Women, children to new US President Obama:
Stop wars of aggression!
January 19, 2009
Women and children of GABRIELA and Salinlahi lit candles in solidarity with the Palestinian people who seek peace and justice in the face of Israel's attack against their sovereign nation.
|Gabriela and SALINLAHI representatives call on Obama to stop the US-supported war of aggression in Gaza|
19 January 2009
A Report From Gaza
The morgues of Gaza's
hospitals are over-flowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds
cover the entire floor space of the Shifa hospital morgue. Some are
intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions,
chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members
wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother,
wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family
members and loved ones.
Blood is everywhere. Hospital
orderlies hose down the floors of operating rooms, bloodied bandages lie
discarded in corners, and the injured continue to pour in: bodies
lacerated by shrapnel, burns, bullet wounds. Medical workers, exhausted
and under siege, work day and night and each life saved is seen as a
victory over the predominance of death.
As we continue to accompany
the ambulances, joining Palestinian paramedics as they risk their lives,
daily, to respond to calls from those with no other life-line, our
existence becomes temporarily narrowed down and focused on the few
precious minutes that make the difference between life and death. With
each new call received as we ride in ambulances that careen down broken,
silent roads, sirens and lights blaring, there exists a battle of life
over death. We have learned the language of the war that the Israelis are
waging on the collective captive population of Gaza- to distinguish
between the sounds of the weaponry used, the timing between the first
missile strikes and the inevitable second- targeting those that rush to
tend to and evacuate the wounded, to recognize the signs of the different
chemical weapons being used in this onslaught, to overcome the initial
vulnerability of recognizing our own mortality.
Though many of the calls
received are to pick up bodies, not the wounded, the necessity of
affording the dead a dignified burial drives the paramedics to face the
deliberate targeting of their colleagues and comrades- thirteen killed
while evacuating the wounded, fourteen ambulances destroyed- and to
continue to search for the shattered bodies of the dead to bring home to
Last night, while sitting with
paramedics in Jabaliya refugee camp, drinking tea and listening to their
stories, we received a call to respond to the aftermath of a missile
strike. When we arrived at the outskirts of the camp where the attack had
taken place the area was filled with clouds of dust, torn electricity
lines, slabs of concrete and open water pipes gushing water into the
street. Amongst the carnage of severed limbs and blood we pulled out the
body of a young man, his chest and face lacerated by shrapnel wounds, but
alive- conscious and moaning.
A few minutes later there was another missile strike, this time on a residential house. As we arrived a crowd had rushed to the ruins of the four story home in an attempt to drag survivors out from under the rubble. The family the house belonged to had evacuated the area the day before and the only person in it at the time of the strike was 17 year old Muhammud who had gone back to collect clothes for his family. He was dragged out from under the rubble still breathing- his legs twisted in unnatural directions and with a head wound, but alive. There was no choice but to move him, with the imminence of a possible second strike,
and he lay in the ambulance
moaning with pain and calling for his mother. We thought he would live, he
was conscious though in intense pain and with the rest of the night
consumed with call after call to pick up the wounded and the dead, I
forgot to check on him. This morning we were called to pick up a body from
Shifa hospital to take back to Jabaliya. We carried a body wrapped in a
blood-soaked white shroud into the ambulance, and it wasn't until we were
on the road that we realized that it was Muhammud's body. His brother rode
with us, opening the shroud to tenderly kiss Muhammud's forehead.
This morning we received news
that Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was under siege. We tried
unsuccessfully for hours to gain access to the hospital, trying to
organize co-ordination to get the ambulances past Israeli tanks and
snipers to evacuate the wounded and dead. Hours of unsuccessful attempts
later we received a call from the Shujahiya neighborhood, describing a
house where there were both dead and wounded patients to pick up. The area
was deserted, many families having fled as Israeli tanks and snipers took
up position amongst their homes, other silent in the dark, cold confines
of their homes, crawling from room to room to avoid sniper fire through
As we drove slowly around the
area, we heard women’s cries for help. We approached their house on foot,
followed by the ambulances and as we came to the threshold of their home,
they rushed towards us with their children, shaking and crying with shock.
