by Ayman Ahmed (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 4, Shawwal, 1442)
In its relentless bombardment of Gaza, Zionist Israel confirmed, yet again, its barbaric nature. What entity would blow up apartment buildings killing hundreds of civilians, half of them women and children?
Its US-supplied planes, artillery and missiles bombed Gaza’s sole power plant severely cutting power supply not only to homes but also to al-Shifa Hospital. Two senior doctors at the hospital, Dr Mooein Ahmad al-Aloul and several family members as well as Dr Ayman Abu al-Ouf were also killed in Israeli bombings. Their loss has left the already strained medical community in deep shock.
In another act of vandalism, the Zionists also bombed the main intersection leading to al-Shifa Hospital, thereby preventing the injured from reaching the hospital to receive timely treatment. The Zionists blew-up people’s homes as well as apartment buildings housing media outlets.
It is quite touching to hear Zionist Israel and its apologists claim that they gave ‘advance notice’—between 18 minutes to one hour—for people to get out of their apartments. What law allows for an aggressor to blow up apartment buildings?
Between May 10 and 20, six apartment buildings and more than 1,000 residential and commercial properties were destroyed, including buildings that housed 33 media institutions, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. The Zionist regime wanted to hide its war crimes in Gaza from the rest of the world.
Often, houses were bombed with occupants inside, as happened to the Salha family on May 20. Wheelchair bound Eyad Salha, 33, his pregnant wife Amani, and their daughter Nagham were getting ready to have lunch. An Israeli missile tore through the seaside building’s facade and destroyed all three rooms in their Deir el-Balah flat, in central Gaza Strip. Eyad had been in wheelchair for 14 years, unable to walk.
Even families that managed to escape their homes before Israeli bombs or missiles rained down on them, were unsafe. Clutching meagre belongings, women, children and men running away to seek shelter elsewhere were attacked by Israeli planes and artillery fire. Israel also used drones, missiles and gunboats to attack Gaza’s civilians and infrastructure.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on May 20, Israel’s relentless onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip had displaced more than 75,000 Palestinians. Of these, 47,000 had sought shelter in UN-run schools while some 28,700 displaced people were staying with host families. Jens Laerke, a spokesman for OCHA, warned that the “overall situation across the occupied territories had remained alarming.”
In the 10-day period between May 10-20, Israel killed 279 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 69 children and 43 women, and wounded more than 1,900 others. Even after the ceasefire went into effect at 2 am local time May 21, Palestinian families continued to dig bodies out of rubble. On May 20, Gaza’s housing ministry said Israel had destroyed 1,000 houses and another 1,800 units were unfit for living. An estimated 120,000 Palestinians were displaced.
Two families in Gaza—al-Kawalek and Abu Hatab—lost 13 and 10 members respectively. Most of the dead among the Kawalek family were children including a six-month old baby. In the Zionist occupied West Bank, 25 Palestinians were killed including four children. There were 6,309 injuries.
While most casualty figures are tabulated from May 10 onward, that is not when this latest round of Zionist terror campaign against the Palestinians started. Zionist crimes span decades but the latest bloodletting can be traced to the beginning of the month of Ramadan (April 13). After breaking their fast and completing the nightly prayers, many Palestinians congregate at the Damascus Gate outside the steps of Al Aqsa Mosque.
Illegal Zionist squatters (aka settlers) started to harass and attack them. The occupation police force also joined in these attacks with the aim of driving the Palestinians out of this vital space.
Angry at the Zionist regime’s plans to evict Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah in Al Quds (East Jerusalem) and hand these properties over to the squatters, the Palestinians decided to resist. Attacked by heavily-armed Zionist squatters and the police, Palestinian injuries mounted. Such attacks became a daily occurrence throughout the month of April and early part of May.
On May 7, the last Friday of Ramadan—a very special day for Muslims—tens of thousands of Palestinians were prevented from praying at Al Aqsa Mosque. That evening, the Israeli police stormed the Aqsa mosque, entered the sacred compound with their filthy boots and attacked worshippers including women and children. More than 300 Palestinians were injured, some critically. The police used tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. Two Palestinian youths were blinded by bullets.
Attacks on Palestinians continued over the next three days. The police used sewage water spraying and polluting worshippers going for prayers. Only the Zionists are capable of such filthy practices because sewage water pollutes the victims’ clothes rendering them unable to offer prayers.
As the squatters, aided and abetted by the Israeli police, escalated their attacks on Palestinian worshippers, the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas issued a warning to the Zionist regime to stop attacking worshippers and withdraw its forces from the Aqsa Compound in one-hour or face the consequences.
In their customary arrogance, the Zionists dismissed Hamas’ ultimatum. There followed a barrage of rockets directed at various military sites in Occupied Palestine. The Zionists were stunned. How dare Hamas launch rockets at their military or economic installations? The Zionists unleashed their massive firepower on the besieged Gaza Strip.
It is interesting to note that while the Western regimes had maintained a deathly silence over Zionist terror attacks against Palestinian worshippers, suddenly they started screaming in unison: “Hamas rocket fire must stop.” The other line they parroted was: “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
The occupying power has no such right. Zionist Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian lands. The Palestinians have every right, under international law, to defend themselves “by any means necessary”. The Western regimes demanded that Hamas rocket fire must stop but no such demand was made of Israel to stop killing civilians. It showed their moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy.
By killing civilians and destroying Gaza’s infrastructure, the Zionist regime is guilty of war crimes. Those that defend such conduct are accomplices in these crimes. Since there is no institution that would bring these criminals to justice, the Palestinians are left with no choice but to defend themselves.
Zionist war criminals must be held to account for their crimes against humanity.