Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Targeting the "terrorist infrastructure"

Israel’s extremely well-co-ordinated propaganda effort continues to enjoy an extraordinary level of success in dominating the mainstream media agenda, and is even branching out into new media. Meanwhile, the underlying facts of this conflict remain available - to those who know where, in the labyrinthine back-streets of the Internet, to look - and provide a chilling corrective to the official narrative.

From Heathlander:

We’re hearing a lot about Israel’s supposed assault on “Hamas targets,” or what Israel – together with the more vulgar of its apologists - likes to term “terrorist infrastructure”. Let’s have a quick - and by no means exhaustive - look at what that phrase in fact refers to.

The Guardian (5 January):

“…half of Gaza’s ambulances have already been destroyed…”

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (5 January):

“Israeli army firing on first response units in Gaza; Ambulances unable to reach injured persons nor evacuate them from the scene of attacks to Gaza hospitals. Several ambulances have sustained direct artillery or helicopter fire, medical personnel have been killed, others critically injured. There is no possibility for the rapid evacuation of patients; those whose lives could have been saved are left to bleed to death.”

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (5 January):

“The PRCS [Palestine Red Crescent Society] reported to PHR-Israel that they have no way of dispatching ambulances without prior coordination since ambulances that set out for evacuation duties at AlAtatra were fired at by apache helicopters. They appealed to PHR-Israel after attempts to coordinate passage via the ICRC have failed since yesterday. AlAwda hospital in Beit Lahiya also asked for our assistance since they must send out ambulances to AlAtatra and Tel Zaatar but cannot dispatch ambulances without being shot at. The hospital is urgently requesting coordination to enable evacuation…

According to our information, between 2 hours and 8-10 hours pass between a request by the ICRC for coordination until the Israeli authorities actually coordinate passage. In some cases teams waited for 24 hours for coordination”. [my emph.]

World Health Organization (5 January):

“- Two shells hit 15 metres from Al Awda hospital’s emergency room. A nurse sustained severe head injuries.

- Three mobile clinics were destroyed 5 January. All vehicles are now unusable.

- One paramedic was killed and two injured en route to evacuating a patient and their ambulance destroyed by munitions. This raises total of medical staff killed since 27 December t0 six and ambulances hit t0 three.

- All Gaza hospitals continue working on back-up generators for the third consecutive day. International Humanitarian Law requires all medical personnel and facilities be protected at all times, even during armed conflict. Attacks on them are grave violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws…

Hospitals warn that the generators are close to collapse and they have four more days of fuel, even with services limited t0 the mere essentials. At the Shifa hospital alone, collapse would have immediate consequences for 70 intensive care unit patients including 30 in the neonatal care. Twelve operating rooms would als0 be immediately affected, in addition t0 shutting down the oxygen extractors, refrigerators for blood units and machines for emergency laboratory services. Also, all hospitals would be without heating and lighting.”

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (4 January):

“IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] also continued to target ambulance teams who attempt to collect the injured. At approximately 10:20am today, an Israeli plane fired a missile at an ambulance in the west of Beit Lahia, destroying it and injuring the three of its crew. Two of them sustained critical wounds.”

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (5 January):

“[Today, Israeli forces] targeted medical facilities and ambulances. A Civil Defense team was hit as it tried to fight a fire following the bombardment of a clinic…In yet another attack on an ambulance crew, an Israeli aircraft fired a guided missile at an ambulance in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City. The three crewmen were killed as a result.”

Ma’an news (5 January):

“Israeli forces fired in the immediate vicinity of three hospitals in the Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses and medical personnel told Ma’an. The Al-Wafa Hospital eastern Gaza Strip received warning that they would be shelled, but the hosptial administration and staff refused to evacuate on account of the number of injured people being treated there. Some of the wounded have been injured so severely that they cannot be safely transferred.

At Ash-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes bombed the offices of the Health Committees, about 400 meters from Ash-Shifa hospital. Last week warplanes bombed the Ash-Shifa Mosque, which is part of the medical compound. Israeli forces also shelled the parking lot of Al-Awda hospital in Jabaliya in northern Gaza.

Spanish human rights worker at the hospital Alberto Arce reported, “Two consecutive shells just landed in the busy car park 15 meters from the entrance to the emergency room of the Al Awda hospital. The entrance of the emrgency rooml was damaged. At the time of the shelling Ambulances were bringing in the wounded that keep pouring in. Medical teams and facilities are being targeted. Nowhere is safe.” … The international aid agency Oxfam has also reported that personnel working for its affiliates in Gaza have been killed, their ambulances coming under attack.”

Xinhua (4 January):

“Mo’aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency and ambulance services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, said that three more Palestinian paramedics were killed by Israeli airstrike on Sunday evening. Hassanein said the three were rescuing the injured inside a house, which was damaged in southern Gaza City, where another airstrike took place, killing the paramedics. Also on Sunday, another Palestinian paramedic was killed while Israeli warplane targeted an ambulance in west Gaza City.”

CBS news (5 January):

“[Norwegian doctor] Mads Gilbert came to Gaza last week to help out, he says, in a hospital [i.e. Al-Shifa hospital] that’s short of everything but misery. “They have no spare parts, they have no monitors. They have not enough blood pressure machines, they don’t have enough trolleys. They lack everything. And on top of this you have this huge disaster…

“More people will die who could have been saved,” he said. “We have to be even harder to select who we can treat and we have to put aside people who could otherwise die. That is the gruesome fact of the situation and we are not talking about the 17th century, we are talking about 2009.”

Amnesty International (29 December):

“The health sector in Gaza lacks equipment, medicine and expertise at the best of times and has been further depleted due to the prolonged Israeli blockade. It is now completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with the large number of casualties”.

