"Life in Hell: A Journalist's Account of Life in Gaza" with Mr. Mohammed Omer
Transcript No. 320 (17 November 2009)
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The Palestine Center
5 November 2009
Mr. Mohammed Omer:
Thank you very much. It’s very good to be here in Washington, DC. It’s been nearly three years. The last time I was here, many things have happened in the Gaza Strip. Many things happened to me personally. Many things have [happened] for all of the Palestinian cause. And one of the main things is the elections and the winning of the elections by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. I’ll just go straight to my presentation but I would like to take this chance to offer my thanks and appreciation to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs with all of the staff who organized this speaking tour. A special thanks to Delinda Hanley and to all the staff who have contributed to make this speaking tour take place.
I’m going to start my presentation straight on by talking about the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians are living. The area where I came from is Block O area. It’s the borderline between Egypt and the Gaza Strip here. This is where I have been raised in the last few years. I was born in the Gaza Strip. I will talk about house demolitions in the Gaza Strip. This is a photo that shows one example of demolishing houses in the Gaza Strip. It’s in the south of Gaza, Rafah refugee camp, when the Israeli invasion forces had demolished many houses. This is just a couple of minutes right after the Israeli occupation called for people to leave their houses and many of the families came to their houses again in order to see what happened. And that’s one of the results that you can see. Some of those who have managed to escape. Some of those who could not manage to escape did not make it and some were killed inside. This is an example of how a family receives an Israeli bulldozer that demolishes houses in the Gaza Strip. A mother and her son are watching the Israeli bulldozer getting into the house demolition. The trouble here, as a journalist, is that you cannot communicate with those officers or drivers of the [Caterpillar] D9 because they actually cannot hear you. It’s bulletproof. You cannot communicate with them. You cannot say, ‘Hey, we need to take the clothes. We need to take something out.’ That is impossible.
This is a mother. I took this photo of her while she was watching her house being demolished by the Israeli occupation forces. For some moment, I wished her eyes could be like mirrors reflect how the Israeli occupation forces have managed to destroy. A mother of eleven kids, she cares about nothing but only the harvest period where she is taking care of her land. Olive and orange trees are her dreams all the time. At this moment the Israeli occupation forces are demolishing her house and she’s watching it. I asked her , ”What can you do?” She said, “They have the power of America behind them. We cannot do it. We cannot resist. We just have to sit and watch them demolishing the houses.” Unfortunately, two days later she lost her house and also one of her kids in addition to her grandchildren who were injured.
When I took this photo in the Gaza Strip, this is right after an attack. I went to this area and I just wanted to discover what makes those children come to this part. It’s really dangerous. I’m aware that it’s dangerous because those children are taking cover from the bullets and F-16s. I tried to understand, from the first one, what’s the motivation for coming back. He said, “Well, I’m coming back to see my schoolbag if it’s still in the house or not.” The second is coming back to see if his house is still standing or not. The third one here is coming to say, “Well, I’m going to see if my bicycle is still in the house.” Unfortunately, many of those children were killed in the same day.
The reason for demolishing houses in the Gaza Strip. This is the Caterpillar D9 bulldozers. In the background of this photo you can see Egypt. On the other side, Rafah refugee camp where Israel is demolishing the houses of civilians in order to build the wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. They have erased whole camps completely. Nothing is left behind. Just to create this wall and no one can communicate. This girl, I went to her house and I thought they would be finished here. But it’s not over. Her house was demolished two weeks later. I saw her in a tent in a refugee camp.
