Day 55 roundtable: What next for Gaza?

“We are fine; struggling like everybody else in Gaza, especially in Gaza City and the north, with barely any food, water sources, everything running out,” Refaat Alareer told us on Thursday’s livestream.

Refaat is a writer, educator and longtime contributor to The Electronic Intifada. He joined us for a few minutes before the electricity cut out.

“Even the aid that made its way into Gaza is not enough for my extended family, perhaps, to eat in a week. And most of it – I took footage of some of the trucks by the way, they’re not trucks, they’re probably half trucks or a quarter of a truck, and mostly water bottles.”

“What we need is electricity, fuel, cooking gas and flour. These are the four priorities. And we barely had any of these, and many people will not be getting any of this because there are too many people,” he said.

Refaat explained that there are still about 800,000 Palestinians in Gaza City and other areas in the northern part of Gaza.

“That’s too many people with too few resources,” he said.

He said that he was able to see what was left of his family’s house in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, Gaza City.

“It’s complete and utter destruction. I’m not sure how this is going to end. But with what we have now, it’s complete and utter destruction.”

“Again, I keep citing World War II as a reference – the destruction we see in pictures is happening right in front of our eyes,” Reefat noted.

We were also joined by Tarek Loubani, an emergency room physician based in Canada who has worked for years inside al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

He discussed the abduction and arrest of some of his colleagues by Israeli forces over the last few weeks, including Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of al-Shifa hospital.

Israel alleges that the doctors aided Palestinian resistance forces, notoriously claiming that Hamas’ “command center” was underneath the hospital complex as a pretext for the 18 November raid and siege of the medical center by Israeli forces.

Zero evidence has been revealed to prove Israel’s claim.

Robbed of a dignified death

Tarek explained that the Israelis’ intention in taking and arresting these physicians, and subjecting them to physical and psychological torture, is meant to break the back of the healthcare system even further in Gaza.

“I don’t think any of them really expected, especially under the flag of the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], for them to be subject to that kind of arrest,” Tarek said.

Abu Salmiya’s arrest, he said, “is a classic example of how the Israeli system works: it took him in with no charges, for no reason, it’s keeping him for a very specific purpose.”

Even if Israel finds him not guilty of the charges against him, Tarek added, “he will have lost months of his life.”

He talked, in detail, about the kinds of communicable diseases and preventable infections that are now spreading across Gaza as the medical system remains in total collapse and as the weather gets colder day by day.

“If things do not change quickly and drastically, it’s hard to imagine that we won’t see another 20,000 deaths in the coming weeks,” he warned.

Tarek and I talked about the documented evidence that five babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at al-Nasr hospital, in Gaza City, were left to die hungry, cold and alone after Israeli forces stormed the hospital and ordered doctors and the babies’ parents to leave.

He said that as a doctor, he commits to never letting one of his patients die alone.

“These children weren’t just robbed of their lives,” he said. “They were robbed of any kind of dignified death. So were their families.”

In the second half of the show, Jon Elmer and Ali Abunimah analyzed the recent prisoner exchanges and the possibility that Israel could resume its genocidal bombings, with US support.

Jon explained that the testimonies of the Palestinian children being released from Israeli jails paint a consistent picture of these children being regularly tortured, beaten and threatened before they are released.

“Israel is trying its best to prevent what’s happening from happening – they threatened the people in prison, they summoned their families to the police stations and threatened them beforehand, they release them in the middle of the night, at three in the morning, and there’s thousands of people there in the pouring rain in the cold to celebrate them,” he said.

“I’m sure the kids are mentally traumatized by what they experienced,” Jon remarks.

“But they don’t come out looking like that. They come out with their humanity, with their dignity, they come out talking about their friends in prison who they left behind.”

And Ali opened the show with his remarks on the Auschwitz museum’s full-throated endorsement of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, and the spreading of atrocity propaganda by the West in order to provide cover for Israel’s crimes.

Watch the entire broadcast above or listen via Soundcloud below.


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).