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Re: [Fwd: [Fwd: [palsolidarity] Urgent Action: Rafah being destroyed by Israeli occupation]]
by Michael Pugliese
15 October 2003 21:52 UTC
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------- Forwarded message -------
From: anomalousthomas <anomalousthomas@hotmail.com>
To: DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [DemocraticLeft] "Operation Root Canal": Dr. Mengele-style dentistry in the Gaza Strip
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 16:48:46 -0000

I have been getting some really horrific phone calls and emails from
the Gaza Strip. The last I've heard is that over the last 5 days
parts of several neighborhoods have been bulldozed, 8 are dead, about
80 injured and over 2,000 are now homeless-- joining the many more
thousands who were made homeless over the previous few months. The
dead were identified as: Ibrahim Krinawi, 8; Sami Salah, 12; Mabruk
Juda, 18 and Yihyeh Sharif, 19; Nader Abu Taha, 22; Mohammed Abd al
Waheb, 23; Mohammed Yunis, 28 and Ala Mansour, 23.

It is very hard to get info since much of the electricity, internet
and telephone service was cut in the Rafah area, along with the sewage
and water. Israel says the purpose of the attack is to find tunnels
and "to show the enemy that we are serious." The IDF has announced
that it will stay "as long as necessary to accomplish their objectives."

I will post just some random emails from among the hundreds that have
turned up in the last few days about Rafah, and I hope you will all be
true to your progressive credentials and actually do a little homework
to see what Israel is doing right now in the Southern Gaza Strip. So
far to my knowledge only Amnesty International has said anything about
the destruction of Rafah.

Basically what seems to be happening is that after destroying much of
the refugee camp over the weekend, tanks are today moving back in for
another round of mass killings, mass arrests, random shelling and
shooting, destruction of the homes of thousands of civilians.

If it were an Arab country doing this we would have blown them off the
face of the earth by now.

UNRWA director Peter Hansen visited Rafah yesterday and said "the
scene is shocking." He said "there is no security consideration that
could justify such an attack against civilians."

For info on Rafah please go to http://www.rafah.vze.com/

The author is posting again after his 17-year-old brother was
critically wounded by 5 Israeli bullets last week.

Update from Laura [Rafah, Gaza Strip] between invasions

Monday, October 14, 2003
Laura -- ISM
Rafah, Gaza Strip

Then the streets started screaming and we were running almost
without thinking, down the edges of the street around the people who
had lost their fear, around donkey carts loaded full, ran until we
fround a corner to turn into and then we ran past families and
children, through narrow streets far enough from the main street not
to know the worst, far enough that we were the ones spreading the
news that the army had come back. Old men's eyes opened wide and
mothers pulled their children inside, casting weary gazes in the
direction from where we had come. We found Sea Street and a taxi
and headed towards Block J. A machine gun fired from a tank as it
entered Yibneh. It was maghreb time. The sun burning a hole in the
sky as it fell behind the wall at the edge of town.

When we'd come to Yibneh the camp was already in exodus mode. Donkey carts piled high with furniture, men removing the doors of
their homes from the hinges, children holding the keys to their
homes on neon green keychains, the modern picture of a refugee
descended from refugees, meeting exile every other generation.

The army had gone during the night leaving a city stripped bare, the
broken bones of houses like twisted bodies reaching up to heaven. Trees and streets, power lines and water pipes, broken, twisted
around each other, uprooted. A graveyard of life things. The real
dead had been carried out on stretchers, mostly after lying on the
street for hours between tanks and the frightened closed doors of
curfew, while the ambulances negotiated with the army to gain
access. It was a perfect autumn day, soft clouds dotting a sky blue
as swimming pools.

The army had gone during the night in the sound of thunder rumbling
down the border frightening the whole town. It left, not through
the streets as it had come, but by creating a path through the homes
still standing in Yibneh, demolishing anything in its way and
driving over the remains. It left 10 people dead and upwards of 80
injured; over 100 homes demolished and over 1500 people homeless,
according to the UN's estimate. And even then, the army left
incompletely and provisionally, remaining stationed along the
border, and Moshe Yallon calling to deploy more reserves; the word
on the street is, the army has left just long enough for the
frightened families to leave the camp, an empty shell for the army
to finish demolishing.

