The Electronic Intifada’s Gaza correspondent Rami Almeghari was very close to the site of an Israeli drone attack earlier today in Gaza City. Almeghari said that while he was in a taxicab, heading back home after conducting interviews at a hospital, two Palestinians riding on a motorcycle were targeted by an apparent Israeli drone just one hundred meters away.
Israeli airstrikes continue to pound the Gaza Strip. Recent figures state that more than eighty Palestinians have been killed since the attacks began earlier this week. According to figures from Ma’an News Agency, thirty-three Palestinians were killed overnight Wednesday and Thursday, including a family of eight. The United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on 9 July that:
It is estimated that 150 houses in Gaza have been totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, and another 1,900 have sustained damage during airstrikes and shelling. So far, some nine hundred people have been displaced and are being hosted by relatives. No emergency shelters have yet been opened. Damage was also inflicted on one sewage pumping station and two key water facilities disrupting the provision of water and sanitation services. Hospitals operated by the Ministry of Health (MoH) are functioning and treating injuries, despite severely depleted medical supplies and long electricity outages.
I spoke with Rami Almeghari this morning about the attack he witnessed in Gaza City, which occured a day after he saw bodies and body parts being pulled from the rubble of an Israeli strike on a home in Meghazi refugee camp. He also talked about the attack yesterday by Israeli warplanes that killed nine Palestinians watching the World Cup on the beach near Khan Younis in southern Gaza.
Listen to the interview with Rami Almeghari below.
Nora Barrows-Friedman Tell us where you were today and what happened.
Rami Almeghari: Today, I decided to go to other places other than the hometown that I live in. I wanted to resume my work as a reporter, as a writer. Despite the fears and [the] scary situation around us all here in Gaza, I decided to go. I went to the street in order to find a cab. I found a cab after about twenty minutes standing to find a cab. And I reached the hospital, I reached people. And I made interviews, collected all of them, and did all my work. Then I went right away to go back to my home, to my children, who were very scared and worried about me — it was the first time I got out of the home since the Israelis began their airstrikes about three days ago.
When I was going back home, driving [in] the cab that I found, one of the few cabs running in the streets of Gaza City, I was heading back to my hometown. When the cab was [driving] on the street, about one hundred meters away from the cab, there were in front of us, on the other side of the street, one or two motorcycles, and all of a sudden, a pillar of smoke along with a sound appeared in the same place on the street. We got closer a bit, and I was very worried, and I told the driver to either stop right here or go faster, because we were afraid that another rocket would be landing in the same spot. We went out right away — the driver [drove] so fast, and in a glimpse, I saw two people just laying down in the street and bleeding.
It appeared that these were the riders of the motorcycle. Moments later, I learned that these people were killed and died instantly because of the strike.
So that’s what happened to me. The life here is very risky, and very bad and very terrible — to the extent that people cannot move in the streets, cannot move to get their basic needs, or to do important and urgent things like doing the work of a reporter, like doing the work of a doctor, or a teacher, or something like this.
I want to tell you something — yesterday, in a very nearby neighborhood where I live, there was a strike on a house. And I rushed to the scene to see what was happening. I was shocked and surprised to see some people — dismembered people — being taken out of the rubble of the house that was completely damaged. More than half of the house was completely damaged. Of about ten family members, five of them were killed under the rubble, and I was really shocked to see people — like a man whose legs were stuck inside the house. A man, his wife, his two children, and his mother were killed in that strike.
That is not really a sort of Israeli claim or practice that this is for the stopping of rocket fire from Gaza. While the rocket fire from Gaza continued for many years now, Israel always strikes civilians and makes the Palestinian civilians in Gaza pay the higher price for their strikes against the coastal, tiny territory which is home to 1.5 or 1.7 million Palestinians who all live in a 365 square kilometer [area], which is the most densely-populated part of the world.
NBF: Rami, could you tell us a little bit more about what you saw today, and if the attack that you witnessed was done by drone or F-16, is there any indication of what kind of weapon was used?
RA: The people of Gaza have become accustomed to Israeli attacks and they have been able to differentiate between them. It definitely appears that it was some sort of a drone attack, because there was no big sound out of that attack. It was sort of quiet in the sky, no big buzzing — because the drone’s buzzing is very quiet compared with the F-16 jet fighters and other warplanes over the sky of Gaza. So it is definitely a drone attack. But also later on in news reports, they reported that it was a drone attack that Israel launched, and killed two Palestinians on motorcycles.
NBF: Rami, what can you say about the attack on the beach, as people were gathering to watch the World Cup?
RA: Yes. This is a very sad and shocking incident that takes place in this time, at this time. A group of people watching soccer on TV, and sitting on the beachfront in Gaza, in the southern Gaza Strip, were killed by an Israeli air strike. This is an indication that Israel is definitely indiscriminately and randomly killing the Palestinians. The Israeli army has the most sophisticated weaponry and technology around the world. In previous times, in previous occasions, Israel, up to this moment — today’s attack on the motorcycles, for example, was a pinpoint attack that only targeted the motorcycle, and inflicted a severe harm and damage on the people riding these motorcycles — a pinpoint attack didn’t harm anything around. So, Israel, in previous occasions, and in this occasion, always launches pinpoint attacks using technology. Israeli aircrafts in the sky know exactly what they are going to strike, what they are going to hit. It appears that these people were watching soccer on TV, on the beachfront. However, Israeli aircraft shelled them, hit them.
Unless Israel or the Israeli army releases a statement or something confirming — so far, the Israeli army has not commented on the incident, and the people who were killed are definitely civilian people, people who are enjoying time out of the strikes on the beachfront. And I told you that it seems to me that no one here in the Gaza Strip is safe, and everyone is vulnerable to Israeli harm or attack, and this is God’s protection that we all ask from these people who are just aiming at destroying any chance for a real peace and peaceful coexistence between themselves and their neighbors, I mean Palestinians here.
So everyone is vulnerable to their attacks, vulnerable to any harm, everyone is unsafe in this part of the world in these particular moments, as I told you, the incident that happened to me, and the movement in the streets is less than at previous times — during Ramadan the people are moving, but at this time, no one is moving except for some sort of urgent matters or urgent needs.
That is the situation, Nora, unfortunately. And we just ask everyone in the world to look carefully to Gaza, to watch the situation very carefully, objectively and in a non-biased way. And to at least take care to the Palestinian civilians who are being slaughtered very slowly by the Israeli army.