Gaza Ministry of Health: Israeli attack on crowded market during ceasefire is ‘barbarity personified’
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Ministry of Health Gaza is outraged at the Israeli massacre perpetrated during the so-called humanitarian ceasefire, when F-16s fired missiles into the crowded Shujeiyah market as hundreds took advantage of the lull to buy food and supplies.
At least 17 people have been killed and 200 injured.
“This atrocity is barbarity personified,” said Director General, Ministry of Health Dr Medhat Abbas.
Not satisfied with exterminating entire families in their own homes, not satisfied with killing people praying in mosques, not satisfied with killing patients, staff and visitors in hospitals, not satisfied with killing ambulance drivers as they retrieve the dead and injured, not satisfied with killing women and children sheltering in UNRWA school, the Israeli death machine now blatantly attacks a crowded public market DURING a humanitarian ceasefire, in an unrivaled cruel and cynical exercise of savagery and barbarism.
The Ministry of Health Gaza condemns this latest atrocity in the strongest possible terms, and considers that any further prevarication by the international community can only be seen as complicity in the increasingly barbaric and clearly genocidal war crimes being visited on the citizenry of Gaza.
The Ministry demands immediate international intervention to bring the rogue ‘state’ of Israel under control, and an immediate end to its carnage in Gaza.
Since July 25th, international volunteers, including activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and other groups have begun a constant protective presence in various locations at the al-Shifa Hospital. Below is a journal extract from an ISM volunteer during his shift at the hospital on July 28th.
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – There had been shelling during my shift in al-Shifa. My shift began at 7PM, and in the distance I registered the sounds as everybody else does here in Gaza, I heard the drones without trying to see them. I left Joe [another ISM activist] alone in the hospital; I went in a car for an interview and came back again. The shelling from the sea grew closer. But I couldn’t stay awake for 24 hours just to listen to the noise, nobody can, and I tried to sleep for a few hours.
Then the thunder started, and the black sky turned bright orange, the hospital shook a little, and some windows shattered. I send a short text to the media coordinator for the Ship to Gaza-Sweden saying that this is following me, thinking about el-Wafa hospital, Beit Hanoun hospital, and now al-Shifa. But we weren’t hit. Not this time.
The morning came, we were released by the next shift, and I passed some of the nights targets on my way home. I took a few photos and carried on. There’s so much destruction now that I hesitate to take any more pictures of it. In some areas it is now rare to see an undestroyed building. But of course they claim all of this is to create silence and ‘security’ for Israel, seeing the destruction left behind, I don’t think so.
Photos by Charlie Andreasson
The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) says it is ready to set up a fully equipped makeshift hospital in the Gaza Strip amid deadly Israeli attacks on the impoverished coastal enclave.
Seyyed Reza Raeis Karami, the IRCS under-secretary general for health, treatment and rehabilitation, said the humanitarian body is ready to dispatch a medical team to Gaza and build a field hospital there to treat those wounded in Israeli attacks.
The hospital could be built up in a six-month period, while a group of 23 Iranian surgeons will also operate in the medical center to treat the injured Gazans, according to the IRCS official.
Karami added that the IRCS will be prepared to send necessary equipment and human resources to set up the hospital after gaining permission and making assessments of the situation in the Palestinian land.
The first consignment of relief aid provided by the IRCS for Gazans has been flown into the Egyptian capital of Cairo and is waiting to be cleared for transfer into the coastal enclave via the Rafah border crossing.
On July 21, Iran’s Health Minister Seyyed Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said the country’s hospitals were fully prepared to admit the injured Palestinians, saying the Islamic Republic is ready to supply the wounded with necessary medicine.
Latest reports say Israeli aerial and ground assaults have killed more than 1,100 Gazans and injured over 6,500 others since July 8.
Hospitals in Gaza are in desperate need of medicine and equipment. Over the past days, Israeli warplanes and tanks have pounded several hospitals across the besieged region.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military targeted the hospitals in Deir al-Balah and Beit Hanoun, killing a number of Palestinian civilians and wounding several others.