That night I stayed with Noura and the family down by Salah el-Deen
gate. In the morning we peeked over the balcony. A tank was still
sitting by the Block O tower. It didn't stop shooting either. All
day in spurts.


Most of the dead were teenage boys with more curiosity than fear who
went outside just to see what was in their street keeping them
inside their homes. They were wheeled out on stretchers to sit in
the hospital refrigerators for days, waiting for their family to
identify them, some unidentifiable. Held in limbo waiting for the
army could leave so their families could bury them. When they did
hold funerals it was not in the camp where the army was threatening
to reinvade, but far away, in the center of the city, in Hay Il-
Ijnena. But not far enough. An Apache dropped a missile on an
empty field next to a funeral on the second day of invasion, the
funeral of ??? who lives in Hay Il-Ijnena, the most expensive part
of town, known for its distance from the border, who died when an
Apache fired massive bullets through the roof of his home.


When the army entered we were on the roof passing aroung stories and
dreams. The Apaches came in like a foreboding signal of the end of
the world, dropping fist-sized bullets - boom boom boom, explosions
every several minutes from the planes and the tanks. We spent the
night in the office waking with fear and coffee, every bullet
sounding like it was coming through our windows. We are in the
center of the city. All the shooting comes from the borders, and
even if it doesn't reach our walls it shoots in our direction, it
sounds awful, like wretching or like rain.

People filled up the hospital and in the morning it was already low
on supplies. Nobody could get to the European Gaza Hospital, the
only descent facility in the area, where tanks had been parked for
days not letting anyone out or in. The dead waited in the
refrigerators for identification. The beds were full and

My friend Adwan was the first to identify his friend since 12 years,
Mabrouk, whose name means congratulations, shot three times in the
head and five in the back, at the age of 19, while walking home.

In the mosque, men gathered for prayer and sharing information. Mohammed came back with news. The sheikh at the library, the one we
all know, had been killed while walking down the street, a bullet in
the heart. One of the ambulance drivers that drove Rachel Corrie to
the hospital had also been killed on his way to rescue the injured. His was one of two ambulances the army shot at that night.

Down the street from my friend Feryal in Block J an eight-year-old
boy, her neighbor's son, was killed at the door of his home when a
tank backed into his home and then shot him as he ran out, and then
denied the ambulance entrance for two hours while he bled to death. Feryal was pregnant and expecting her fifth child any day. Four
tanks were parked at each corner of her block.


I went with the municipality workers to negotiate with the army to
let them fix the water and electricity on a street that hadn't had
for days. The real heros here are the municipality workers and the
ambulance drivers who have lost their fear in order to keep the city
together. I spoke from a distance of ten yards with a soldier in an
APC, to see if the workers could fix the water system. He gave me a
thumbs up sign. He appeared to be trying to understand. Parallel
universes colliding. I couldn't believe I was talking with a real
person inside this massive machine, I was so hungry for human
contact, to put a face with the military machinery. We shouted to
each other from opposite sides of a road block the army had put up,
the divide was a gulf none of us could cross. I stood for too long,
gawking at him, wishing I could talk to him for hours until he left
his tank, feeling naive and silly in the afternoon sun.

The army had uprooted the entire street. Water was filling the sand
everywhere in the places water pipes had been broken. People had
run out of food, had no water or electricity for two days at that
point. Two women who wanted to bring clothes for their children
inside the militarized area were denied entry. The municipality,
who wanted to bring food relief to the people in the sealed-off area
and to fix the water and electrical systems there, was denied entry.


The night before I had slept with Naela's family. The invasion was
one day old. Jenin was the word on everyone's lips, "b'eyn Allah
(It's in God's eyes)."


My friend Anees' house was partially demolished. Abu Ahmed, the
carob juice vendor, his house was demolished.


The army used nerve gas for the first time in Rafah, leaving people
shaking for days.


And last night, I ran from Yibneh's streets as the army came back in
and found my way directly to Feryal's house in Block J, better to be
with her under curfew than to worry from outside. The army didn't
come as it had before but drove in enough to scare the people into
exodus and then shot all night long. I began to mix all loud noises
with gunfire, the way I used to when I first arrived here.

