10 April 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza
On the afternoon of Thursday April 7th, Israeli forces escalated their attacks on the Gaza Strip. The murderous offensive has killed 18 people so far, the majority of them being civilians. Among the massacred are a mother, her daughter, two children, two elderly men and four members of Al Qassam Brigades. More than sixty people have been injured, some are still fighting for their lives. Since Thursday afternoon the Gaza Strip is besieged by drones, Apache helicopters, F16 and E15 fighter planes, gunboats in the south and tanks by the border.
At approximately 16:00 on Thursday, Israeli forces targeted areas surrounding the previously destroyed Gaza International Airport in the far southeast of Rafah city, in the south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces positioned along the border fired approximately 10 artillery shells, while Apache helicopters opened machine gun fire. A number of the artillery shells landed near three Palestinian civilians who were sitting near the airport. Two of them, Mohammed Eyada Eid el-Mahmoum (25) and Khaled Ismail Hamdan el-Dabari (17) were killed immediately and the third civilian, Saleh Jarmi Ateya al-Tarabin (38) died of his wounds in the hospital on the evening of the same day.
Israeli forces continued to fire as a number of Palestinian civilians attempted to rescue the wounded; Musaab Mohammed Ubeid Sawwaf, 20, was killed and another 14 civilians, including five children and a paramedic from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, were wounded.
Salama El-Dabari is seated in a tent, mourning the loss of his nephew, the 17 year old Khaled Ismail Hamdan el-Dabari, while he explains to ISM volunteers what has happened.
“Khaled was following the ambulances on his motorbike, to assist the medics in evacuating the injured people. As soon as the ambulances arrived, an Apache helicopter shelled the site again. Khaled got stuck under his motorcycle, which caught fire during the shelling. The ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society were not able to evacuate him immediately. They recovered his body the next morning, covered in burns, with open head wounds, a hole in the abdomen, bullets in the legs and without hands. His father, my brother, was looking for him, but we didn’t want him to see his son in such a condition, so we sent him home before evacuating Khaled’s body.”
Salama switches to the inequality of the conflict and says the following: “Look at us, the Palestinians; we are a peaceful people who are trying to shake off the occupation to live in freedom. But we don’t have any meaningful military power: we have no drones nor F16’s, we don’t have any of Israel’s modern weaponry. There is no comparison possible. We are desperate. Nobody seems to care about the Palestinians and our struggle for justice.”
21 year old Abdel Hadi Jumma el-Sufi is one of the injured and is currently hospitalized in Shifa hospital in Gaza City. He stares at the ceiling of his hospital room while recalling the murderous event.
“One of the men was hit in the beginning of the attack, so me and my friends approached to evacuate him. We found out that the man was already dead. Tanks kept on shelling and killed another man. We managed to get the two dead bodies and one severely wounded man out of there, into the ambulance, but could not reach the fourth man as shelling prevented us. I thought he was still alive, but in the morning the ambulance recovered another dead body from the scene.” Abdel himself sustained shrapnel wounds to his legs, lungs and the back of his head and is currently awaiting surgery.
20 year old Mahdi Joma’a Abu Athra is worst of: the doctor at Europa hospital in Khan Younes describes him as a dead body kept alive by machinery. His maternal uncles are sitting around the hospital bed and are explaining that Mahdi got married a couple of months ago: his wife is pregnant. It seems unlikely that Mahdi will ever lay eyes on his firstborn.
One of the uncles bursts out: “How come the West is so interested in defending the Lybian’s human rights and is doing nothing for the Palestinians? You, who come here in solidarity with us, should send a clear message to your countries: it is not us that is attacking Israel, it is Israel that is attacking us! They are the terrorists and the criminals! Our rockets and missiles are fireworks compared to Israel’s weaponry! They have the most high-tech accurate equipment: they can target very precisely. When they kill civilians, it’s because they intend to kill civilians!”