Now, Israel’s policy has changed. Now, until last week, after they left the Gaza Strip, Israel’s policy is no longer bulldozers. No tanks. No F-16s. It’s only [that] they give you a call from a private phone number, private number, and someone with broken Arabic says, ‘This is the Israeli army speaking. Evacuate your house. We’re going to bomb it’. And this phone call doesn’t come at nine o’clock in the morning or 10 o’clock in the morning when you are awake. It comes at three, two o’clock in the morning when everybody is asleep. If you manage to make it you will be able to make it. But if you don’t manage, you will miss it. Because this family, their two children were inside. They were killed while they were inside the house. Look what happened to the neighbors’ houses. This is the target house. It’s exactly the same building as this one. See what happened to the neighbors’. Hundreds of children, who are sleeping, just traumatized. They are driving them to the hospital like crazy—just take them. And then this is because of one phone call to tell you evacuate your house. If you are lucky, you will make it. You look in the sky [and] you find the F-16 is still not there. But if you are not lucky, you will not have the time to wake up your children. There are many of those who have missed the chance. I know many women who forgot some of their children. They say, ‘Oh, where’s Hasan?’ He’s lost. And they find his body in the ruins of the house.
One example of homeless families. Most of those who are affected are the civilians in the Gaza Strip. This is the Salama family. They had lost their house completely and there is nothing left behind. And nowadays, after the Gaza war, you cannot even find apartments to rent. You just go to tents or stay with relatives. Abdullah, I had to wake up this guy from his sleep. He was asleep in a sleeping tent and I asked him, “What are your dreams?” He said to me, “To drink a glass of mango juice.”
I remember going back from university, coming back, and after this long waiting at the checkpoints, I had been waiting for something like six hours at the checkpoint and someone is telling me, “Mohammed, where are you going?” I said, “I’m going home.” And then a second person asked me, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going home.” A third person is telling me, “Mohammed where are you going?” I said, “Home.” He said, “Oh, you don’t know?” and I said, “What?” And he said “Oh, nothing.” I was just walking on this street inside the refugee camp, about to turn to the house. Our house did not exist anymore. It had been completely demolished. It was for no reason. It was because Israel destroyed the houses of all the people living between the borderline with Egypt. They had destroyed everything. Nothing was left behind for the people there. I tried to get something. All I had was my schoolbag and my ID, which I need at the checkpoints. I couldn’t find anything. Even digging inside the rubble in order to find some of my books, that was impossible. Because after the Israeli occupation forces demolished the houses, they made sure to dig holes inside, in the ground, in order to make sure to put all the rubble of the houses as if there had been no houses here before. Of course, they come and say if Israel wants to justify that in the New York Times, they’re right because there has been not much attention to that comment.
Targeting civilians in Gaza. The children are going out in the streets asking the world to stop the siege. Stop killing us. Please help us. Most of the children were killed. I’m not going to go far but I’m going with my personal experience. That’s my own brother Husam who had been killed by the Israeli occupation forces. Hussam is 17 years-old. He was killed by seven M-16 bullets: in the head, in the neck, in the chest and the rest of his body. He had nothing to do with the army, nothing to do with politics. He only dreamt to finish his last secondary school and to join the university. Unfortunately, he could not continue that because he was killed. The way he was killed, while he was going to school. One of our neighbors Wedad Alajrami is her name, 34 years-old, she was there. And I remember very well in 2003, 18th of October, she was trying to drag his body into the hospital. Unfortunately, she could not. Because while she was trying to drag him from his feet to the hospital, while he was bleeding, she was shot by one of the Israeli soldiers in the head. Dead. Her husband tried to approach her body; tried to drag her to the hospital. He was also injured and is paralyzed today. His brother came closer to help him. He was also injured by the Israeli soldiers. Everyone who tried to get in—ambulances on the other side are trying to get in—then the Israeli soldiers are shooting at the wheels of the ambulances to make sure that the ambulance does not get into this place. To get them out was impossible. After a few hours, the children-Asma who’s three years old, and Aboud—two children could not watch their parents bleeding in front of them. They started crying. They tried their best to get to their parents but unfortunately Aboud was trying to wake up his mother but she’s dead. He was injured while he was next to the body of his mother, trying to get her. A few hours later, I saw the body of my brother in the refrigerators of Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital in Gaza. It was completely riddled by bullets and the bodies of all the civilians are arriving.