We slept incompletely. Outside, everything around had been
demolished. The morning was still. Families were sitting on the
doorsteps of their neighbors' homes gazing at the damage. The area
had gone from a crowded lively neighborhood to a strange antique
gallery, children rummaging through the best climbing spots of
twisted cars and broken homes. A few more weeks and the army will
finish its work and "clean" the area - dig away the dead bones of
the city - until nothing remains but a flat, sandy expanse, a
military parking lot. Even the ghosts will leave the area,
searching for better horizons.

Even as I sit by Feryal now in the crowded clinic benches full of
pregnant women and screaming children, tanks shoot into the camps. It hasn't stopped all morning or all night, and there are four new
injuries. The whole town is frightened, afraid to let out its
breath. The sadness is dry and wordless. People are staying in
tents on the street, some families have room to take in the new
homeless. The army is lying as usual, saying only 10 homes were
destroyed and that the people killed were gunmen. Journalists are
trying to get here but with difficulty and on the guideline that
they follow military instruction. The ultrasound machine sounds
like gunfire to my frightened ears. Feryal looks forward, eyes
cynical, sarcastic, watching from a distance.

[Talk of a "Geneva Plan" in the last few days -- a new symbolic peace
agreement authored by Yossi Beilin, Amram Mitzna, Avraham Burg and
Palestinians such as Abu Mazen, with similar political pedigree but
with little or no actual power over negotiations -- overshadowed the
actions of the Israeli military in Gaza this week. According to
emerging reports, Israeli tanks and bulldozers searching out
smugglers' tunnels destroyed as many as 100 Palestinian homes in the
Rafah refugee camp, leaving 2000 or more Palestinians homeless and
eight dead, including two children. United Nations Relief and Works
Agency (UNRWA) director Peter Hansen, interviewed by Ha'aretz, says
it all "the scene is shocking.... [T]here is no security
consideration that could justify such an attack against civilians."
Whatever the political outcome of symbolic and practical efforts to
end the Israeli occupation and the egregious violence on both sides
that it has spawned, the unimaginable psychological trauma of losing
a home to soldiers and machines of war will affect thousands of
adults and children in Gaza for their lifetimes. --LS]


w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

October 14, 2003

IDF Rafah operation leaves 2,000 homeless

By Arnon Regular and Amos Harel

The Israel Defense Forces yesterday completed the first stage of its
operation to uncover arms-smuggling tunnels in Rafah, at the southern
end of the Gaza Strip, and pulled its troops out of the refugee camp,
redeploying along the Egyptian border. International aid
organizations and UNRWA officials were then able to make an initial
assessment of the damage some 100 houses were destroyed, leaving
about 2,000 people homeless. Eight Palestinians, including two
children, were killed earlier during the 72-hour operation that began
early Friday morning.

In a separate incident yesterday, Samir Elbayout, a militant from the
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, was killed while
attempting to attack the Morag settlement, also in the southern part
of the Gaza Strip.

Most of the homes that were destroyed in the Rafah camp were hit by
tank shells and heavy machine gun fire. Others were leveled by
explosives placed by the IDF. Since the beginning of the intifada
over three years ago, some 500 homes in this area have been destroyed
in similar operations. Much of this area of the Rafah camp was
already abandoned due to the daily exchange of gunfire between IDF
forces and Palestinians seeking to defend the tunnels they had built.

The meager infrastructure that existed in this section of the Rafah
camp - including sewage pipes and electric and telephone lines - was
totally destroyed by IDF tanks and bulldozers, international and
Palestinian sources said yesterday.

UNRWA director Peter Hansen visited Rafah yesterday and said "the
scene is shocking." He added that they were still trying to assess
the damage, and argued that "there is no security consideration that
could justify such an attack against civilians." Hansen added, "I am
pessimistic in regard to the Israeli motives in activities in the

Army 10 tunnels still operating

Sources at the Southern Command said yesterday that the IDF will blow
up the two remaining tunnels discovered during the Rafah campaign in
the coming days. The IDF already destroyed a third tunnel used for
arms smuggling.

Additional IDF incursions in the area are expected to be conducted at
a later date. The army's assessment is that at least another 10
tunnels are in operation. According to the Southern Command, the
first stage of the operation was a "positive start" in the renewed
effort to deal with these tunnels.

