The call that tells you: run, you’re about to lose your home and possessions
Conal Urquhart in Gaza City
July 28, 2006
The voice sounded friendly enough. “Hi, my name is Danny. I’m an officer in Israeli military intelligence. In one hour we will blow up your house.”
Mohammed Deeb took the telephone call seriously and told his family and neighbours to get out of the building. An hour later, an Israeli helicopter fired three missiles at the four-storey building in Gaza City, destroying the ground floor and damaging the upper storeys.
Mr Deeb was on the receiving end of a new Israeli tactic of using telephone, radio and leaflets to warn Gazans of impending attacks. The army claims it is an attempt to minimise civilian casualties, but Palestinians say it is a new way of terrorising the population.
Raji Serrani, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which has collected several examples of the tactic, described it as “psychological warfare”, adding: “Since when did Israel feel the need to warn people that they were about to bomb their homes? They are simply playing with people’s minds and inflicting a new panic in Gaza.”
The family of Ibrahim Mahmoud in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza were ordered to leave their home by an Israeli intelligence officer. The officer called back one hour later to say she had made a mistake. She ended her call to Mr Mahmoud by telling him to “be safe”, he told the Associated Press.
The warnings, which sometimes are followed by an Israeli attack and sometimes not, are happening as Israel continues its latest invasion of the Gaza Strip. Four people were killed and dozens injured yesterday as Israeli tanks patrolled residential areas to the east of Gaza City. Twenty-five people were killed on Wednesday.
Fears that Israel will destroy homes are widespread: 900 residents of the al Nader towers, a complex of 12 apartment blocks in the north of Gaza, fled on Tuesday after 10 Israeli shells landed close to them, killing three residents. According to the PCHR, Israel had also informed Palestinian police that they planned to demolish the towers.
Izzat al Jamal, 38, a Palestinian policeman, moved his wife and eight children out of their apartment to emergency accommodation in a local school. “When they started firing, it was clear it was aimed directly at us and it wasn’t a random mistake. I had to leave for the children’s sake. I haven’t been paid in four months and now I don’t even have a home.”
Hundreds of families have also moved out of the east of Gaza City in the al Shaaf and al Tuffah suburbs after Israeli tanks took up position on Wednesday. Two tanks were visible on hills above the suburbs and many more could be heard shooting and moving in the narrow streets.
Scores of Palestinian fighters armed with rifles attempted to approach the tanks, which – supported by drones and helicopters – fired shells and machine guns throughout yesterday. At Shifa Hospital, the ambulances lined up to deliver the injured and crowds of men waited to take away the dead.
Dr Jumah Sakkah said the hospital had taken in 16 injured people and two had died. The death toll later rose to four. He said that all of the injured were non-combatants.
‘You go a bit crazy when you see little body after little body coming up out of the ground’ (August 2, 2006) HEART-WRENCHING!
Huge numbers of children are being killed, injured or displaced in south Lebanon. Why are so many suffering in this conflict?(…) Then another child was pulled from under the rubble, and another followed, and then another. You go a little crazy when you see little body after little body coming up out of the ground. I looked around me and all I could see in the house was the detritus of their short lives – big plastic bags filled with clothes, milk cans, plastic toys and a baby carriage.By three in the afternoon, when the corpse of a one-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble, he looked more like a mud statue than a child. The medics held him high above their heads, clear of the rubble. The faces of the rescue workers said everything that needed to be said.What is obvious to everyone covering this conflict is that children are bearing the brunt of it. The few official figures collated so far seem to support this. Unicef says that 37 of the 60 dead in Qana on Sunday were children, and everywhere you go, it seems that it is the children who are being killed, injured and displaced. Yesterday the Lebanese government said that of the 828 of its civilians killed in the conflict so far, around 35% have been children – that’s around 290. Unicef also estimates that about a third of the dead have been children, although it bases that figure on the fact that an estimated 30% of Lebanon’s population are children, rather than any actual count of the dead. There are no official figures yet for the number of wounded children, but they will certainly exceed the number killed; as for those displaced, Unicef says that 45% of the estimated 900,000 Lebanese to have fled their homes are children. CLIP
I come from the East, most of you [here] are Westerners. If I look at you superficially, we are different, and if I put my emphasis on that level, we grow more distant. If I look on you as my own kind, as human beings like myself, with one nose, two eyes, and so forth, then automatically that distance is gone. We are the same human flesh. I want happiness; you also want happiness. From that mutual recognition, we can build respect and real trust of each other. From that can come cooperation and harmony.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
2006-08-06 04:07:49 UTC
Aug 6 2006