Eight Day into the war
Saturday, January 3, 2009
This is the eighth day of the war on Gaza and yet the bombing and missiles continue unrelenting. Today, Saturday, Israel used heavier air bombardment along the entire Gaza Strip. The 42 KM long coast of Gaza witnessed the most punishing attacks from warships and war jets. Something we have never seen before. I could see from my window large ships positioned along the coast of Gaza city firing artillery shells from the clear, blue Mediterranean waters. The weather is cold but remained sunny in the past two days. Every once in a while, a volley of shells fired at Gaza beach at different locations in the north, Gaza city itself, the middle area and south. The heavy shelling caused large fires at the modest fishing port of Gaza, causing fires in many fishermen boats and fuel storage there. Israeli war jets also fired at the gate of the port to prevent firefighting trucks to get there to rescue the burning boats. One missile even hit the civil defense station located only tens of meters away from the fishing port. All this violent drama was reported minute by minute on the local radios as fishermen screamed for help and asking the fire rescue team to the port. One civil defense officer announced that his station has been hit with a couple of missiles and the port itself was too dangerous to get into due the ongoing bombing of the port and its gate.
Since the early hours of this morning, Saturday, F16s did not stop for even few minutes bombing the outskirts of Gaza city and some targets in Gaza. It is really amazing how this bombing campaign still going with no end in site. Today, all sorts of war machines are attacking Gaza Strip; F16s, Helicopter gunship, pilot-less planes, warships, gunboats. Media just reported that a missile hit a mosque while people praying inside. The result more than 10 people killed and 50 injured at a mosque in Beit-Lahia in north of Gaza.
We expect Israel to intensify the bombing to prepare for ground attack. It is expected that land forces may circle Gaza city in the next hours and engage or rather TEST the readiness of resistance fighters. So far, resistance is hardly damaged by aerial bombing. That’s why today’s heavy bombing focused on the areas where Israeli ground forces are expected to move into. People in rural areas paid a heavy price today in blood and material losses. Large orange and olives farms reported as completely damaged by the heavy bombing, especially in east, north and south of Gaza City.
Also, in the past 24 hours, the war jets kept pounding the already des-functioning Gaza International Airport. Reports from Rafah said Israeli jets fired continuously missiles and bombs until the TOTAL destruction of Gaza’s only airport. In the past, Israeli tanks, during the second intifadah, specifically in 2003, destroyed some part of the airport. Today, they wiped it out.
Humanitarian situation can not be worse. Basic supplies are in dire need at the moment. One can see long line ups of people waiting outside bakeries trying to buy one bag of bread for each. Electricity black out is making situation very bad. Food and vegetable are in serious short -supply as rural farmers can not risk their lives in bringing in the produce to cities and markets.
Hospitals still suffer form shortage of medical supplies. The health minister of the de-facto government announced to all media outlets an appeal for Arab governments to send in professional surgeons. He said that the first one or two hours of those injured are the most critical time in order to save lives. Local Palestinian doctors are overworked and tired. There is one Norwegian doctor, a surgeon, now volunteering at Shifa Hospital in addition to a number of Egyptian surgeons.
The humanitarian crisis is very serious. Many hope that more humanitarian trucks can enter Gaza more quickly. From what I see in my area and hear from friends, people are getting very anxious as basic supplies are disappearing namely, cooking gas, flour, fuel, basic commodities. But, there is no panic as local super-markets functioning normally. Also, people are showing an amazing degree of solidarity and helping one another.
The humanitarian crisis will worsen once the ground attack begins as the fighting expected to intensify. This war is getting fierce and will be fiercer if the ground war starts. Many people in the outside do not realize the mind of those involved in the resistance. For the fighters or militants, they know that this is the fight of their lifetime. Those guys are not new to this. They have battled the Israeli army for the past eight years and credit themselves for Israel’s withdrawal from inside Gaza. They consider themselves experienced and know Israel army’s weak and strong points.
Here in Gaza, residents know more than anybody that for those fighters dying at the warfront is easier to them than even contemplating defeat. To them, defeat means simply “liquidation.” And for the people of Gaza, the siege made them feel like, “there is nothing to lose.”
People of Gaza hope that some wise leaders out in the world can stop this war, killing of the innocents and call for a life of dignity in ending the siege and re-opening of all border crossings in order to live like every human being everywhere.
Reported by B. Samed
Gaza, January, 3rd. 2009