Is the reaction different this time?

What happened in Gaza in the last two months is not the first time Palestinians have been subjected to … what shall I call it? Let’s just say, such an experience.

There was the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the 1973 war, the 1982 siege of Beirut, the suppression of the first and second Palestinian Intifadas, and the 2002 reoccupation of cities in the West Bank, and the periodic razing of whole areas in Gaza. All, except the first, were televised.

[Just for the record, I barely spent any time in front of the TV during Operation Cast Lead. It is not just that I felt I have seen it before … but I did see it before. No, I just didn’t have the time.]

Is the world reaction different this time? It seems to me that it is. The denunciations keep coming. People are just not shutting up, even when challenged — or intimidated — by defenders of the Israeli military operation.

The Europeans, the United Nations … before, they used to swallow their words after the slightest frown of the brow, and fall meekly into line. The reaction this time is more sustained, more persistent.

Israeli government defenders accuse us of failing to examine the context — they blame Hamas, and they expect us to simply fall in line, without any of the convincing proof that they say is missing from most press coverage of the military offensive.

It is not that we are defending Hamas, no, we are not. It’s not that we are arguing that one side broke the cease-fire before the other — no, we are not. At least, I am not.

Palestinian firing of missiles, mortars and rockets into areas of Israel adjacent to Gaza is wrong, horrible, a war crime, yes. And it is also very, very stupid — incomprehensible, to me. We have said it before. But, what if Hamas had called up the residents of Sderot, or Ashkelon, or Ashdod, or Beer Sheva, or any of the other communities that suffered from this firing, and given them a warning of ten minutes to leave their homes? (Without telling them where it was safe to go, of course…) Would that satisfy everybody? Would anybody accept that?

And, here’s another question I have: the Israeli military have been telling us about all of the booby-traps that Hamas supposedly left all around Gaza. The “proof” of that is less than rock-solid.
A map of a booby-trapped area was produced a few days before the cease-fire. Colleagues from German television were shown this map in the temporary IDF office set up for the easy convenience of the international, located in the JCS building on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. The next day, at a briefing for the press in Ashkelon, the first major Israeli town north of the Gaza border, the “same” map was brought out and shown to the assembled journalists. Except, it was several times larger. But, it was just the same. The same black, blue and red markings on a white background. The same supposed indications for the mosque, for the trip-line, and everything. The two versions of this map were exactly the same — but different sizes — and they were both presented as if they were the originals. Anyway, my question is: if there were so many Hamas booby-traps left all over Gaza — remember, the Gaza Strip is the most densely-populated territory on earth, and some parts of it are now reduced to rubble — why have there been so few injuries, after the cease-fire, from left-over booby traps? Nobody has claimed that the IDF did a “humanitarian de-mining” exercise here. Nobody has claimed that Hamas has responsibly gone around and de-activated all its booby traps. So, what’s the truth here? What’s the real story? What is propaganda?

Some people are still managing, difficult as it is, against an onslaught of accusations and justifications that stick in the throat and in the chest, to think for themselves.

As Akiva Eldar wrote in Haaretz today, in a slightly different but related context: “Almost all the [Israeli, I think he meant] media focused only on the sense of victimization of the residents of the so-called ‘Gaza envelope’ and the south. They did not provide the broader context of the military operation and almost completely ignored — before and during the fighting — the situation of the residents of besieged Gaza. The human stories from Sderot and the dehumanization of Hamas and the Palestinians provided the motivation for striking at Gaza with full force”. Akiva Eldar’s article can be read in full here.

What did they really say at Davos? Peres: "There was no siege against Gaza". Erdogan: "You killed people".

The first reports were that a red-faced Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked off the stage at Davos because he was cut off when he tried to reply to the State President of Israel, Shimon Peres.

An AP report after the event, and a subsequent press conference, says that “Peres was passionate in his defense of Israel’s 23-day offensive against Hamas militants, launched in reaction to eight years of rocket fire aimed at Israeli territory … “Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza,” Peres said, his voice rising in emotion. ‘Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza’.”
Continue reading What did they really say at Davos? Peres: "There was no siege against Gaza". Erdogan: "You killed people".