It turned out that the intelligence information the IDF received
about the tunnels was quite precise. However, there were technical
difficulties in locating the openings to these tunnels - especially
when some of the tunnels had several openings.

The operation in Rafah has escalated the warfare in the southern part
of the Gaza Strip. Three Qassam rockets were fired across the Green
Line from this area and landed within kibbutzim near the city of
Sderot. No injuries or damage was reported. Four mortars were also
shot at Jewish settlements in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip. No one
was injured, but the mortars caused some property damage.

Other shooting incidents occurred further north in the Gaza Strip,
near the Netzarim settlement, and in Tul Karm in the West Bank.


In The News
'Operation Root Canal' underway in Gaza
By Jerusalem Newswire
Oct 10, 2003, 13:31

Jerusalem (www.jnewswire.com) - A large contingent of IDF ground
forces, attacks helicopters, engineers and special forces converged on
the southern Gaza PA-controlled town of Rafiah Friday morning, in a
move aimed at crushing terrorist weapons smuggling efforts in the area.

Defense sources said the operation had been planned following
intelligence reports indicating the Palestinians were trying to obtain
shoulder-launched Stinger missiles capable of knocking out IDF tanks
and aircraft, or of bringing down a civilian airliner.

Egypt, in accordance with its long-held policy, had refused to take
any steps to curb the smuggling from its side of the border, the
sources told Ha'aretz.

Fierce fighting

Friday morning's operation involved the largest number of troops and
equipment thus far used in a Gaza operation, according to Roni Marili,
battalion commander of the Givati Brigade forces, which spearheaded
the action.

Our aim is to disrupt the Palestinian weapons smuggling operations in
Rafiah, and to show the enemy "that we are serious," Marili told
Israel's Yediot Ahronot daily.

By midday, Palestinian sources were claiming six dead and over 40
wounded in fierce fighting. Marili said his troops had killed five
terrorist gunmen during the first few hours of the battle.

One IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the heavy exchanges of fire,
and was evacuated to Beersheva's Soroka Hospital.

By press time, Israeli forces had reportedly uncovered and destroyed
at least 10 weapons smuggling tunnels.

Here as long as we need to be

"Whereas in previous operations where the IDF entered Rafiah overnight
and withdrew in the morning, this time we intend to stay until our
objectives are met," a senior defense official told Yediot Ahronot
Friday morning.

Military sources said the operation could take several days, according
to Ha'aretz.


Rafah besieged and under constant attack
Mona Al-Farra
13 October 2003

The Israeli army invaded the Rafah Refugee camp last night in an
operation that they said would go on for one week. The operation is
an alleged search for tunnels, an excuse that has been used
repeatedly in incursions into Rafah, and has resulted over the past 3
years in the destruction of hundreds of homes.

Prior to this operation and for the past week Rafah town and refugee
camp (pop. 140000) have been isolated and completely cut off other
areas of the Gaza Strip. The whole of the Gaza Strip was also divided
into 5 completely isolated areas by Israeli military checkpoints and
roadblocks (including the permanently isolated Mawasi).

This lockdown prevented scores of patients from reaching hospitals,
and increased the deficiency of medications at medical facilities,
which are supplied from the central Ministry of Health drug supply
stores in Gaza city. Oxygen cylinders and emergency drugs are amongst
the most urgent needs.

Given this situation, various medical facilities in Rafah are unable
to cope with the increasing number of casualties (3 dead and 50
injured, 20 of them in serious condition) resulting from the Israeli

According to our medical teams in rafah refugee camp, emergency
medical supplies are lacking at the Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital and
various medical centers that supply field emergency services.

The Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital is small and cannot cope with the
more serious casualties requiring major surgery and intensive care,
these cases are usually referred to the European hospital (3kms away)
or Nasser Hospital in Khanyounis hospital (7kms away) and Al-Shifa
Hospital in Gaza (30 Kms away). It is extremely difficult for
ambulances to transport patients to the European or Nasser Hospitals
because of the newly imposed closure in Rafah.

Ambulance drivers, out of desperation resort to rough unpaved roads
out of Rafah to try to evacuate the seriously injured casualties,
this under threat of Israeli army tank and machine gun fire against
anyone trying to circumvent checkpoints. At least one Palestinian has
been killed while trying to get past this roadblock and several
others wounded.

