Real-Time Message From Rafah

The Israeli Defence Forces are demolishings more and more houses in Rafah. Many are leaving their houses behind. This is an email I got through an Israeli academic mailing list, Alef.

dear —–, the apaches are shelling us right now, many many fragments and parts of injured people everywhere in the area, i wasnt able to identify the body of my relative who get killed, they brought him to the hospital as parts and fragments, i cant beleive how hani arrived like this, cant cant really cant, why they shell him with a group of children , why , i dont know why god why is this!! hundreds of houses are demolihing now . a spanish radio called me and they were surprised to hear the yells of the injured people and the apaches shelling the houses, and the noises of the bulldozers and people asking for help.. so many parts of bodies are under the rubble of the houses.

oh, this journalist needs his laptop coomputer now, it has only 18 % or electrcity, he needs it now, as he lent it to me for 10 minutes to write this tow e-mails , as the elctrcity is off and so many many injured and killed people here.. still the doctors can’t identify and collect the flesh parts of the injured and killed people.. they can’t do anything at the moment. i’m exhusted and tired now, i’m faint, yes the soldiers targated shoot towards the camera, i take pictures for some parts and flesh spread in the ground here.. they are shelling everyone here, im in bad need now for protective bullets vest, i need to protect my body now from those bullets, i need a protective vest and it’s not founded here, i used to use one of of the vest of my friends, he is wearing it now.. not so many journalists to cover the masscers, but i dont know even that camera didnt take the picture that my eye want to take, it’s a poor camera and a slow.. i dont know , i must find a way to get the vest cose i’m really in bad need, ohh, shelllllllinsnnsg shelling shellllling now now they are shelling use more from the apaches and f61s , many injured and killed people, the ambulances cant reach the area, i will deliver that computer for that journalist, cose it’s ringing lack of batteries, please please and for the sake of those children do tell the people about what is going on. tell them about the parts of the bdoies here.. well, more rockets now, i must leave now to the enterance of the hospital to report things here.

[That’s some heavy shit. —Ed.]

28 thoughts on “Real-Time Message From Rafah

  1. interesting point. i have email of both sender and receipent. worth checking out if this is true- i mean, do u really believe the media is fully covering whats happening there?

  2. from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (phcrgaza.org): On Saturday morning, 15 May 2004, Israeli forces withdrew from Rafah refugee camp and other neighborhoods in the town. The Israeli incursion began last Thursday morning, 13 May 2004. The incursion left 14 Palestinian civilians dead, 30 others injured and caused massive destruction across the area.
    According to preliminary investigations conducted by PCHR and testimonies provided by eyewitnesses, Israeli forces destroyed 80 houses, either by bulldozers or bombs, in Rafah. As a result, 880 people (195 families) have become homeless. These people join the hundreds of other families in the same area, whose houses have already been demolished. Israeli troops also destroyed at least 25 shops, a mosque, a number of civilian facilities and much of the civilian infrastructure. In a scene which was reminiscent of the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, thousands of civilians were forced to leave their homes.
    Also in the past two days, Israeli forces killed 14 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and injured at least 30 others, the condition of some of these was described by medical sources as serious. These civilians cannot be transferred to other hospitals in the Gaza Strip or Israel due to the closures imposed by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip. This closure is a restriction on the right to freedom of movement which is provided for by international human rights law.

  3. You might also want to look at this link:
    Of course, if you don’t want to believe that Israel can cause people this kind of pain and suffering, then I guess you’ll just write it off as lies. After all, Arabs can’t suffer, right Avi? They just lie, and pretend to suffer, because they want to kill Jews! Right?

  4. Sam: when you reference some of the most anti-Israel sites on the web, your arguments, IMO, are shit. Electronic Intifada? What you would think of me reference the settler’s in Gaza for an opinion, or a report on what’s happening. I bet they say everything is nice and quite. Just a little construction. Or perhaps they are leaping with joy that those evil Arabs are being hunted down. Talk about reference and a biased opinion and not contributing something contrastive.
    You will notice, that the PCHR (Oh, and do they have an opinion oh the Human Rights of Israeli? A quick glance at the site leaves me, as I expected, disappointed) lays the entire blame on the IDF. It doesn’t take into account that Palestinians plant bombs in building as booby traps, or that they fight Israelis trying to close arms smuggling tunnels, leading the Israelis to fight back. Imagine if there were no tunnels needed to close. Imagine if Arafat had done a little more talking at Camp David. Imagine (I weep) if Sharon had pulled out of Gaza as a gift to Abbas last year. Ah hell, imagine if the rest of the Arab states recognized Israel and allowed Israel to feel some level of real security and not worry about looking weak, least their deterrent is eroded.
    Whatever, Sam, you reference you crap propaganda all you like. Just recognize that when you stand and should from one end of the spectrum, you don’t help the situation. HAHA, of course, how much help any of us are doing arguing with other Jews is also up for debate. Hmm, I don’t feel so happy now.

