By Vittorio Arrigoni
Translated from Il Manifesto
To view original article, published by Il Manifesto on the 30th December 2008, click here
Jabilia, Bet Hanun, Rafah, Gaza City are the legs of the journey in my personal map of hell. Whatever the press releases from the summit of the Israeli military may say, recited parrot-style all over Europe and the US via the disinformation experts, in the last few days I’ve been an eye witness to the bombing of mosques, schools, universities, hospitals, markets and many, many civilian buildings.
The medical director at Al Shifa hospital has confirmed he received calls from members of the IDF, the Israeli Army, ordering him to evacuate the hospital, or else face being showered by missiles. But they didn’t let the Army intimidate them.
I should be sleeping at the port (though we haven’t shut our eyes once in Gaza for at least 4 days), but it’s being constantly bombed at night. You no longer hear the sirens of ambulances in a mad chase, simply because there isn’t a living soul left at the port or its environs. Everyone is dead, and it feels like treading a cemetery in the aftermath of an earthquake.
The situation is really that of an unnatural catastrophe, a hate-fuelled and cynical upheaval catapulted onto the people of Gaza like molten lead, tearing human bodies apart. Contrarily to their predictions, it unites all Palestinians, brought together and turned into a sole entity. These are people who may not even have greeted one another until recently, on account of belonging to opposing factions.
When the bombs shower like rain down from the sky, from a height of ten thousand metres you can be sure they make no distinction between a hamas or fatah banner hanging from your window sill. They’re no less explosive even when you’re Italian. There’s no such thing as a surgically precise military operation. When the Air Force and the Navy start bombing, the only surgical operations are those tackled by the doctors, unhesitatingly amputating limbs reduced to a pulp, even though those same arms and legs may have been saved. There’s no time, you have to run, and the time used to treat a seriously injured limb may spell death for the next wounded patient in line awaiting a transfusion. At Al Shifa hospital 600 inpatients are in serious conditions, with only 29 breathing machines.
They’re short of everything, especially experienced staff. For this exact reason, tired as we were (not so much by the sleepless nights as by the apathy and compliance of Western governments, at all effects accomplices of Israel’s crimes), we decided that one of our Free Gaza Movement boats would leave the port of Larnaca, Cyprus last night, carrying three tons of medicine and medical staff. I waited for them in vain – they ought to have docked the boat at 8 AM this morning. Instead, they were intercepted by 11 Israeli war ships at 90 nautical miles from Gaza. They tried to sink them in full international waters. They rammed into them three times, producing an engine failure and a leak in the hull. By pure chance the crew and passengers are still alive, and have managed to dock the boat at a Lebanese port.
Feeling increasingly frustrated by the “civilised” world’s deafening silence, my friends will make a second attempt soon. They’ve in fact unloaded the medicine from our damaged boat, the Dignity, and filled another boat ready for departure, heading straight to Gaza.
We’re certain that the criminal will of Israel, in trampling all over human rights and international law, will never be as strong as our determination in the defense of human rights.
Many journalists interviewing me ask me about the humanitarian situation of Palestinians in Gaza, as if the problem amounted just to food, water, electricity and fuel shortages, rather than the matter being about who’s the actual cause of all this, by obstructing the borders, bombing the water plant or electric power stations.
There are endless queues at the few bakeries with their shutters still semi-open; they have 40 or 50 people scuffling to grab the last chunk of bread. One of the bakers, Ahmed, is a friend of mine, and he’s told me about his greatest fears of the last few days. He dreads the bakeries being mobbed more than the bombs. Brawls have already exploded in front of his shop. The police were around to keep public order until recently, especially in front of bakeries, but you won’t see a single uniformed policeman in all of Gaza now. Some are in hiding at the moment. The others are all buried under two metres of earth, including some of my friends.
Another massacre of children in Jabilia: two little brothers, were struck by an Israeli bomb while driving a donkey-drawn cart in the as-Sekka street in Jabalia.
Mohammad Rujailah, a partner in the ISM, took a photo which is more than just a still image: it’s a history, the revelation of the tragedy we’re intensely consumed by every minute, counting every hour while losing friends, brothers, relatives. Tanks, fighter planes, drones, Apache helicopters, the world’s largest and fiercest army attacking a people who use donkeys as their main means of transportation, just like in Jesus Christ’s time:
—here the picture—-
According to Al Mizan, a human rights monitoring centre, while I write 55 children are involved in bombings, 20 are being killed and 40 are being seriously injured.
Israel has turned the Palestinian hospitals and morgues into angel factories, not realising just how much hatred they are generating in Palestine and the rest of the world.
The angel factories are churning angels out at the rate of a non-stop production line tonight as well, I can tell from the rumbles of explosions I hear outside my window.
Those tiny dismembered and amputated bodies, those lives snuffed out before they could even blossom, will be a recurrent nightmare for the rest of my life. If I can still find the strength to talk about their end it’s only because I want to bring justice to those who no longer have a voice, those who’ve never had a hint of a voice, perhaps for the benefit of those who’ve never had any ears.