Tuesday, January 27, 2009

'I don't understand it. This is life in Gaza.'

One Core Question Among Gazans: Why?
The New York Times: Why had civilian institutions been hit?... The Ministry of Justice, Parliament, the central police station, Islamic University... Many Gazans say that the strikes felt more like an attack on them as a society, a direct hit against the rule of law and the structure of the state. 'The war was not against Hamas,' said Rahmi el-Kheldi, the owner of a flower shop in central Gaza. 'It was against me, my shop and my city. Their aim was chaos, to disrupt society.'... Abu Aymad, 52, who has worked in Gaza's police force as a prison guard since 1994, long before Hamas came to power, [said] 'The police is a civil institution. It serves the people, not the parties. They hit the police building because they wanted to create anarchy.' ... The destruction felt profound and shocked even the most hardened observers. 'It's something very massive, beyond imagination.'

Time: Fearful that Israeli commanders could be targeted for arrest while traveling abroad as private citizens, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered the Israeli media to refrain from revealing the names of any military personnel who took part in the 22-day offensive. Officers who want to travel abroad are now required to first check in with the office of the Judge Advocate, which will determine if the soldier is on a foreign watch list... 

Among the allegations are claims that Israel targeted ambulances and medical crews, improperly used incendiary bombs, prevented the evacuation of wounded carrying white flags, and targeted schools, hospitals, supply convoys and a UN compound where over 1,000 civilians had taken shelter.

Legal experts doubt that Israel could be hauled before the International Court of Justice in the Hague, because Israel, like the US, is not party to the treaty that created it, and also because the US and European governments would likely prevent such a course of action. What worries authorities in Jerusalem is that many European countries are signatories to a Geneva Convention that allows their courts to arrest and prosecute individuals accused of committing war crimes in other countries.

The Independent: Erik Fosse, a Norwegian doctor who worked in Gaza's hospitals during the conflict, said that Israel was using so-called Dime (dense inert metal explosive) bombs... packed with tungsten powder, which has the effect of shrapnel but often dissolves in human tissue... His colleague, Mads Gilbert, accused Israel of using the territory as a testing ground... Other foreign doctors have reported injuries they cannot explain... A cardiac consultant from Sudan said that two of his patients had had uncontrollable bleeding... 'Something was interfering with the clotting process. I have never seen such a thing before.'

Washington Post: Many fear that young will suffer psychological effects of war for decades.

The Guardian: Mohammed Zayid returned to his northern Gaza neighborhood after the war to find nothing as it was. Tank blasts had blown the front off the local bakery, bullet holes riddled the hall where his son was married and airstrikes had collapsed into rubble the store where he bought tea for guests. His home with its view of the Mediterranean was gone except for a pile of concrete... 'I lost my head when I saw it,' the 55-year-old fisherman recalled. 'My whole house was gone. I felt dead right there.' ... On Friday, Mohammed woke early and walked to the ocean to fish for the first time since the war started. He and two of his sons had caught only three fish when an Israeli navy gunboat fired on them. As they reached shore, the boat shot their cart and the donkey they had brought to pull their catch home... 'We have always lived from the ocean and now we have no idea what we'll live from.'

The Guardian: Along a row of shattered houses a veiled woman sat in a chair surrounded by broken pieces of furniture and concrete. She waved towards the sandwiched layers of flattened concrete where her six-story home once stood. 'When Israel does this it just makes us stronger,' she said. 'We have even more sympathy with Hamas now.' ... Back in the centre of Rafah, Abdul Kareem, a young student, standing outside his burnt-out home, was at a loss to explain why the house was targeted... He and his family had fled after the first missile landed; two further missiles followed. Looking at the remains of his bedroom, he began sobbing. 'I don't understand it,' he said. 'I don't understand what I should do now. I cannot do anything. This is life in Gaza.'
Image: ruins of Gaza Parliament; source here