Sadly, an all-too-common sight in this troubled land.
The Good Samaritan: Dispatches from Gaza
Edited By Gary Corseri
What is it like to approach the front lines of a battle? What if you are with a medical corps—a volunteer group of surgeons from another country, inserting yourself, your beloved wife of 48 years (“Sarah”) and your colleagues into a volatile situation fraught with dangers for yourself and those you care about—because you’ve taken a vow to heal, to minister aid and comfort to the hurt and wounded?
In recent months I’ve had the privilege of exchanging e-mails with a vibrant U.K. “senior citizen” whose older brother is just such a dedicated and courageous surgeon. Some of the e-mails he wrote to his sister and friends read like war dispatches—and, indeed, they are.
Here, then, are some dispatches from an eye-witness (“Daniel”) to the recent incursions into Gaza that left more than 120 dead and hundreds more wounded—mostly civilians, many women and children—during another sad week in March. In these exchanges between Daniel and his friends and family, we read the plight of suffering, exploited humanity everywhere. (I have respected Daniel’s and his sister’s request to change names to protect the innocent—and to ensure that their group may make such journeys again unharassed by the occupying power.)
We used to get this sort of war-reporting in America—Hemingway in the First World War, Ernie Pyle and Hemingway again in the Second; and a host of television reporters reporting live from Vietnam. Nothing like that now, though, as we enter the 6th year of the War against Iraq, and more than 40 years of the Occupation of Palestine. Just men and women in suits now, reading the teleprompter, delivering the corporate news.
Which of our presidential candidates address the real issues of Palestine? Which do not hide behind the simplistic formulations of the interminable “Peace Process” or the “War on Terror”? McCain speaks glibly of a 100-years war. Democrats and Republicans alike talk of “redeployments” and genuflect before the American-Zionist AIPAC lobby. We refuse to recognize HAMAS—the party Palestinians elected to represent them in an election undoubtedly fairer than the U.S. elections of 2000, 2004, and—as should be clear by now—2008!
The religious traditions enjoin us to bear witness, “to do justice and love mercy,” in the words of Micah; to be good Samaritans, according to Christ; and to aid our fellow travelers–in the words of Muhammad: “showing men the road, in the land in which they lose it, is charity.” What follows, then, is an act of witness, an act of charity. —GÇ
You chose a tricky time to visit. I wonder if you got there today?
I guess possibly not. Whichever path you are treading this month
I will say a little prayer for your safe passage and healing mission.
SATURDAY 1 March 2008
Thank you Carlos for keeping us in your heart. We entered Palestine this
am at the bridge of perfidy from Jordan. Erez crossing closed and the
vice-consul in Gaza was adamant that we should not proceed. We are
staying in the hub of it all, Jerusalem, at a strange New Imperial
Hotel at the Jaffa gate. I have spoken with my doctor friend in Gaza
to whom I was looking forward to introducing Sarah. His voice was heavy
for once. From memory – 105 killed in 4 days, and 205 injured. 27
children amongst the dead. 50 of these are in a critical state. Only
40 of those killed were guerrillas. 8 Israeli soldiers killed. He
spoke of ground to ground and Apache launched weapons which caused
complete destruction where they struck. Jabaliya district was the
I feel strangely powerless. The powerful own the law and so there is
no law. The vortex is sucking louder and the world looks from the
side to quote Amira Hass – an allusion to what her mother Hanna saw
when women were being taken to the death camps as the German women
looked on in silence. All the more reprehensible that the successors
should have reproduced a Warsaw ghetto and added the most devilish
weapons in their most extensive armoury to their suffering and loss.
Some weapons are designed I think to disfigure and amputate so that
the loved ones are terrorised. ‘If you injure and capture Gilad
Shalit, we will show you what we can work on you!’ Revenge is in the
warp and the attitude utterly racist. A General Zeevi, Min of Tourism
said ‘The Palestinians are as lice on the face of Israel.’ He was
shot later. Of course there have been many similar statements before
Palestine is the hinge of humanity. If the world’s people turn away –
look from the side, the vortex will become a typhoon.
For truth and reason
cc to my sister with love.
Monday 3 March 2008
K. told me that things were calm this am. It comes across very strongly,
that they, the Palestinians, will sacrifice as many guerillas as it takes because to
die in defence of your family and the “umma” is your duty. The
rocketing and bombing of the women and children they abhor but one
does not then forget the ‘suicide’ bomb. Of course, it is never
recognised by the ZBC and others that the F16 and Apache bomber goes
home to a good meal with his loved ones, and indeed is feted. K.
was to phone back to tell us whether the Erez ”terminal” was open.
Silence … It remains closed. There had been a loud explosion about one hour ago and an F16 was overhead … Getting into the Bethlehem ghetto is inhibiting to say the least.
ps Sarah was keen to press on to Erez.
