Music for Gaza! No more sound of bullets, bombs or drones please!

People tonight are celebrating in Gaza!

But the dead are not all buried. The wounded are still there. Many lives have been devastated. Many lives still hang in uncertainty. Hundreds of houses and infra structure were destroyed. The crime was committed. The perpetrators must be prosecuted.

And more importantly, justice to Palestinians must be restored after decades of injustice. The killing for now stops (insh’allah). But the work is only beginning.

We will continue to be with you.

We are Gaza! We are Palestine!

Here I post a few spontaneous remarks that came in (hoping that the senders won’t object):

From our friend Ayah:

We are still alive!!!! People are celebrating like Eid’s days! “Allah Akbar” every where! I wish our men stop firing in the air, my ears can’t hear more bullets! I want to hear music or at least no sound.

BTW, I can still hear the drones, or am I imagining? No, it is still the drones.
Can’t believe “no more siege”, really!!!

Ayah asks me add this :  “Yes we love life, but we will never forget or forgive for breaking our hearts. Justice!”   She also informs me that they can still here the drones!

 

In from our friend Ziad (it appears Israel managed to raise the death toll up to the last 2 minutes before the ceasefire — quelle horreur! quelle tristesse!)

Mercredi 21 novembre 2012

En direct de Gaza

Il est 22h

La trêve est entrée en figure à 21h

La population civile est soulagée malgré les morts et la destruction massive

Gaza fête sa résistance, sa patience et son attachement à sa terre

On espère un respect israélien de cette trêve et des garanties internationales

Huitième journée de l’agression israélienne contre Gaza

L’aviation israélienne a continué à bombarder Gaza jusqu’à la dernière minute, plus de 25 raids israéliens entre 8h50 et 21h avant l’entrée en figure de cette trêve.

2 martyrs et 3 blessés à 20h58.

22 martyrs et 45 blessé aujourd’hui, le huitième jour de l’agression israélienne

Le bilan de ces huit jours de l’offensive militaire israélienne est lourd : 160 martyrs dont 42 enfants, 12 femmes et 20 personnes âgées, plus de 1200 blessés, et destruction de plus de 300 maisons et immeubles appartiennent à des civils, et 120 bâtiments publics.

Gaza restera toujours debout

Vive Gaza, vive la Palestine, vive la mobilisation populaire et citoyenne internationale pour notre cause noble

Amitiés de Gaza la courageuse, Gaza la vie, Gaza l’espoir et Gaza le sang de nos martyrs.

And from Akram:

This just to say that all of you did great job either by wring and posting, reading or sharing  a post or comment. All of you have been part of media campaign that intended to spread reality about the new massacres that took place against the Palestinians. Your cooperation and your solidarity was one of the reasons that led to the defeat of the aggressors. Here I would like to mention with sincere gratitude all the foreigners who supported the Palestinians. In less than an hour the Palestinians will proudly celebrate this stunning victory against a cowardly enemy who was targeting only civilians. We hope after that we continue this kind of resistance until the criminals are brought to justice and executed according to the international law.

 Long live Palestine,

Long live Palestine,

Long live Palestine !.

As David put it in a response:

It was an honour (as well as a human duty) to do what we could, when we could, to help you and other Palestinians in Gaza. We only hope that the ceasefire holds, and that the international community comes to see the injustice of Israeli occupation more broadly.
Now, to end that blockade!  (my highlight, mn)
ma3a salaam,

Palestinian Civil Society Organizations Call on the International Community to Stop the Offensive on Gaza (PNGO)

(Received from Amjad Shawa of the Palestinian NGO Network,  I have tried to update some of the  grim stats but of course the death toll and numbers of civilian buildings hit only keep rising…)

Since Wednesday evening, 14 November 2012, Israeli Occupation Forces have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip, code-named “Operation Pillar of Defence” through aerial, marine and ground bombardment throughout the Gaza Strip, using missiles and artilleries. This is occurring amidst increasing Israeli threats to expand the offensive with a ground invasion; large numbers of Israeli troops have been deployed at the borders of the Gaza Strip, and it is reported that 75,000 reservists have been called up. Contrary to claims by the Israeli government that Israeli forces do not target civilians, the outcome of this offensive so far has indicated that only civilians pay the price. Over 70 civilians have been killed, including children and women, and hundreds more, including children and women, have been wounded. Israeli forces have attacked civilian facilities, including houses, mosques, churches and schools, and governmental buildings of a completely civil nature, such as the buildings of the Council of Ministers and the Civil Department of the Ministry of Interior.