The Sunday, July 20 FREE PALESTINE rally gathered at the Justin Herman Plaza, near the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I got there as it was beginning, shortly after 3 p.m. The crowd already appeared to number a thousand, and more were arriving. People kept streaming in. By 4:15 p.m. when the march began, the plaza was brim full. So how many people does it take to fill that plaza? I wondered. Thousands, obviously — but how many thousands?
After the march I looked online for estimates from various other events at the plaza and found an article about the fundamentalist anti-abortion march of 2011. “Tens of thousands of pro-life activists filled Justin Herman Plaza,” the organizers of the right-wing event reported; the corporate media echoed the fundamentalists’ claim. In contrast, reporting on the Sunday FREE PALESTINE rally, KTVU News said: “Hundreds gather in San Francisco to protest Israeli military action in Gaza.” The SF Examiner gave the same figure.
Such reports simply confirm what many people have been saying observing for decades about media bias. A right-wing event fills the J.H. Plaza with tens of thousands, but when a progressive event draws a crowd large enough to fill that same plaza, it’s only “hundreds” of people there.
Nevertheless, that plaza is also used for miscellaneous non-political gatherings and events that nobody would be likely to misreport. I continued my online search and found a website belonging to the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department, which states: “This location can accommodate up to 7,000 people.”
Seven thousand? That sounds about right. During the march I had conservatively estimated 5,000 while others around me were saying it was more. Some who studied videos of the march afterwards, taking sample counts and doing some math estimated six to seven thousand at the Sunday event. The organizers of this event, the Arab Resource & Organizing Center, estimated 6,000.
I’ve never before seen a FREE PALESTINE event anywhere nearly this large. I remember attending protests at the Israeli consulate on Montgomery street where there were about 500 people, and at the time that seemed large. This Sunday rally and march was at least ten times larger. Clearly, Zionist attacks on Gaza have outraged a growing number of people. Unfortunately, none of this gets reflected by the U.S. Congress. Just the other day all 100 U.S. Senators unanimously passed a resolution in support of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Not even Senator Bernie Sanders stood up to the Zionists.
There will be another rally this Saturday, July 26 at the same plaza, starting at 1 p.m. Perhaps our demand should be: “End Zionist occupation of Washington!”
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – At 19:00 Beit Hanoun Hospital was hit by an Israeli tank shell. Inside the hospital are 61 medical staff, three patients, civilians, and ISM volunteers who are all trapped inside. Israeli soldiers are in the area, approximately 150 meters behind the hospital. Gunfire can be heard in the area.
This afternoon Israeli forces targeted an ambulance with two paramedics inside in Beit Hanoun, North Gaza. One paramedic was killed and another was critically injured.
This is the third Israeli attack on Gazan medical facilities and personnel in the last 24 hours. The first resulted in the destruction of Al Durrah Children’s Hospital in Gaza City last night. A two year-old child in the Intensive Care Unit was killed, and 30 others injured.
Since Israel began its attack on Gaza, 13 ambulances have been completely destroyed and two paramedics have been killed. Throughout the massacre, medical staff and facilities have been repeatedly targeted.
“Israel’s attacks on Gaza hospitals are ongoing, with those in areas by the separation barrier forced to evacuate their patients, paramedics and other rescue workers are doing what they can under conditions of great risk.” Stated Joe Catron, U.S. International Solidarity Movement activist.
According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, six out of Gaza’s 13 hospitals have already been severely damaged. One, el-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, has been completely destroyed. Two medical clinics have been completely destroyed, seven other clinics have been damaged, 13 medical staff members have been injured, and five have been killed.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza has demanded, “the immediate cessation of Israeli occupation military attacks against medical facilities and personnel in Gaza, and demands that the international community soundly condemn this latest Israeli atrocity, and hold Israel accountable for these war crimes.”