IRIN news (31 December):

“One hundred and fifty patients were brought in at once,” said Khaled Abu-Najar, a staff nurse in Al-Shifa’s emergency room. “We lack beds, sterile gloves, sheets, scissors and gauze to treat patients.”

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (6 January):

“Since its premises were destroyed by Israeli bombs on 30 December the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) – a member of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) – has been unable to provide care to an ever increasing number of traumatised civilians. Another IRCT member centre in Gaza, the Jesoor Organization, is also unable to operate due to the security situation…

From the headquarters of the IRCT in Copenhagen, Denmark, Secretary-General Brita Sydhoff says: “I am absolutely appalled by Israel’s targeting of densely populated urban areas. Attacks on civilian areas by both sides are deplorable, but Israel’s attacks are grossly disproportionate and are disrupting vital health services.”

“I am extremely alarmed that our two member centres in Gaza, the GCMHP and the Jesoor Organization, are unable to operate during a time when their services are desperately needed” she adds and concludes:

“Israel’s reckless attacks and blockade are endangering the lives and health of the entire population of Gaza in blatant breach of international law and fundamental human rights. I urge the government of Israel to cease its offensive and immediately take all necessary measures to ensure the access of Gaza’s civilian population to vital health services and other fundamental humanitarian needs.”

Gisha (4 January):

“Hospitals, including Gaza’s main Shifa Hospital, are struggling to function under 24-hour per day power outages…According to Shifa Hospital, fuel reserves for back-up generators will run out by the end of the week. The generators are insufficient to heat the wards or properly operate oxygen machines. The hospital has had no electricity for the past 48 hours.”

UN OCHA (2 January):

“The health system is overwhelmed, having already been weakened by the 18- month blockade.”

Oxfam (4 January):

“A paramedic working for an Oxfam funded organisation was killed when an Israeli shell struck a civilian ambulance in Gaza today according to international agency Oxfam. The tragedy illustrates the deadly dangers faced by Palestinian civilians and aid worker said the agency.

Another paramedic lost his foot and a driver was injured in the same incident, which occurred when an ambulance belonging to Oxfam’s partner organisation, Union of Health Work Committees, was hit while trying to evacuate an injured person in the Beit Lahiya area, Oxfam said.”

Reuters (5 January):

“Bombs on Monday hit a hospital morgue where a family were mourning a paramedic killed in an airstrike on Sunday. Three people were killed and 17 wounded, medical workers said. “We were sitting in the mourning tent when suddenly they bombed us, we ran to rush the casualties to hospitals but they bombed again,” Abdel-Dayem told Reuters.”

The Mirror (2 January):

“A children’s hospital was also damaged in yesterday’s blitz and a mosque and secondary school destroyed.”

John Ging, head of UNRWA (6 January):

“John Ging, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said he was “shocked” by “the brutality of the injuries” he had seen during a visit to the Shifa hospital in Gaza. He said: “There are very real shortages of medicine. This hospital has not had electricity for four days. If the generators go down, those in intensive care will die. This is a horrific tragedy here, and it is getting worse by the moment.”

Mosques

The Guardian (4 January):

“The shells could not have fallen at a worse time. Yesterday’s afternoon prayers in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya were unusually busy because worshippers had abandoned their evening prayers in the belief that if the Israelis planned to strike, they would do so at night. But as the townspeople left the mosque at dusk, the explosions began, killing at least 12 people, six of whom were children.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (31 December):

“7 mosques have been destroyed”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (2 January):

“…In addition, IOF bombarded al-Khulafa’a al-Rashedin Mosque, al-Salam Mosque…”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (30 December):

“[Israeli forces] have increasingly bombarded civilian facilities, mosques and houses, without paying attention to the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians. Israel claims that such civilian facilities, mosques and houses were related to Hamas, but investigations conducted by PCHR indicate that IOF have used excessive lethal force and that the majority of the facilities that have been targeted are public and private property located in densely populated areas, making Palestinian civilians pay a heavy price from their lives and property.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (29 December):

“[O]n Sunday, 28 December 2008, IOF warplanes bombarded ‘Emad ‘Aqel Mosque in Block 4 in the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp. The mosque and a neighboring house belonging to Anwar Khalil Ba’lousha were destroyed. The house was destroyed over the family, killing 5 of Ba’lousha’s female children: Jawaher, 4; Dunia, 8; Samar, 12; Ikram, 14; and Tahreer, 17. Ba’lousha, his wife and another three of their children were also wounded. Additionally, 17 civilians in neighboring houses, including 5 children, were wounded.”

Schools

Associated Press (4 January):

“An Israeli airstrike flattened one of Gaza’s best private educational institutions, the American International School, which had been attacked a year ago by Islamic militants. The Israeli Army said the campus on a northern Gaza hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea had been used as a launching base for rockets and was a legitimate target. Most of the school’s buildings, which offered American-style curriculum in English for kindergarten through 12th grade, were destroyed by the strikes, which also killed the night watchman.”

UN OCHA (3 January):

“The American School north of Gaza was directly hit and almost completely destroyed, with one school guard killed. In addition, at least three to five schools were damaged by Israeli shelling of nearby targets.”

Ma’an news (6 January):

“Three Palestinians were killed overnight in an Israeli attack on a United Nations school that was housing people displaced by the violence in Gaza, the UN’s relief agency for Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday. In a statement circulated on Tuesday, UNRWA said that Israeli forces attacked the Asma Elementary School in Gaza City, which is currently sheltering 400 people who fled their homes in the town of Beit Lahiy. The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation. The three men, 24-year-old Hussein Mahmoud Abed Al Malek Al Sultan, 19-year-old Abed Samir Ali Al Sultan, and 25-year-old Rawhi Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan, were killed at 11:30 last night. The three men, all from the same family, were killed as they left the school toilet at eleven thirty last night when the school compound took a direct hit.