Dr. Mona Al-Farra works for the Union of Health Work Committees in


UN official: 1,240 Palestinians made homeless by Rafah raid
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and

Up to 1,240 Palestinians have been made homeless in
the most recent operation by the Israel Defense
Forces in the Gaza Strip, a senior United Nations
official said Sunday.
Peter Hansen, commissioner general of the UN Relief and
Works Agency (UNRWA)for Palestinian refugees, said that
"many houses have been completely demolished".

UNRWA said that about the 1,240 Palestinians were left
homeless during the three-day raid by IDF troops hunting
for tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into the
Strip. This was the largest-scale demolition of houses in
a single operation in Gaza in the past three years of fighting.

"We have had very, very significant damage to
the refugee camp," Hansen said after inspecting
the damage Sunday. "Many houses, maybe as many
as 120, have been completely demolished."

UNRWA said 114 refugee shelters were destroyed
in the raid. Another 117 buildings were

The IDF said Saturday that three tunnels had
been located and destroyed, but warned Sunday
that the operation would continue, despite the
withdrawal of most of the troops in the early
hours, for as long as the tunnels were being

IDF sources, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said over the weekend that Israel had
intelligence warnings that Palestinians were
planning to use tunnels under the Egyptian
border to smuggle in weapons that could have a
strategic impact on the three-year
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the Egyptians
were not taking steps to stop them.

Sources said the smuggled weaponry may include
Stinger shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles
that could shoot down the attack helicopters
Israel often uses in operations in Gaza.

tinger missiles could also threaten Israel Air
Force warplanes or civilian aircraft flying
close to the Gaza Strip.

Also, the sources said, the Palestinians were
trying to smuggle Katyusha rockets, which have
the range to hit Israeli cities near the Strip.
During the conflict, the Palestinians have been
aiming homemade mortars and rockets at Israeli
towns and settlements.

Three Qassams hit Negev
Three Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip
landed in the western Negev area of Israel on

Two of the rockets, which were fired in the
afternoon, landed near a kibbutz. There were no
injuries, but damage was caused to a factory,
Army Radio reported.

Early Sunday morning, Palestinians fired a
Qassam rocket at the town of Sderot, Israel
Radio reported. No injuries were reported, but
a road was damaged.

Late Saturday night, troops thwarted an
attempted terror attack when they discovered
three Palestinian militants trying to place a
bomb in the southern Gaza Strip settlement of

The troops opened fire shortly before midnight,
killing one of the men. Troops then chased
away the other two would-be terrorists. The
militant's body was found a short time later
near three explosive devices which sappers then

Troops met with much opposition during the Rafah
operation and IDF officers expressed surprise
at the extent of the militants' firepower,
including the hundreds of bombs, grenades and
anti-tank missiles Palestinians threw at the
troops, Israel Radio reported.

Eight Palestinians, including a nine-year-old
and a 12-year-old, were killed during the
operation. A spokesman for the IDF said that a
19-year-old Palestinian killed on Saturday had
been armed.

At least 70 Palestinians were reported wounded
in the operation, most when a helicopter fired
a missile at a crowd. The IDF said the missile
targeted a group of gunmen.

Israeli forces also demolished five buildings
used by militants to fire on troops, the
military spokesman said. He also said another
three buildings used to conceal gunrunner
tunnels were demolished as well.

Witnesses in Rafah said IDF troops demolished 42
homes, although it was not immediately clear
how many of these were individual buildings.

"It could be that Palestinian fire also caused
structural damage," the spokesman said,
referring to heavy resistance Israeli troops
encountered when they stormed Rafah at daybreak
Friday in the deepest raid there for six

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior aide to Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, called the
operation a "war crime and a human tragedy."

The funerals of the Palestinian casualties took
place over the weekend, during which masked men
called for revenge and fired their weapons in
the air. The dead were identified as: Ibrahim
Krinawi, 8; Sami Salah, 12; Mabruk Juda, 18 and
Yihyeh Sharif, 19; Nader Abu Taha, 22; Mohammed
Abd al Waheb, 23; Mohammed Yunis, 28 and Ala
Mansour, 23.

