The question has to be asked: in this graphic, sent out by email tonight from The Israel Project as part of a message entitled “Israel Defends Citizens from Hamas”, the number of “projectiles” fired from Gaza in December (through 18 December) was 120, fewer than the number in November (150), and far fewer than the number fired last June (260 on this chart), when the cease-fire (tahdiya) between Israel and Hamas began, so why now?
Even if you add the additional “projectiles” fired in the week since the cease-fire (and the graphic) ended (and it’s hard to keep score), you probably still wouldn’t come up to the June total.
[UPDATE: Perhaps I stand corrected. The Associated Press is now reporting (on Sunday morning in Jerusalem) that “The Israeli army says Palestinian militants have fired some 300 rockets and mortars at Israeli targets over the past week … ” This report can be viewed here.]
It is, of course, clearly intolerable for anyone to live under attack, with the threat of constant fear of bombing and shelling.
In any case, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas out of the country (out of Ramallah and of the West Bank), his appointed Prime Minister is taking the reins. Ramattan News Agency came off its strike to report that “Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian government in Ramallah, condemned the Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip and asked Israel to stop immediately. Fayyad stated that his government is in an urgent meeting to follow-up on the developments in the Strip during the Israeli strikes, while emphasizing that it is exerting all effort to make sure that attacks come to an end. Fayyad pointed out that the government is carrying a number of procedures and important steps regarding the incidents in Gaza, stating that a state of emergency has been called in the Ministry of Health and all health institutions in the Strip, instructing all doctors, including the retirees, to go to the hospitals and clinics to assist in aiding the victims”.
This would mean that Fayyad has ordered the Fatah loyalists who have been on strike against the Ministry of Health in Gaza to go back to work — even with Hamas — to deal with the emergency situation. (Ramattan News Agency’s website has itself been on strike, mainly against harassment by the PA in Ramallah, and it went back to work today because of the attacks).
Ma’an News Agency reported on Saturday night that “Not a single Gazan turned up at Rafah crossing Saturday despite an Egyptian promise to open the crossing and accept wounded Palestinians for treatment in Egyptian Hospitals. Between three and six hundred Palestinians were injured in Israeli airstrikes throughout the day, and Palestinian hospitals have almost entirely run out of medical supplies. The dead were carried home in cardboard boxes because Gaza City hospitals ran out of sheets. Palestinian medical sources said mild to moderate cases were turned away for lack of doctors and supplies, and reported bodies in hallways after morgues filled up. Despite Egypt’s offer to accept wounded Gazans medical sources said the condition of most of the injured was too fragile to make the trip to Rafah. Only if Egypt sent helicopters would the majority of serious cases be able to accept the offer, said Head of Emergency and Ambulance Services in the Ministry of Health Muawiya Hassanain.
Hassanain appealed to Arab states to send medical supplies so cases could be treated without being moved”. This report is posted here .
Elsewhere on its website, Ma’an said that “Medical sources say most victims are arriving to Gaza City hospitals in ‘pieces’,” and that “Hospital corridors are filled with bodies and gurneys, and local morgues have run out of space”.
And, in a report on the scene in Gaza City’s main hospital — which, like all the hospitals and clinics in Gaza, is running out or has run out of many needed materials — Ma’an says that “Death shrouds the hallways of Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa medical compound Saturday, its smell creeping in from all corners. Amputated bodies are strewn throughout hallways because morgues in the city can no longer accommodate the dead. In one corner a man stands with his seven year old son in a cardboard box because the hospital ran out of sheets to cover the dead with. This is how he will carry him home and bury him. Another man stands dazed, in shock after watching his son Mohammed killed during his graduation ceremony at the de facto police headquarters. The father of one of Mohammed’s classmates stood next to his son as he was decapitated. The man is still screaming. In the packed hospital waiting room a mother sits silently staring into the distance; her son was pronounced dead shortly after she brought him in … Twelve year old Ayman is screaming at his father who tries to prevent him from seeing the bodies of his uncle and brother, torn to pieces under sheets. ‘I’m not afraid to see them’, he screamed. In a rage as his father holds tight, Ayman catches the hand of a resistance fighter; ‘shell and kill them as they did to us’, he says…” This report can be read in full here.
In Israel’s perimeter communities just on the other side of the Gaza border, the Associated Press (AP) reported that “Streets were nearly empty in Sderot, the Israeli border town pummeled hardest by rockets. But dozens of people congregated on a hilltop to watch the Israeli aerial attacks”. How did they feel? Probably not too differently from the next door-neighbor of the man killed in nearby Netivot on Sunday, in retaliatory Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, who told the AP that “We need to finish this once and for all and strike back hard”. This AP story can be read in its entirety here.
Samuel Sockol and two special corespondents in Gaza (Islam Abedel Kareem and Reyham Abdel Kareem)reported in the Washington Post today that after the earlier IDF air attacks on Gaza, “Many people were reported still trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings”. Their story in the Washington Post added that “The attack was condemned by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank. Yasser Abed Rabbo, general secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who is close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas … said prisoners from Fatah and other Palestinian factions opposing Hamas, who were held in the Hamas installations, were also killed as result of the strikes … One of the installations hit was the Arafat Academy of Police, where about 200 trainees were taking a course, witnesses said … Other installations struck included the Coast Guard, and buildings of the security service holding opponents of Hamas … Israel refused to allow journalists into Gaza. Gil Kari, spokesman for the Israeli military office in charge of liaison with Gaza, said the crossing to Gaza was closed today because of the Sabbath. ‘Today it was closed just like any Saturday, when we keep the crossing closed’.” This WPost article can be read in full