At the door of the house the ambulance lights exposed the bodies of four
men, lacerated by shrapnel wounds- the skull and brains of one exposed,
others whose limbs had been severed off. The four were the husbands and
brothers of the women, who had ventured out to search for bread and food
for their families. Their bodies were still warm as we struggled to carry
them on stretchers over the uneven ground, their blood staining the earth
and our clothes. As we prepared to leave the area our torches illuminated
the slumped figure of another man, his abdomen and chest shredded by
shrapnel. With no space in the other ambulances, and the imminent
possibility of sniper fire, we were forced to take his body in the back of
the ambulance carrying the women and children. One of the little girls
stared at me before coming into my arms and telling me her name- Fidaa',
which means to sacrifice. She stared at the body bag, asking when he would
Once back at the hospital we
received word that the Israeli army had shelled Al Quds hospital, that the
ensuing fire risked spreading and that there had been a 20-minute
time-frame negotiated to evacuate patients, doctors and residents in the
surrounding houses. By the time we got up there in a convoy of ambulances,
hundreds of people had gathered. With the shelling of the UNRWA compound
and the hospital there was a deep awareness that nowhere in Gaza is safe,
We helped evacuate those
assembled to near-by hospitals and schools that have been opened to
receive the displaced. The scenes were deeply saddening- families,
desperate and carrying their children, blankets and bags of their
possessions venturing out in the cold night to try to find a corner of a
school or hospital to shelter in. The paramedic we were with referred to
the displacement of the over 46,000 Gazan Palestinians now on the move as
a continuation of the ongoing Nakba of dispossession and exile seen
through generation after generation enduring massacre after massacre.
Today's death toll was over 75, one of the bloodiest days since the start of this carnage. Over 1,110 Palestinians have been killed in the past 21 days. 367 of those have been children. The humanitarian infrastructure of Gaza is on its knees- already devastated by years of comprehensive siege. There has been a deliberate, systematic destruction of all places of refuge. There are no safe places here, for anyone.
GRIP, FREE GAZA STRIP!
Since the last
week of December 2008, the Israeli Defense Forces have conducted daily air
strikes and bombings against the Gaza Strip, one of the two territories
within Israel that are designated "Palestinian Territories" , and governed
by the Palestinian National Authority, a governing organization of
Palestinians. Israel's three-week blitzkrieg tagged as Operation Cast Lead
has brutally killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and thousands more have
been maimed and wounded.
truce announced last week, Israeli troops continue to occupy strategic
points in Gaza Strip. Worse, borders are kept closed by the Israeli
military so that relief supplies and other forms of humanitarian aid are
barred from the embattled people of Gaza. Doctors Without Borders, a
humanitarian group, decried the killings of health workers and the bombing
of hospitals and ambulances. The Israeli military, as the Red Cross
protests, has “failed to meet its obligation under international
humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.”
leaders from the European Union have expressed their support for the
ceasefire and have pledged to help in preventing Hamas from smuggling
missiles and guns and in halting Palestinian strikes against Israel. As if
to support this US-backed Israeli war against Gaza all the way, none of
these leaders have condemned the Israeli state for perpetuating the Gaza
We at UP-3P
call on our fellow citizens to defend Palestine from Israeli colonial
occupation and murder and imperialist intervention by the United States.
We condemn U.S. military aid that has largely influenced Israel's policies
towards Palestine. It is no secret that U.S. funding pays for ammunitions,
F-16 bombers and other war apparatus used to carry out Israel's occupation
of Palestinian territories for 37 years now.
everyone to be ever more militant in pushing for peace in Palestine even
when the Israeli state and its imperialist allies have announced
ceasefire. As one of its closest allies, the United States requires Israel
to use 75% of its military aid to purchase war weapons from more than
1,000 U.S. arms suppliers. In 2003, the total package of aid from the U.S.
is $15billion, with $3.1 billion allotted for military financing, $600
million for economic security and $11 billion in commercial loan
guarantees. All of which can be used, one way or another, to fund the
Israeli war on Palestine. In 2007, the United States increased its
military aid to Israel by over 25% which is equivalent to $3 billion per
year for the following ten year period. This should alert us to the fact
that the Israeli war on Palestine is part and parcel of U.S. policy on its
client states like Israel. During his campaign, President-elect Barack
Obama pledged to continue to abide by the Israel-U.S. alliance since 1948.
We observe a
damning evidence of imperialist grip as U.S. arms industry is imposed upon
violently on different peoples of the world through the U.S. war policy.
Not only has this caused the lives of millions but it has also diverted
the taxes of citizens to dollars. As a result, funding for education and
social programs is reduced and public policy of client states like Israel
and the U.S.-backed Macapagal-Arroyo regime is militarized. In our own
country, the Balikatan Exercises that effectively revives the U.S.
military bases will hold a comprehensive exercise in the Bicol region in
April. All sorts of barbaric and colonial military activities have been
plaguing the country through the Visiting Forces Agreement and the
horrible US- backed war against the Moro people in Mindanao.
NO JUSTICE, NO
PEACE! FROM PALESTINE TO THE PHILIPPINES!
Exclusive: PFLP in Gaza on
peace, resistance and unity