Sunday, January 4, 2009

'The inhumanity of this situation'

'There were shells, rockets everywhere'
The Guardian: Eric Fosse, a Norwegian doctor there, said Hamas fighters were a small minority of the casualties brought in. 'This hospital has been filled up with patients. This morning they [Israeli forces] bombed the fruit market. There were a large number of casualties. We became like a field hospital. There were two patients at a time in the operating rooms and we were operating on other people in the corridors. Some were dying before we could get to them.'

Moawya Hasanian, the head of al-Shifa's emergency and ambulance department, said the hospital had taken in 33 dead and 137 wounded by lunchtime on Sunday. Among those killed was a paramedic after his ambulance was hit by Israeli fire. Three of his colleagues were wounded. 'Only three of the dead are from Hamas, the rest are civilians. There are many children under 18. There are many in critical condition. We are working under pressure. It's not easy to work with bombs and air strikes everywhere. It's not easy for ambulances to move.'

John Ging, the head of the relief agency in Gaza, described the situation there as 'inhuman.' 'We have a catastrophe unfolding in Gaza for the civilian population. The people of Gaza City and the north now have no water. That comes on top of having no electricity. They're trapped, they're traumatised, they're terrorised by this situation. They're in their homes. They're not safe. They're being killed and injured in large numbers, and they have no end in sight. The inhumanity of this situation, the lack of action to bring this to an end, is bewildering to them.'

The UN has been particularly angered at the contention of the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Ging also accused Israel of a campaign of destroying public buildings vital to the administration and governance of Gaza. 'The whole infrastructure of the future state of Palestine is being destroyed,' he said. 'Blowing up the parliament building. That's the parliament of Palestine. That's not a Hamas building. The president's compound is for the president of Palestine. Schools, mosques.'

Lubna Karam, 28, of Gaza City, said airstrikes had shattered her home's living room windows days before, letting cold air pour in. She said she feels under threat at all times, and her family has taken to sleeping in the hallway for safety. 'We keep hearing the sounds of airplanes and we don't know if we'll live until tomorrow or not.' Mansour, 21, of the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border, described watching his neighbor pile a mattress and blankets on a donkey cart to flee, but hadn't decided if he'd do the same. 'Where can we go? It's all the same.' 'When there was a siege, we kept talking about a catastrophe,' said Hatem Shurrab, 24, of Gaza City. 'But then the airstrikes started, and now we don't even know what word to use. There's no word in the dictionary that can describe the situation we are in.'

Glenn Greenwald, Salon: One should be clear that sociopathic indifference to (or even celebration over) the deaths of Palestinian civilians isn't representative of all supporters of the Israeli attack on Gaza. [But] those who favor the attack... are certainly misguided about the likely outcome... Those who giddily support not just civilian deaths in Gaza but every actual and proposed attack on Arab/Muslim countries -- from the war in Iraq to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to the proposed attacks on Iran and Syria and even continued escalation in Afghanistan -- are able to do so because they don't really see the Muslims they want to kill as being fully human.

On Wednesday, the Israeli supreme court ordered that the international media could not be excluded from Gaza. Today, 4 days later, Israel has not only continued exclusion, but are pushing reporters even further back from the Israel/Gaza border. The reason Israel has done this must be that they will do whatever they must -- including ignoring their own high court -- to limit evidence that Gazans are indeed human beings and that they are suffering the horrors that occur when war is unleashed on densely-packed urban civilians. Israel knows full well that reporting from Gaza turns Gazans from vague abstractions to suffering human beings. And they will not allow that reality to be communicated to the world.
Image source here