Gaza's blackest day

MENASSAT's Gaza correspondent Ola Madhoun recounts the horrors of the single bloodiest day in Gaza history since the occupation began in 1967.
A Palestinian family flees the scene of an Israeli airstrike on Saturday. © Maan

GAZA CITY, December 28, 2008 (MENASSAT) — Gaza, the capital of death, blood and continuous Palestinian agony for decades was, on December 27th, on a date with a new episode of bloody attacks.

Today, the smell of blood was mixed with that of gunpowder in devastated Gaza. The destruction is huge. Corpses cover the ground. The smell of blood fills the air. The injured call for help. Remains are here and there; the wide-open eyes of a martyr as he is blaming me.

This is the least we can say about this bloody day in Gaza, about this hideous massacre in which Israel expropriated the blood of innocent women, children and elderly, claiming to destroy what it calls terrorist organizations such as Hamas.

Worst attack since 1967

One-hundred planes launched more than 230 air strikes. The scale of the attack took the Gazans by surprise; they expected this attack to be just like all the other Israeli strikes, which generally do not kill more than fifty martyrs.

However, this attack turned out to be biggest and ugliest massacre to occur in a single day since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories during the 1967 war.

The general manager of the emergency services in Gaza, Dr. Mouawiya Hassanen, said in a phone call with MENASSAT that the number of victims reached 228 martyrs and about 700 injured, among them 120 with serious injuries. 

He explained that a great number of the martyrs are civilians, women and children, adding that 80 victims arrived in pieces to the hospital, while dozens more were recovered from under the rumbles of the bombed police headquarters.

Shortage of medication

Hassasen mentioned a great lack in medications, first aids kits and all the necessary equipment to perform urgent operations, calling on all the Arab countries  and  medical associations to send medication to the besieged Strip.

He said that the majority of the victims are in critical condition and can’t be transported to any Arab country until their condition stabilizes, and asked to send helicopters to transport them.

As if this wasn't enough, many bodies were simply left in the corridors of the hospitals due to the lack of space in the morgues. The injured also lingered in those same hallways, while those with minor injuries were dismissed to allow in the more critical ones.
Among the dead were the head of the Gaza police department, Toufic Jaber, the governor of the middle territory, Abu Ahmad Ashour, and General Ismail al-Jaabari, head of the security and protection force in the Hamas police.

Palestinian sources said that the bombing first targeted the headquarters of the police, where a graduation party for officers were being held. After about 20 seconds, bombings hit different parts of Gaza and the southern and middle provinces as well as the northern territories, where the attacks focused on al-Sudaniya, al-Mashtal, training sites of the al-Qassam factions, and the offices of Hamas' Waaed association for prisoners.

Meanwhile, the Israeli planes fired a missile on the playground of the Islamic University in Gaza, to send a message that it is possible to hit the university, which has about 18,000 students.

Riots in the West Bank and Galilee

The Israeli planes also hit al-Badr police headquarters in Rafah, and all the security centers, which led to quakes inside the tunnels in Rafah forcing the workers there to leave in a hurry.

The simultaneous attacks left the corpses of Hamas security forces scattered around the bombed headquarters.

Dozens of ambulances and civilians’ cars started transporting the injured into hospitals in Gaza, while the mosques broadcast verses of the Holy Quran for the martyrs.

Al-Nasser Salaheddine Brigades declared that more than ten of its militants were among the victims, including the leader of the artillery unit, Sheikh Radwan Mohammad al-Adgham, the leader of the regional brigades in Rafah, Ahmad al-Khatib, and the regional leader in Gaza, Adib Harb.

Instantly, the Palestinian Health Minister in Ramallah, Dr. Fathi Abu Maghli, called all the medical staff who had been on a strike for months, to head immediately to the private and general hospitals in Gaza.

The Ministry denounced this cruel attack Israel launched on Gaza. It called on the different international and humanitarian organizations to interfere and stop the attacks on one hand, and to get more medical supplies into Gaza on the other.

Meanwhile, Egypt declared the Rafah checkpoint open to allow dozens of injured to get to the Egyptian hospitals.

Angry riots erupted in different cities in the West Bank to denounce the Israeli attacks. In Galilee, hundreds of students went out on the streets, condemning the "massacre" and asking for retaliation, while hundreds of others demonstrated in Bethlehem's Nativity Square, expressing their rejection of the Israeli strikes.

Christmas canceled

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert defended the horrible massacre in Gaza, claiming that this operation came after the Palestinian missile attacks became intolerable, pointing out that no government can ignore the security of its citizens. He continued to say that Israel is not excited to fight, thanking all those who planned and executed the attacks in Gaza.

Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barack promised that the military operation on Gaza will continue and may even expand depending on the evolution on the ground. A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)  said a ground assault may follow.

According to the spokesman, the Israeli planes only targeted military locations such as weapons hangars, leadership headquarters and training centers under Hamas control. "Those who watch the satellite channels know that the Israeli war planes targeted the military men only”, he said.

The Israeli attacks overshadowed the planned Christmas festivities in Palestine. But the Patriarchate in Gaza had already canceled the festivities as if smelling the coming blood. Later, the Bethlehem Patriarch followed suit and canceled the West Bank festivities in solidarity with Gaza.

What tires me is the balance I have to show as a journalist and which forced me to ignore my sympathy for the sake of my profession, or my humanity to for the sake of my professionalism.

How can a victim describe its own death after she was deprived of her soul? This is my profession through which I try to express my crushed and slaughtered soul, touching the bodies of the dead in the streets. But I can't ignore this trust I carry in my hands under the eyes of the world which refused to admit our suffering, our poverty, our sorrow and our right to live.

Gaza bodycount: Palestinians 271 – Israelis 1
Posted on 28/12/2008 - 14:45
Israeli jets have launched a second day of airstrikes against the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Despite international condemnation over what is being called a disproportional response, Israel is not excluding a ground offensive. According to Palestinian officials, 271 Palestinians have been killed so far for only one victim in Israel. gaza.jpg