Here are some of the numbers you can call:
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs
+46 8 405 10 00 
(Plus a load more phone numbers on this page: http://www.government.se/sb/d/2085)
The German Foreign Office:
Federal Foreign Office
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister
Tel. (24 hours service): +49 30 1817 0
Telefax: +49 30 1817 3402
German Embassy Tel Aviv emergency number / for German citizens only: +972-54-9944724 (mobile)
Auswärtiges Amt @AuswaertigesAmt
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
MP Philip Hammond
+44 20 7008 1500
020 7219 4055
US Department of State
Israel Foreign Service Desk: 202-647-3672
José García-Margallo y Marfil
91 379 97 00
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
+64 4 439 8000
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
+61 2 6261 1111 (office)
1300 555 135 (24-hour Consular Emergency Centre)
Venezuelan Ministry Foreign Affairs
+58 212 806.4400
+58 212 8061111
The Khuza’a area of east Khan Younis was cut off from the rest of the city for hours on Wednesday night, with medics unable to enter, journalists forced out and Israeli military forces engaged in a ground and air assault that has been ongoing, and has now sparked fears of a massacre similar to the one on Sunday, in Shuja’eyya, in which more than 75 people were killed.
Early Thursday, Israeli forces agreed to let up the assault for an hour to allow medics to retrieve the bodies of the dead and wounded.
Doctor Yusef Abu Al-Rish, the Deputy Health Minister of Gaza, issued a statement that reads:
Another massacre is underway in Khan Younis, where relentless Israeli shelling and sniper fire are wreaking death and destruction on all that moves in the zone east of Khan Younis city.
The villages of Khuza’a, Al Fukhari, Abasan Alkabir, Abasan Al Sa’ir, Jarara, and Bani Suhela received no warning of the attacks, and no warnings to evacuate before the bombardment began at around 11pm last night.
The intensity of Israeli shelling around the Algerian Hospital in Abasan Alkabir shattered its windows, and led to its evacuation, leaving only the emergency department operational.
Despite residents’ frantic calls to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for help in finding a safe route and safe vehicles to escape, the ICRC was unable to get a response from Israeli authorities until dawn today, when five bodies and 17 injured were retrieved and taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.
An unknown number of dead and injured remain behind, as ambulances are prevented access.
Israeli military has declared the Khuza’a area a closed military zone, preventing even medics from entering it, but reports from Khuza’a stated that 12 were dead by morning.
The casualties in other villages are unable to be established at this time. Random shelling continues unabated, and Israeli snipers inside houses are attacking anything that moves.
Homes are being destroyed over the heads of entire families. Thousands have been displaced, many fleeing to the Nasser and European Gaza Hospitals.
Even hospitals are not safe, however. Monday’s attack on Al Aqsa hospital has left staff and patients alike fearing for their lives even within medical facilities.
The reality is that there is no safe sanctuary, for residents, patients or health personnel alike.
As they did in Shuja’eyya, the Israeli military is indiscriminately attacking civilians.
As they did in Shuja’eyya, the Israelis military is refusing to provide humanitarian access to the dead and injured, in clear breach of humanitarian law.
As they did in Shuja’eyya, the Israeli military is committing war crimes, with apparent impunity.
The Ministry of Health Gaza demands that the international community require the Israeli military to
1. Immediately cease all attacks on civilian targets in Gaza;
2. Immediately cease all attacks on medical facilities and personnel in Gaza;
3. Immediately provide access to the dead and injured, as required by international humanitarian law.
On July 10th, just two days after Israel launched Operation Protective Edge (the largest attack on Gaza in several years) President Obama released a statement in which he “reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.” With a death toll now over 550, it is important to look beyond U.S. government sources for information and perspective. Foreign policy among the countries in Latin America conforms to the long-standing, overwhelming international consensus that opposes Israeli aggression and occupation, but it also reflects the region’s “second independence.” Over the last 15 years, most countries in Latin America have increased their ability to pursue a foreign policy agenda separate from the goals of the U.S. State Department. In the vast majority of cases, reactions to the latest hostilities are fundamentally at odds with the U.S. position, but they are also varied: many governments directly criticize Israel, using words like “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” to describe recent events; other official statements limit themselves to calling for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Some of the strongest statements were issued by left-leaning governments in South America, including those of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela. The government of Argentina issued a statement “strongly condemn[ing] that Israel — defying calls by the Security County, by the Secretary General and by the many voices of the international community – has decided to escalate the crisis by launching a ground offensive.” President Evo Morales of Bolivia announced that he had petitioned the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) to consider a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for “crimes against humanity” and “genocide.” (Bolivia broke diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 over Israel’s Operation Cast Lead assault on Gaza.) The statement from Brazil reads in part:
The Brazilian Government vehemently condemns the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, with disproportionate use of force, which resulted in more than 230 Palestinians dead, many of them unarmed civilians and children. It equally condemns the firing of rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel.