Possibly I was lucky to identify the body of my brother. Some others were not able to identify [their loved ones]. A mother had received the news that her son had been killed. She said, “Okay, when I’m a going to see him to say goodbye?” There was nothing left of his body. There was only a piece of his shoe. There was nothing left. It was all burned by the hellfire rockets which Israel is using in the Gaza Strip. Another story—those are my cousins. Asma, she’s twelve and Ahmed who is seven years old. Asma and Ahmed were killed by the Israeli snipers. How? The bullets were coming from here [points to photograph]. You can ask me in the question and answer session where the bullets were coming from and what the nationality of the soldiers who were taking part in the Rainbow attack on the Gaza Strip. Ahmed went upstairs to feed the pigeons. Asma’s mother asked her to go and collect the clothes from the roof of the house. Unfortunately both were killed. The pigeons are still alive. These are the bullets spent on the two kids.
Abed Abu Elfoul, 12 years-old. I tried to understand what was the problem. He’s half paralyzed. He cannot move his arm. I said, “What’s the trouble with you?” and he said, “During the attack on Rafah, I felt safe, I went out on the street. I saw an Israeli soldier. He smiled. I smiled back. I felt safe. I got closer to him and he shot me in my arm.” This is one example of the killing. No wonder sometimes you find arms and fingers scattered on the streets. You get phone calls. I can hear conversations from ambulance crews, they’re on the walkie-talkies and we can hear them talking: ‘We have 17 legs and three arms but do you also have other arms for this hospital?’ Two hospitals communicating to each other. That’s how they communicate in the Gaza Strip.
This is in Khan Younis. I tried to understand what’s the trouble with this guy? But I couldn’t find the reason until later. This guy is coming with hundreds of those people. They are smashing themselves in the face, screaming and yelling. They want to take their eyes out of their bodies. I tried to understand what the trouble was here. I asked one of the doctors and he said “We don’t know.” All of the hospital in Khan Younis is panicked. The doctors have no clue, no idea what’s happening. Each one of those will need at least four people to control him. The hospital is flooded with them. It’s a mess. At the end, I knew the reason. Israel is using something called white tear gas which is internationally prohibited.
[Pointing to photograph] I happened to know this just by going to this place. I passed by these guys and they were smoking and they were drinking tea. I remember very well they were telling us, “Mohammed, why don’t you come down and tell us about your work as a journalist? You have a lot to share so come sit with us.” We said no. We were inside a bulletproof car and said that we have to go on. Ten minutes later we get a phone call, breaking news, saying that an Israeli F-16 hit a house close to the United Nations clinic. We run to the place. Those people who offered us to drink tea, they were killed. Actually, if we had accepted their offer we would’ve ended up like them.
Are the children safe inside their classrooms? No, not anywhere. Not in the Gaza Strip, at least. Children are being targeted while they are inside their classrooms. This is an example. This is in the Rafah refugee camp. I arrived to this school and the kids were panicked. They were saying, “What is this? We don’t understand.” They just see blood everywhere. They were running away. No one understands what’s going on. Two children were shot while they were inside the classroom by an Israeli sniper. I tried to follow the story with Leah Tseml, the Israeli lawyer, to see what happened to those soldiers. I happen to know that those soldiers were freed after two weeks.
Israeli warships in the Gaza Strip. This is one Israeli warship which is making life hell for the Gaza Strip. I took this photo of the Israeli warships bombing and shooting at the houses of civilians. All of us are familiar and aware of the family of Huda Ghalia, the girl of the family who was slaughtered on the beach by an Israeli missile. This is an example; two years [old], one year [old], nine months [old]. The Ghalia family were all killed and Huda was the only survivor.
Targeted assassination as part of a policy for Israel. Israel is targeting the Gaza Strip all the time. This is one of the cars. If you happen to be behind this car then you are in big trouble. You could be lucky if you are not behind this car. At this time I try to wonder what is the target because this is a civilian and he has nothing to do with the military or politics. Then they say the target was first the house and then the car of [Jamal] Abu Samhadana who is one of the main military leaders. Seven times of trying to assassinate him and in the end he was killed. Each time they killed civilians and they never say [it was] by mistake. They say terrorists. This here is an example of killing children and slaughtering them.
