14 September, 2010

 ‘the war against Gaza continues’
My friend Adie Mormech reports from the Gaza Strip:
When 91 year old Ibrahim Abu Sayed left his home this morning to  check on his
land and animals by the remains of his old house, he took  with him his 17 year
old grandson Hossam and his friend and neighbour  Ismail Abu Oda, who was 16.
His son and Hossam’s father didn’t want to  come because it was the final
day of EID, the muslim celebration that  follows Ramadan.
Despite his age, Ibrahim Abu Sayed was still  mobile enough to regularly check
his three dunums of land, as he had  done for decades, the last decade being the
hardest as his house was  destroyed in 2000 by Israeli bulldozers and his
rebuilt house destroyed  in the three-week attacks by Israel on Gaza over the
new year of 2009.
But  early Saturday evening would be the last time Ibrahim, Hossam and  Ismail
would work their land. 700 metres from the border where their  land was located,
north of Sharab street, Israeli tanks made an  incursion into Gaza. The
grandfather, his grandson and friend did not  stand a chance as the tanks fired
shells directly at them.
We met  the family members at the hospital. The wife of Ibrahim was devastated,
screaming in horror at the fate that had befallen her family.
“I  was there half an hour before it happened”, said Mohammed Abu Oda,
another relative. “I saw them by their sheep. I heard the shells from  the
Israeli tanks, the shells we learned soon afterwards had killed our
They were killed  instantly, and according to the doctor (who wished to remain
anonymous)  who examined once they had arrived at Beit Hanoun hospital. Ibrahim
suffered severe shrapnel injuries to his face, chest and stomach and his
grandson Hossam had the back of his head blown away. We verified this
immediately as we saw the mutilated bodies in the morgue. Ismail, the  friend of
Hossam, had arrived at the hospital 30 minutes after the  others but had been
buried before we got there; most part of his head  was shot away. The boys were
close friends, studying in the 9th and 10th  grade respectively, and had
expected to return to school the following  day after Eid.
But on that day they still were on holidays, so  they helped Ibrahim, like they
were used to do. Because despite of  having faced their hardest times, after
their house was destroyed and  their land bulldozed, the bedouin family still
had no other job other  than farming. Although they were obliged to farm their
land close to the  border, it was still far enough away to be outside the
Israeli imposed  “buffer zone”
“Israel claims that there’s a three hundred meter  buffer zone, but they were
700 meters far from the border”, said an  Uncle of Ismail, Majdy Abu Oda.
“The people there are farmers who’ve  been living there for years. We, the
people here, were never dangerous  for the Israelis. They have photos of the
people who live and work here,  the area is full off observation cameras. So
they knew them.”
That  was why the family considered themselves to be safe, even though there
were tanks at the border. But they paid with their lives for that. More  victims
of Israel’s ‘collective punishment’, a crime against humanity  according
to article 33 of the Geneva Convention of which Israel is a  signatory member.
So a 91 year old man, his grandson and a friend  of his were killed while
tending to their livestock on their own farm,  700 metres from the border with
Israel. Where is the clamour for  justice? Where is the international outrage
that at least should be  comparable to the Israeli settlers shot a week ago, who
actually were  not settled on their own land according to international law?
Israeli  armed forces have continued to wage a war against civilians in Gaza,
long after the Israeli air and ground assault in the winter of  2008/2009.
With the family clearly posing no threat, and known as  long term residents of
the area, there is little imagination required to  understand the ease with
which these Israeli soldiers felt they could  kill these three men with
impunity, once their livelihood had already  been destroyed.
Saber Zaneen General Coordinator of the Beit  Hanoun solidarity group, ‘Local
Initiative’ released a callout for  justice in a statement:
“Today the occupation  committed a new crime which will be added to its black
list. Three  martyrs now rest in heaven after the shelling and again we call on
the  international community and civil society to pressure the occupation
forces to stop such crimes against Palestinian civilians and to start  working
on giving some protection to the local people in the Gaza  Strip.”
[Graphic below the break]
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