Dr. T. continued.  “They were hitting civilians like the one who was distributing water.”  The Palestine Centre for Human Rights report confirms that Dr. T is discussing Suhail Hamada Mohman and his 10-year-old son, who were both killed instantly at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 in Beit Lahiya while distributing water to their neighbors.  

Dr. T. then mentioned the English teacher and his student who were killed nearby while walking in the street.  The PCHR report notes that on Nov. 16, at approximately 1:20 p.m., Marwan Abu al-Qumsan, 42, a teacher at an UNRWA school, was killed when Israeli Occupation Forces bombarded an open space area in the southeast section of the city of Beit Lahia.  He had been visiting the house of his brother, Radwan, 76, who was also seriously wounded.

And Dr. T. mentioned the Dalu family.  "They were destroyed for no reason. You can go visit there." 

The next day, I went to the building north of Gaza City where the Dalu family had lived.

In the afternoon on Sunday, Nov. 18, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the 4-story house belonging to 52-year-old Jamal Mahmoud Yassin al-Dalu. The house was completely destroyed as were all inside.  Civil Defense crews removed from the debris the bodies of 8 members of the family, four women and four children aged one to seven.   Their names were:  

Samah Abdul Hamid al-Dalu, 27;

Tahani Hassan al-Dalu, 52;

Suhaila Mahmoud al-Dalu, 73

Raneen Jamal al-Dalu, 22.  

Jamal Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 6;

Yousef Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 4;

Sarah Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 7;

Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 1;

On Nov. 23, two more bodies were found under the rubble, one of them a child.   

The attack destroyed several nearby houses, including the house of the Al-Muzannar family where two civilians, a young man and a 75-year-old woman, also died. They were: Ameena Matar al-Mauzannar, 75; and

Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzannar, 19.

One banner that hangs on a damaged wall reads, “Why were they killed?”  Another shows enlarged pictures of the Dalu children’s faces.    

Atop the rubble of the building is the burned wreckage of the family minivan, flipped there upside down in the blast.  

The Israeli military later claimed it had collapsed the building in hope of assassinating an unspecified visitor to the home, any massive civilian death toll justifiable by the merest hint of a military target.  Qassam rockets killing one Israeli a year are terrorism, but deliberate attacks to collapse buildings on whole families are not.  

“All Palestinians are targeted now,” a woman who lives across the street told us. Every window in her home was shattered by the blast.  She was sure it was the end of her life when she heard the explosion. She had covered her face, and then, opening her eyes, saw the engine from the neighbor's car flying past her through her home.  She pointed to a spot on the floor where a large rocket fragment had landed in her living room. Then, looking at the ruins of the Dalu building, she shook her head. “These massacres would not happen if the people who fund it were more aware.”

Mr. Dalu's nephew Mahmoud, 29 years old, is a pharmacist who is still alive because he had recently moved next door from his uncle's now-vanished building to an apartment that he built for himself, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter who are also alive.  With his widowed mother and several neighborhood women, he and his wife had been preparing to celebrate his daughter’s birthday.  A garland of tinsel still festoons a partly destroyed wall.  The blast destroyed much of his home’s infrastructure, but he was able to shepherd his family members and their guests out of the house to safety.  Several were taken to the hospital in shock.

“I don’t know why this happened to us,” Mahmoud says.  “I am a pharmacist.  In my uncle’s house lived a doctor and a computer engineer. We were just finishing lunch.  There were no terrorists here.  Only family members here.   Now I don’t know what to do, where to go. I feel despair.  We are living in misery."

“Any war is inhuman, irreligious, and immoral,” my friend, Dr. T., had told me.  

Dr. T. is afraid that Israel is preparing a worse war, one with ground troops deployed, for after its upcoming election.  “We are hopeful to live in peace.  We don't want to make victims. We love Israelis as we love any human being." 

"But we are losing the right to life in terms of movement, trade, education, and water.  The Israelis are taking these rights; they are not looking out for the human rights of Palestinians.  They only focus on their sense of security.  They want Palestine to lose all rights."

Election logic aside, Israel has already violated the ceasefire—at any time the missiles and rockets could start raining down once more. Year round attacks, that is what it means to live in Gaza.  

I decided not to bring up the Santa Claus question and instead thanked him for his honest reflections and bade him farewell.