George Mitchell met Palestinian PM Fayyad in Jerusalem

The U.S. State Department spokesman announced in today’s regular daily briefing in Washington that U.S. Special Envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell, met Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem.

This meeting could have happened at the U.S. Consulate in East or West Jerusalem, of course …
Rice had some meetings at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem once with Fayyad. The U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem is almost next door to where some of Fayyad’s children went or are still going to school, at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.

But Fayyad himself is also a resident of (East) Jerusalem, living in Beit Hanina … which may or may not be part of the package deal (or, shall we say, part of one of the package deals) that outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is reported to have put on the table for the “sharing” of Jerusalem …

Here are some excerpts about what was said at the State Department briefings today (and yesterday):

QUESTION: Senator Mitchell’s trip – do you have anything to say about —

MR. WOOD: Yeah, let me give you the latest readout that I have. Senator Mitchell was in Jerusalem this morning. He had productive meetings with Mossad Director Meir Dagan, Israeli Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi, and our Consul General Jacob Walles. Senator Mitchell arrived in Ramallah in the afternoon and met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will be – he is scheduled to return to Jerusalem later in the day and meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Tomorrow, he is scheduled to meet with —

QUESTION: I’m sorry, he’s meeting with Fayyad in Jerusalem?

MR. WOOD: It says here he is – he is scheduled to return to Jerusalem late in the day and meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. That’s what I have.
Continue reading George Mitchell met Palestinian PM Fayyad in Jerusalem

George Mitchell in Ramallah calls for "mechanism" to bring legal goods into Gaza

George Mitchell, the new U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, said after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today that he wanted to convey the deep concern in the U.S. about the loss of Palestinian life.

Mitchell arrived in the region just days after the end of the active phase of a three-week Israeli military offensive in Gaza in which some 1,300 Palestinians died and about 5,300 were wounded, according to Palestinian figures.

There was a palpable but non-verbal reaction in the room in the Muqata’a, or Palestinian Presidential compound, where Mitchell was making remarks to the press.

Mitchell arrived in the region just days after the inauguration of new U.S. President Barak Obama, whose first overseas telephone call on his first full day in office was to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas did not join Mitchell for this statement to the press.

During the first week of the Israeli military operation against Gaza, Palestinian Authority President Abbas called off direct negotiations with Israel under the process that began in Annapolis at the end of November 2007. That process was to lead to the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008 — or at the very latest, by the end of George W. Bush’s term in office on 20 January this year. Many Palestinian groups, including Hamas, have called throughout 2008 for an end to the negotiations in protest of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, and its violence against Palestinians both in the West Bank and in Gaza.

Mitchell also stated Thursday that the U.S. was also concerned about the humanitarian needs in Gaza, and added that “To be successful in preventing illegal weapons smuggling into Gaza there must be a mechanism to allow the import of legal goods — and that should be with the participation of the Palestinian Authority”.

There are probably too many mechanisms in place already, however — almost all of them under the control of the Israeli military — which do not appear to be working very well.

And, there is also the problem of allowing exports from Gaza, which have been banned for a year-and-a-half. The ban on Gaza’s flowers, strawberries, and finished goods has plunged the Gazan economy into a deep crisis, even before Israel’s recent military operation damaged a significant part of Gaza’s small-industry infrastructure.

Mitchell’s statement did not sound like a call for just throwing open the borders — as most Palestinians (and even many Europeans) would want.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has said several times that Israel would not just withdraw and “throw the keys over the border”, and let the Palestinians do whatever they want. Mostly she has been talking about the West Bank, but she has recently said this in regard to Gaza, as well.

The Agence France Press reported that Israel’s Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said again that Israel would not open the borders as long as rocket, mortar or missile fire from Gaza continued — and acknowledged that this would mean a delay in any reconstruction efforts. ” ‘To start such works, you need cement, pipes, all sorts of construction materials. If Hamas leaders want to leave this area in the state that it’s in right now, they will have to answer to the residents’.”