The director of the UN general commissioner’s office in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasanah said that another UN facility, the Ash-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was also bombarded. At this time there were no details available about the civilians who had taken shelter in the school… Well before the current fighting, UNRWA said it had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including Asma Elementary School.”

Associated Press (6 January):

“Palestinian medical officials say at least three people are dead in an Israeli airstrike near a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip. It is the second deadly Israeli airstrike to hit a UN school in the past few hours. Palestinian health official Said Joudeh says three people were killed and four wounded in the airstrike in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya. He says the school was turned into a shelter for people displaced by an Israeli offensive against the Hamas militant group.”

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (5 January):

“At approximately, 5:10pm [on 4 January] … the IOF shelled the courtyard of UNRWA’s Mustafa Hafez School in Khan Younis.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (30 Dec):

“…IOF have bombarded the campus of Islamic University, two schools…”

Associated Press (29 December):

“One strike destroyed a five-story building in the women’s wing at Islamic University, one of the most prominent Hamas symbols in Gaza.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (2 January):

“IOF have continued to target civilian facilities, mosques, schools and houses, with disregard to the lives of the Palestinian civilians.”

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (4 January):

“…[A]s educators in California institutions of higher learning, we are especially appalled at the destruction of educational institutions and student casualties.

On 27 December, Human Rights Watch reported that an Israeli air-to-ground missile struck a group of students leaving the Gaza Training College, adjacent to the headquarters of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in downtown Gaza City, killing eight students and wounding 19 others. Two days later, on 29 December 2008, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, destroying the science laboratory block and destroying or damaging other blocks of buildings, including the library. Although Israel has claimed that the science laboratory facilities were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons,” this claim has been denied by officials of the Islamic University, and according to the New York Times of 1 January 2009 Israel has not produced any evidence for its claim.”

Government buildings and civil policemen

UN OCHA (2 January):

“The estimate on the total number of Hamas leaders’ houses targeted so far is 45.”

Palestinian Center for Human Rights (31 December):

“25 buildings of public buildings have been destroyed, including those of ministries, governorates, municipalities, the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 3 educational institutions… IOF warplanes have destroyed most buildings of the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip, including those of ministries and security services…

The public institutions that have been bombarded are: the compound of ministries, the building of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the building of the cabinet in Gaza City; the buildings of the agricultural control department and the Municipality of Bani Suhaila in Khan Yunis; the buildings of Rafah Municipality and Governorate.”

B’Tselem (31 December):

“Another example [“of what appear to be clear civilian objects attacked by the army”] is yesterday’s bombing of the government offices. These offices included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labor, Construction and Housing…

[A]s the entity effectively governing the Gaza Strip, it [i.e. Hamas] is also responsible for maintaining daily life. As such, it supervises the activity of all civilian frameworks in Gaza – among them the welfare, health, housing, and legal systems. Hamas must also ensure public order and safety by means of a police force. Therefore, even if Hamas is a “hostile entity” whose principle objective is to undermine the existence of the State of Israel, this does not lead to the conclusion that every act it carries out is intended to harm Israel and that every government ministry is a legitimate target… An intentional attack on a civilian target is a war crime.”

The Guardian (6 January):

“The head of the Shin Bet internal security service, Yuval Diskin, told the Israeli cabinet that Hamas was finding it increasingly difficult to govern with its leadership in hiding from Israeli rockets and much of its infrastructure blown to pieces.

He was backed by the chief of the general staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, who said “not much” remained of the Hamas government, and by the head of military intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin. “Hamas has absorbed a very hard blow …Its ability to govern has been harmed, its leaders have completely abandoned the population and are only worrying about themselves,” Yadlin told the cabinet.” [my emph.]

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (5 January):

“[On 2 January] IOF warplanes bombarded a police station at Bani Suhila intersection in the east of Khan Yunis. A passing Palestinian civilian was wounded and a secondary school in the area was damaged.”

UN (29 December):

“[On 27 December] an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) missile targeted a group of policemen standing in the street near the building of the Gaza governorate, immediately across the street from the UNRWA Gaza Training Center, which is located within the compound housing the main UNRWA office in the Gaza Strip.

Eight UNRWA Gaza Training Center students between the ages of 18 and 20, who were standing nearby waiting for the UN buses to bring them home, were killed and 19 injured from the blast. Eight of the injured remain in hospital in critical conditions today. One of these critically injured students is unconscious with intracranial shrapnel and requires immediate transfer to an Israeli hospital for advanced central nervous system surgery.”

UN OCHA (28 December):

“Air-strike targets included civil police stations, military training bases and government buildings and installations. In one incident, at least 40 people were killed when an IAF plane fired an air-to-ground missile at the police headquarters in Gaza City during preparations for a graduation ceremony for regular civilian and traffic police. Other civilian casualties occurred among those living in residences within the vicinity of targeted buildings.”

UN OCHA (2 January):

“There has been significant destruction in the Gaza Strip, over 600 targets hit, including roads, infrastructure, the Islamic university, government buildings, mosques and civil police stations”

UN OCHA (31 December):

“Air-strikes targeted a variety of public buildings, including mosques, civil police stations, universities and sports centres in addition to government buildings and military training bases.”

Associated Press (28 December):

“In all, more than 290 people — most of them Hamas [civil] policemen, but also 20 children — were killed in some 300 Israeli air attacks over two days.” [my emph.]

