The grandmother of 29-year-old wounded Palestinian Hana Mabhoh cares for her as she lies in the bed in the Kamal Adwan hospital, December 31, 2008, in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip. Mabhoh was injured when an Israeli shell struck a government building where she was working in Gaza city. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images for CARE International)
Once again, precious fuel is spared to crank up the family's mini-generator, Safa is able to send dispatches from Gaza City to Israelity Bites and other friends. There's a vile sense of deja vu about this invasion, recalling the military campaigns in 2006. One crucial difference is that international journalists are no longer allowed to enter the Strip, as they could back then, so witnesses are fewer. Without brave writers like Safa, all of us would be "Eyeless in Gaza". Already, we see that most Palestinian residents there have "No Exit." While researching psychological treatment programs for child victims of post-traumantic stress syndrome last year, Izzy spoke to many north Gazan families who had been herded into one room by Israeli army tank crews and snipers who took over their homes during incursions. Tearful women told me how soldiers had advanced across the neighbourhood, using teenage Gazan boys as shields. And for survivors, the ultimate indignity was having to pick up the squalid waste after the Israeli soldiers left. These IDF snipers in diapers were so vigilant that they did not abandon their rifle scopes long enough to take a dump. War is shit.
Safa tells us:
Last night (January 3rd), we realized that if there is any truth to Israeli WAR minister, Ehud Barak's words, it's that this invasion will be a long one. At approximately 9:15 pm local time Israeli Forces entered the strip from 3 Locations. From the east of Gaza city and the northern town of Jabalia and Beit Lahia, tanks rolled into the Palestinian residential areas while Israeli F16 created a cover from the sky. At the same time, Israeli tanks and infantry troops entered Rafah from the south east, while tanks shelling and artillery fire rained on the Mintar area of Gaza city. Israeli warships were simultaneously barraging Gaza city from the sea. The entire strip was surrounded and being heavily pounded by Israeli missiles and artillery fire.
Many people were not even aware that the invasion had begun, thinking the whole time that Israel had intensified its air raids. The city of Gaza has been without power for a few days now and radio batteries were running out. Almost all the residents of Gaza city have been confined to their homes for over a week and all of the stores have been closed. People rely mostly on word of mouth to get the news, a very small few are lucky enough to have generators and leftover fuel.
These attacks, this war is being waged against an unarmed civilian population at the most desperate and bleak time of times. Israel has been systematically and indiscriminately using its most advanced of military capabilities against a defenseless population, 3 quarters of which is women and children for 8 days prior to the invasion. People are weak, physically and morally, and dealing with a great amount of loss and frustration. This is to speak nothing of the 18 month siege that Gaza is currently barely able to hold up under.
For the past few days we have seen over ten mosques, holy places of worship, bombed, frequently while people were praying inside. We have seen children being pulled out from under the rubble looking like there was not a single bone unbroken in their small bodies. We have seen hospitals overflowing with bloody corpses and people taking their last breaths. We have seen friends on television being resuscitated at sites of Israeli air raids. We have seen entire families swept of the face of the earth in one blow, and we have seen our streets, homes, neighborhoods become unrecognizable ruins from the amount of destruction.
And yet Israel continues to blatantly and insistently affirm that the offensive is not aimed at the civilians and that its war is against political and military wings of Hamas. Meanwhile we, the people of Gaza, are collectively experiencing a kind of terror and violence no human being should ever endure One almost begins to suspect that the Israeli WAR forces are acting on a delusion that they created and that they have come to believe. Otherwise, they would have expected what would happen during their invasion of the Strip. Then again, it came as a surprise (a pleasant one) even to us, and that, should we have been in a right state of mind, we would have undoubtedly anticipated
Israel has come into our homes, is fighting us in our streets and is expressing its brutality against us in full force. How do we react?
All Palestinian factions have united and are out facing the enemy, using all the military capabilities that they collectively have. Although these capabilities are incomparable to the military strength exerted by Israel, yet it has made us more certain than ever that Palestinians will fight to the very end to protect their own. It has shown us that resistance, courage and love are an integral part of the Palestinian identity that will never change despite all the hardships we endure. It has given us a moral boost, which comes at a time when we need it most.
The Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Alquds brigades of the Islamic Jihad movement. The Al qassam brigades of the Hamas movement. The Salah el Din Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees, Al Aqsa Martyrs brigades of Fatah, all have come together as one united front and at a high, almost affirmed risk of peril are out protecting our streets and our homes, all ready to die if that means preventing the death of one more helpless child. We are united and we have accepted our fate recurrently, but Gaza's almost 80% refugees will NOT be massacred and displaced yet again by people from the outside guided by tyranny and greed.
There are estimations out there as to the collective count of the united military resistance fighters from the Palestinian factions, the number is thought to be a few thousand. The Israeli troops within and around Gaza at this moment are approximately 33 thousand, with more reservists being called in within the next day. The disparity is not only in troop numbers however. The Israeli forces are supported by the Israeli Navy and the Israeli air force. The ground forces include artillery, tanks, engineering forces and intelligence agency support. The Israeli soldiers are equipped with the most modern weaponry and intelligence devices.
Palestinian fighters, on the other hand, have to make do with their home made projectiles and a bare minimum of basic weaponry in order to defend themselves and their people against the Israeli military might.
At the moment, and in the midst of the aggression it is hard to make sense of the current situation or make future predictions. It's hard to come to grips with the numbers and the extent of our losses. It's hard even to remember a time when basic necessities such as food, water, warmth and daylight weren't a luxury. At this point, bare human instinct is at work, the need to protect your loved ones, the need to ensure shelter and the instinct of fight or flight. We have fled for too long, Gaza is our last refuge and our home after we were displaced from what is now called Israel. All this happened but 60 years ago. What more could they want? We have nowhere left to go. Now is a time when all forms of resistance are legitimate. They have disregarded every single international law there is. So now is the time to fight.