Al Jazeera | Shelled family recounts Gaza horror : Children sitting starving besides bodies of dead parents

The International Committe for the Red Cross alleged that the Israeli army had refused to let them help a family trapped in a shelled house.

When paramedics were granted access, they say what they found was shocking: starving children were sitting beside the bodies of their dead parents and family.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros has gained exclusive access to the survivors.

YouTube – Shelled family recounts Gaza horror.

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PRESS TV | 17th day of Gaza Bombardment | News Summary

YouTube – 17th day of Gaza bombardment news summary.

Intense clashes erupt in Gaza City – 12 Jan 09

YouTube – Intense clashes erupt in Gaza City – 12 Jan 09.

UNICEF: Director of Emergency discusses response in Gaza

January 9, 2009 – Director of Emergency Programmes Louis-Georges Arsenault talks about UNICEFs crisis response in Gaza.

As the conflict in the Gaza Strip continues in its third week, UNICEF teams are working to ensure that critical supplies are ready to reach women and children at risk.

UNICEF is in the process of sending emergency relief from its warehouses in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Zarka, Jordan. These supplies including hygiene kits, water-purification tablets, education materials, collapsible water containers and recreation kits are expected to be in position for delivery into Gaza in the next few days.

To learn more about this, please visit:
http://www.unicef.org/emerg/index_470…

YouTube – UNICEF: Director of Emergency discusses response in Gaza.

Riz Khan & Richard Falk | The UN and Gaza (2 Parts)

Riz speaks with Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

 

 

via YouTube – Riz Khan – The UN and Gaza – 12 Jan 09 – Part 1.

Al Jazeera Inside Story | War Crimes (2 Parts)

Inside Story asks: what are the chances of pursuing Israel legally?

What, if any, recourse has the international community to punish those alleged to be accountable? Would senior Israeli political and military leaders bear personal liability for their offenses, and could they be prosecuted by an international tribunal? Maryam Nemazee discusses.

 

 

YouTube – Inside Story – War Crimes – January 12 – Part 1.

UNWRA | GAZA DAY 17: Afshin Rattansi & Christopher Gunness

Afshin Rattansi talks to Christopher Gunness from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

YouTube – GAZA DAY 17: Afshin Rattansi & Christopher Gunness, UNRWA.

UNICEF: Gaza’s children: “I wish the war would end.”

NEW YORK, USA, 12 January 2009 The children of Gaza have three hours a day in which its safe, at least in theory, to go out. The humanitarian ceasefire does not always hold, but it provides a measure of relief for those who need to find food and water, or try to retrieve possessions from their former homes.

In Sheikh Radwan, children climb over the rubble, looking for familiar things, trying to make sense of what has happened to their community in the last two weeks.

I was at Grandpas house, said Ehab, 12. I heard the shelling and ran away. I saw the house being shelled. The windows broke as well as the door. All of it gone, there is no longer a house.

YouTube – UNICEF: Gaza’s children: “I wish the war would end.”.

ei: Blueprint for Gaza attack was long planned

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 12 January 2009

Palestinians run for cover from Israeli air strikes that are part of a larger pre-meditated Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages)


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.

It was then that Hamas foiled a coup plot by its chief rival, Fatah, backed by the United States. The flight of many Gazan members of Fatah to the West Bank convinced Barak that Israel’s lengthy blockade of the tiny enclave alone would not bring Hamas to heel.

Barak began expanding the blockade to include shortages of electricity and fuel. It was widely assumed that this was designed to pressure the civilian population of Gaza to rebel against Hamas. However, it may also have been a central plank of Barak’s military strategy: any general knows that it is easier to fight an army — or in this case a militia — that is tired, cold and hungry. More so if the fighters’ family and friends are starving too.

A few months later, Barak’s loyal deputy, Matan Vilnai, made his now infamous comment that, should the rocket fire continue, Gazans would face a “shoah” — the Hebrew word for holocaust.

The shoah remark was quickly disowned, but at the same time Barak and his team began proposing to the cabinet tactics that could be used in a military assault.

These aggressive measures were designed to “send Gaza decades into the past,” as the head of the army command in Gaza, Yoav Galant, described Israel’s attack on its opening day.

The plan, as the local media noted in March, required directing artillery fire and air strikes at civilian neighborhoods from which rockets were fired, despite being a violation of international law. Legal advisers, Barak noted, were seeking ways to avoid such prohibitions, presumably in the hope the international community would turn a blind eye.

One early success on this front were the air strikes against police stations that opened the offensive and killed dozens. In international law, policemen are regarded as non-combatants — a fact that was almost universally overlooked.