AFP added that Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Mitchell today that the opening of the border crossings into Gaza depended on the release of an Israeli soldier who was seized in a cross-border raid from Gaza in June 2006, and who is still believed to be held captive somewhere inside the badly-battered Gaza Strip. AFP reported that a senior Israeli official quoted Olmert as telling Mitchell that “A permanent opening of the crossings will be linked to solving the issue of Gilad Shalit”. This report can be read in full here.

AFP reported that Mitchell said, after his meeting with Olmert, that “The prime minister and I discussed the critical importance to consolidate the ceasefire, including a cessation of hostilities, an end to smuggling and re-opening of the crossings based on 2005 agreements”.

The 2005 agreement was brokered by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. It put European Union observers at the Palestinian crossing from Gaza into Egypt at Rafah — but real time images were monitored by the Israeli military at Kerem Shalom (near where Shalit was captured). The Israeli military monitors had final say on any passage through Rafah.

European Union observers left their positions at Rafah after Hamas routed Fatah security forces in Gaza in June 2007, and the crossing has been closed almost all the time since then.

Mitchell said in Ramallah today, too, that it was important to consolidate a sustainable and durable cease-fire. “Lasting peace is our objective”, he said, adding that the U.S. has a lasting commitment to “two states living side by side in peace and security”.

It was announced many times that Mitchell would not be taking any questions from the press. A U.S. official did not answer when asked if the decision to take no questions was from the American side, or from the Palestinian side.

Mitchell’s brief in the region is to “listen”.

Mitchell arrived in Israel from Cairo on Wednesday, and held talks in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and on Thursday morning. He also held talks in Jerusalem on Thursday, before going to Ramallah to meet Abbas. The Israeli officials Mitchell met include Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Ashkenazi, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and State President Shimon Peres.
Mitchell will apparently have no contact with Hamas.

Palestinian negotiator Sa’eb Erekat, who greeted Mitchell upon his arrival in the courtyard of the Muqata’a, made a brief statement to the press — and then answered one question in Arabic and one in English.

Erekat said that “It is a vital American interest to end the occupation”. He added that “We hope President Obama will shift American policy”. Erekat said that “what’s needed is to transfer the vision into two states … by ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967″.

Then Erekat left.

The journalists were then locked into the room where the press statements had been made — and stayed locked up for 40 minutes. It was explained that this was a decision of Palestinian security, because President Abbas wanted to leave the compound. Palestinian security in Ramallah is often very heavy handed, but this had never happened before.

Bring back Rice!”, one journalist chanted, jokingly.

The new U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, said earlier this week in Washington that the new Administration “wanted to reengage vigorously from the very beginning in the Middle East”. She said that Mitchell would be carrying the message that “we’re going to be working on a series of short-term objectives with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but that we remain committed to the long-term objective of a comprehensive peace that provides security in the context of a two-state solution for the Palestinians”.

Clinton added that “we want to give him [Mitchell] the opportunity to listen and bring back his impressions and information. And we are at this moment focused only on the Israel-Palestinian track … We have, as I said, some short-term objectives such as a durable ceasefire, which as you know has receded somewhat today because of the offensive action against the IDF along the border. But of course, we’re concerned about the humanitarian suffering. We’re concerned any time innocent civilians, Palestinian or Israeli, are attacked”.

A senior Hamas official, meanwhile, separately gave from Gaza the same message as Sa’eb Erekat gave from Ramallah. In remarks to Al-Jazeera Thursday, Ismail Haniyeh appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to change American policies in the Middle East. News agencies said that “it was not clear where the interview was taped as Haniyeh has been in hiding, fearing Israel will kill him”.

Israeli officials have suggested that Hamas leaders are hiding also because the public rage at the death and destruction inflicted on Gaza — because of Hamas, Israel says — during the three-week Israeli military offensive.

Some Palestinian officials in Ramallah have echoed the same thought.

But many Palestinians in the West Bank say they believe that Israel would have attacked Gaza anyway, even if Hamas had stopped rocket, mortar and missile fire from Gaza onto surrounding Israeli land.

Meanwhile, top Hamas officials, including Haniyeh in Gaza and Khalid Meshaal in Damascus, have now said that they do not require emergency aid or reconstruction assistance to pass through their hands.