Human Rights Watch (30 December):

“Israel should not target individuals and institutions in Gaza solely because they are part of the Hamas-run political authority, including ordinary police…

Human Rights Watch noted that many of Israel’s airstrikes, especially during the first day, targeted police stations as well as security and militia installations controlled by Hamas. According to the Jerusalem Post, an attack on the police academy in Gaza City on December 27 killed at least 40, including dozens of cadets at their graduation ceremony as well as the chief of police, making it the single deadliest air attack of the campaign to date. Another attack, on a traffic police station in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, killed a by-stander, 12-year-old Camilia Ra`fat al-Burdini.

Under the laws of war, police and police stations are presumptively civilian unless the police are Hamas fighters or taking a direct part in the hostilities, or police stations are being used for military purposes.”

B’Tselem (31 December):

“…the military bombed the main police building in Gaza and killed, according to reports, forty-two Palestinians who were in a training course and were standing in formation at the time of the bombing. Participants in the course study first-aid, handling of public disturbances, human rights, public-safety exercises, and so forth. Following the course, the police officers are assigned to various arms of the police force in Gaza responsible for maintaining public order… [This is just one example] of what appear to be clear civilian objects attacked by the army… An intentional attack on a civilian target is a war crime.”

Media

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (4 January):

“Israeli aircrafts also launched a series of air raids at civilian targets in Gaza City; including a print-house, the Al-Risala Newspaper’s office and the Al-Karama Charity, which cares for the orphans whose parents have been killed by the IOF.”

Associated Press (28 December):

“Palestinian sources reported early Sunday morning that IAF aircraft had targeted the Al Aqsa TV station used by Hamas.”

General civilian infrastructure

Oxfam (28 December):

“The bombing has caused severe damage to the civilian infrastructure in Gaza with many areas being left without water or electricity.”

John Ging, head of UNRWA (4 January):

“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 … The inhumanity of this situation, the lack of action to bring this to an end, is bewildering to them…

“The whole infrastructure of the future state of Palestine is being destroyed … 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.” (via Ben White)

UN OCHA (2 January):

“There has been extensive damage caused to thousands of houses all over the Gaza Strip.”

Ma’an news (6 January):

“More than 26 residential buildings and schools were targeted by Israeli fire on Tuesday, causing more casualties amongst women and children, witnesses in Gaza said.

Sources at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City said five dead bodies arrived at the medical center in a civilian car after their homes were shelled. The sources asserted that several homes were bombarded in eastern Gaza City, and that ambulances could not access the area to evacuate victims because Israeli forces are shooting at ambulances.

Separately, A 15-year-old boy was killed when an Israeli drone fired a missile at him while he was walking in the street in the center of Gaza City. An eyewitness called Ra’fat Al-Khudari said the boy was walking a bike when the drone targeted him killing him immediately.

A home was also shelled near Al-Quds Open University in Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, and another at Al-Bureij camp in the central Gaza Strip. Reports say there were casualties.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (5 January):

“At approximately 13:40 [on Friday 2 January] … IOF warplanes bombarded a civil defense station at the beach. The station was destroyed, but no casualties were reported…

At approximately 16:20 also on Friday IOF warplanes started to bombard the remainders of Gaza International Airport in the east of Rafah. The bombardment continued sporadically until 00:45 on Saturday, 3 January 2009.”

Reuters (4 January):

“At least 42 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed on Sunday as Israeli shells slammed into houses and Gaza’s main shopping district, medical sources said.”

The Times (5 January):

“Nobody knows what kind of shell it was that hit Gaza City’s main vegetable market yesterday morning: the explosives were falling so thick and fast that it could have come from an Israeli naval vessel, an F16 fighter-bomber, an Apache helicopter gunship, an unmanned drone, an artillery cannon or a tank.

The results, however, were unmistakable. With Gaza’s ambulance service stretched far beyond its normal capacity, the first mangled bodies arrived in private cars as locals scrambled to save the lives of the shoppers caught up in the carnage. The first to be carried in was a boy, his face masked in blood from a head wound, as medics hurried him into the overcrowded emergency rooms. The next car delivered a girl, perhaps 12 or 13 years old, her entrails blown out through a hole in her back by shrapnel.”

Ma’an news (6 January):

“Israeli artillery shelling killed four people and wounded 16 others in a market in Al-Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip late on Monday, witnesses told Al-Jazeera. The killings bring the total number of Palestinians killed on Monday to 46. Israeli tanks reportedly fired three shells into the market.”

The Guardian (4 January):

“Among the targets so far have been the Gaza Interior Ministry, police stations, television stations, prisons and a five-storey building in the women’s wing of the Islamic University. Humanitarian organisations have criticised the Israelis for bombing a number of schools and a hospital.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (2 January):

“Since the beginning of the ongoing offensive on the Gaza Strip, Israel has claimed that it does not target civilian facilities. However, PCHR’s investigations refute these allegations, and prove that IOF, by explicit orders from their political and military leaders, have used excessive lethal force and that the majority of targets have been civilian and public facilities and private property that are located in the middle of overpopulated residential neighborhoods, endangering the lives and possessions of the civilian population. Moreover, PCHR’s investigations affirm that all the casualties that have been caused during the last hours of IOF successive and intensive raids have been civilians.”

Children

AFP (6 January):

“More than a quarter of the hundreds of dead from the Gaza conflict are children and aid groups say the survivors will suffer physical and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated, impoverished corners of the Earth and children make up 56 percent of the 1.5 million population. Even before the Israeli offensive on the Hamas territory started on December 27, malnourishment and the winter cold had taken a heavy toll. Aid workers believe just about every Gaza child has been traumatised by the incessant bombardment…

At least 159 children are among the more than 580 Palestinians killed in Operation Cast Lead, according to the latest toll from Gaza emergency services. Whole families have been killed in their shelled homes or in cars trying to get away from the fighting, according to medics…

“Before this began, there were already 50,000 malnourished children in Gaza. There is no way of knowing how many there are now, but we are very concerned the number is going to rise,” said [Save the Children's Benedict] Dempsey.” 