Over the past few days, Israeli forces have intensified the bombardments in a serious escalation, targeting civilian lives and property. Recently, Israeli forces directly bombarded media offices in Gaza City, seriously wounding a number of journalists. There has been no safe place in the Gaza Strip, which essentially does not have any shelter where civilians can have protection from day and night bombardments. Approximately 1.7 million people have become under Israeli forces fire, and their lives are in danger. A number of people have been killed or wounded while inside their houses, as a result of the bombarding of residential areas and their vicinities, with bombs weighing up to one ton dropped by F-16 fighter jets.

During this offensive, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is dramatically deteriorating, especially with the closure of all border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel and the denial of entry of basic goods and materials into the Gaza Strip, including medical consignments, food and fuel. This is in violations of the obligations of Israel as an occupying power under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which requires Israel to facilitate the passage of medical and foods consignments to the civilian population in the occupied territory in all circumstances. We, Palestinian civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip, condemn the ongoing offensive by Israeli forces, and warn of further deterioration of the situation and its catastrophic impact on the lives of Palestinian civilians. We are concerned that the worst has not yet come, and unless the international community intervenes to stop this offensive, only Palestinian civilians will pay the price of this escalation. Even before this offensive, their suffering that has been constant due to the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than six years; the recent crimes committed by Israeli forces will further deepen their suffering. The role of the international community is not just to condemn international crimes, but to act to prevent them from being committed. The failure of the international community to intervene to protect Palestinian civilians serves to encourage the State of Israel and its occupation forces to commit more crimes against them. Such crimes will continue as long as accountability is lacking and impunity for the perpetrators is pervasive. Less than four years ago, Israeli forces already waged an offensive on the Gaza Strip in late 2008 (“Operation Cast Lead”). After this offensive, the international community failed to assume their responsibility to hold the perpetrators of war crimes accountable.

Therefore: We call upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to fulfill their obligation to ensure Israeli forces’ respect for the Convention, and to stop Israel’s systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property.

We call upon the United Nations, represented by the Secretary General, to immediately act and intervene to protect international security and peace in accordance with the UN Charter. We express our deep shock at his decision to visit Israel and Ramallah on Tuesday, 20 November, without visiting the Gaza Strip which is currently under attack. This has serious indications that the Secretary General is following the US position of supporting Israel, the party which practices occupation and aggression, at the expense of Palestinian civilians who are the victims of the offensive. We call upon the Human Rights Council to hold a special session to address the situation in the Gaza Strip and take effective steps to stop the offensive. We highly appreciate Arab and international official and public visits to the Gaza Strip in solidarity with its people, especially the visits of the Egyptian Prime Minister and the Tunisian Foreign Minister, and call for more solidarity visits in the upcoming days. We call upon Arab civil society organizations to organize visits to the Gaza Strip in solidarity with the Palestinian people and rejection for the Israel’s offensive and crimes, and we highly appreciate the solidarity activities organized by them and call upon them to continue such important activities.

We highly appreciate demonstrations and protests by solidarity movement with the Palestinian people throughout the world, and express our full support for their efforts to pressurize their governments to intervene in order to stop the offensive.We call for establishing a safe passage to ensure the entry of medical and food consignments into the Gaza Strip, which is an obligation of the occupying power under international humanitarian law.

(adaptation of image from Picasso's Guernica)

Signatories: – Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network, representing 130 Palestinian NGOs- The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights- Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights- Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights.

“Have you not thought” (a poem by Sameeha Elwan on numbers)

Have you not thought

While writing down statistics

While raising the number of victims

While reporting an explosion

Whose sound has not your ears pierced

your stomach hurt, the inner bones

to which you’ve not jumped once

or twice, and shouted for life

before you realize

it is still not you

Have not you thought

that maybe i’m not a figure

not a number

not a statistic

to add to your record of experience

to add to ur lecture on human rights

to address your audience of intellect

~Sameeha Elwan

for Rama Al Chandi (intro + poem from Akram Habeeb)

(from our IUG colleague Akram Habeeb: one more heartbreaking story among far far too many…).