I’m going to show a video from the borderline of Rafah. This video shows Palestinian kids, Palestinian children, trying to put a Palestinian flag and other flags on the wall between the Gaza Strip [and Egypt]. I took this video in January of 2005. And you can see in this example what happened to those children who tried to make it; just to put a flag. See what happened to them now. [Shows video]
There were no ambulances because of one reason. It was because Israel did not allow the ambulances. But nowadays there are different reasons why there are no ambulances: because there is no gas to run the ambulances. This is the Rafah border between the Gaza Strip [and Egypt]. In November 2005 there was an agreement between the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt and Ms. Condoleeza Rice was over this agreement to open the Rafah border with one condition: that there should be European Union observers and cameras for the Israelis. Here are the cameras. And this one day over the Rafah border that [it] was open. Those people were acting as the prison guards for the Gaza Strip, the European observers. One day, the European Union was saying on their website that the Rafah border is closed. I said “Okay” and went to the ground and I saw that the Rafah border was not closed. I made a phone call to the spokesman of the European Union and then he started to play all of these stupid tricks saying, “The Israelis aren’t letting us in.” I said, “Well, then don’t tell the media that the Rafah border is open. Say it’s closed.” He said, “No, we cannot say that.” I said, “There is nobody crossing.” [Pointing to photograph] This is of Palestinians getting out. Even if you get out of Gaza, you will never know when you will get back in. Many people manage to make it out of Gaza but they cannot make it back. A Palestinian mother knows that now she is sending her son to study abroad but she doesn’t know if she will see him again. [Points to photograph] They’re trying to jump between the walls and the wires at the Rafah border.
I happened to meet with some of those who were stuck at the Rafah border. Some of them had been there for four weeks, five weeks. I saw that some of them are itching. They started to itch and some of them even started bleeding because they hadn’t had a shower in seven and eight weeks, being stuck at the border. This is an example of a man who had been stuck several weeks at the Rafah border. Not allowed to get in or out--just stuck. When I left for my last U.S. speaking tour in 2006, it took me three weeks of coordination, even with the State Department and with the Egyptian government, and Israel did not allow me back in because the border was closed. They say, “Well, the border is closed and it is closed for everybody.”
International Solidarity Movement. With all respect for all of their work, the International Solidarity Movement, has managed to bring the story out of the Gaza Strip. Those are Laura, from the left, Nicole—Laura is from America, Nicole is from Italy and there is this guy from Ireland and then there is Tom from London. They were coming to stop the Israeli bulldozers from demolishing the houses. Unfortunately, the mission had failed. Rachel Corrie is an example. She was killed by an Israeli bulldozer. I remember at this day when I took this photo of Alice and Janie. Janie is here and then she had this microphone saying, “We are here, International Solidarity Movement, watching the Israeli crimes. Stop terrorizing the people. Stop demolishing the houses. We are going to report this back home.” And then he just took her in the shovel of the bulldozer and then threw her away. This is Rachel Corrie, the beautiful face of America, who was killed. It was also Tom Herendon and James Miller, the British filmmaker who was killed in the Gaza Strip. These are also photos of Rachel Corrie. The children of Rafah saw Rachel Corrie as a best friend because they made a [mock] court where they said that [former U. S. President George W.] Bush, [former British Prime Minister] Tony Blair, [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon and [former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert are war criminals. So they wanted Rachel Corrie to be a witness in this court. The children made a symbolic funeral for her in the Gaza Strip.