Palestinian sources said that medical
professionals were also hurt in operation, and
that the IDF initially prevented ambulances
from arriving at the area of the fighting. They
said that later on ambulances were allowed to
evacuate the wounded into a makeshift clinic.

Rafah residents said troops seized a strip of
land 150 meters deep into the camp, a known
militant stronghold, and soldiers took
positions on roof tops.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday
condemned the Rafah raid, saying that Israel's
"disproportionate use of force in densely
populated areas is not compatible with
international humanitarian law." He called on
both sides in the conflict "to take every
measure to avoid harming innocent civilians.


(below is an ISMers account of the days leading up to the Rafah invasion)

by Laura in Rafah ISM

1) RAFAH UPDATE. October 9, 2003

On Yom Kippur (to specify, October 6), the most holy day on the
Jewish calendar, the day of atonement in which we are supposed to
cease every form of work in order to pray and request forgiveness
from God, the army began construction on a new permanent checkpoint
in the Gaza Strip, another slice. Tanks cut off the main road
between Rafah and Khan Younis (the city just north of Rafah) by
driving ten tanks right in front of the European Gaza Hospital, the
only decent hospital south of Gaza City, and the road has been
closed for days. Nothing can get to Rafah, many things in Rafah are
simply not available right now, things like medicine, the ability to
cash checks, basic supplies. People who study or work in Gaza City
and Khan Younis haven't been to work or university for days. It
makes me think of high school, when snow and ice could shut a city
down. Upstairs from our apartment, Rasha can't hide the small
relief she feels from this reprieve of study. I wonder how much the
relief Rasha feels has to do with getting let off the hook from
dealing with checkpoints. The week before this closure, she spent 5
hours one day waiting for Abu Holi to open so she could go home and
the next day it closed all night, leaving her to sleep at her
friend's sister's house in Gaza City after waiting for 4 hours in a
hot taxi in line with hundreds of cars waiting for the checkpoint to
open. I compare our worlds, like parallel universes, squinting at
each other from both sides of a mirror.

When tanks cut off the main road people trying to get home used the
sandy road and tanks cut that road too, shooting all the time, and
bulldozers followed, demolishing anything anywhere near Moraj
settlement, mostly olive trees. They are still demolishing. They've also started construction of something, people are saying
it's a permanent checkpoint, another Abu Holi. Nobody knows much,
not even the human rights organizations are going, nobody is risking
going near the place because the tanks are shooting anyone who
approaches. Nobody has dared approach since the first day of the
incursion, when the army invaded without announcement, taking people
by surprise as they drove to and from work. They injured four
people, including a doctor who was shot in the head and is in
critical condition in the European Gaza Hospital where he used to
work. In addition Rafah has accumulated another shaheed, Said Abu
Azzum, 26 years old, who was driving with his wife and their two
sons on a routine trip to Khan Younis, without any idea what was
happening some meters down the road; shot in the heart as he turned
a corner. He had no job, no money, and no house, and now he leaves
behind a 21-year-old widow with nowhere to go, a 4-year-old and a 6-
year-old with nowhere to go. They couldn't even have the wake in
his sister's house where he used to stay because it's near the
border and because it's too small to accomodate visitors, so they
sat for three days in a cousin's house in Shabura so that people
wouldn't be afraid to come and pay their respects. When I went on
the third day, his mother was angry. She said, where is your
camera, where are the journalists. Not one person from the media
had come to photograph her. I was embarrassed. I hadn't brought my
camera, thinking it disrespectful to bring journalism to a wake. She said, if you're going to write, at least take notes that I can
see, write in your book that Sharon and Bush murdered my son, from
the comfort of their offices.

