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Monday, 4 August 2014

Sweets


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A Palestinian man carries an injured child following the Israeli military strike on the UN shelter in Rafah. At least 10 people were killed in the strike, the seventh on a UN-run shelter in Gaza: photo by ??? Said Khatib / AFP, 3 August 2014 via The Independent, 3 August 2014


It was, for the 27th day of a war, a very normal scene. Outside the Anas Ibn Malik boys preparatory school in the centre of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a group of children bought sweets and biscuits from local hawkers. Adults discussed "the situation". The school caretaker stood talking to a friend.

Then, some time between 10.30 and 10.50, something struck the metalled road directly opposite the open gates and exploded, hurling shards of red-hot shrapnel and concrete.

Fatih Firdbari, 30, was leaning against a friend's battered tuk-tuk, a small truck.

"There was a big bang. I felt nothing at first and then I fell down. I looked around and saw people lying on the ground. I saw I was wounded in the calf," said Firdbari, a farmer who had fled his land close to the nearby border crossing with Egypt in the early days of the latest war between Hamas and Israel.



Palestinians gathered around victims of an airstrike Sunday at a school in Rafah
: photo by
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters, 3 August 2014 
 

There was a moment's stunned silence, and then screaming, witnesses said. Just inside the school, where more than 3,000 people have been sheltering under the protection of UN flags during intense bombardment and clashes in recent days, 20-year-old Mohammed Bahabsa writhed on the ground, hit in the back and arm. Though wounded himself, the father of seven-year-old Sabir Kershif picked up his unconscious son, who was bleeding from a head wound.



A Palestinian carries a wounded boy following an Israeli air strike at a United Nations-run school: photo by ( /Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters, 3 August 2014


Mohammed Abu Adwan, 15, had been sitting on a bench with his friend Moaz Abu Ras.


A Palestinian man carries an injured child following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014. At least 10 people were killed in a fresh strike on a UN school in southern Gaza which was sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli military offensive, medics said

A Palestinian man carries an injured child following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014. At least 10 people were killed in a fresh strike on a UN school in southern Gaza which was sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli military offensive, medics said
: photo by AFP, 3 August 2014

"Suddenly there was an explosion. It came from nowhere," he said.


Palestinians were evacuated after a missile hit a UN school serving as a shelter in Rafah. The Israeli army said it targeted nearby Islamic Jihad members.

A Palestinians carry a wounded man following an Israeli air strike at a United Nations-run school, where displaced Palestinians take refuge, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip: photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters, 3 August 2014

Men inspect the lifeless and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. Photo: Hatem Ali, AP / AP

Men inspect the bodies of lifeless and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people: photo by Hatem Ali / AP, 3 August 2014

A Palestinian carries the dead body of a girl following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike at a United Nations-run school, where displaced Palestinians take refuge, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 3, 2014.(Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
 
A Palestinian carries the dead body of a girl following  an Israeli air strike at a United Nations-run school, where displaced Palestinians take refuge, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3: photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters, 3 August 2014

A Palestinian man carries a child killed in a blast outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of O...

A Palestinian man carries a child killed in a blast outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people: photo by Hatem Ali / AP, 3 August 2014

A Palestinian man carries an injured child following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014 (AFP Photo / Said Khatib)

A Palestinian man carries an injured child following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014
: photo by Said Khatib / AFP, 3 August 2014

Israel-Palestinian conflict

Palestinians carry an injured man following an Israeli military strike on a U.N. school in Rafah on August 3
: photo by Said Khatib / AFP, 3 August 2014

Palestinians carry injured people following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014 (AFP Photo / Said Khatib)

Palestinians carry injured people following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014
: photo by Said Khatib / AFP, 3 August 2014

Palestinians carry injured people following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014. At least 10 people were killed in a fresh strike on a UN school in southern Gaza which was sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli military offensive, medics said.  [AP]

Palestinians carry injured people following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014: photo by Said Khatib / AFP, 3 August 2014

A woman overcome by emotion stands between dead bodies and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. Photo: Hatem Ali, AP / AP

A woman overcome by emotion stands between dead bodies and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people: photo by Hatem Ali / AP, 3 August 2014

A man stands between dead and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. Photo: Hatem Ali, AP / AP

A man stands between dead and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014. UNRWA's Director of Operations in the Gaza Strip said preliminary findings indicated the blast was a result of an Israeli airstrike near the school that been providing shelter for some 3,000 people: photo by Ashraf Amra / APA, 3 August 2014

An hour later, the extent of the carnage became clear. As casualties from a second incident elsewhere in Rafah arriving at the tiny 20-bed Kuwaiti clinic to be treated in a makeshift emergency ward set up in its carpark, relatives began coming to collect their dead. Ten people had been killed and at least 30 injured.

They included Ahmed Abu Harba, 13, and Yusef Iskaafia, 10, who lived near the school and had been selling biscuits there.

Iskaafia was carried into his home by midday, borne by relatives down the deserted street, wrapped in a white shroud, his pale, unscarred face visible between folds in the white, blood-flecked cloth. He would be buried within hours.

"He was just a normal kid, from a good family. He had no idea what was going on," a neighbour said.

Quite where the projectile had come from is impossible to say without detailed ballistic analysis. The hole it left, between eight and ten metres from the school gates, was very narrow and very deep.

The air strike was the third time in 10 days that a UN school had been hit and came four days after Israeli tank shells hit a school in the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya, killing 16 people. Seven UN facilities have been struck during the conflict.

An Israeli military spokesman said the incident was under review, but "we were targeting terrorists on a motorbike near the school and did identify a successful hit on a motorbike".

Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Abu Adwan, who had been buying sweets with his friend Moath when the blast occurred, was curled in a semi-foetal position on a plastic chair in a corridor, half naked and wrapped in a soiled hospital blanket. Moath was dead, he said quietly, though his friend's name is yet to feature on any casualty lists.

On the floor a classroom in the school, the mother of seven-year-old Saqir Kershif, whom she had last seen bleeding heavily in the arms of his injured father, sobbed steadily. Her uncle had telephoned her to say he could not find either her son or her husband at the city's clinics.

"Where can we go if they cannot protect us? Why did they tell us the UN school would be safe? We could have stayed and died at home," said Hasna, 22.

Rafah residents count human cost of Israeli offensive: Southern Gaza city has been hit by some of the heaviest bombing, culminated in a deadly air strike on an UNWRA school
 
Jason Burke in Rafah, The Guardian, Sunday 3 August 2014



Aftermath of an Israeli air strike at a United Nations-run school in Rafah: photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters, 3 August 2014

6 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

POST HOC ---

"Suddenly there was an explosion. It came from nowhere," he said."

"A Palestinian man carries an injured child following the Israeli military strike on the UN shelter in Rafah" . . .

"Palestinians gathered around victims of an airstrike" . . .

"A Palestinian carries a wounded boy following an Israeli air strike" . . .

"Palestinians carry a wounded man following an Israeli air strike" . . .

"Men inspect the bodies of lifeless and wounded Palestinians outside a UN run school in Rafah" . . .

"A Palestinian carries the dead body of a girl following an Israeli air strike" . . .

"A Palestinian man carries a child killed in a blast outside a UN run school in Rafah" . . .

Hilton said...

Unbearable, day after day. I posted this comment on FB: You would expect with such superiority of arms and technology, the Israeli military wouldn't have so many "mistakes." But now that Israel has once again bombed a UN school where refugees were gathered, killing and wounding many - after the UN contacted them multiple times with their coordinates to ward off the bombs - the US State Department has issued denunciations (the day or so after releasing a cache of arms to restock Israel's weapons), and Ban-ki Moon has called the bombing "criminal." Israel explains, as usual, that Hamas fighters were nearby (this time on a motorcycle). Bombing UN shelters and 17 hospitals - with precision equipment able to shoot Hamas rockets out of the sky, how come they keep hitting these targets? It occurs to me that maybe these aren't "mistakes" or accidents in the fog of war. Israel is explicitly hitting these civilians. For what purpose? To drive them out? Where to? To Egypt? To terrorize them into submission? Out of pure meanness? There must be some reason beyond their excuses that Hamas hides in hospitals, mosques, and UN schools. Even if a couple of fighters are on motorcycles, couldn't they wait until they passed the UN school? What happened to Israel's vaunted "purity of arms," their self-regard that they never commit atrocities? I'm puzzled - but it's definitely a pattern, a horrible one, and atrocities have become commonplace and a part of a military strategy.

TC said...

Hilton,

I appreciate your conscientious Facebook statement, your earlier comments here and for that matter your evident courage in speaking up on this when so many have observed a cowardly and cautious silence.

The pinnacle of hubris was reached, I think, in the IDF spokesman's initial remarks concerning this latest UN school strike. He seemed to be not only acknowledging that they were indeed aware that it was a refugee asylum, but presenting by way of righteous (and utterly brazen) justification the suggestion that the important priority was the targeting of the alleged perps on the motorbike, whom, he not only admitted but seemed to be boasting, they'd been carefully tracking, with their wonderfully precise terror eye in the sky... in which case, one wanted to be shrieking, why did they pick the precise moment the motorbike was situated at the crowded entry to the crowded school, to hit it, if not to extract from the situation the exquisite soupçon (or lemon twist) of also taking out another one of those annoying UN schools... whence they'd herded the poor dehumanized victims of their earlier terror raids...

Well, at that point I fear the whole business may have passed the point of patience for much of the community of persons on earth not cowed or subdued by nor included in the malign coprosperity sphere of the global war machine.

An extremely small community at this point one has to admit, and dwindling all the time...

Hilton said...

The Obama administration knows what Israel has been doing, and they have been pressuring them to stop or at least lighten up. The last UN school attack was the last last very last straw. But of course Obama has also been rearming Israel - all tied in knots by political dynamics that started40 plus years ago. But something has changed this time - the outrage is immense around the world, and for many Jews. We'll have to see - but people in Gaza refuse to return to the slow death of the status quo ante. We'll have to see. The ceasefire will not end the fires in people's hearts. Thanks for all your posts. Nothing will be the same again, but I long for the days when you can once again post a wonderful poem with illuminating photos that don't blow up off the page. Be well.

Wooden Boy said...

Maybe the UN should think twice about passing on the coordinates of any other shelters.

TC said...

Yes, something has changed this time.

A bit of soul chipped away from humanity... takes a while to assess the damage.

The coordinates of the UNRWA shelters have been passed on to the Israeli Occupying Forces consistently, repeatedly, methodically, in the cases of all the schools attacked. Few things in this horror have been more affecting than hearing the strained, broken, ineffectual voices of the UN relief staff explaining, "We told them seventeen times..."

Somebody it seems had forgotten to inform the caregivers that the corporate war machine is now at war not only with Gaza but with the UN -- an almost equally defenseless body.

Perhaps somebody ought to suggest that the UN take a page from the handbook of Resistance.

But of course it might not be such a great idea to make it the first page, whereon it is writ in invisible ink that the minute the UN demands fair play out of the US and Israel, all its funding will be instantly withdrawn.

At which point the UN relief workers will merge completely and finally with those around them in Gaza, with whose cause they've involuntarily now been inextricably joined in any case -- the other terrorized victims.