Disengagement in the Gaza Strip. It happened in 2005 when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. I saw on CNN there was breaking news—Palestinians are looting the Jewish settlements. It was really funny to see that actually because this is what the Palestinians were looting here. This is how Israel left the Gaza Strip. You can see an example, Neve Dekalim Jewish settlement. This used to be a Jewish settlement. They destroyed everything inside here in order to make sure that there is no possibility to get that. Up to today, the local authorities in Gaza don’t know what to do with this rubble. Children were celebrating, going into the streets and saying now Gaza is free. Well, Gaza is not free and it will never be free because Israel is still insisting to keep Gaza under the siege. I do remember that day. In 2005 there used to be Israeli and Jewish settlers inside the Gaza Strip. Israel cared very well that they would not use the sonic bombs and the F-16 missiles to hit the houses of civilians. They refused. They didn’t want to do that because they knew there were Jewish children, Israeli kids, who were sleeping inside the Gaza Strip and they didn’t want to disturb them. But now, the Israeli missiles hit the whole Gaza Strip from the south to the north, all the way without caring. Some call it victory. Some call it freedom. But still, the situation is as it is.
Many of them tried to get out to see their relatives. I have relatives, for example, in Egypt. I don’t see those relatives. I haven’t met them. Those people are lining up, trying to squeeze their bodies through the border in order to get into Egypt. What were the people doing? They were bringing cheese, meat, cigarettes and all the things that they have no access to in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian factions decided to bomb the wall between the Gaza Strip and Egypt so Palestinians can come in and out freely. It continued for four days. Many Palestinians had hoped that it would continue for a longer time but, unfortunately, it did not.
Humanitarian situation. I just talked to the deputy minister of health in Gaza, just before I arrived here, to see what are the latest updates about the health conditions. I asked the minister of justice, “What are the problems facing you? Can you tell me? Any problems that are facing you since you got the office?” He said to me, “When there is a ten year old boy coming to my office asking for a dose of medicine and I tell him I’m sorry, I don’t have it.” Fixing the machines is impossible. After the Gaza war, I asked, ‘It can’t be that the world is that blind.’ I said to the deputy minister, “It can’t be that the international community doesn’t know what the needs of Gaza [are]. “And he said to me, “They made Gaza flood with gloves for the doctors.” And most of the essential medical supplies are not available. Even those that are available, they are waiting at the crossing and Israel doesn’t allow the medicine until it expires.
Water shortages in the Gaza Strip. You have to go far. Even getting water in the Gaza Strip is impossible. I talked to my mother yesterday and her concern the day before yesterday was water. She said there was no water. Yesterday she said it starts to get cold in the evening. She said “We cannot find pieces of plastic or nylon in order to cover the windows that were damaged by the war.” They cannot find that in order to make sure that it’s not cold in the house. And there is no central heating. There is nothing because there is no electricity. Cooking gas—it was a dream, actually, one day in the Gaza Strip to have the cooking gas. These cylinders are waiting to be filled. No one is able to get gas into the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, they can’t because Israel is not allowing cooking gas into the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip is producing carnation flowers, millions of flowers that they produce every year, mostly in the south of the Gaza Strip. They also produce strawberries. As you see here, these flowers are supposed to be exported to the Netherlands where they will be distributed worldwide. Unfortunately, this year and the last year the flowers are not allowed to get out of the Gaza Strip and the farmers are in big trouble. Now the farmers started offering their flowers to the donkeys and the camels and then they offer it, later on, to the cows as well. He’s one of the examples; a farmer. I said to him, “What are you doing? These are carnation flowers [you’re giving to] the animals. This is crazy. In Europe they send them to lovers and here you offer them to the cows?” Then he said, “That’s not the trouble here. The problem is that I will be in deep trouble after that because I’m stuck between my workers, who are the small farmers, and the suppliers of the raw materials. Both of them are taking me to court. And then the Hamas government says there is no mercy. We will throw you in jail.” He said, “Where am I going to pay that?” He had two million dollars that he couldn’t pay. And he said, “I have nothing to do. I just offer it to my cows and the animals and just give it for free to those who have animals in order for them to eat it.”