The foreign ministry of Chile released a statement that “strongly condemns the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip,” also saying that “The reprehensible kidnappings and deaths of three young Israelis and one young Palestinian cannot serve as an excuse to initiate terrorist actions nor to attack areas densely populated by civilians.” Chile has reportedly suspended trade talks with Israel and is considering withdrawal of its ambassador in Tel Aviv over Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip. The Government of Ecuador released a statement saying that it:
strongly condemns the disproportionate military operations by the Israeli army against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, which have left more than a hundred deaths [sic] and considerable damage to property and civil infrastructure, demands an immediate cessation of these aggressions against the Palestinian civilian population and called [sic] the State of Israel to exercise maximum restraint and act in accordance to international law and humanitarian law.
Uruguay issued a similar statement condemning the military attacks by Israel in the Gaza Strip, which “caused dozens of civilian deaths and injuries, including women and children, in a disproportionate response to the launch of rockets against the Israeli territory on the part of armed Palestinian groups.” The statement also condemns the “repeated [rocket] launchings that put the civilian population in central and southern Israel at risk.” On the whole, this was not positively received by the Israeli ambassador to Uruguay. Finally, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela issued a statement lamenting the murders of three young Israelis, saying it is a case that “demands a full investigation.” He also rejected the attacks by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, saying:
the Bolivarian Government of Venezuelan energetically condemns the unjust, disproportionate and illegal military response of the State of Israel against the historic Palestinian nation and urges its government to immediately end this aggression which goes against international law and against the most elemental sense of respect for life and human dignity.
Clearly the language used by each country varies, but it is interesting to note that Venezuela’s response falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum in terms of condemning the Israeli siege. The Venezuelan foreign ministry issued a separate statement on behalf of the ALBA counties which echoes the Venezuelan government’s statement and reaffirms the ALBA group’s “unconditional solidarity, support and influence for the people of Palestine before this new wave of violence.”
Outside South America, several other countries issued strong responses, including Cuba and El Salvador. Cuba’s foreign ministry condemned Israel for “us[ing] its military and technological superiority to execute a policy of collective punishment with a disproportionate use of force which causes civilian casualties and enormous material damage.” El Salvador issued a statement in which the government “strongly condemns and rejects Israel’s increased armed aggression against the Gaza Strip” which caused the “loss of human lives, hundreds of injuries and the flight of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, besides serious material damage.” Also, the statement explains that the U.N.’s legitimate self-defense clause “does not justify the use of disproportionate military force against another State, much less against its civilian population.”
As an historical aside, the United Nations declared 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and several of the countries that introduced the resolution to the General Assembly were from Latin America, including Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guayana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Colombia stands out, not only in South America but in Latin America as a whole, for condemning the “acts of violence and terrorism” against Israel and its civilian population. They called on both Israel and Palestine to end the confrontations and return to the dialogue and negotiation. Colombia has not supported U.N. membership for Palestine, abstaining during the 2012 vote.
More measured statements were issued by the governments of Costa Rica, Honduras [PDF], Mexico, and Peru. These statements typically called for a ceasefire, a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and condemned both sides equally for the violence. Several countries have not issued official responses, including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. Panama’s foreign minister did not release a dedicated statement on the recent events, but received the Israeli Ambassador for a meeting to strengthen the bilateral relationship during which time the Panamanian official expressed concern over the rise in violence in the Middle East and expressed support for a peaceful resolution.
These statements clearly show not only that the vast majority of Latin American countries are at odds with U.S. foreign policy, but also that these countries are more and more able to articulate opposing views that challenge U.S. State Department narratives. Back in 2010, CEPR examined the region’s response to Israel’s deadly raid of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and then as now we found that there was a “hemispheric isolation of the U.S. on critical foreign policy issues.” While the era of U.S. supported coups and interference in the region is not over, significant progress has been made to increase national sovereignty and independence in Latin America, and these are changes that reverberate not just throughout the hemisphere, but across the world.