It is terrible when you lose sense of time. In Gaza we started not recognize the days of the week or even the boundaries between day and night. All what we see and recognize are the terrible scenes of devastation caused by the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the ribbed bodies of killed children. Today  I was devastated when I saw the dead body of the one year and a half – baby, Ram

a Al Chandi. Rama was killed by an Israeli attack on an old, already destroyed governmental prison called Al Sarayaa. Rama, who was dressed in red pullover was killed while she was sleeping in her purple room. When you drop a 1MT ton bomb on a place adjacent to residential places, you verily know that the neighboring houses will be destroyed and people will be k

illed. This is what is happening in Gaza. The Israelis are targeting deserted and previously destroyed buildings and the results are very devastating; more victims are added to the death toll of the real holocaust the Palestinian people in Gaza are exposed to. When I saw doctors cuffing the hand of Rama, I understood that Rama was no more among us. However, I imagined Rama assuming Lazarus figure and questioning president Obama about the gift he sent for her. Here it goes:

It was dark when I had suddenly seen

What, later, I knew the Phantom F 16

I smiled for the lovely gift,
It might be a doll?Uncle Sam finds for me fit.

A swing,

for me to push and pull?

It roared down as a hell

I never heard of or smell.

First, I thought it July 4th

When fireworks are sent forth,

It might be then my birthday,

Ah, but it is not yet Good Friday

Tell me Uncle Sam what I have seen

Is it a doll or the hideous F 16?

(adaptation of an image from Picasso's Guernica)

To Uncle Jacob you gave for free

To end my Lovely and Rosy Reverie.

CBC coverage – hardly reaches the level of the absurd.

A the end of the bloodiest day in Gaza. More than 30 people have been murdered in the past 24 hours or so, and many many more injured.

The demonstration downtown was a brief uplifting reprieve. Although I don’t particularly like chanting at demos, it did feel good to be surrounded by so many different kinds of people who all shared one thing with me, outrage.

Since I got back my soul has been weeping for my friends in Gaza. I feel so pained, and shamed, I don’t know where to turn. Social media, reading articles, posting blogs, … keeps me busy. At some point during the day it felt like I was running around my laptop and the internet like a headless chicken. I’m new to this.

All this pales naturally with what people in Gaza are living through at the moment.

Before going to bed, I go through a few news pages for the last time. In Gaza it is early morning. I’m almost shutting my laptop, but give the CBC a last check. The headline :

Death toll rises in Gaza after Israeli strikes

It is a short video clip. I click on it. It opens, a woman speaking, like this:  The most dramatic damage is in Gaza itself. But Israelis are under fire too. In the past 5 days hundreds of rockets have been launched by Palestinian militants into Israel and three people have been killed. CBC Saša Petricic is in Southern Israel where people live in close range of these rockets.

Then Petricic’ reportage picks it up. For the remainder of the time – hardly another word about Palestinians. Interview with a soldier, a citizen. We see some broom sweeping up a bit of shrapnel, looks more like small gravel to me. We hear about a missile slamming into on a hospital.  We are not told about casualties, so I presume there were none. For the remainder of the 1:51 min we do not return to the death toll in Gaza. In fact, we are never informed about how high it rose today.

That’s it!  We only hear about Israelis.

I check out two more clips. Reporting almost 100% from the Israeli perspective. We do not get to hear one person living in Gaza speak. The third clip is a long five minute interview with a Canadian teacher, Terri Millstone, in Ashdod in Israel, who takes us through the stress of living through a day continuously having to duck from rockets. The reporter is awed.

The scenes I watched earlier, from Aljazeera and independent news channels, of panic and hysteria in Gaza, of a father carrying the dead corpse of his infant son, of another father waiting to pick up the corpse of his 10-year old daughter from the morgue. These scenes, again, apparently not worthy of showing us.

A white Canadian woman who just wants to live a normal life in a democracy deserves all our compassion.

The bleeding wounded, the corpses, the children ripped apart by bombs of Palestinians, of Arabs, of Muslims, well, they apparently don’t deserve our compassion. They are just business as usual. We’re supposed to be used to them living in misery, crying, shrieking, dying. Why bother showing them?

The quality of such reporting doesn’t even reach the level of the absurd.

Ashamed to be Canadian

Below is the copy of a text that was emailed to us by Akram Habeeb, a friend and faculty member of the Islamic University of Gaza, a teacher of American Literature. He was one of the organisers and hosts the linguistics conference that we recently attended, and a little over two weeks ago he had invited us to his home for a family dinner around his table. His is one example of the numerous messages that we are sent from our friends over there. Here for example is a blog, Life In Gaza Strip, written by Azzam Ahmad, the nice and engaging engineer who we met in Khan Yunis and from whom we learned many interesting things. He is in Gaza, witnessing and living through the catastrophe.