Sounds like you might be allowed through now that Israel has
withdrawn. If so you’ll still have to dodge the drones and the
b@st@rds could stick their nasty noses in again anytime. Heaven
knows what horrors you’re going to find……..
Sunday 2 March 2008
Good to hear you. The UK broadcast coverage of the convulsion in the
Palestinian genocide is almost as angering and sad as the shredding
and burning, but it is expected of course. Impotence and that feeling
that, with these murderous Zionists and their very many collaborators
abroad, it is always ten steps back for every little step we make
forwards together in Palestine. No words with which to plumb the
depths of sheer evil. Well into 1940 … We will go to another ghetto tomorrow,
where the ‘baby was born’ and we ca
n show our solidarity with Farid
and his colleagues at the Youth Centre.
Good night for all – I took half a
pill! No Israeli pro-security attacks on family homes. Read the
vapid words from Amnesty International et al with its ‘respect for
Bugger all respect for the Palestinian – the natural inhabitant’s security. They speak of clean water – fine word, clean!
They want to isolate Gaza and limit the number of witnesses. In fact Gaza is calmer internally than on my previous 7 visits; people are calm and friendly – smiles are easy, they are tickled to have us here. I do not dismiss the risk of kidnap but I think it is very low. The intelligent people we are with think the risk is minute. The Arab/Muslim is bound to care for his guest, even if he be an Israeli. I like being with these remarkable, resourceful and very resilient people.
You were right about the shock Stan. Horrific. (Stan had sent some absolutely horrific photos of injured children—Ed’s note))
Shocked too last night when I went to bed, I listened to the World Service 1am bulletin to hear, as the lead item, the report of the care agencies that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and that conditions are ‘the worst in the 40 years since Gaza has been occupied by Israel’. I nearly fell out of bed. The first mention of the plight of Gaza on the BBC in many many weeks. They were probably obliged to put this report out (but they still have not mentioned the Dugard ‘humanitarian crisis’ UN report) but I do think that the pressure from the editors of medialens and correspondents making complaints to the BBC have assisted. The Media Lens alert that the editors put out is now on Americian sites like Dissident Voice.>
(Copy of BBC website page—ed:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7280026.stm)
Gaza’s humanitarian situation is at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967, say UK-based human rights and development groups.They include Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid.
They criticise Israel’s blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security.
Israel says its military action and other measures are lawful and needed to stop rocket attacks from Gaza.
Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, but retained control over Gaza’s airspace and coastline, and over its own border with the territory. It tightened its blockade in January amid a surge in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza.
The groups’ report, Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion, says the blockade has dramatically worsened levels of poverty and unemployment, and has led to deterioration in education and health services.
Gaza cannot become a partner for peace unless Israel, Fatah and the Quartet engage with Hamas and give the people of Gaza a futureDaleep Mukarji, Christian AidGazans discuss Israeli raidsAn asymmetric fightProfile: Gaza StripMore than 1.1 million Gazans are dependent on food aid and of 110,000 workers previously employed in the private sector, 75,000 have now lost their jobs, the report says. “Unless the blockade ends now, it will be impossible to pull Gaza back from the brink of this disaster and any hopes for peace in the region will be dashed,” said Geoffrey Dennis, of Care International UK.
Last week Israeli forces launched a bloody and destructive raid in northern Gaza, in which more than 120 Palestinians – including many civilians – were killed.
Israel says the measures are designed to stamp out frequent rocket fire by Palestinian militants. Recent rocket attacks have hit deeper into southern Israel, reaching Ashkelon, the closest large Israeli city to the Gaza Strip.
The UK-based groups agree that Israel has the right and obligation to protect its citizens, urging both sides to cease unlawful attacks on civilians.The Israeli army has cut access to Gaza for almost all traffic. But they call upon Israel to comply with its obligations, as the occupying power in Gaza, to ensure its inhabitants have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care, which have been in short supply in the strip. “Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible,” said Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen. The current situation is man-made and must be reversed.” Other recommendations from the groups include international engagement with the Hamas movement, which rejects Israel’s legitimacy and has been shunned by Israel’s allies, and the Fatah party of Palestinian West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas.” Gaza cannot become a partner for peace unless Israel, Fatah and the Quartet [the US and UN, Europe and Russia] engage with Hamas and give the people of Gaza a future,” said Daleep Mukarji of Christian Aid.
Gary Corseri, a senior editor of Arts and Culture at Cyrano’s Journal Online, has posted/published his work at Thomas Paine’s Corner, Dissident Voice, World Prout Assembly, Atlantic Free Press, ColdType and hundreds of other venues around the world. His dramas have been performed on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. His books include Manifestations (edited) and Holy Grail, Holy Grail. He can be contacted at Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.