 In this blog post, estimates for casualties and other statistics included in official statements are quoted as written in the original versions, not corrected for the latest information available. The latest numbers for the death toll indicate over 550 killed since July 8, 2014.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza continues, with a death toll that has reached 655 – and just as an array of munitions rain down indiscriminately on the heads of those living in Gaza, turning night into day and forcing the residents of one of the most densely populated places on earth into becoming mourners in an instant, Gaza’s hospitals are made to endure the incoming salvo of missiles as well as a crippling siege.
Israel has a well-documented history of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon – homes, police stations, mosques, power plants, sport facilities, schools and hospitals. On Monday in central Gaza the floor housing operating rooms and the intensive care unit of al-Aqsa Hospital was struck by at least three tank shells, which killed five, according to Al-Jazeera correspondent Stephanie Dekker in Gaza. Gaza’s Ministry of Health released a statement denouncing the attack and demanding medical facilities be protected and medical staff, who have also been targeted by Israel, be allowed to provide urgent medical care:
We deplore the escalating violence against Gazan civilians and civilian infrastructure, and demand that the Israeli occupation respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, health facilities and health professionals.
We note that attacks against health facilities can be considered war crimes under international law, and call upon the international community and the United Nations to take immediate action to prevent further such outrages against the Gazan citizenry by the Israeli occupation.
Al-Aqsa Hospital was not the only medical facility directly targeted by Israel, but one of four – another casualty of Israel’s unrelenting assault on the people of Gaza is charity-run al-Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital, the only medical rehabilitation hospital in Gaza that treats and rehabilitates those with special needs and functions as a nursing home. On July 11, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) released a statement on the conditions around the hospital, relaying that not only had Israel fired “warning missiles” at the roof of al-Wafa but international activists were hearing missiles falling nearby Israel and so in an act of selflessness, foreign activists from the USA, Sweden, Spain, UK, Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand and France were maintaining a presence in the hospital so as to protect the patients and doctors inside. “The civilian population of Gaza is being bombed. We will stay with them in solidarity until the international community and our governments take action to stop Israel’s crimes against humanity,” states Swedish International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Fred Ekblad.
Joe Catron, a freelance reporter who writes for the Electronic Intifada, Middle East Eye and other media outlets, is one of the ISM activists from the United States who remained inside al-Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital. He entered the Gaza Strip in 2011 as part of the first solidarity delegation to arrive after the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and has lived there since. Catron and I spoke by way of email regarding his experiences as well as how doctors and Gaza’s medical facilities are coping as a result of Israel’s continued bombing:
Al-Akhbar English (AAE): What is the situation on the ground in Gaza currently, and how are Palestinians coping?
Joe Catron (JC): The situation is very difficult. Aside from the rapidly-mounting deaths and injuries, tens of thousands have been displaced by Israel’s destruction of their homes, or shelling and airstrikes on their neighborhoods. With many businesses and charities shuttered due to the risks of commuting, obtaining even basic supplies has become difficult for many. And Israel’s attacks on electrical and water infrastructure have made these resources even more inaccessible than the ongoing siege already had.
But people are pulling together, as they always do in times of escalated Israeli aggression, opening their homes to the displaced and sharing what they have. It’s the worst of times; in a strange way, it’s also the best of times. Palestinians are rarely more united than during an offensive.
AAE: What hospitals have you visited and what have you witnessed?
JC: I and seven other foreign activists spent a week in shifts at al-Wafa hospital, the only rehabilitation facility of its kind dedicated to occupational and physical therapy in the Gaza Strip. After an initial flurry of five Israeli missiles damaged it on July 11, we hoped our presence might discourage further Israeli aggression against it.
Unfortunately, it was insufficient. After a week of telephone threats and heavy shelling of the area, Israeli forces struck the hospital hard on July 17, forcing the evacuation of its patients at great risk and leaving smoking craters in its walls.
Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s main and largest medical facility, is simply flooded. With new patients pouring in every hour, others are being discharged or transferred as quickly as possible.