AFP (5 January):

“Moawiya Hassanein, head of Gaza medical emergency services, told AFP the number of Palestinians killed since the Israeli operation was launched on December 27 was now 512, including 87 children.”

Save the Children (2 January):

“At least 13,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes in Gaza as the bombardment continues into its seventh day, Save the Children said today. More than half of those displaced people are children.”

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (5 January):

“Seventy-seven people have been killed in IOF’s attacks between 1pm yesterday and 2:30pm today. This includes 21 children and nine women.”

Sydney Morning Herald (6 January):

“On Monday [5 January], 20 children between the age of two and 15 were killed, he [i.e. Dr Moaiya Hassanein of the Gaza Health Ministry] said.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (5 January):

“The Number of Palestinians Killed Rises to 372, Mostly Civilians, Including 75 Children and 16 Women … IOF have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip for the 8th consecutive day, causing more deaths and casualties among Palestinian civilians, especially children.”

UN OCHA [.pdf] (31 December):

“At least 32 children were killed in the first 48 hours of airstrikes”.

Chris Hedges (16 December):

“A recent study reports that 46 percent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 percent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders, especially among young people without the will to live. Over 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live…

The statistics gathered on children - half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 17 - are increasingly grim. About 45 percent of children in Gaza have iron deficiency from a lack of fruit and vegetables, and 18 percent have stunted growth.”

UNICEF (6 January):

“Ten days of aerial bombing on Gaza has caused extensive devastation throughout the territory and is threatening the health and welfare of many children. Most of Gaza is without electricity, and the situation is turning into a massive humanitarian crisis… The hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed by casualties and are running low on medicines. More than half the population of Gaza is made up of children.”

Dominic Nutt of Save the Children (6 January):

“They don’t have any water most of the day, there is no electricity, they are freezing cold, the windows have to be left open to stop them smashing when the bombs fall. “Children are at risk from hypothermia, they are malnourished, there is not enough food, the situation is getting desperate.”

Reuters (5 January):

“The situation has reached a critical level for children who are exposed to and experiencing violence, fear and uncertainty,” Save the Children emergency team leader Annie Foster said. Some families fear to leave their houses while others are being forced to flee them. The winter cold was also a danger to children as electricity cuts have mean many homes lack heating. “Families must leave windows open at night so that they will not be broken by percussive shocks or flying debris from the ongoing bombardment. This means that children, the majority of them poor and malnourished, are essentially spending the night exposed to the elements”, Foster said.”

UNICEF (5 January):

“The humanitarian crisis caused by the current violence in Gaza is hitting children and women the most. Children form over half of Gaza’s population of nearly 1.5 million and are bearing the brunt of the conflict. Being the most vulnerable part of the population, children are the first to be psychologically distressed, the most in need of medical support and the most exposed to injuries among civilians in times of conflict…

As of 3 January 2009, 70 Palestinian children were killed and at least 650 injured, out of a tally of 550 deaths and 2800 injuries, according to data provided by the Palestinian Ministry of Health…

The children in Gaza are currently deprived not only of the basic human rights any human being should enjoy but are also denied the fundamental rights specific to children, to which the signatories of the Convention of the Right of the Child are duty bound. These include the right of children to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence and injury, and the right to education, development and access to healthcare services… The intensity of the current violence renders impossible any action to relieve their plight.”

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (6 January):

“Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza is causing widespread mental trauma, especially among children. In parallel, delivery of desperately needed emergency mental health services has ceased…Children are particularly vulnerable to the traumatising effect of the bombs and shells raining down on densely populated civilian areas…

“When yet another building is hit”, he added, “children of 4-5 years of age ask questions like ‘how many dead?’ and ‘are they going to shell our house?’”

“The situation is horrific right now, but it does not stop when the bombings are over.” He [i.e. a psychiatrist from the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme] concluded: “I cannot even begin to imagine the scale of trauma that is building up as this goes on; it will take enormous effort to deal with the mental trauma of our children afterwards.”

Norwegian volunteer doctor at Al-Shifa hospital, Dr. Erik Fosse (5 January):

“The injured patients are mainly civilians, a lot of children with dreadful injuries. The injured patients are mainly civilians, a lot of children with dreadful injuries,” Dr. Erik Fosse told CNN on Monday, estimating that 20 percent of the more than 500 people dead were children…

Fosse said that he estimated that about 30 percent of the casualties at Shifa Hospital on Sunday were children, both among the dead and wounded…“We were operating in the corridors, patients were lying everywhere, and people were dying before they got treatment,” he said.”

Civilian population

Palestinian Center for Human Rights (27 December):

“The air strikes started at 11:25 local time, almost at the same time throughout the Gaza Strip. This timing indicates that an Israeli decision was taken to cause maximum casualties in the climax of daily activities. It also explains the high number of victims killed or wounded in a few minutes on the bloodiest day during the 41 years of Israeli occupation. The timing of air strikes coincided with the end of the morning period and the beginning of the afternoon period at schools, many of which are located near police stations that were attacked. PCHR learnt that a number of children were killed or wounded while on their way to or back from schools, and hundreds of school children and civilians were treated from shocks. PCHR learnt also that dozens of the victims are unarmed civilians who were near the places that were attacked, the majority of which are located in civilian-populated areas.” 

Ha’aretz (27 December):

“This was a massive attack much along the lines of what the Americans termed “shock and awe” during their invasion of Iraq in March 2003 … little to no weight was apparently devoted to the question of harming innocent civilians.” [my emph.]