We feel helpless and horrified, faced with such a brutal onslaught on our friends, on a densely packed civilian population. We feel aghast at our government, which, along with the other governments that have long ago decided to align themselves with the colonial power and oppressor, have no words of protest to say. No call for a cease fire, only the endlessly reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself.  In their official statement, Palestinians do not even figure. Not a word of admonishment to their friend Israel. It is as if they stand by and watch a friend brutally beat up a helpless, smaller creature. And say nothing. What friends to have! Not friends, in any case, that Israel, in the long run, will be served by.

In the meantime, more Gazan are slaughtered off. Children are ripped apart. The death toll has reached 57. A colleague of mine wrote me this morning: “So what counts is how “different” the two populations are from mainstream Canadians?? It makes me ashamed to be Canadian.” My feelings precisely: ashamed to be Canadian.

Here is Akram’s text:

Yesterday the Zionists pretended that they wanted a kind of truce, but deep down in their mind, they were planning to attack local radio stations and satellites channels. This what I felt yesterday when I admonished Gazzans not  to trust what the Zionists say during war times ; the Israelis do not want the world to know about what they are doing in Gaza.  They even  did  not want their people to know about their crimes in a besieged place  like Gaza, nor do they want to reveal their own causalities. The dirtiest thing in this war against Gaza is that the fact that it is a game played by Netanyahu in order to win in the coming elections. This is a very Machiavellian  tactics: assassinate a Palestinian leader, and as a consequence the Palestinians will retaliate by firing rockets at the Israelites. It is then I, the prime minister of Israel, would emerge as the real savior of the sons of Israel. It is only I who could prevent Palestinian rockets fired at Israel..

This has always been the game of the Israeli politicians: the more Palestinian you  kill, the more votes you harvest. It is not problem for these politicians if the Palestinian victims are children, women, young, or old..

What is worst in the game is the fact that these politicians are supported by European and American leaders. These, and after meticulous meditations, come out and say: Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel, the super power in the region, the nuclear power, is very vulnerable and it needs all the support of those democratic leaders in order to survive! These Palestinians are the real danger to the world peace; get rid of them and the world will be an oasis of peace. This is the rhetoric of the colonizer; it is the crooked rhetoric which makes all the intellectuals, all the freedom loving people sick of. Stop fooling the world; your policy in the Middle East should change; otherwise the Arab spring will reach you when your people will discover that you are not the leaders of democracy but rather the masters of hypocrisy!.

A photo that I took from Facebook this morning, posted by a friend who has already lost a dear friends of his.

Solidarity with Gaza – Montreal demo – Sunday Nov 18

Some photos of the demos (courtesy of Mary Ellen Davis)

 

Mass Demonstration: Solidarity with Gaza

1 p.m. Sunday, November 18th

Hall Building, Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve West
Metro Guy-Concordia

A little over two weeks ago I was walking in the streets of Gaza. I was amazed how Israel could bombard this densely populated place in 2008-2009 and claim that it was trying to avoid civilian casualties. It is not possible to avoid civilians here. The whole world now knows that in that assault, most now call it a massacre, 1400 Palestinians were killed. Most of the casualties were civilians.

Now Israel is again targeting this little enclave, which has been described as the largest open air prison. Already, after four days, the death toll is at 40, which includes at least 17 civilians. There are hundred of badly injured, bleeding casualties in the overflowing hospitals. Due to the extended blackouts, hospitals rely on generators. When the fuel runs out (as has happened on several occasions),  doctors are sometimes left in the dark while operating on a patient. Already last week, before the heavy bombardment started and over 50 Palestinians were wounded, there was very little morphine for analgesia (this information was coming form a Canadian medic on ground).

In the meantime, our media focus disproportionally on the rockets hitting Israel, which have had casualties, but much smaller ones. Our Canadian government has stated this:

“We fundamentally believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens from terrorist threats.

“Far too often, the Jewish people find themselves on the front lines in the struggle against terrorism, the great struggle of our generation. Just last weekend, more than 100 rockets rained down on civilians in southern Israel from positions in the Gaza Strip.

“Canada condemns the terrorist group Hamas and stands with Israel as it deals with regional threats to peace and security.”

Not a single word about Gazans right to defend themselves, or about Palestinian civilians, women, children finding themselves on the front lines in the struggle against illegal occupation, landgrabs, killings, and woundings!

Please take your conscience, your humanity and come out on Sunday in large protest. Let Gaza hear a different voice than that of our callous government.

A short video of a massive explosion as Israeli bomb hits Gaza City residential area. It looks like an apartment block. A 20 second video, but what it means is loss of life, horrific injuries, grief, and loss of homes for many.

Please be compassionate! Come on Sunday and add your voice!

Demonstration called by Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-ConcordiaTadamon!