While Hamas continues to reject any linkage between freeing Gilad Shalit and the opening of the border crossings into Gaza, they do say they are willing to engage in a long-term cease-fire with Israel if the border crossings are opened.

Shalit’s liberation, they maintain, depends on the freeing from Israeli jails of a certain number of Palestinians whose names are on a list they have submitted to negotiators. Israel is currently holding some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners or detainees.

High UN Offical calls on Israel to open Gaza borders – Israeli human rights group says Israel is deliberately obstructing repairs to Gaza's electricity

Here are two more items — actually, three — which deserve attention and reflection:

I. More excerpts from a Statement to the United Nations Security Council in New York by John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, 27 January 2009:
“There are important principles at stake here too, as the Security Council itself clearly recognized in Resolution 1860, which paid particular attention to the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance. Free and full access for goods and humanitarian staff is something we have battled long and hard for in other contexts, such as Darfur and Myanmar … Moreover, Israel has a particular responsibility as the occupying power in this context, because of its control of Gaza ’s borders, to respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law. It is therefore critical that new steps are taken immediately by the Israeli authorities to move quickly to the sustained re-opening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. Many countries support this. The crossings need to be opened up not because Hamas want it or might benefit from it, but because the Gazans need it“…
Continue reading High UN Offical calls on Israel to open Gaza borders – Israeli human rights group says Israel is deliberately obstructing repairs to Gaza's electricity

Israel says no need for external investigations – but senior UN official says there must be accountability

Here are two different but related items, which are juxtaposed here for full consideration —

I.) From the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a communication dated 27 January 2009:
FAQ – Answers to questions on the operation in Gaza – MFA Spokesperson responds to frequently asked questions about the IDF operation against Hamas terror in Gaza (27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009):

“1. Q: Will Israel cooperate with investigations of war crimes?

A: Israel takes every report of war crimes seriously, provided it comes from a credible source. However, no official body or organization has presented any evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by Israel. All accusations have been based on rumor, half-truths, anonymous reports from unconfirmed sources, and manipulations of the truth. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) routinely and thoroughly scrutinizes its operational activities and when necessary, is subject to oversight by judicial and governmental authorities. Therefore, there is no need of outside intervention. It is important to emphasize that no credible evidence or proof of war crimes allegedly committed by Israel has been presented”…
Continue reading Israel says no need for external investigations – but senior UN official says there must be accountability

A cease-fire?

There was an attack on an Israeli patrol alongside the Gaza border yesterday (Israeli media say a roadside explosion went off just on the Israeli side of the border), near Kissufim. One Israeli soldier was killed, and several wounded.

All crossings between Israel and Gaza were then closed (barring the entry and exit of journalists, who were given the right to travel through the Erez Terminal only when it is open … so the Israeli Supreme Court decision is not an independent right for press freedom of movement.)

Then, there were the Israeli responses: First, a home near Khan Younis was hit. Then, a man riding a motorcycle in the area was killed. Then, Israeli government officials said the response hadn’t come yet. Then, overnight, there were Israeli Air Force bombing raids, said to be directed at tunnels in or around Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

It has often been observed in this region that a cease-fire that can be disrupted by one act is hardly a cease-fire …

And, with many thanks to my friend and colleague in Geneva, Robert Parsons, for pointing this out: it should be noted that the French newspaper Le Figaro has asked an important question — which few if any other media has done — about whether or not the roadside bomb that caused yesterday’s explosion was placed BEFORE or AFTER the cease-fire, reporting that “Several minutes after the explosion of this bomb, which may or may not have been placed after the cease-fire, clashes were already occurring between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters in Khan Yunes. Israeli tanks and helicopters opened fire in the direction of Palestinian lands before an operation combed the area as Israeli aircraft flew over the sector. A Palestinian was killed in these clashes”…

[“Quelques minutes après l’explosion de cette bombe, dont on ignore si elle a été posée après le cessez-le-feu ou s’il s’agit d’un engin plus ancien, des accrochages se sont produits entre soldats israéliens et combattants palestiniens à Khan Younès”… The full report is posted here or ici, as we say in French .]
Continue reading A cease-fire?

