Severe Attack on the Gaza Strip

7 March 2003

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Above: Unidentified bodies lie in the street in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip early March 6, 2003. Israeli forces killed at least 11 Palestinians and injured more than 140, including some torn apart by a tank shell. Hospitals reported removing flechette/dart fragmentation shrapnel from several of the injured. The photographer, Ahmed Jadallah, was injured later in the day with shrapnel in both legs.

Gaza Strip hospitals are urgently requesting blood and medical supplies that under constant Israeli closure they are unable to get. They have run out of space for all of the dying Palestinians. Israeli occupation forces have injured 100s of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip over the past week alone.

This week has been particularly brutal in the Gaza Strip. Under the violent Israeli occupation Palestinians are held hostage, unable to get away from invading Israeli soldiers shelling from tanks, firing from Apaches in the sky, and shooting guns at any Palestinian who is here. Last night Israeli soldiers invaded the Al Buriej Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers murdered eight Palestinians and wounded 29. They destroyed five houses, using dynamite on four.

Israeli soldiers killed one 33 year old pregnant woman inside her home as they blew up the house next door. Israeli soldiers also invaded the Namsawi area of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinians and wounding 40. The Israeli military would not allow ambulances to reach the injured, as is common Israeli military practice. They destroyed nine residential buildings, six shops, and part of Nasir Hospital.

Day before yesterday when Israeli occupation soldiers invaded the Jabalyia refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip, a man died who sustained injuries when Israeli soldiers fired missiles from a US donated Apache helicopter into a Gaza City hospital, killing two nurses.

As the Israeli military finished its nine-hour attack on the Jabalyia Refugee Camp yesterday at 8 am, they shot a tank shell into a small crowd that had gathered near an ambulance to help put out a fire. A family was trapped inside and two fire-fighters were spraying the building with water. Israeli soldiers shot the tank shell at the fire-fighters and the people standing around.

The ambulance driver was just on one leg trying to help a boy off the ground, many others were lying on the ground, dead. Two men came running to help the ambulance driver lift the boy and it was only then that we could see he had no face left, just blood on the street and a small body.

Two journalists were targeted as well in the morning. None were allowed in to report on the killings throughout the night. Over 140 Palestinians were injured in this one nights attack. Israeli soldiers killed 11, three were children. Attacks like this are occuring every night here in the Gaza Strip at the brutal hands of the Israeli military government.

It is nearly impossible for people here to keep up with the number dead and the horror they are witnessing. Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinian ambulances from reaching the people throughout most of the night. Some people in the camp tell me that Israeli soldiers were taking the ambulances and using them to sneak themselves into the camp in order to more easily shoot the people.

Israeli soldiers have murdered over 80 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in this week alone. This massacre is expected to continue as the US openly plans its military invasion and occupation of Iraq.

A friend who is exiled to Gaza City asked his 4 year old son, who is not allowed by the Israeli military government to visit his father, “Do you want to come to see me?”

The four year old boy asked, “Will the Israelis shoot me?”

His dad replied, “No, I don’t think so.”

The boy said, “Oh, they only kill the big people, not the little ones, right?”

His dad said, “Right.”

The boy said, “Okay, I’ll come.”

A man here told me that there’s even less future now than before. There is nothing to plan for, although today President Arafat, in an attempt to find someone the butcher Sharon is willing to speak with, is speaking seriously about Abu Mazen (Mahmud Abas) as Prime Minister. A guy here just told me, “The US loves him.”

Kristen Ess is a political activist and freelance journalist from New York City, who has lived in the West Bank and Gaza since March 2002, where she does solidarity work and reports for Free Speech Radio news and Left Turn magazine.