ABOUT Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

Why do so many Palestinians

Why do so many Palestinians die, and so few Israelis? The answer is that Israel provides bomb shelters for its citizens, has effective warning systems, and can shoot down some rockets. Gaza has none of those things; its people are held hostage by their leaders. They spend all their money on more rockets.

Why are hundreds of Palestinian rockets aimed at Israeli civilians ignored in the press, and mentioned only after Israel attempts to stop them? Hamas appears to want only to cause as much death and destruction in Israel as possible; Israel attempts to target rocket sites and militants. Of course they miss a lot, and civilians are killed, but the attacks are not aimed at random killing.

The editors keep striving

The editors keep striving mightily - as in this article - to increase the credibility of their cyber-journal, by giving us a balanced stream of accounts of overseas events of interest to true progressives.

They've attained a unique balance, by focusing article after article on the world's biggest threat to true progressivism - i.e. regressive Israel - and its most virtuous victim - the heroic Hamas organization that has been making Gaza a progressive bastion.

Hamas has committed itself - and willy nilly all Gaza civilians, ready or not - to what the editors and writers and readers alike can recognize as the highest progressive virtues: to the subordination or persecution of women, gays, non-Moslems and unauthorized would-be business enterprises, and above all - in its very charter - to endless total war, against both military and civilians, to end any Jewish state.

But sometimes I wish the editors would get around to reporting the more upbeat news - even if therefore slightly less interesting - from elsewhere in that leading peace-loving progressive Mideast region outside Gaza. For instance, in progressive Syria everyone has been getting on idyllically lately - casualties there are so minor that they lose each couple days merely a bit more than what Gaza and Israel lose in a year. And now progressive but peripheral Egypt - whose population is merely about tenfold, and area about thirty-fold, that of Gaza and Israel combined - has decided to become even more progressive, by transiting to Islamist dictatorship.

I realize that such good news from small peripheral progressive Mideast places like Syria and Egypt - and for that matter Iran and Turkey - is inherently less interesting and important than bad news about Israeli villainy against Hamas, but the editors seem to be capable folks who likely could go the extra mile.

I don’t want to ask too much of the editors. So, in all charity, I’ll accept their working assumption that apart from the Mideast all other overseas regions - labels like Europe, Africa, Latin America, etc. come to mind - are essentially fictional, hence merit scant consideration. So I will forgive the editors for not keeping us up to date on such wonderful stories as the heroic Chinese government struggle for progressivism against the regressive rural Tibetans, or that of the People's Democratic Republic of Korea to bring a progressive awakening to the demented southern brethren.

Israel always kills more,

Israel always kills more, then bemoans. I wanted America to vote FOR a Palestinian state. Israel delegitimizes itself and US. America should tell Israel "Stop the settlements. Or we stop our aid." We built the dome. It's time there's light between our two countries. AIPAC owns our congress. But younger Jews "checked their Zionism at the door of liberalism," not the other way around. Demographics anywhere are not on Israel's side. It's time for peace. NOt more land grabs. Now send the usual "anti semite" slurs for telling the truth. "Israel Does Not Want Peace. Period," says Ha'aretz. If the IDF incursions into Gaza happened in Israel they'd be "terrorist attacks". Why Gazans will never accept a demilitarized state.

So, Israel should not respond

So, Israel should not respond until-- 100? 72? 217 --? Israelis are killed? Shall we pick a number? Should Israel not provide shelter for the targets of Hamas rockets? If Hamas embeds itself amongst civilians, who is responsible fo the deaths of non-combatants? The Israeli government is wrong about many, many things. But defending against the rockets is not one of them.

Pro-Israel, Pro-peace, Pro-two states, ANTI-BDL

So, Israel should not respond

So, Israel should not respond until-- 100? 72? 217 --? Israelis are killed? Shall we pick a number? Should Israel not provide shelter for the targets of Hamas rockets? If Hamas embeds itself amongst civilians, who is responsible fo the deaths of non-combatants? The Israeli government is wrong about many, many things. But defending against the rockets is not one of them.

Pro-Israel, Pro-peace, Pro-two states, ANTI-BDL

This story is so one sided

This story is so one sided that no comment could possibly correct it. Do your readers know that 3 rockets were fired at Israel AFTER the so called peace agreement was reached?

Sounds like the concentration

Sounds like the concentration camp minus the quietness....

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