Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
by Safa Joudeh (See earlier entries)
The Israeli incursion in, and invasion of the Tal el Hawa neighborhood at the end of my street on Wednesday night and Thursday morning had many devastating consequences, especially given that it is the furthest Israeli incursion into the city so far. Many buildings in Tal el Hawa were raided, many buildings, including mine, were bombed, many civilians were killed, injured or arrested. Thousands of families were forced to flee. Phosphorus bombs rained down on the city and our eyes are still burning from the fumes. The UNRWA headquarters was bombed and the fire caused by the fuel kept burning till the next day.
It was these consequences that Alaa, Palestinian resistance fighters in his late 20’s, was trying to prevent. I will not mention which of the various resistance factions he is affiliated with because that is irrelevant. Alla and his fellow fighters were out in the battle front, facing Israeli aircrafts and tanks with their rudimental weaponry, their bodies and their faith 2 days before the invasion.
Alaa, his parents, his wife and 2 daughters live in my building compound. Alaa’s wife is pregnant with a baby boy. It was her husband’s wish that their unborn child and his young daughters would be given the opportunities he himself was deprived of growing up. He was a doting father and husband, and a favorite of all among the residents in the area. He was especially adored by Haja Na’oom, an old lady who lives alone on the fourth floor. Alaa would buy her groceries, fix anything that needed to be fixed in her apartment, and keep her company on a regular basis.
And so as the attack of the Israeli Occupying forces on Gaza began, Alaa said goodbye to his family and disappeared to join the lines of other fearless young men who had traded in their lives to defend us. In was understood that the risk was high, but that is by no means a deterrent for any of them. Do you understand why we value our resistance so much?
Alaa kept in touch with his family. Calling every night to make sure they were safe and to let them know he was still breathing. The girls stayed up to talk to “baba” (daddy), Alaa’s wife was heartbroken, and his parents were in a constant state of panic.
It was a few nights ago that Alaa called his parents to let them know he was in Zatoun, the neighborhood right behind Tel el Hawa, and that witnessed the heaviest bombardment of all. Alla spoke to his mother, and she immediately knew that there was something different about his voice. It was weak, full of emotion…full of pain. Alaa finally told her.
He had been shot in the stomach. He was bleeding, hiding by a wall of some building. His friends had called the Red Cross, but many injured civilians had been waiting all day too, and yet Israel denied the Red Cross entry into Zatoun.
Alaa’s wife and parents stayed up all night, calling him, talking to him on his cell phone and the cell phones of his friends. As the son rose, Alaa’s voice got weaker and weaker. All of a sudden he stopped responding.
His wife shrieked, his parents frantically tried dialing again, and then they got a call from Alaa’s friend. Alaa had died, slowly, quietly and without complaint he had bled to death.
It wasn’t until 4 pm that the ambulance was able to retrieve Alaa’s body. We saw men carrying him up the stairs, as we stood watching at the door of our apartment. His face looked so peaceful, so picturesque, so beautiful. He had died a hero’s death, a martyr, and seeing his face you would understand that without even knowing the full story.
The funeral was held in the outside opening in front of my father’s clinic. The men had taken our permission to hold it there and we were honored.
Today, Alaa is buried, perhaps he’ll live on in our memories for a while, but time dims such memories. For his family, his life, his spirit, his smile, his touch will live on in their thoughts and hearts forever. For the rest of us, he and others have given us a gift, a sense of pride and loyalty, a sense of gratefulness and unbound ability of sacrifice, a sense of connection to each other that surpasses any physical memory no matter how deeply ingrained it is in our minds.
Gazans Rally Behind Hamas
By CHARLES LEVINSON, JANUARY 20, 2009, Wall Street Journal
GAZA CITY-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as he announced a cease-fire in Gaza over the weekend, said Israel’s military objectives against Hamas had been met. But at least initially, the militant group appears to have gained what Israel and its Bush administration allies had long hoped they could damp: popular support.
“Hamas is now our army, the only ones fighting to defend the Palestinian people,” said Gaza resident Ahmed al-Sultan, standing outside the rubble of the north Gaza City home his family has lived in for 40 years. “I saw how they fight, their courage and their sacrifice, and so I’ve changed my opinion about them.
“Many Civilian Targets, but One Core Question Among Gazans: Why?
By SABRINA TAVERNISE in the New York Times
Published: January 19, 2009
As Gazans surveyed the destruction of the city on Monday, one question kept arising: Why had civilian institutions been hit? At lunch tables and in coffee shops, people listed the targets: the Ministry of Justice, Parliament, the central police station, the fire station, Islamic University.
“The war was not against Hamas,” said Rahmi el-Kheldi, the owner of a flower shop in central Gaza. “It was against me, my shop and my city.”
He added, “Their aim was chaos, to disrupt society.”…
For Mr. Baroud and his friends, the bombing of the science lab building, which happened in the early days of the Israeli offensive, was a frontal attack on their future. The university is prestigious, and they said they worked hard to get there. It is one of the best medical schools in the region, and Israel recognizes its degrees.
“Are we going to study in a tent?” asked Mr. Baroud’s friend, Ahmed….
Read this old article by Malley and Miller. Very prescient.
‘West Bank First’: It Won’t Work
By Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller
Tuesday, June 19, 2007; A17, Washington Post
Having embraced one illusion — that it could help isolate and defeat Hamas — the Bush administration is dangerously close to embracing another: Gaza is dead, long live the West Bank. This approach appears compelling. Flood the West Bank with money, boost Fatah security forces and create a meaningful negotiating process. The Palestinian people, drawn to a recovering West Bank and repelled by the nightmare of an impoverished Gaza, will rally around the more pragmatic of the Palestinians.
The theory is a few years late and several steps removed from reality. If the United States wanted to help President Mahmoud Abbas, the time to do so was in 2005, when he won office in a landslide, emerged as the Palestinians’ uncontested leader and was in a position to sell difficult compromises to his people. Today, Abbas is challenged by far more Palestinians and is far less capable of securing a consensus on any important decision….