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A dreadful attack on Rafah  Saturday, January 12, 2002

The last few days have witnessed tension and military escalation in the occupied territories, particularly in the south of Gaza Strip.

The town of Rafah, located at the border of Egypt and Gaza Strip, has been going through some of its worst days. Israeli army sent tanks and bulldozers into a neighborhood and simply eradicating it from existence. In the early hours of a cold morning, January 10th, Israel demolished more than seventy houses and turning hundreds of people into refugees thrown in the cold rain. As people heard the thundering noise of the approaching bulldozers and tanks across the fence lines, esidents tried to wake up their children and pick up whatever they could before they witnessed their homes turning to rubbles in front of their very eyes.

The following morning, people from other areas rushed to offer help to the stricken families who are suddenly left without shelter and extremely cold.
This year, the winter is particularly very cold. The average degree in the daytime is about six. At night, the temperature is freezing even in the south of Gaza Strip.

Today, Saturday, Jan. 12th. I tried to go to Rafah and see by myself the situation there. Unfortunately, Israeli tanks blocked the main road, which connects Rafah to the rest of the world. The tanks pointed their guns at the road preventing cars and commuters from approaching the city. There were several tanks positioned at the so-called ・European Hospital・intersection, approximately thirty-KM south of Gaza City. The entire town was closed off from any contacts with the outside world.

Some Rafah residents take the risk by going through rural and unpaved narrow roads to reach their homes. With recent heavy rain, it is almost impossible for cars to make it through muddy and dreadful road conditions.

Also, in Gaza City, today, 1/12, Israeli gunboats fired missiles at a small fishing port. The port is a home for many small fishing boats which have been, anyway, prevented from going to the sea to fish during most of last year, 2001. There is a relatively big old boat that has been sitting in the incomplete Gaza Port. Today, Israeli missiles sank the boat.

Palestinians believe that the latest actions by Israeli occupation forces confirm that Sharon's government is trying hard to avoid negotiating some peace deal. Some local observers think that we are witnessing the start of a new ・season of conspiracies・carried out by Israel in an attempt the
implicate the Palestinians and the leadership with accusations and incrimination. Lately, one major aspect of such attempts is the arm shipment incident. At the street level, Palestinians express no surprise at such stories and theatrical lies illustrated by Israeli officials.

One could feel the frustration of a people living under occupation. People want the world to start doing something serious about lifting embargo, roadblocks, house demolitions, and assassination policies. Instead, disappointingly, the world community seems to be distracted in believing or
not believing the latest story of an arm shipment stopped hundreds of miles away from a small stretch of sea, 40 KM long Gaza Stip, with a forbidding tight security, 24 hours, day and night.

In the south of Gaza Strip, today, people were exchanging a small story of an elderly woman, in Rafah refugee camp. She summed up the feelings, anger and frustration of the people in her area. This Woman used to raise a pair of ducks in her small back yard. Apparently a tank shell killed the pair of ducks. As she looked through the rubbles and found the dead pair of ducks next to each other. She picked them up and said,・I hope to see you one day dead like them..sharon..・

Rafah Town, South of Gaza Strip

Saturday, January 12th, 2002.

B. Samed


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