"Spoiled crybabies"

This would be hilarious, if it weren’t so serious: Dion Nissenbaum wrote on his blog yesterday that “When the head of the Israeli Government Press Office tells The Jerusalem Post that there was no ban on journalists entering Gaza during the recent military operation, the appropriate response would be to laugh … One can argue about why there was a ban, but there is no denying that Israel barred journalists from entering Gaza during the war. It is harder to disprove claims that 9/11 was a US government conspiracy than to demonstrate that Israel imposed a ban on journalists entering Gaza … [And] if there was no ban on reporters entering Gaza, then Israel’s high court spent a lot of time and energy debating an illusion. The wisest legal scholars in Israel must be demented to have actually issued a ruling tossing out the non-existent ban”.

Dion dumps on the JPost, and then takes on Danny Seaman, saying that he has “every right to argue that reporters are Hamas sympathizers” (though Danny Seaman did not make that argument, as far as I have seen — nor does the fact that a couple of American news organizations that Dion named, including his own, might be looking into a Hamas crackdown on Fatah rivals disprove it, contrary to Dion’s suggestion). Dion says that “Danny Seaman also can’t be blamed for trying to belittle reporters now in Gaza as ‘spoiled crybabies’ who are a ‘disgrace to the profession’. If he thinks that’s the best way to approach his job, that’s the Israeli government’s prerogative” …

Coming to one of the main points, Dion tackles what we questioned in our earlier post here, when we wrote that Danny “really should be asked to explain exactly where and how he thought more-intrepid journalists could have entered the Gaza Strip, which has been practically hermetically sealed by the IDF since Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ in 2005“.

Dion writes: “Danny Seaman argues that any reporters who were willing to put in ‘a little effort’ could have gotten into Gaza. But, so far as I can tell, the only way for reporters to get into Gaza for most of the war would have been to use one of the smuggler tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. And, considering that Israel was repeatedly bombing the tunnels during the war, they probably were not the most reliable route into Gaza. (Though one can guess that Danny Seaman probably would not have shed many tears for Fig Leaf Reporters buried alive by Israeli bombers.) Reporters were repeatedly prevented from entering Gaza through any of the Israeli land borders. An Israeli Naval boat rammed one boat from Larnaca carrying reporters trying to get into Gaza. Then Israeli ships fired warning shots to prevent a second boat full of journalists from breaking the Israeli Naval blockade. Egypt did not let any reporters into Gaza until the final days of the war. And that came only after journalists had jumped through a series of bureaucratic hoops in Cairo. The Israeli military brought a few selected reporters into Gaza for a few hours to see things from their perspective. It is true that no reporters tried to parachute into Gaza. Nor did any journalist I know explore the possibility of taking a hang glider into Gaza … In this regard, the journalistic community of ‘spoiled crybabies’ was indeed negligent. Perhaps, with a little more effort, reporters could have catapulted into Gaza”. Dion’s blog post on Danny Seaman’s remarks and the JPost coverage of them can be viewed in full here.

Dion also mentions, as we did earlier, the case of Amira Hass, who entered Gaza from the sea, on board the second Free Gaza expedition from Cyprus, writing: “And if, as Danny Seaman told The Jerusalem Post, Israel never arrested anyone for entering Gaza, that will come as welcome relief to Amira Hass, the Israeli journalist who was arrested for entering Gaza”. A comment made on Dion’s blog post, from “Bob” — who actually sounds rather a lot like Danny Seaman — says: “Dion, Amira entered illegally and is barred by a law which prohibits Israeli citizens from entering Gaza due to the danger of abduction – and she fled Gaza because she was threatened by Hamas just to prove the point. No foreigner has been arrested for entering Gaza. But this is very typical of your reporting to forget such ‘minor’ details that completely disprove your opinion. Maybe that is why even fewer people read your blog than the JP [JPost]… Why am I reading this?”

As Danny Seaman told me earlier, when I was preparing my story, if Amira were to be kidnapped while in Gaza, “that’s the last thing we need — she’s an Israeli, and the Government of Israel would have to negotiate for her release”.