World Health Organisation (5 January):

“As of 5 January, the Palestinian MoH had reported 548 deaths since 27 December, of which at least 120 were children and 44 women (30% of all deaths). At least 2550 Palestinians have been injured, of which 1134 are children and women. The MoH reported that since Israel began its ground operation on 3 January, 109 persons have been killed.”

International Committee of the Red Cross (6 January):

“I cannot sufficiently underline the level of concern and anxiety that is felt at the ICRC in relation to the crisis in Gaza,” said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the ICRC director of operations.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we are dealing with a full blown and major crisis in humanitarian terms. The situation for the people in Gaza is extreme and traumatic as a result of 10 days of uninterrupted fighting.” Kraehenbuehl said ICRC staff in Gaza described the past night as “the most frightening to date” in the territory where there is no power or water and finding food is a daily struggle.” 

New York Times (January 5):

“The Samouni family knew they were in danger. They had been calling the Red Cross for two days, they said, begging to be taken out of Zeitoun, a poor area in eastern Gaza City that is considered a stronghold of Hamas. No rescuers came. Instead, Israeli soldiers entered their building late Sunday night and told them to evacuate to another building. They did. But at 6 a.m. on Monday, when a missile fired by an Israeli warplane struck the relatives’ house in which they had taken shelter, there was nowhere to run. Eleven members of the extended Samouni family were killed and 26 wounded, according to witnesses and hospital officials, with five children age 4 and under among the dead.”

New York Times (January 4):

“In recent days, most of those arriving at Shifa [hospital] appeared to be civilians. On Sunday, there was no trace here of the dozens of Hamas fighters that the Israeli military said its ground forces had hit in the past few hours in exchanges of fire … at Shifa, most of the men who were wounded or killed seemed to have been hit along with relatives near their homes or on the road. Two young cousins and a 5-year-old boy from another family were killed by shrapnel as they played on the flat roofs of their apartment buildings.”

Scotsman (3 January):

“CIVILIANS make up about a quarter of the 400-plus people who have died in Israeli bombardments in the Gaza Strip, UN officials said yesterday as the Israel-Hamas war entered its second week. “Our best estimate is that 25 per cent (of the fatalities] were civilians, of whom a not insignificant number were women and children”.

Ha’aretz (5 January):

“At least 517 Palestinians have been killed at least a quarter of them civilians, a UN agency said. Forty-two, mostly civilians were killed on Sunday, a medical source said.”

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard (5 January):

“Large numbers of people including many children are hungry, they are cold, they are without ready access to medical facilities, they are without access to electricity and running water, above all they are terrified. That by any measure is a humanitarian crisis…

There is an overall atmosphere of fear. More than half of the population are children. The spectre of internal displacement is emerging with growing numbers seeking shelter and already there are several thousand civilians in UNRWA’s seven shelters…

Electricity and communications are down over much of the Strip both on account of lack of fuel and damage to critical infrastructure. Over a million people are currently without power, and over a quarter million without running water, some for up to six days”.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes (5 January):

“The UN has said that there is an “a worsening and an increasingly alarming” humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief, told reporters on Monday that officials believed as many as 25 per cent of the 548 people killed in the fighting were civilians and that Gaza’s health system, overwhelmed by the more than 2,500 injured, was “increasingly precarious”.

“This is, in our view, a humanitarian crisis,” Holmes said. “It’s very hard for me to see any other way you could describe it, given the conditions in which the population are living.” Holmes added that “cluster munitions are being used”, and that it was “a fair presumption” that most of the civilians killed were women and children.”

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (31 December):

“Thousands of civilians, mainly those who reside in areas close to the Palestinian- Egyptian border, have fled from their houses in the wake of several raids launched by IOF on the southern Gaza Strip. A state of compulsory mass displacement of civilians has prevailed in the area…

According to what PCHR field workers have been able to document the IOF offensive has resulted in the following deaths and casualties: 334 Palestinians, including 121 civilians, have been killed throughout the Gaza Strip … The number of civilian deaths does not include at least 165 civil police officers who were killed on the first day of the IOF offensive, when they were not engaged in any hostilities.” [see B’Tselem and HRW reports linked above: civil policemen are not legitimate military targets]

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (2 January):

“…the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the IOF offensive on the Gaza Strip has mounted to 375, mostly unarmed civilians, including 51 children and 14 women.”

CBS news (5 January):

“[Al-Shifa hospital’s] general manager, Hassan Khalaf, insists the majority of patients by far are civilians…“The latest figure is, the total killed people is 543 at the moment, and well, about 30 percent of them are woman and children,” he said. “As regards injured there are 2,600 and 42 percent of them are women and children.”

Refugees’ International (6 January):

“The current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas is having a devastating impact on civilians. An immediate ceasefire is essential.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (5 January):

“The heavy casualties suffered by innocent civilians, including many children, are heartbreaking … As a humanitarian agency which must deal with the repercussions of violence and persecution worldwide, UNHCR expresses its profound shock and sadness at the suffering and loss of life we are now seeing. I join Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in calling for an immediate cessation of all violence.”

UN human rights experts (2 January):

“The use of disproportionate force by Israel and the lack of regard for the life of civilians on both sides cannot be justified by the actions of the other party. They constitute clear violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. We are particularly concerned at the impact of the current violence and destruction of vital infrastructure on the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.” [my emph.]

Norwegian volunteer doctor at the Al-Shifa hospital, Dr. Mads Gilbert (5 January):

“…the large majority of the injured, the victims, are women, men and children civilians. Among the killed, 25% of the killed are children and women, and among the children, today it was, this morning it was 801 children either killed or injured”.

Gisha (4 January):

“- 7 of 12 power lines damaged - 75% of Gaza’s electricity cut off.