But Israel has also struck a range of patently civilian targets, including government buildings, universities, mosques and medical clinics, as well as schools. It has tried to argue, with less success, that the connection between these public institutions and Hamas, the enclave’s ruler, make them legitimate targets.

A second aspect of the military strategy was to declare areas of Gaza “combat zones” in which the army would have free rein and from which residents would be expected to flee. If they did not, they would lose their civilian status and become legitimate targets.

That policy already appears to have been implemented in the form of aerial leafleting campaigns warning residents to leave such areas as Rafah and northern Gaza. In the past few days Israeli commanders have been boasting about the extreme violence they are using in these locations.

The goal in both Rafah and northern Gaza may be to ensure that they remain largely unpopulated: in the case of Rafah, to make tunneling to Egypt harder; and in the northern Strip, from which rockets have been fired at longer ranges, to ensure they do not reach Tel Aviv.

In a third phase such tactics would probably be significantly extended as the army pushed onwards. Swathes of Gaza might be declared closed military zones, with their residents effectively herded into the main population centers.

As Barak was unveiling his strategy a year ago, the interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, suggested that the army “decide on a neighborhood in Gaza and level it.” If a third phase begins, it remains to be seen whether Israel will pursue such measures.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

This article originally appeared in The National published in Abu Dhabi and is republished with permission.

ei: Blueprint for Gaza attack was long planned.

ei: We talk in silence, we stand together

Laila El-Haddad writing from Durham, the United States, Live from Palestine, 12 January 2009

The author’s nephew participates in the Washington, DC rally. (Laila El-Haddad)

We decided to drive to Washington, DC to attend what was a national “Let Gaza Live” March. It was a last-minute decision, weighing the cost of driving a roundtrip of eight hours with my young children Yousuf and Noor, and the anticipated inclement weather, against the benefit of standing with Gaza.

Two Duke graduate students accompany us, one a Palestinian from Lydd, the other a Syrian Fulbright scholar.

On the way, Yousuf abruptly interrupts our banter to ask whether his grandfather is going to die in Gaza. He asks me to tell “them” not to shoot him.

I ask him to make a dua, to ask God to keep him — to keep all of Gaza — safe.

“That is stronger than any bullet,” I explain.

We arrive a little late, and have to march extra quickly to catch up with the group of what was estimated to be 10,000 or so protesters. It is a diverse and civil crowd. Unfortunately, the weather was not so civil. By the end, we are drenched in freezing rain, my fingers as numb as Noor’s lips are blue, plastic parkas plastered to our wet faces.

We catch up with my brother and my nephew, Zade, who is carrying a wet sign, its ink bleeding down it as though to simulate Gaza’s tears and blood. The sign read:

“Obama: I shed tears when your grandmother died. Will you do the same for me? My Grandmother lives in Gaza.”

After complaining he was freezing, his mother promptly told him “freezing is better than dying.” He agreed.

Later, he proudly told his grandfather he marched two hours in the freezing rain for Gaza.

We walked by the hotel the president-elect was staying in (sources say he was busy eating chili), and ended up in front of the White House before heading back to North Carolina.

On the way, I receive the dreaded 9pm call from my father. My heart skipped a beat — late night calls always bear bad news.

“More bombings, I can’t sleep. Israeli navy gunships are bombarding Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, you know where Amo Musab lives, where he built his new house,” he says, referring to his cousin.

“The suburb is in flames. Residents are calling out to the Red Cross but they can’t reach them, and they say they are bombing with firebombs or something; there is a thick black smoke descending on them, choking people,” he continues calmly.

I immediately have my brother update my Twitter account for me. I feel better, empowered in whatever incremental way, knowing I am broadcasting this piece of information that is at once senseless and meaningful to the world. My brother struggles to condense terror and death and panic to 140 characters.

We continue speaking.

I learn that my cousin’s father-in-law has been hurt. His house in northern Gaza was hit by Israeli forces, then bulldozed to the ground. He was arrested, blindfolded and tortured — including made to fall off stairs, fracturing several ribs. He then had to walk an hour to Gaza City’s Sheikh Ijleen neighborhood. His wife was also forced to leave in her pajamas in the middle of the night and walk alone to the city.

I talk to my father until the bombing subsides — until anther hour. Sometimes we don’t say anything at all. We simply hold the phones to our respective ears and talk in silence, as though it were an unfamiliar technology. As though I can shield him from the hell being unleashed around him for those few minutes. However absurd it sounds, we feel safe somehow; reassured that if something happens, it will happen while we stand together.

Laila El-Haddad is a Palestinian freelance journalist, photographer, and blogger (http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/) who divides her time between Gaza and the United States.

 

ei: We talk in silence, we stand together.