The images splattered across every channel is nothing out of a Hollywood movie, the kids, the women, the men, they are not actors who at the end of the night return to find a roof to sleep under, they will not take breaks for lunch and start again at the shout of action. These are the people of Palestine, the people of Gaza and when cut they bleed real blood. It is an actual scene from a burnt city, a city that lost its character, dwellers and faith in neighbor’s sense of ethics and politics.
This city is a silent witness that experienced 3 whole weeks of bombing, shelling and using prohibited weapons. Gaza is an eyesore for every politician it reminds them of their mistakes and shortcomings, they need to see it drown or bombed flat by the IDF.
A 360 km2 strip of land, populated by nearly a million and a half Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars. Almost half of the population are children aged 14 or younger. Where woman marry young to raise large families, to remind Israel that they won’t become extinct, they will survive till the end of time.
During the summer of 2005 Israel withdrew from Gaza and evicted the settlements leaving the Egyptian and Palestinian army to control the border of Rafah. However Israel kept Gaza’s airspace and sea under control and ended up creating a Gazan prison.
After its victory in the 2006 legislative election and the unsuccessful coup of Fatah and the military clashes with Hamas in where Hamas assumed authority in Gaza, Israel and Egypt blocked their borders thus creating a blockade on Gaza, prohibiting all exports and allowing only enough goods to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Hamas and other Islamic factions increased the number of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza toward the southern section of the occupied lands; in return Israel launched numerous airstrikes against Hamas “targets” killing innocent civilians.
Timeline leading to the 2008-2009 conflict
- August and September 2005: Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip.
- February 2006: Ismail Haniyeh sworn in as the Palestinian prime minister after Hamas’s victory in the legislative election in December of 2005.
- June 2006: Hamas militants capture Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier and request Israel to release 1000 Palestinian, Arabs, and Muslim prisoners. This proposal is rejected.
- June 2007: Hamas controls the Gaza Strip after forcing Fatah out. Abbas sacks Hamas led government. Hamas rejects the decision and calls it worthless.
- September 2007: The Gaza Strip is declared an “enemy entity” by Israel and declares that it would reduce fuel and power supplies in response to continued rockets fired toward surrounding areas.
- December 2007, January 2008: Israel enters the Gaza Strip for the first time since the summer of 2005, more than 60 Palestinians were killed during the invasion, and a total blockage stops deliveries of supplies as a result causing power outage.
- Jan 2008: half a million Gazan crossed the Rafah border into Egypt seeking food and supply. The border was closed after 11 days.
- March 2008: Operation Hot Winter; IDF invades Gaza for the 2nd time in 2008. 110 Palestinians are killed, 150 wounded. More than half of the casualties were civilians.
- June 2008- November 2008; Hamas and Israel announced a cease-fire.
- November 2008: Israel breaches the cease-fire to destroy tunnels near Rafah border. Leading to a failure in reaching a six months cease-fire agreement.
Operation Cast Lead
This holocaust like massacre in the name of Israel security and its right to self defense caused more harm than good. From December 27th till the so-called cease-fire three weeks later, more than 1400 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5000 injured. 13 Israelis have been killed according to the IDF, the majority being killed in the streets of Gaza during combat. Levni promised the Israeli she would attack Hamas and force them out of Gaza if they elect her to the office of prime minister. Was Levni’s promise to wipe out Hamas from Gaza just another unneeded pathetic excuse to make history and start the Gaza genocide?
This is one of the bloodiest military operations; the IDF initiated a wide-scale air strike operation against the Gaza Strip. Dozens of targets were attacked from the air and some by sea using heavy missiles and bombs.
Where are Hamas leaders, were they fighting the Israeli soldiers? Were they organizing the armies to free Palestine? Were they healing the wounds of children or wiping the tears of angry mothers and fathers? No they were in secret places; some in Syria broadcasting their speeches from hotel rooms, motivating the masses to free the land so they can return as liberators. Why didn’t Hamas build shelters under homes when Gaza was under their control, rather than maintaining the security of few tunnels used for smuggling. Shouldn’t those leaders share responsibility of this war?
Hospitals in Gaza experienced a medical crisis due to the blockade of the borders. Medicine supplies were low; hundreds of medications were not available. Gas was bought from the black market to keep the hospitals running, medics were attacked by F-16s, and ambulances were burnt to prevent them from reaching casualties. Hospitals were crowded with injured civilians and the morgues couldn’t accept the dead bodies. Even the cemeteries in Gaza were fully occupied; some bodies were eaten by stray cats and dogs.
Israel targeted UN buildings, an UNRWA school killing 45 students and refugees who were spending the nights. Israel bombed UN warehouses containing canned food, flour and other basic food supplies. During the first few days of the attack an Israeli political advisor referred to the siege of Gaza that proceeded this operation, a siege in which the Israelis prevented the population from receiving essential supplies of food, medicine, electricity, and water by saying ” WE PUT THEM ON A DIET.”
Local and Global Responses
The Jordanian scene was on fire, demonstrations and protests near the Israeli embassy every Friday, a protest tent in that area collecting donations and supplies. The authorities licensed a number of protests around Amman and in various cities in the Kingdom; a large number of Jordanians participated in those events chanting and demanding the removal of the Israeli ambassador, cutting diplomatic ties with Israel, praising the resistance in Gaza.
During a few clashes with the police, some demonstrators were injured; this violence was not called for. Police forces and some demonstrators are both held responsible.
Major corporations like Aramex and Zain collected donations from customers at various check points and those donations were processed at a warehouse and shipped to Gaza through the Hashemite Charity Organization. A sea of volunteers spent hours sorting through the donations and packing them, so a family in Gaza could survive under the inhumane conditions during the conflict.
Blood donations increased during the conflict, the Jordanian Red Crescent and the blood bank vehicles were located around Amman in order for people to donate a blood unit that may save the life of a wounded Gazan.
The international scene was filled with rage and disgust at the atrocity of the Israeli killing machine. Streets were filled with Palestinian flags and posters of rebels and revolutionary figures from around the globe. Marches of protest spread like fire through the world, some were peaceful and silent and some clashed with police and invaded Israeli consulates and embassies. Pro Israel marches took place in some cities but were less numbered compared with the pro Arabs and Palestinian ones.
The Palestinian cause that started 60 years ago still proves that the battle may have been won but the war is still far from over. Palestinians and Arabs took advantage of mediums not widely used before like blogs, Youtube videos exposing the barbarism of IDF. Facebook groups and events triggered a chain reaction of protests and boycotts in the region and around the world. Discussions; some civilized and some vulgar took place, Israelis “sneaked” into those groups and started a war of words, calling a friend “A hate filled Jordanian” and other obscene insults
It is the footprints of the past that leave milestones into the future. The mistakes that happened must be learnt from and the knowledge that was gained must be used for a chance of peace in the future. This war allowed people of different races and nations to set their differences aside and for 23 days unite for a common belief. Ordinary citizens may not have the capability of getting F-16s and using them, but he is able to fight through words, through boycotts, donations, dispreading of lies and the spreading of facts, knowledge and most of all TRUTH. It does not seem that any white flag will be drawn soon, but what matters is who will let theirs stand first, the white and blue? Or the red, black, green and white?