- Gaza City, including Shifa Hospital, entirely without electricity.

- Over half a million residents cut off from water supply.

- Sewage spilling into streets, risk of more flooding.

- No fuel permitted into Gaza since start of military operation.

Gaza’s water and sewage system is on the verge of collapse following bombardments that have destroyed electricity lines and months of preventing fuel supplies needed to produce electricity, utility officials in Gaza warned today. 75% of Gaza’s electricity has been cut off, just as hospitals, water wells, and other humanitarian institutions most need electricity to treat casualties of the fighting and provide basic necessities to civilians.”

International Committee of the Red Cross (5 January):

“The situation in regard to the water supply is alarming. Because of the disruption of four power lines that normally bring electricity from Israel to Gaza City, 10 of the 45 wells in the city are no longer functioning. Two wells have been damaged by air strikes and the remaining wells are set to shut down in the coming two to three days, when their support generators will run out of fuel.

“If the power supply is not restored immediately, half a million residents of Gaza City will be completely deprived of water,” warned Javier Cordoba, the ICRC’s water and sanitation coordinator. “Ensuring safe access for technicians to repair the power lines is now an urgent priority,” he said.”

UN OCHA (2 January):

“The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is significant and cannot be understated. It follows what the UN had described as an 18 month long “human dignity crisis” in the Gaza Strip, entailing a massive destruction of livelihoods and a significant deterioration of infrastructure and basic services…People are living in a state of fear and panic…80% of the population cannot support themselves and are dependant on humanitarian assistance. This figure is increasing…

The utilities are barely functioning: the only electric power plant has shut down. Some 250,000 people in central and northern Gaza do not have electricity at all due to the damage to fifteen electricity transformers during the air strikes. The water system provides running water once every 5-7 days and the sanitation system cannot treat the sewage and is dumping 40 million litres of raw sewage into the sea daily. Fuel for heating, needed due to the cold weather, and cooking gas, are no longer available in the market.”

Amnesty International (5 December):

“The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is having ever more serious consequences on its population. In the past month the supply of humanitarian aid and basic necessities to Gaza has been reduced from a trickle to an intermittent drip…

As supplies are being further withheld, most mills have shut down because they have little or no grain. People who have long been deprived of many food items now cannot even find bread at times. Reserves of food have long been depleted and the meagre quantities allowed into Gaza are not even enough to meet the immediate needs. Families never know if they will have food for their children the following day.

When people do have food, they generally have no cooking gas or electricity with which to cook it. Last week, less than 10 per cent of the weekly requirement of cooking gas was allowed into Gaza…

Shortages of fuel, electricity and spare parts are causing water and sanitation infrastructure and other crucial services to deteriorate a bit more every day. Eighty per cent of the wells are now only functioning at reduced capacity and water supply is only available for a few hours every few days…Routine blackouts disrupt every aspect of life for everyone. Hospitals are struggling to power life-saving machinery and it is ever more difficult to maintain laundry and other essential services.”

UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness (5 January):

“It’s absolutely horrifying. The people of Gaza are terrorized. They’re traumatized. And they are trapped.”

UN OCHA (6 January):

“Thousands of people have fled their homes in search of security and essential infrastructure has been destroyed, or lacks the necessary fuel to operate at the required capacity. More than one million Gazans are without electricity or water…Gaza’s water and sewage system is on the verge of collapse due to a lack of power and fuel…

Over 530,000 people (approximately 400,000 people in Gaza and North Gaza, 100,000 people in Rafah, and 30,000 people in the Middle Area) are entirely cut off from running water, and the rest are receiving water only intermittently (every few days)…

The sewage situation is becoming very dangerous, posing a serious risk of the spread of water-borne disease. Five of Gaza’s 37 waste water pumping stations were shut down due to a lack of electricity and sewage is now flooding into populated areas, farmland, and the sea. The remaining 32 stations are operating only partially and will shut down within three-to-four days without additional fuel supplies…Seventy-five percent of Gaza’s electricity has been cut off. Since the ground operation, all of Gaza Governorate and most of North Gaza and the Middle Area are without electricity.”

IRIN news (5 January):

“The UN has warned that power networks were down in large parts of the Gaza Strip on 4 January, with hospitals relying on generators. Without power for pumps, 70 percent of Gazans are estimated to be without tap water…

“The water and sewage system in Gaza is collapsing, cutting people off from the water supply and causing sewage to flood the streets,” said Maher al-Najjar, deputy director of Gaza’s water utility (CMWU). He also said 48 of Gaza’s 130 wells were not working at all due to lack of electricity and damage to pipes. “At least 45 other wells are operating only partially and will shut down within days without additional supplies of fuel and electricity,” al-Najjar said.”

Norwegian volunteer doctor, Dr. Mads Gilbert (6 January):

“We are wading in death, blood, and amputees. Many children. A pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything so terrible. Now we hear tanks. Pass it on, send it around, shout it out. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We are living in a history book now, all of us”,

and Dr. Gilbert again (5 January):

“We have been doing surgery around the clock. I just spoke to one of my colleagues … who had not been sleeping for three days and the hospital is completely overcrowded, we’re running six/seven ORs and there are injuries you just don’t want to see in this world. Children coming in with open abdomens and legs cut off. We just had a child who … we had to amputate both legs and the arm, and the only crime they have done is being civilians, Palestinians living in Gaza. The relief now is not more doctors and more drugs, the relief now is to stop the bombing immediately. This cannot go on. It’s a disaster…

We came on New Year’s Eve in the morning - I’ve seen one military person among the … hundreds that we have seen and treated. So anybody who tries to portray this as sort of a ‘clean’ war against another army are lying. This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza.”