  5. Asaf, does the media fully cover what’s happening anywhere? Why is a little strip of land on the Mediterranean coast so G-d damn important to the world? Your right, maybe Israel is doing rotten things by destroying people’s homes. And maybe there are a number of people dying and who will suffer for this. But I ask you, who many people have died in Sudan in the last few months? Lets, see, an 81-person massacre in February, I found a report of a 136 person killing in late April, and the BBC is reporting “hundreds” last week. But what leads the headlines? “ Israel knocks down homes”. Oh, the poor Palestinians, and the evil pro-Israel, Jew-controlled media for not noticing every little thing the Nazi Sharon does to those weak people in Gaza.
    This story regarding the US intervention in Somalia was related to me last week: When asked why the warlords and gangs fought the US when all the US was trying to do was feed people and stop the violence, the warlord replied “We’ve been killing each other for hundreds of years. Who are you to tell us to stop” So perhaps the US doesn’t have the right to go into sub-Sahara Africa and stop the fighting (not that we could we’re spread so damn thin. I mean, we could, but it would eliminate our deterrents in other parts of the world). But if you look at what Israel is doing, rotten as it might be, it’s damn right civil to how the rest of the world practices war.

  6. Israel Defense Forces armored, engineering, and ground forces entered Rafah 6am Monday as part of ongoing operations against the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, and the arms smuggling tunnels in Rafah in particular.
    IDF forces deployed between Rafah and Khan Younis in an attempt to isolate Rafah from the rest of the Strip and prevent long-range weapons from being smuggled into Gaza from Egypt. The move is also designed to stop reinforcements from arriving to help Palestinian combatants ahead of an expected, prolonged battle.
    Sources in the IDF told Israel Radio that the recent difficult events in the Gaza Strip have opened what they called “perhaps a last chance” to create a new security situation in the Strip before a possible Israeli withdrawal. The sources said the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would be carried out despite the opposition of the Likud right wing and the settler movement.
    According to Palestinian reports, thousands of Rafah residents have abandoned their homes in advance of any IDF action. The army said it intends to destroy a large number of buildings in the area so as to widen the Philadelphia Corridor.
    The large raid came just hours after the IAF hit two buildings in Gaza City used by the PFLP and Fatah and where officials said terrorists plotted attacks against Israel.
    It was the seventh terrorist target and the third raid launched by the air force in Gaza since Friday. In the IAF attack Monday, according to Palestinians, the offices were empty as people fled the building on hearing the helicopters. The recent air strikes may be sending a message to terrorists in Gaza that Israel knows the location of their offices and the raids serve as a warning.
    On Sunday night a tank fired at three Palestinians approaching the security fence at Kibbutz Be’eri in the Western Negev. The three were killed when an IDF tank fired a missile at them. Shortly after the first impact, there was an explosion apparently caused by a bomb the three terrorists were carrying.
    The air force attacked two terrorist targets in Gaza City early Sunday; the offices of Hamas newspaper Al-Rasala in Nasser, and the offices of Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Sajaya.
    Officers said the Aksa Martyrs Brigades office was used to plot attacks against Israel, and that the Hamas newspaper transmitted messages regarding planned attacks.
    Thirteen soldiers deaths in Gaza last week forced the defense establishment to reassess the situation on the ground. One of the main issues is the weapons-smuggling tunnels, which could be neutralized by demolishing several rows of houses in Rafah that are used to dig the tunnels, or by building a canal and filling it with water.
    Last week, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz declared that the reality in Gaza and the battle against terrorism are “complex and complicated” and that “operations conducted on the Philadelphi Route are necessary in order to destroy the tunnels used to smuggle weapons which threaten Israeli citizens.”
    In the afternoon, soldiers near the north Gaza security fence discovered a 40-kilogram bomb and blew it up.

  7. Daily Telegraph, may 14:
    …refugees have poured out of the Darfur region of western Sudan, fleeing Arab militiamen mounted on horses and camels who are waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against their black Muslim neighbours.
    Many could only watch as members of their families were executed by the Janjaweed, as the militiamen are known. Most lost their possessions when their houses were burned down. All were exhausted after walking for days through the desert. [anyone want to hazzazd a guess of just which group would be ethnically cleasned if israel doesnt use strenght to close down the gaza/egyptian border?]