On the same day Said Abu Azzum was killed, Mohammed's older sister
Wisam was coming home from the European Gaza Hospital where she
works as a nurse when she hear the army had cut the road, and her
taxi went with the other taxis towards the sandy road to bypass the
tanks, but not fast enough. Tanks drove into the road as they were
crossing into Rafah and began shooting indiscriminately, and it was
at this point that people were injured and killed upon running from
their cars to try to reach safety. Wisam was part of a group of
women that walked together after the men had left, holding a white
mendeel to signify surrender and peace. The tanks shot at them
anyway, is this the way to tell this story? as they were walking
(the words are so vile), and they lay down on the ground in the sand
for a half an hour while a tank rode back and forth right next to
them, a meter away, vile bastards, before retreating. Wisam did not
walk to Rafah, she ran, in bare feet (having left her sandals
somewhere on the ground), and arrived in her family's home, her
abaya torn, with the black glove of a woman she didn't know that
somehow found its way to her shoe, found her family and cried for
hours, she says she's never going back to work. The road is closed
in any case so for now it's not a question. She is taking her
respite with her family, in Tel Zorrob, farther from the border than
the main street in town but not far enough that their third floor
flat can't be seen by the Zorrob sniper tower, which effectively
keeps them from using the kitchen and one bedroom. The tower shoots
all day and night. It shot at us while we were eating kabbab in the
living room, and as Wisam impressed me from room to room with the
delicate furnishings in her home. She said, "Yesterday, I couldn't
stop thinking about your friend Rachel. I thought I was going to
meet the same fate."

So it goes. There is nobody in Rafah who doesn't feel the effect of
this new blockage. Feryal is wondering where she will go if the
road is closed when she gives birth to her fifth child, who is
turning in her belly for the ninth month. When I visit them, her
daughter Rula tells me, they've closed the road. What can we do? We want to see the world, we want some fresh air, we can't go
anywhere, we're Palestinians. Rula is 7 years old. Her older
brother Mohammed, 11 years old, has been given an assignment by
school to draw something related to human rights. He draws a world,
an armed man shaking hands with an unarmed figure. The armed figure
is America, he tells me, and the unarmed is Israel. Palestine is a
cloud raining down lightning bolts of anger onto them, separate,
alone, excluded from the conversation, unable to hold anything but
its own fire and tears.

2) RECIPE: Daamaa by Rasha

Heat less than 1/4 cup oil in a frying pan. While it is heating,
take three jalepenos, slice them two thirds of the way down from the
tip towards the stem, use a knife to dab a pinch of salt inside each
pepper, and put them in the oil. When one side is bubbled and
browning, turn and fry the other side. Remove two peppers and set
aside in a bowl to eat on the side. Add one or two cloves garlic
chopped to the oil, followed rapidly by 4 (large) to 6 (medium)
tomatos, cut into slices or smaller. Add salt and pepper to taste,
about a teaspoon each or a little more is good. Let cook about ten
minutes, stirring every so often, until thickens.

3) INVASION October 10, 2003

There is a tank parked outside of Om Essam's house, Mustafa Jabber's
family's home two houses down from his own. To the people the army
is saying no one will be permitted exit for five days. On TV the
army says three days, and says it is looking for anti-tank missiles
come through the tunnels, the myth of the tunnels lives on after all
but a scant few have been blown up by the army in underground bombs
that shake the town like a minor earthquake. The army has invaded
Block O, Yibneh, and Block J, a strip of three refugee camps along
the border, with 50? 70? 100? or more tanks, depending who you ask,
and 18 or more bulldozers. Feryal Jabber is nine months pregnant
about to give birth any day, under curfew in Block J. She
said, "There's a tank parked outside. The children, they are
playing, can you hear them. Aish bidna n'sawi (What can we do?)" There are pictures on TV of soldiers occupying the tall houses,
turning them into sniper towers. They'd been occupying homes
randomly in recent invasions, without doing much besides coming and
leaving, and everyone said it seemed like practice for something
really big. So here we are. No one is going to the area, not even
the human rights organizations, not even the scant media present
here, so we are relying on hearsay and television to tell us what is
happening a five-minute's walk away. We hear three shaheeds and 33
injuries, mostly in critical condition, but we don't know more. We
don't know anything about demolition. An-Najjar Hospital, a small
emergency room and transfer station with the most basic facilities,
the most advanced clinic in Rafah, is full and is turning people
away. Of course no one can get to the European Gaza Hospital, the
only hospital in the area twenty minutes north, since tanks are
parked in front of it cutting the main road and the side road and
shooting at anyone who approaches.