As you can see, “Hamas targets” appears to be a technical term referring to the entire Gaza Strip and everything and everyone located within it. That Israel employs this special definition is not particularly surprising. It has long since behaved as if, in Yaron London’s approving words, “the Palestinians in Gaza are all Khaled Mashaal, the Lebanese are all Nasrallah, and the Iranians are all Ahmadinejad.” Thus, for example, earlier this year Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin claimed that Israeli forces had killed roughly 1,000 “terrorists” in Gaza over the past two years, thereby branding every Palestinian killed by the IDF in Gaza throughout 2006 and 2007 a “terrorist”, including, as B’Tselem pointed out, 152 minors, including 48 children under the age of 14, as well as “many men and women [who] were killed in Gaza who took no part in the hostilities”. Similarly, in December 2006 Ehud Olmert boasted that the IDF had killed “more than 400 members of terrorist organisations” in six months, a designation that included 206 civilian non-combatants.

So, as I say, it isn’t at all surprising to find Israel referring to hospitals, mosques, schools, residential homes, apartment blocks, shops, markets, women, children and civilians as “Hamas targets” and “terrorist infrastructure”. What’s appalling is that – despite recognising Israel’s intensive propaganda drive – so many Western journalists and commentators have gone along with it.

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3 comments:

Silex said...

So would you say that the Gaza slaughter is good for the Jews (or the Judaics, if you prefer) or is it bad for them? Are the Judaics the biggest victims in the current slaughter?

You maintained that Madoff's theft was "bad" for Jews, because apparently he stole from Jewish individuals and organizations, but further, that the theft was a "Judaic" act, thus proving that Judaism is bad for Jews. In fact, you said that the Judaics were the biggest victims of Judaism.

It would seem that your idea is that anything that turns Jews towards Judaism is bad for them, and anything that turns them away from Judaism is good for them.

Is the slaughter in Gaza turning Jews towards Judaism or away from it? To the extent that it provokes "anti-Israel" sentiment (usually called "antisemitism") it should drive Jews towards Judaism, should it not?

What I wonder, is if Judaism victimizes Jews to such an extent as to draw Michael Hoffman to consider Jews the biggest victims of Judaism, how does he explain its appeal to Jews? Is it only the anti-Jewish behaviors of gentiles that makes Jews stay Jews?

Thank you in advance for your comments.

Hiram Fowler

Michael Hoffman said...

Dear Mr. Fowler

I did not say that Madoff's theft was a "Judaic act." I don't think or speak in those terms, which smacks of some sort of hereditary taint. Madoff's thievery was Talmudic certainly, but plenty of Judaics despise or suffer under the Talmud, or at the hands of goniffs like Madoff. There is no racial dimension to this. Aryan secret society initiate George W. Bush is far more enamored of the Talmud than a broad swath of Judaics.

How would the Israeli slaughter in Gaza turn Judaics toward Judaism? I don't see the atrocity as a function of recruitment.

I don't perceive very much "anti-Israeli" sentiment in the US except for the mumble-under-your-breath and bar-stool varieties. I see nothing substantive, with one possible qualification: certain non-Zionist, elite leftist intellectuals are systematically exposing the genocidal roots of the Israeli imperium and this could, in the long-term, destabilize Judaism's claims on American hearts, minds and pocketbooks, but not necessarily, because almost no one is going all the way -- to the root of Israeli violence and sadism -- in the rabbinic halakha.

The appeal of Orthodox Judaism to the people it oppresses, Judaics, is similar to the appeal of Soviet Communism to workers who were later regimented and tyrannized by it. I suppose Eric Hoffer gave the best explanation of the psychology at work in his important little book, "The True Believer."

However, let's remember that a large number of people are born into Orthodox Judaism and do not choose it, or vote on its appeal. As a native New Yorker, in my experience the degree of discontentment and revulsion for Judaism among Judaics trapped within it is greatly underestimated. To the extent that these alienated people are met with kindness and compassion accompanied by data concerning the truth about Judaism, the Zionist and rabbinic movements are weakened and people are liberated.

Having said that, I do not discount the irrational appeal of chauvinist and national-patriot movements, of which Zionism is one among many. I have a photo in my files of a destitute-looking white family in rural Ohio who stood along the road in 2004 as John Kerry's campaign bus passed by. They were grinning imbecilically and holding a home-made sign that read, "Bush 2004." Many victims worship their victimizers. Human nature being what it is, some Judaics are no different.

Gort said...

Fowler,the point is of deception, tyranny,and bondage.And the fact that the uninformed and mind-controlled masses use race as a misnomer of misdirection and patter,the same as an illusionist or magician.With the world pickled in the brine of Illuminism theough controlled media,governments,and educational outlets for so long,the root is hard to strike,as any debate devolves into sparring with epithets,invective,racial slurs,and other shoutdown words to stop discourse dead in its tracks.This goes beyond the discussion of Judaism or Zionism and relates to the Great Illuminati Conspiracy of Globalism that is in its final stages.Nothing is what it appears to be these days.What is called the Christian Right,for example has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity.Michael expounded on your query in detail,so just to give you another analogy,I would direct you to a transcript of an interview in the former Soviet Union called: "Red Symphony".You'll see how the interrogator is befuddled to hear the revelations of the true history and nature of Bolshevism/Communism.To understand writings by people that run contrary to mainline history or the propaganda in the mainstream media,one must read carefully,investigate,check facts,and have a grasp of history to see where the author is coming from.It's not easy,and the discernment is something that is God-given.There are traits and group-think mentality that runs in races or bloodlines,but that is due to ideologies,philosophies and religions,and is adopted by those of any race that subscribe to them.Charlatans like Hagee,Lindsey,Warren,La Haye,et al,are just as "Jewish" in their mindset as the Judaics.