Gaza: Why don’t the Palestinians go to bomb shelters?

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Al-Akhbar Management

A Palestinian family stand at the balcony of their house as they look at a neighboring building which was targeted in an Israeli military strike in Gaza City on July 12, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Mohammed Abed)

By: Orouba Othman

Published Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ever since the Palestinian Resistance launched its first missile during the second intifada, a recurring scene has been unfolding in Israel. [With every missile], sirens go off as both settlers and soldiers head to shelters. On the Palestinian side, however, the scene is completely different.

Gaza – Reading the headline, people aware of the Palestinian cause may find the question a bit odd, because they know that Gaza lacks shelters for its residents to head to. Even foreigners who are unfamiliar with the real situation in Palestine and its occupation may wonder why these people are dying on the streets and why they are not taking refuge in safer places.

The first Gaza war in 2008 established a rule that “no place is safe in Gaza.” Back then, even far off and wealthy neighborhoods were destroyed, such as Tel al-Hawa, to the west of the Strip.

Very few shelters are found in Gaza, most of them dating back to the Egyptian- Israeli war of 1973, and they have been deserted ever since. Locals here have continued to ignore these places, even during the various Israeli assaults on the strip.

But what if shelters existed in Gaza, would people take refuge there?

To answer this question, one should observe the high morale that local citizens have been displaying even though they know that new martyrs and casualties are expected to fall by the hour. This is added to the horrific scenes produced by the Israeli war machine, as missiles rip apart the bodies of women and children, making it hard for medical staff and concerned authorities to identify the remains of the martyrs unless they stumble upon some way to identify them like an ID or a watch.

The scene in Gaza has not changed in the last three days and the smell of death still emanates from its streets and alleys. As the death toll in Gaza rises by the minute, Israeli hysteria peeks every time military planes bombard innocent civilians. As for Israeli warships, they follow the same path of insanity as they shell the coastline. But from within the darkness and the bloody faces of children rises a Resistance that has the full support of its people.

Despite their injuries, victims here are proud because the Resistance’s missiles have hit Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. This besieged population did not expect the Resistance to start the battle from the same place where the previous war ended. They thought that Israel would burn Gaza from north to south, but as it turned out, the enemy is now under the range of the Resistance’s missiles, and seeing the fear in the eyes of the occupation only makes residents even more proud.

However, Gazans still feel great pain; these people face the threat of losing a loved one at any time, and entire families may go to meet their maker in a mere second, leaving behind a small child thinking his parents left them for a short period and will return for them after their trip.

Locals are also aware of the wide disparities between the Resistance’s and Israel’s military and technological capabilities, so they excuse Palestinian factions for not being able to strongly and directly strike the occupied territories.

In Gaza, even those hit by death and those who have lost their homes maintain their support for the Resistance. They refuse to abandon the battle before reinforcing deterrence against Israel and ensuring that the political isolation and the siege are lifted.

Mohammed Kawareh survived the Khan Younes massacre during which seven members of his family were killed and 25 others were injured. Mohammed praised the Resistance, urging it to target regions farther than Dimona and Hadera.

Undefeated, the 43 year-old man told Al-Akhbar “this is the price that we have to pay; Haifa cannot be shelled and the Resistance men cannot sneak into Ashkelon to clash with the occupation soldiers if we do not present martyrs and casualties… all our wounds do not matter it if they can shorten the distance to Palestine.”

With a sad sarcastic tone, Gazans said the war largely relieved them from the pressure of living under the siege for eight years. Most recently, the social situation emanating from the salaries crises almost pushed Gaza into the abyss.
Today, however, the people of Gaza are praised for coming to the aid of Jerusalem and the territories occupied in 1948, and for carrying the burden of confronting Israel while other cities only have stones as a weapon.

Before asking about ending the current war, people in Gaza ask about the nature of this ending. They want to know what they will gain after all the blood that they have shed and the massive destruction that they have endured. They are also worried about the reconstruction process that has already stalled for years due the siege.

Although protests have faded in many cities, the events in Gaza generated public dismay about the indifference displayed by the authorities in Ramallah and in the Arab world in the way they dealt with the Israeli assault.

Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Jerusalem resident Mohammed Shahadeh said “some people are adopting the [Palestinian] Authority’s rhetoric and comparing the losses borne by the enemies to those borne by Gaza, and are finally reaching a defeatist conviction because the Resistance’s missiles are failing to hit Israel’s internal front while Gaza is suffering huge losses on the materialistic and human level.”

“For these people, a disproportionate war will not liberate Palestine any faster,” Shahadeh added, stressing however that “most Palestinians believe that the legitimacy of the missiles is the one that will eventually prevail, because it is not possible to count on the international legitimacy that President Mahmoud Abbas keeps promoting.” He also urged the [Palestinian] Authority to unchain the Resistance and abandon security coordination [with Israel].

Amid growing popular support for the Resistance, occupation forces continued for the fifth consecutive day to shell civilian houses and to call for those in the border areas to leave their homes. They have also been making phone calls to residents and threatening to bombard their homes to generate chaos and push people toward internal displacement.

Gaza resident Omar Mansour was one of those who received a phone call ordering him to vacate his house in the north of the Strip, but he refused to comply.

“We refuse to become refugees again, all residents in the region decided to stay to support the Resistance” he told Al-Akhbar.

Commenting on these statements, political analyst, Hassan Abdo, said “public support for the resistance is a support for the Palestinian essence; Palestinians have never admitted defeat but they have blamed their political and intellectual leaderships who have led the previous eras of the struggle, based on narrow interests restricted to a party or a faction.”

“The Resistance is the real embodiment of the will of a people that has never hesitated to make great sacrifices to liberate its country,” Abdo told Al-Akhbar, warning that “contesting the Resistance and its goals, actually contests the right of Palestinian self-determination.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


"What part of Gaza is occupied?"

All of Palestine is occupied.

Get a history book and learn about the whole of Palestine since before Christ until 1948. You Zionists couldn't rewrite hundreds and hundreds of years of history. Educated people who care nothing about the current state of affaires refer to Palestine. Saladin went to Palestine. The British mandate was in Palestine. The Romans were in Palestine. The Greeks were in Palestine. Lots of references to Palestine throughout the ages. The Zionists hadn't formed during these periods to rewrite and falsify history.

But the fact is you all know that anyway. Even your terrorist leaders have left notes and documents in the Zionist archives about what they did to create the Zionist state. Why don't you read them? Because you know well the crimes of ethnic cleansing. As if a people living on their land were going to hand it over to foreigners from Europe.What is funny is when you tell people how the Arabs were offered half of Palestine? Offered it!?
It was our land to begin with so how can we be offered it? By some colonisers sat in Europe, telling the indigenous population to hand over more than half of our land to foreigners.

You mentioned occupation, remind me again, what part of Gaza is occupied?

As far as a strictly physical presence, the Israeli military is still regularly deployed in parts of Gaza, including the territorial waters and a free-fire zone inside the boundary extending from 300-500M. The remote-controlled guns fixed on Gaza farmland indicate military occupation no less than boots on the ground.

"The army admitted using Sentry Tech in December to kill at least two Palestinians several hundred metres inside the fence."

"He is not the only farmer who attributes the shift to turmoil in Egypt. 'After the coup, the Israelis expanded the area farmers couldn’t reach to 500 meters,' Abed al-Rasoul Abu Taima said. 'Anyone coming closer to the separation barrier will be shot.'"

"In the Gaza Strip, on 01 September 2013, Israeli forces (3 bulldozers and a tank) moved about 200 meters to the west of the border fence, east of Gaza Valley (Johr al-Deek) village in the central Gaza Strip. They levelled lands along the border fence and withdrew 5 hours later. On 03 September 2013, Israeli forces moved into the east of al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis and levelled lands along the border fence as well."

Getting to the legal argument, the fact Israel withdrew its military bases from Gaza only to blockade and regularly stage incursions into the territory means it's still effectively in belligerent occupation there. It's still exercising the same level of control over Gaza's foreign trade as before 2005. There's no precedent nor basis in international law for withdrawing a military occupation, designating the territory a "hostile entity" and continuing to assault it from outside. What's more, as Noura Erekat demonstrates, occupying powers do not have the right of self-defense against the territory they are occupying.

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