“Sinking in a River of Blood” as Gaza Death Toll Passes 1,000
Posted by uscsjp on January 15, 2009
Latest Headlines from Democracy Now!:
“Israel Shells Crowded Hospital, UN Compound
Israel continues its relentless attack on Gaza with more bombings of civilian targets, including a crowded hospital. The past hours have seen some of the most intensive Israeli bombing of the twenty-day assault. The Al-Quds hospital was hit by Israeli shells, setting it ablaze. Around 500 patients were being treated inside. The attack followed an earlier Israeli strike that hit the main United Nations aid compound in Gaza City. More than 700 Palestinians had taken shelter there.
UN: White Phosphorus Used in Attack; Fire Will Destroy Stockpile of Gaza Aid
United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesperson Christopher Gunness said the compound is burning with flames from white phosphorus shells.
UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness: ‘There have been three hits on the UNRWA headquarters, the UNRWA compound in Gaza, including, I’m told by [UNRWA head] John Ging, white phosphorus. Three of our staff members have been injured. The workshop in our compound is in flames, and nearby are loaded fuel tankers. So the situation is extremely dangerous and extremely serious. We have been on the phone to the Israeli authorities, asking them to call off their fire from around the compound of a neutral international organization. We have not had the answer we want.’
The UN says the fire will burn down an entire warehouse storing thousands of tons of food, medical supplies and other aid.
Israeli Shelling Hits Media Building
A nearby Israeli shelling hit an office building housing several media organizations. A journalist for the Abu Dhabi television channel was injured. Reuters bureau chief Alastair Macdonald said the attack came despite contact with the Israeli military.
Alastair Macdonald: ‘We were, in fact, at that time in contact with the Israeli army, checking with them that they knew where our staff were and where they were working. We were assured that they were. Shortly after that, an explosion hit the floor just above us. Shrapnel entered the office. It also struck the offices of another media company two floors above ours. One person, at least, there was wounded, we understand. We have evacuated our office.’
Thousands Flee Homes as Toll Passes 1,000
Thousands of Palestinians have fled their homes today, as Israel escalates its assault on densely populated residential areas. Gaza resident Nasser Mohammed said his family was forced to relocate twice after coming under Israeli attack.
Nasser Mohammed: ‘We were inside a house with the children, and then the Israeli army started to shoot at us with bullets, so we moved to another house with the children. Then the second house came down on top of us.’
The Palestinian death toll now stands at at least 1,045—at least half of them civilian. Another 4,860 have been injured. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including four by friendly fire.
Israeli Rights Groups Call for War Crimes Investigation
The latest attacks came after a coalition of nine Israeli human rights groups called for an investigation into whether Israel is committing war crimes. In a statement, the groups, including the Israeli sections of Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights, condemned what they call the ‘wanton use of lethal force’ against Palestinian civilians. They continue, ‘This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion…of the commission of war crimes.’ There are worldwide calls for prosecuting Israeli leaders. On Wednesday, hundreds gathered outside the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Sobhi Khansa of the International Coalition Against Impunity said Israeli leaders should be tried for crimes against humanity.
Sobhi Khansa: ‘The crimes of Israel against Gaza increase day after day. And now it’s terrorist crimes, you know? They are using terrorist weapons, murder, crimes against humanity, war crimes. So, for this, we came to the Hague to ICC Court. We want the court to go and start investigation about these crimes.’
The Guardian of London reported this week diplomats are considering asking the United Nations General Assembly to refer Israel’s actions in Gaza to the World Court. The UN’s special rapporteur to the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, has said Israel’s attack on Gaza could be in violation of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, international law and international humanitarian law.
Bolivia, Venezuela Cut Israel Ties in Protest
Bolivia and Venezuela, meanwhile, have cut diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of the Gaza assault. Bolivian President Evo Morales also backed calls for investigating Israeli leaders.
Bolivian President Evo Morales: ‘The most serious international crimes should not go unpunished. Any government can back the investigation and punishment of these crimes. Bolivia, a sovereign state that shows it is against violence and respects life, will work with other governments and humanitarian organizations to ask for an investigation in international court for the crimes committed in the Gaza Strip by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other members of the Israeli cabinet.’
Second Free Gaza Ship Abandons Aid Mission Following Israeli Threat
A ship trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza says it has aborted its mission after the Israeli navy threatened the civilian passengers on board. The Free Gaza movement boat left Cyprus on Wednesday seeking to deliver doctors and medical supplies. It was the group’s first attempt to reach Gaza since an Israeli navy vessel deliberately rammed another humanitarian boat last month, almost forcing it to sink. According to a Free Gaza statement, five Israeli gunboats surrounded the Spirit of Humanity ship in international waters 100 miles off the Gaza coast. In a radio transmission, the Israeli navy threatened to open fire on the ship unless it immediately turned around. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has intercepted an Iranian ship headed to Gaza for the second time. The ship is carrying food and medicine and had planned to arrive in Gaza this past weekend. It tried to reach Gaza again on Wednesday, but was intercepted by the Israeli navy.