  8. “If I had to flee my home, unable to return to it because it had been destroyed by a foreign army in order “to widen the Philadelphi corridor”, I’d be pretty pissed off.”
    sam, I dont understand the point you are trying to make.

  9. the point I’m trying to make is that it is entirely unjustifiable to make thousands of people homeless so your military can more conveniently carry out its operations.
    the other point i want to make is in response to solomyr: essentially, you are saying that because i quoted from websites that believe the opposite of what you believe, my opinion shouldn’t count. do you always think that people who believe differently from you aren’t trustworthy?

  10. I disagree. If someone is trying to shot me and/or my family, it is not only my right, but my Jewish obligation to do whatever is necessary to prevent those people from causing their intended harm. Likewise, if someone is trying to buy a gun (or a mortar or rocket or dynamite) with which they intend to harm my family, I’m going to try and stop them before they get the weapons. If I my choices are to knock down their homes or drop bombs on them from F-16’s and kill them all without discretion, I’m going to knock down their homes.
    And furthermore, thanks for doing to me what I just flamed Avi green for. Damn, I hate dealing with people on the extremes…look, if you cite as your reference, places that do not even pretend to be balanced, your argument is worthless to me. If Avi Green cites the Gaza settlers for his information, I’m going to ignore it, just as I’m going to ignore the information you bring from the crap at Electronic Intidafa and the PHRC. Ignore is the wrong word…”take with a pound of salt” is better.
    One last thing: HOW THE FUCK to you sleep at night when you cite someone that takes a group of suicide bombers as inspiration? Last time I looked, the “Intifada” didn’t have much of a non-violent movement. Yeah, there are a few legislators, but they are rare. The Intifada is about violence. Shit, at least Israel has citizens who believe so strongly against violence they flee the country or sit in jail. Where are the Pals that do the same? Oh, they get killed as “informants”. Some side to align yourself with. Electronic Intifada…

  11. I don’t think that just because something is “moderate” that you should assume it’s correct. The media does this all the time: they say look, the right wing thinks we’re liberal and the left wing calls us corporate, we must be doing something right! The answer to that is no, that doesn’t follow.
    Finally, “the intifada is about violence” works in an American context, and to some extent in an Israeli context as well, but in case your memory is short, I would remind you that many Israeli leftists supported the first intifada as a justifiable resistance to oppression. “Intifada” means “shaking off”, and if you recall there weren’t any suicide bombings from 1988 through the beginning of Oslo. Many people disagree that the “second intifada” is in fact an intifada at all, but that’s not really the point. Also, if you haven’t noticed all the non-violent Palestinian protests of the separation wall, then your “balanced” sources of information are clearly not giving you the whole story. Which doesn’t surprise me. Here’s just one: http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=3727&CategoryId=2
    Have some more fun attacking the messenger, and wonder why the New York Times doesn’t talk about this stuff.

  12. sam wrote:
    “the point I’m trying to make is that it is entirely unjustifiable to make thousands of people homeless so your military can more conveniently carry out its operations.”
    I respectfully disagree. A nation should do whatever is in its power to protect it citizens.

  13. that doctrine is known as sacro egoismo: the belief that the nation’s interest is above all, including any absolute or God-driven standard of morality. i don’t hold with it and think it’s corrosive and corrupting. once you accept that, a government can justify anything in the name of “protecting its citizens,” while ignoring the possibility that pursuing other paths entirely might actually provide *more* safety and *more* security. and the people get suckered in. so, i disagree with you.

  14. Sam, history pretty clearly shows that national rights precedes individual rights in a human rights context. Statelessness increases existential vulnerability. Further, this applies to Palestinians as it applied to pre-state Jews. And as it applies to the non-Muslims of Sudan’s Darfur region, and Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Syria.
    Further still, it is tragi-comic that the Arab League today issued an agitprop statement condemning the IDF Rafah operation as “ethnic cleansing,” while Arab League member nation Sudan is engaged in genuine ethinic cleansing as we speak — and while only 3 out of the 22 member-nation Arab League even recognizes the 56 year-old state of Israel, insisting that one Jewish state is too many while 22 Arab states are not enough.