In the night nobody slept. Everyone in the city remained frightened
and awake, witness to an ugly soundtrack from some dark futuristic
depiction of a world. The sound of Apaches low down - we heard
three although we did not dare go outside - raining bullets the
size of fists over Rafah, raining missiles all night over Rafah. I
had stayed hanging at the office until it was too late to go to the
border to sleep as I had planned and I stayed up all night here,
with Mohammed and his father, listening to the gunfire all along the
border, it all seemed to be coming towards us, in the center of the
city, where we sat through the night in relative safety only feeling
helpless and frightened.

Mohammed's friend had come to visit after his two-week visit to
Lebanon, where he says the Lebanese are living a good life while the
refugees living there make Rafah look like an easy life. Adwan, who
is his cousin, biked three minutes under the Apache rain to come get
collect him in the first hours of the invasion. Outside it sounded
grim and we tried to close the door. Obstinate, determined to sit
through everything at home where they were the only men in homesfull
of their mothers and sisters, they left on bike and sat outside
their homes with the hundreds of shebab (youth) that had congregated
in Barbara Camp.

When we called my friend Anees he was escorting Japanese journalists
out of Yibneh but his family was still there, the numerous children
cousins brothers; the aging matriarch and patriarch, his parents. Assumedly they are under invasion and curfew but as they have no
phone and Anees is in an area where there is weak phone service I
haven't been able to get through all morning.

Abu Jameel's family and Abu Ahmed's as well are okay, I woke them up
this morning checking up on them, no problems there al-
hamdoulallah. Here it is quiet. Birds were singing earlier in the
morning while the missiles were still dropping and the day was
breaking. Strange to think about invasion 5 minutes away by the
calculation of my feet.

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On Wed, 15 Oct 2003 15:41:06 -0400, Trichur Ganesh <tganesh@stlawu.edu> wrote:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Fwd: [palsolidarity] Urgent Action: Rafah being destroyed by Israeli occupation]
Date: Wed, 15 Oct 2003 14:06:48 -0400
From: John Collins <collins@stlawu.edu>
To: Don Collins <dcollins@skyhouse.us> , Eve Stoddard <estoddard@mail.stlawu.edu> , Martha Chew <mchew@mail.stlawu.edu> , Ganesh Trichur <tganesh@stlawu.edu> , Judith DeGroat <jdegroat@stlawu.edu> , Joel Morton <jmorton@stlawu.edu> , Danielle Egan <degan@stlawu.edu> , Erin McCarthy <emccarthy@stlawu.edu> , Traci Fordham <tracifordham@stlawu.edu>

Has anyone heard much about what is happening in Rafah? I haven't--and it's a scandal that this isn't being covered more extensively. Please forward this on to others. Laura Gordon, who is referred to in the message below, is almost the only person sending eyewitness reports out of Rafah, and what she describes is horrifying:



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [palsolidarity] Urgent Action: Rafah being destroyed by Israeli occupation
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2003 21:08:47 -0000
From: International Solidarity Movement <ism-alerts@palsolidarity.org>
To: palsolidarity@yahoogroups.com

Urgent Action:
[Rafah, Gaza Strip]

Rafah is being destroyed.

Electricity and phone lines have been cut in many areas of Rafah.
Sewage lines and the basic infrastructure of the city have been
destroyed and the Mayor of the municipality has declared the area a
disaster zone. As of the writing of this release there have been 10
killed (including at least 3 children, and one ambulance driver). A
significant number are in the ICU including one child after being
shot in the back from military fire. The one hospital to which
residents of Rafah can go has run out of beds -people are having to
sleep on the floor-and is running critically low on medical
supplies. The only route into and out of Rafah has been sealed for
almost a week now and the town is running low on food, water, and
basic supplies.

The UN is reporting that more than 1200 people have been made
homeless and that number is rising. This does not include the large
numbers of families whose houses have been partially demolished by
the military. Laura Gordon, an American citizen, is inside Rafah
and giving detailed firsthand accounts of the situation on the
ground. She and the families she is staying with are in grave
danger, include the family of Abu Ahmed, one of the countless
families who have been forced to flee their homes under heavy
gunfire from tanks and Apache helicopters. This crime must stop

Please call the following numbers to let Israel know that the world
is watching.

Captain Levey, Southern Command, Gaza Strip:
+972 56-246-406

Gaza Occupation Forces:
+972 88-741-544

For more information from Rafah, contact:
+972 67 850 734

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Michael Pugliese

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