Greece Refuses to Host US Weapons Shipment to Israel
Meanwhile, the US has been forced to cancel a weapons shipment to Israel after the Greek government refused to allow it to pass through its ports. The US says it will seek an alternative site.
Bin Laden Tape Calls for ‘Holy War’ Over Gaza
Osama bin Laden has resurfaced in a new audiotape calling for a holy war over the Israeli attack on Gaza. The undated recording condemns Israel and the United States.
Osama bin Laden: ‘We are with you, and we will not let you down. Our fate is tied to yours in fighting the Crusader-Zionist coalition, in fighting until victory or martyrdom. God has bestowed us with the patience to continue the path of jihad for another seven years, and seven and seven… The question is, can America continue its war with us for several more decades to come? Reports and evidence would suggest otherwise’…”
–Democracy Now!, 15 January, 2009
From The Electronic Intifada:
Gaza is sinking in a river of blood
Mohammed Fares Al Majdalawi writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 11 January 2009
“I want to write about the suffering of my people and my family in these days of siege against the people of Gaza. At least 888 people have been killed and more than 3,700 injured. The International Committee of the Red Cross has accused the Israeli military of repeatedly refusing to allow ambulances to go to the al-Zeitoun area of Gaza City. As a result, those who are injured become those who die, a premeditated and willful violation of human rights.
In my house we can’t get basic needs. No food. No bread. No fuel. No future. Yesterday, my father went to the bakery at 5am. He waited 5 hours to get one loaf of bread, which is not enough for my family because there are 11 of us. So today it was my turn. I went to all the bakeries — all were closed.
There is no safe place we can go. We cannot communicate with our relatives and friends — networks are down as missiles rain on our homes, mosques and even hospitals.
Our life is centered around the burials of those who have died, our martyrs. At night our camp, Jabaliya refugee camp, is a ghost town, with no sounds other than those of Israeli military aircraft.
There is horror every minute and it is clear especially in the lives of children….”
—Mohammed Fares Al Majdalaw, The Electronic Intifada, 11 January, 2009
Blueprint for Gaza attack was long planned
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 12 January 2009
“As Israel rejected the terms of the proposed United Nations ceasefire at the weekend, Israeli military analysts were speculating on the nature of the next stage of the attack on Gaza, or the ‘third phase’ of the fighting as it is being referred to.
Having struck thousands of targets from the air in the first phase, followed by a ground invasion that saw troops push into much of Gaza, a third phase would involve a significant expansion of these operations.
It would require the deployment of thousands of reserve soldiers, who are completing their training on bases in the Negev, and the destruction and seizure of built-up areas closer to the heart of Gaza City, Hamas’s key stronghold. The number of civilian casualties could be expected to rise rapidly.
A fourth phase, the overthrow of Hamas and direct reoccupation of Gaza, is apparently desired neither by the army nor Israel’s political leadership, which fears the economic and military costs.
An expansion of ‘Operation Cast Lead’ is expected in the next few days should Israel decide that negotiations at the UN and elsewhere are not to its liking. Israeli warplanes have dropped leaflets warning Gaza residents of an imminent escalation: ‘Stay safe by following our orders.’
Last week Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, warned that the army had still not exhausted its military options.
Those options have long been in preparation, as the defense minister, Ehud Barak, admitted early on in the offensive. He said he and the army had been planning the attack for at least six months. In fact, indications are that the invasion’s blueprint was drawn up much earlier, probably 18 months ago…”
—Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 12 January 2009
Also See This Heartening Site from Jewish Voice for Peace
“On The Daily Show’s January 5 ‘Strip Maul’ segment, Jon Stewart did what few American television personalities have dared to do: he criticized Israel’s campaign against Gaza, making it clear that bombing will not bring peace for Israelis or Palestinians. He mocked the one-sided response of U.S. politicians by calling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the ‘Mobius strip of issues because there’s only one side!’ He’s sure to get thousands of complaints, so send Jon a letter of appreciation and then ask all your friends to watch this segment…”
–Jewish Voice for Peace
Finally, some local Los Angeles Area Actions:
“Join BAYAN-USA and the International Action Center
In a film screening and discussion of: Occupation 101
The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.
The film covers a wide range of topics — which include — the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880’s, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy.
& Special report on the Bail Out the People Movement Labor/Community Conference
Friday, January 16, 7:00 pm
KIWA Cultural Education Center
3471 West 8th St at Hobart, L.A.
For more information: 310-677-6407
Sponsored by International Action Center & BAYAN-USA”
Join the ONLINE PETITION initiated by Ramsey Clark appealing for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Invasion of Palestinian Gaza
Únase a la petición en línea iniciada por Ramsey Clark
As of Jan. 6, more than 1,185,000 petitions have been sent!