As the Israeli military offensive on Gaza entered its third week, there’s been more horrific mass killings committed because of indiscriminate Israeli tank shelling and bombardment throughout the besieged Gaza Strip.
After the massacres in Shujaeyyah and Khoza, now the supposedly safe United Nations-run schools have also become targets. A school in the northern Gaza strip town of Beit Hanon, which sheltered hundreds of displaced people who thought they would be safe on United Nations-controlled premise, came under Israeli fire. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, at least thirteen civilians were killed and more than 200 were injured. UNRWA spokesman said that his agency was not warned.
Both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad resistance movements have denounced what they called an “ugly bloody crime” and said that this heinous deliberate attack will not go unpunished.
Despite the wide scale condemnation and outrage, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fumed over the UN Human Rights Council’s plan to strike up an investigation into Tel Aviv’s human rights violations in the Gaza Strip. The UNHRC’s decision to launch the inquiry was made shortly after its chief, Navi Pillay, said that there is a “strong possibility” that Tel Aviv was violating international law in its military operations against Gaza.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has expressed deep concern over the shortage of food and water in the Gaza Strip, as Israel continues its offensive in the besieged enclave for the 17th day. Amos said on Thursday that 44% of Gaza has become a no-go area for Palestinians due to the ongoing military operations and residents are facing food shortages.
Abu Abdallah, 52, is a resident of Gaza City who lost members of his family. He said that Palestinians have lost faith in the international community, especially the UN. “Ban Ki-Moon position is very weak. We do not want talks – we need actions. He is afraid to criticize Israel, and he rushes to the rescue of Israel and ignores our suffering. We are not beggars for food. We want a just solution and to see Israel held accountable for its actions in Gaza.”
People are running for cover, and many are going without food or drinking water. The humanitarian situation is dire and terrible, and public services such as electricity are lacking.
Israel began its offensive on Gaza on the July 8th under the stated goal of halting the retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza and destroying underground tunnels near the border fence, but instead we are seeing entire residential areas being destroyed. For example in Shijaeyyah, thousands of residential homes have been bombed. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed – the vast majority of them being civilians.
Hospitals are overwhelmed with injured civilians, especially children, many of them have had their limbs amputated. Health officials say that some even arrive with deep wounds caused by internationally banned or controversial weapons like DIME, white phosphorus, flechette bombs and gas poisonous bombs.
The ongoing Israeli land and naval blockade has had a disastrous consequences on the people of Gaza. The costal strip’s only gateway to the outside world is through Rafah, a border town under Egyptian control, which remains shut.
“It’s a grim feeling when we see the Egyptians keep the crossing closed even during this difficult time. We have had enough humiliation. We really hope one day to have our own seaport and airport to travel to the outside world without the need to cross through Egypt,” said Abu Abdallah.
Scenes of dead bodies and destruction are devastating. People are eagerly awaiting any news of a ceasefire, and of course any good news about the lifting of the siege.
“This war is bloody, the scarcest one we have had, simply because civilians are deliberately killed in their homes, in the street, even in the places which they think could be safe like what happened today at the UN school in Beit Hanon” said Saeed Elian, 33, a father of two.
Gaza’s nearly two million people, especially children, are traumatized. They bear the brunt of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, where safety is nowhere to be found. Some families have fled the eastern parts of Gaza to the city center, but they were killed in the heart of Gaza assuming it was safer for them.
I’m one of those Palestinians who grew up in Gaza, and I did not enjoy my childhood under Israeli military occupation and attacks. Now after 30 years. my children too are going through the same suffering. My house has been targeted like the thousands of other Palestinians throughout Gaza. I’m one of the thousands of Palestinians who has lost family members in this aggression. I’ve lost many other members in the previous two aggressions in late 2008 and 2012.
I did not ask to be a Palestinian, I just got lucky.