Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Nights of Fire: New Violence Sweeps Gaza



photo: Mohammed Omer
Hamas and Fateh leaders at a recent press conference

This just in from Mohammed who returned to Rafah from a working trip in Norway to be "welcomed" by a missile attack on his neighborhood. He and his family got through the night without injury, but the day before, at the Abu Holi checkpoint, 14-year-old Raghed el-Masri, was killed by an IOF sniper.


Nights of Fire, Uneasy Days

The whine of bullets, the unearthly shrieks of missiles streaking through the air, the sky painted red with garish fire unknown in nature, the sharp odor of cordite, dust, heat—every sense was assaulted at once and the gears of a mind jolted from jet-lagged sleep locked, froze, refused to comprehend. The media routinely call these events "clashes" but the word doesn't begin to do justice to the din, the confusion, the strange feeling of alert numbness.

Tuesday night's firefight in our neighborhood was typical of the new violence sweeping through Gaza. It was a double conflict of sorts. For over a week, various militant factions had been firing Qassam rockets at Gaza's illegal Israeli settlements in retaliation for Israel's resumption of targeted assassinations of militants from Hamas and other factions.

Since the Bader camp, a new neighborhood of UNRWA-built houses, is just across a fortified road from the Rafeh Yam settlement, it was inevitable that as the fragile truce unraveled over the last two weeks, sooner or later, Palestinian militants would decide to use the neighborhood as a launch site. So when the Hamas fighters arrived, residents shouted, begged, pleaded till they moved off to the nearby sand dunes, but their two mortars still drew an inferno of missiles from Rafeh Yam onto the neighborhood.

But then, even the smallest children in Rafah know that the Israeli war machine doesn't need logical reasons to destroy a house, a street, an entire neighborhood. If pressed, they may cite tunnels, or militant activity, or the ever useful "security reasons," but basically, the IOF destroys whatever it wants, whenever it wants. Over the last ten days, horror and chaos has swamped Palestine again.

Teenager Killed at Checkpoint

Yesterday a Palestinian teenager, Raghed el-Abed el-Masri, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in the sniper tower guarding the Abu Holi checkpoint. Initially, the Israeli Army said they had fired "warning shots in the air," but not at the cars, when Palestinian traffic attempted to cross without permission. However, Dr. Ibrahim Masadar, director of the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital, said Raghed had been shot in the back, the live bullet exiting through his heart and chest. The Occupation forces spokesman conceded that Palestinian Civilian Authorities had complained that the 14-year-old had been killed, as well as several others injured in the same incident, and said they were "still investigating."

The Israeli authorities have also reinstated a travel ban on Palestinian men and boys between the ages of 16 and 35 from leaving Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only route to the outside world. In north Gaza, the Erez Crossing into Israel has been sealed as well, preventing some 7000 Palestinian workers who have permits to travel to their jobs in the industrial zone, from getting to work. All of these restrictions are considered "collective punishment" and are forbidden by international law.

Tuesday, in and around Jebalia, there were further clashes between Palestinian security forces and militants, with 13 wounded. Predictably, perhaps, each side blamed the other, while in nearby Gaza City, Abbas and the militants seemed to be reaching agreement. In any case, both sides withdrew their armed fighters from the street, realizing, many hoped, that a Palestinian civil war would help no one but the Israeli hard-liners. And while the powerful discuss, debate, talk with the press, and jockey for power, the men, women, and children of Gaza brace themselves for a long and frightening summer.

3 Comments:

At 7:29 AM, Blogger Laila said...

I know these things all sound the same in the end, but this bit about ragheb's death sounds exactly like its out of my article, :(

Yesterday a Palestinian teenager, Raghed el-Abed el-Masri, was shot dead by an Israeli soldier in the sniper tower guarding the Abu Holi checkpoint. Initially, the Israeli Army said they had fired "warning shots in the air," but not at the cars, when Palestinian traffic attempted to cross without permission. However, Dr. Ibrahim Masadar, director of the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital, said Raghed had been shot in the back, the live bullet exiting through his heart and chest. The Occupation forces spokesman conceded that Palestinian Civilian Authorities had complained that the 14-year-old had been killed, as well as several others injured in the same incident, and said they were "still investigating."

The Israeli authorities have also reinstated a travel ban on Palestinian men and boys between the ages of 16 and 35 from leaving Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only route to the outside world. In north Gaza, the Erez Crossing into Israel has been sealed as well, preventing some 7000 Palestinian workers who have permits to travel to their jobs in the industrial zone, from getting to work. All of these restrictions are considered "collective punishment" and are forbidden by international law.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger umkahlil said...

That's unfortunate that Mohammed didn't cite you as his source.

 
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