On Sunday, four international activists accompanied rescue workers into Gaza’s Shujayeh neighborhood, the site of Israel’s largest massacre yet in its current offensive. Days of Israeli shelling have reduced this once-thriving neighborhood to an apocalyptic landscape of fire and rubble, bombed ambulances and demolished homes. We saw a young man trying to reach his family’s home and locate survivors shot by an Israeli sniper, then repeatedly shot again while prone on the ground. He lay only meters from us, but Israeli gun and artillery fire blocked us from reaching him.
AAE: What else can you tell me about the situation in the hospitals?
JC: Hospitals are crowded and chaotic, but also oddly inspiring. They’re sites to treat the wounded, but also for others to show support for them, their families, and the health care workers looking after them. A number of my friends here are doing what they can for the struggle by preparing food and bringing it to al-Shifa. Many political factions and civil society organizations are doing the same.
AAE: How are doctors dealing with what has been transpiring in Gaza?
JC: Doctors and other health care workers face grave challenges not only from a massive influx of new casualties and critical shortages of medications and other supplies, but also in threats to their own safety. Israel’s attacks on at least four hospitals and six clinics have shown that in its current offensive, they are its targets as much as anything else.
Hospitals and clinics face critical shortages not only of essential medications, but also of supplies as routine as bandages. In some cases, like Israel’s shelling of el-Wafa hospital, staff have been forced to abandon supplies in their facilities while evacuating patients, which hasn’t helped matters.
AAE: What do you want people to know about Gaza, in terms of this situation and beyond it? Anything else to add?
JC: Like most places, the Gaza Strip is a product of its history more than the news. The overwhelming majority of its population are Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed from land now claimed by Israel. This is the single most important factor in its resistance to the occupation, and also the one most quickly obscured in mainstream reporting, which focuses instead, and almost exclusively, on the events of the day.
You can follow Joe Catron’s updates from the Gaza Strip on Twitter @jncatron
Gaza, Occupied Palestine – The Israeli military just shot a Gazan man trying to reach his family, during an announced ceasefire. He was with a group of municipality workers and international human rights defenders who were attempting to retrieve injured people in the Shajiya neighbourhood.
“We all just watched a man murdered in front of us. He was trying to reach his family in Shajiya, he had not heard from them and was worried about them. They shot him, and then continued to fire as he was on the ground. We had no choice but to retreat. We couldn’t reach him due to the artillery fire and then he stopped moving.” Stated Joe Catron, U.S. International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist in Gaza. “Shajiya is a smoking wasteland. We just passed two bombed out ambulances.”
The Israel military has also shelled Red Crescent ambulances as they attempted to retrieve injured people in the Shajiya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City. A ceasefire was announced, during which injured and dead people, could be evacuated from the area, in which at least 60 people have been killed today.
“They said we would be able to evacuate the injured from the disaster zone, but they have been shelling ambulances,” stated Dr Khalil Abu Foul of the Palestinian Red Crescent, speaking from Shajiya.
Now, the international volunteers, including some from the U.S., the UK, and Sweden, are in a rescue centre on the outskirts of Shajiya.
The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas hailed on Friday the Ecuadorian decision to withdraw his country’s ambassador to Tel-Aviv in protest against Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Speaking to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Resalah, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “This is a very advanced position, to which the countries in the region have not arrived at.”
Barhoum described the withdrawal of the ambassador as a “courageous” decision.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the Ecuadorian government condemned the Israeli invasion on the Gaza Strip.
“We condemn the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian territory, we require cessation of operations and indiscriminate attacks against civilians,” Patino said.
Barhoum also called for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to lift the eight-year siege on Gaza and stop Israeli aggression on Gaza, which has continued for 13 days.
In Beirut on July 8, 1972, thirty-six year old Ghassan Kanafani entered into his Volkswagen for the last time. The prolific writer and editor of Al Hadaf (“The Goal”) was headed to the newspaper’s office. His seventeen year old niece Lamis Najm was with him. Not long before, he had penned these words to her:
“Dearest: You are rising now, while we start to fall. Our role is almost complete. The role of this generation was the shortest for any generation in history. We live in crucial times for the history of humanity and people are divided between participants and spectators… The battle is harsh and human capacity cannot tolerate this much. I, young one, chose not to be a spectator. It means that I chose to live the crucial moments of our history, no matter how short…”
It was around 11 a.m. that Saturday when the explosion occurred, judging from the watch later found on what remained of Lamis’ hand. Kanafani was a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the heart of the left-wing secular opposition to Israel. He was a noncombatant, and although pictures of Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara adorned his office, he never personally picked up a gun against his Zionist enemies, despite having every right to resist the ongoing occupation by whatever means necessary. Yet, he still became a victim of Israeli terror.