This comes after a Brigade Commander was reported in the Israeli media to have instructed his troops to fall on a grenade if they were about to be kidnapped — death is preferable, and maybe some of the adversaries would be killed too, the Commander said — to avoid becoming another Gilad Shalit (who, French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly said earlier tonight, is still alive, despite the three-week Israeli military offensive in Gaza).

And, meanwhile, Amira Hass — no “spoiled crybaby” — is back in Gaza, she told me when I called her this afternoon. How did she get there? “I have my ways”, she giggled…

Israel to close recently-opened medical clinic for people of Gaza at Erez Terminal

An medical treatment clinic set up by the Israeli Ministry of Health “for the people of Gaza” on 18 January, the day after Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire it its military offensive in Gaza, is to be closed down tomorrow (Wednesday), Israel’s YNet website has reported.

The clinic was located in the main Erez Terminal, the only place that people can travel in and out of Gaza from or to Israel. We previously reported on this clinic here when it opened.

The Jerusalem Post previously reported that it was “a humanitarian gesture by Israel following the 22-day operation in Gaza”.

Human Rights groups in Israel criticized the opening of this clinic, and said that it was mainly for propaganda purposes.

Only a few Palestinians from Gaza — maybe not more than 15 — were ever treated at the clinic, which was run by Israel’s Red Magen David Adom (MDA – or red star of David) during its only ten days of operations.

Israeli sources are blaming Hamas for the lack of patients, saying that Hamas instructed civilians not to seek treatment there, and that there was a direct order by Hamas not to transfer the wounded to Israel.

Hamas has not commented on this clinic, but Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah (who has still not reappeared in public) said in a statement today that “We expected France, whose motto is ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ to send hospital ships to treat the children burned by banned weapons or to set up a humanitarian bridge… rather than deploy a navy ship to reinforce the blockade,” in remarks criticizing the deployment of a French frigate to the waters off Gaza, where Israel proclaimed a formal naval blockade since 3 January. The French boat, apparently called the Germinal, is to take part in a mission against arms smuggling into Gaza. The full story can be read here.
Continue reading Israel to close recently-opened medical clinic for people of Gaza at Erez Terminal

"What was going through my mind was one thought alone: Let it not be phosphorus"

Bradley Burston wrote in Haaretz today that “The war had gone on only a few days when Israel Channel 10 television began interspersing coverage of Palestinian rockets exploding in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon and commercials for the Israeli version of the veteran reality show Survivor, in which one of the contestants is shown saying of the rival tribe ‘We’re gonna kick their butts!’ Later that evening, the station’s news department broadcast an unending, eerily quiet, queasily stationary live shot of Israeli shells exploding in slow, domelike cascades of smoke and fire an indeterminate distance behind and beside a residential area of Gaza. I could have watched this as a journalist, or a foreigner, or a member of the peace camp. Or I could have watched it as what they call great television. If I’d lived far enough away, it was fully bizarre enough to have qualified as a live reality series on its own … But I watched it as a soldier from a past war. A medic. A medic’s imagination is stalked by two things – What you’ve seen already, and what you hope you never will.

“What was going through my mind was one thought alone: Let it not be phosphorus.

Here are some photos taken of the 17 January IDF attack — with White Phosphorous — on an UNRWA school in Beit Lahiya. This happened the day that Israel announced a ceasefire — just hours before the it was announced, and hours before it went into effect. There were dozens if not hundreds of people in the school at the time, who had sought shelter from the military offensive. The photos are available on the UNRWA website here:

UNRWA school in Beit Lahiya attacked on 17 Jan 09

UNRWA school in Beit Lahiya attacked by White Phosphorous - 17 Jan 09

“They taught us to dread zarchan [from the Hebrew root to shine or glow]. They taught us, as medics, that if we treated a phosphorous wound, prepare for the worst. It doesn’t merely burn, they taught us, it burns first through the skin, then through the soft tissue, until it reaches bone. They taught us to take an instrument, or, in its absence, a stick, to dig out the phosphorus crystals from the flesh, or the burning would go on and on” …
Continue reading "What was going through my mind was one thought alone: Let it not be phosphorus"