  15. I think one of the things we learnt from the holocaust is that national rights should not precede individual rights.

  16. sam wrote:
    “once you accept that, a government can justify anything in the name of “protecting its citizens,” while ignoring the possibility that pursuing other paths entirely might actually provide *more* safety and *more* security.”
    Your issue isnt really specific to this doctrine because whatever the course of action the govt takes, there is always the possibility that there are more effective alternatives. This is true whether the govt proscribes to the doctrine or not.
    In other words, a countries method of protecting its citizens can be in the form of military actions, or peace negotiations. It will be the govt or perhaps its citizens who decide what the proper actions need be to protect themselves. One can question the effectiveness the methods employed, or even the motives of the govt. But whatever path is chosen, there will always be those who dont agree that it is the best option, and there is always the possibility that there are more effective alternatives to protecting the citizens. So your criticism would hold true whether or not a country felt it can do whatever is in its power to protect its citizens. A path chosen is always means that a path was ignored.
    I think what we are really disagreeing on is which methods would be most effective to protect the citizens of israel, considering that your main criticism is that there may be more effective methods than ones currently employed.

  17. Also, sam, if you read my earlier post again you will see that i was referring specifically to a nations rights to protect its citizens, not a general right for a nation to do whatever it feels is in its best interest.
    I dont know why you mentioned “sacro egoismo”, considering it had very little to do with the point I made. This is why asaf incorrectly believed i was advocating that a nation should have sweeping authority to do what ever is in the nations best interest, when i never said such a thing.
    I hope you can see the distinction between my belief, that a nation should do whatever in its power to protect its citizens from harm, and the doctrine of sacro egoismo which i do not entirely agree with (however, as i mentioned in my last post, your criticism of the doctrine really dont touch on any of the real problems with the doctrine, and merely state that there may always be alternatives.)

  18. wonder why the New York Times doesn’t talk about this stuff.
    Uh, not rocket science. The NYT doesn’t talk about this stuff — well, they do, and more than stuff anywhere else, but point taken as to absence of wall-to-wall coverage — because they have a small number of journalists covering Israel and Palestine, none of whom speak Arabic, none of whom have ever lived in an Arabic-speaking area, none of whom are able to be everywhere at once, etc.
    On the other hand, the NYT’s coverage of Israel-Palestine is downright impressive compared to their coverage of most hotspots.
    As a general rule, it seems to be pretty easy for despotic and fascist regimes to avoid media scrutiny: ban the journalists, assign one or two grunts to threaten the others, and they’ll stop coming. Guaranteed. As it happens, Israel and Palestine are pretty safe places for journalists to cover — comparatively, duh — and so they do.
    As to the original typed-on-a-laptop coverage, I certainly found it interesting: you can’t beat embedded reporting for the vivid colour.

  19. Sam, I’ll also admit that I ignored the non-violent protests at the barrier’s construction (Parts are walls, parts are fences, lots of open land. Can we agree this more accurate term?). But that protests ONE piece of the puzzle, and only after three years of fighting has significantly weakened the Pals fighting ability. Imagine if the Pals had studied Ganhdi instead of Nasrallah (Hizbollah) in 2000. No suicide bombings at Sabaro or Delphorim, but 100 people just sitting on the roads in between settlements. How long do you think Israelis or the world would have stood for house demolitions of a non-violent revolt?

  20. Asaf,
    I think one of the things we learnt from the holocaust is that national rights should not precede individual rights.
    Yet it does. Go figure. And we learn this precisely from the same lesson of the Shoah. For a deeper examination please see Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitariansm….
    “[T]he restoration of human rights, as the recent example of the State of Israel proves, has been achieved so far only through the restoration of the establishment of national rights. The conception of human rights, based upon the assumed existence of a human being as such, broke down at the very moment when those who professed to believe in it were for the first time confronted with people who had indeed lost all other qualities and specific relationships–except that they were still human. The world found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human”

  21. I am reading now Nationalism by Elie Kedouri (is that how u spell his name?) where the traces the origions of nationalism as an idea of post-Kantian thought. Very interesting. that very term, “abstract nakedness” reminds me of those thinkers. sadly, that idea, that the human is an abstraction without the nation, is the idea behind fascism and nazism.

  22. sadly, that idea, that the human is an abstraction without the nation, is the idea behind fascism and nazism. Yep. And behind Third World Liberation theology, most labour movements, and the United Nations.
    Imagine, ideologies that are imperfect, and yet they exist, and entire social worlds built around them. What to do?
    That said, I agree strongly about getting rid of nationalism. I personally am moving for immediate mergers between Turkey and Greece, and between UK and Germany, respectively. Anything less is just fascist.
    Until then, of course, I will continue to rail against the impossibility of any of those four countries acting democratically. And, as usual, I will publicly and vigorously attack any so-called “policy changes” they make until the mergers happen. Without a one-state post-nationalist solution, there can be no democracy. And I am against any changes until then.
    So, viva! Meanwhile, as children starved back on planet Earth…

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