The car bomb attached to Kanafani’s vehicle killed him and his teenage niece on July 8, 1972. The assassination was part of a secret operation known as God’s Wrath. The plan, carried out under the tutelage of Prime Minister Golda Meir, was intended to murder leading militants and officials within the Palestinian resistance movement carried out by Israel’s “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations,” more commonly known as Mossad.
Operation God’s Wrath was a covert operation that utilized methods, such as car bombs, akin to what Arundhati Roy once referred to as the “privatization of war.” Forty-two years later, to the day, after the car bomb killed Ghassan and Lamis, the terrorist state of Israel began a new public operation of a different sort. On Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Israel unleashed Operation Protective Edge onto Gaza, a much more hasbara-friendly initiative. This spectacle of sheer force – conventional terrorism, it might be called – had indiscriminately slaughtered nearly 200 Palestinians within the span of one week. Seven days in and Israel’s casualties had reached a stunning zero.
Unlike the names of the three Israeli teenage settlers who were kidnapped and murdered not long before Operation Protective Edge was initiated, the names of the 192 victims of Israeli aggression have not yet been plastered on the front pages of every newspaper or the headlines on every television set. Sa’ad Mahmoud al-Hajj was 17, the same age as Kanafani’s niece Lamis, was murdered along with seven members of his family when an Israeli bomb destroyed their home in Khan Younis. Sa’ad’s brother Tarek, age 18, and his sister Fatima, age 12, died with him. Ziad Maher al-Najjar, 17 years old, was also killed in Khan Younis days later. 17-year-old Anas Youssef Kandil was murdered by Israeli terror in Jabalia, and 17-year-old Mohammed Isam al-Batash was killed in Gaza city. 10-year-old Bassim Salim Kawareh, 11-year-old Maryam Atieh Mohammed al-Arja, 12-year-old Qassi Isam al-Batash, all victims of this most recent terrorist attack. These names may not find their way onto the pages or television screens of major news outlets in the west, where Palestinian blood has always been worth less than Israeli blood, but they, along with all the other names of victims of Israeli barbarity, should grace the lips and enter the hearts of those engaged in the struggle for a free Palestine.
Thus, forty-two years after the terrorist state martyred Kanafani, its reign of terror continues. The world is a different place from 1972, however, and the voice of worldwide opposition is growing. Just as the movement against apartheid South Africa took decades to build, so did the opposition to the settler-terrorist state of Israel. Today, however, the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), put forward by Palestinian civil society in 2005, is growing at an even more rapid pace than did its predecessor. Across US campuses, student governments have passed resolutions calling for divestment, and victories in the name of a free Palestine have been on the rise. While the puppet Arab leaders, sheikhs and Israeli pawns wring their hands, donate a pittance of their enormous wealth to clean up the aftermath, and send fighters off to die in Iraq or Syria, they cannot be the face of the Palestinian resistance.
As Ghassan Kanafani explained: “If we are failed defenders of the cause, it is better to change the defenders, not to change the cause.” Since his time, the defenders have changed more than once, but Kanafani’s cause lives on. For those of us who live outside the “harsh battle,” we too should “chose not to be a spectator.” Let us, like Kanafani, “chose to live the crucial moments of our history” and contribute to the struggle for a free Palestine. For those of us who face no imminent threat of retaliation, no fear of bombs dropping onto our homes while we eat with our families, no chance of a car bomb detonating as we head to our offices, it should not only be our choice, but our obligation, our duty, to support the movement to boycott and divest from the terrorist state of Israel. As Alice Walker, who refused an Israeli publisher’s offer to publish “The Color Purple,” once said, “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.” Indeed, when it comes to Palestine, it is time for Americans to pay some rent.