January 9, 2013 by jmw
Yesterday afternoon I listened to journalist, activist, and documentary filmmaker Harry Fear share about his firsthand experience in Gaza during the 8-day war last November, also known as “Operation Pillar of Defense” (Israel originally named it Pillar of Cloud but altered the name due to its grandiose and explicit biblical reference). As one of the only international journalists in Gaza during the war, Harry is an invaluable resource for the Palestinian perspective. With all of the unbelievably murky media and misinformation on this topic, it behooves us to take firsthand documentation and witness seriously. [Note: Any hyperlinks that I have added here are to support the firsthand witness that Harry offered yesterday] In what follows I offer a short list of points that I gleaned from yesterday’s lecture. The lecture began with a video of Palestinians standing in front of various bombed out sites reading the names of the 177 people killed during the 8-day war. You can watch that 13 minute video here.
How the war began: The 8-day war “officially” began on Wednesday Nov. 14th. Before this, however, there were numerous flares of violence from both Israel and Hamas. On Thursday Nov. 8 a 13-yr-old Hameed Abu Daqqa was killed while playing soccer. CNN and others reported that he was shot in the head, but Harry explained that he suffered multiple wounds in the abdomen from shrapnel, cutting his heart and lungs, and he died on the way to the hospital. The disparate details show how difficult it is to get clear information on what is really going on. The IDF never offered a conclusive statement on Hameed’s death.
No sooner than Saturday, Nov. 10 was Hameed’s death avenged by an attack on an Israeli jeep. This attack injured 4 IDF soldiers, no deaths. Israel responded with tank fire as well as arial strikes on four separate targets. By Sunday morning 6 Palestinians were killed and over 30 injured. To watch footage from Harry Fear that Saturday night/Sunday morning, click here.
On Wednesday Israel assassinated 52-yr-old Ahmed Jabari, a senior military leader of Hamas. Although he was a leader of the militarnt wing of Hamas, Jabari was a symbol for peacemaking among the militant wing, says Harry. Moreover, he was assassinated while riding openly in a vehicle – something that a leader of the militant of wing of Hamas would not do unless during a period of trusted ceasefire. His assassination by an Israeli drone strike occurred during a time of trusted peace. An hour later, Israeli air strikes began; as well as retaliatory rockets from Gaza. See Harry Fear’s report here.
During the War:
- 177 Palestinians were killed and almost 1400 injured.
- Of the 177 Palestinians killed, 80% were civilians.
- Of the 177 Palestinians killed, 59 were children.
- 3 media camera men were killed; 2 of whom the IDF admitted to directly targeting while riding in cars marked “PRESS”. Harry explained that these camera men worked for public broadcasting media.
- 6 Israelis were killed during the war: 4 civilians and 2 soldiers.
- 28 Israeli civilians were injured in a bus bombing in Tel Aviv on Nov. 21.
- Israel killed 11 civilians (4 children) in the now famous Al-Dalou Family Massacre. The IDF did not forewarn the family with leaflets before striking it with a vacuum bomb that left not only the Al-Dalou home in ruins but also surrounding buildings. The IDF intended to kill a militant target but he was not even there at the time.
- Israel bombed out the police headquarters in Gaza (which was previously razed to the ground in Israel’s 2009 “Operation Cast Lead” during the police graduation ceremony!).
- Israel bombed out important infrastructure, including the office of the Prime Minister of Hamas (in the night when no one was even there!), as well as schools, bridges, and hospitals. See Harry’s firsthand footage at a Gaza hospital here.
- Israel frequently employs “second-wave” air strikes which entails bombing a target for a second time within hours from the first strike. The point is to kill anyone trying to document and/or save lives of the injured.
- During the war, Israel attacked Gaza from 3 sides: East, West, and Arial.
- During the war, Harry claims, nowhere in Gaza was safe.
- This conflict is not thousands of years old; it dates back specifically to the 1947 partition of Palestine.
- This conflict is no religious, it is political. Most Jews do not even reside in Israel.
- Despite popular gossip, Palestine did exist prior to 1947. Harry showed THIS PHOTO of an old, British-assigned passport to Palestine.
- Hamas is a democratically-elected political party.
- Less than 1% of the 1.6 million people in Gaza are of the militant wing of Hamas.
- Israel occupies the entire Eastern border of Gaza with fences, artillery, and buffer zones. Watch THIS VIDEO of Harry Fear approaching the newly open buffer zone and see how they are treated by IDF soldiers.
- Israeli Naval Forces occupy Palestinian waters in the Mediterranean Sea and are notorious for harassing fishermen. Israeli Air Force occupied 100% of Gaza’s air space with drones, F-15s and Apache Helicopters – however after this recent war Israel has decreased flying over Gaza. The drones and surveillance balloons still fly, however.
- Israel has better drone technology than the U.S. The drones flown over Gaza are not surveillance drones but militarized drones with capability of firing rockets.
- 75% of youth are unemployed in Gaza.
- Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world (20k per sq. mile). Most of Gaza’s population are children and internal refugees who cannot leave.
- Israel controls Gaza’s borders and does not allow foreign refugees return.
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