Bridges in the Gaza Strip have been targeted by Israel for no reason. Going from the south to the north of the Gaza Strip is impossible. For me, as a journalist, to go from the south to the north you have to pass through this bridge. Unfortunately, it’s broken because Israel targeted all the bridges in less than two minutes. Israeli F-16s just [makes bombing sound] and that’s it. In the same moment, they finished all the Gaza electricity generators. The main electricity generators that provide the Gaza Strip with electricity, they cut it completely. Gaza is totally dark with no electricity.
Bread. The lines of bread, I remember in Gaza, is that hundreds of those people are waiting, if not thousands in the bakeries. Then, the trouble is, when you get your turn, the guy tells you, “You cannot get more than two shekels worth. It’s one shekel I can give you only, eight pitas. Eight only. You’re allowed eight because we want to give the chance for everybody. Eight, you will eat it all in one meal for one family.
Women struggling in the Gaza Strip. Women are struggling as a result of the siege. When I speak at different places, I get the question, “Gaza is starving. There is a lot of trouble. They cannot find food. How do you manage? They are still surviving.” I tried to find an answer for that. I went to this family to see this lady and she’s collecting bread from the streets. Dry bread. And there is something that she used. It’s a kind of grass that grows in the roads and then she uses it. She puts some lemon and some pepper and she eats it. Not healthy food, but she has stomachs waiting to be filled and she has to feed her children.
In 2006, November 2, it was a Thursday around noon, Israeli occupation forces had called everyone between the ages of 16 to 50 to get out of their houses. Why? Are they going to honor them? No. What are they going to do? Everybody got out and went to this school, one of the agricultural schools. We want all the men to be inside. So the men went inside and then they restricted their movement and then they told them to come inside the building. Something around 60 or 62 men refused, for whatever reason, I don’t know. They refused to go inside this school. They went inside a mosque. Hiding. Israel decided immediately to bomb the mosque by F-16. The women heard the story. They took to the streets. All the women got out on the streets trying to break into the mosque in order to free the men. They managed to make it in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, Beit Hanoun. They managed to make it and the women managed to free the men. Nineteen were injured and three were killed and many were arrested in the same day just for trying to break into the mosque.
The internal case in the Gaza Strip is making a lot of trouble between Hamas, Fateh and it has been going on for a long [time] by Hamas taking over the Gaza Strip. There are a lot of weapons in the Gaza Strip. A lot of these military factions are causing a lot of trouble, targeting each other, targeting houses of civilians, targeting houses of ministers, of ambassadors. This is an example of shooting at each other between Hamas political factions and the Palestinian Authority. This is the car of a minister and a group of militants attacked him while he was on his way to work. This is one example. This is a Fateh member. He is burning the cars of members of parliament who are democratically elected. I asked this guy, “What are you doing?” He said, “America and Europe are not happy with Hamas so let them find the democracy that they want. We want salaries. I haven’t received my salary for nine months and I haven’t been paid. So we burn the cars of this democracy and those members of parliament should find something else. Let the Americans and the Europeans bring us money to feed us. We don’t want those people anymore and we don’t want democracy because it doesn’t feed us anymore.”
A journalist in Gaza is the last part of my presentation. Working as a journalist in the Gaza Strip is a completely difficult situation not only because of Israel but also because of Hamas and because of the Palestinian Authority. We Palestinians have learned the best techniques of torture from the Israelis. And we’ve managed to implement it on each other. Journalists are attacked. This is one example. I was inside this car. It’s a bulletproof vehicle from Reuters. I was in the back of this car. One of the journalists lost his leg in that attack. I remember one day there was an attack Israel called Days of Penitence. By the way, Israel is very professional in naming names of attacks. Sometimes they call it Summer Rain. Rainbow Attack in 2004. They got even into a level of calling one of the attacks, where you target civilians from a short distance, they called it Picking Roses. This was Days of Penitence, the attack in 2006, when I took this photo. I remember we were in this car and it was a completely scary situation. Outside, you could not get out. You couldn’t do anything basically. All I see is that there is a young man. All I can see from his body is from here. I can see nothing of his body. He’s bleeding. I can hear him saying, “Please help me.” I tried to open the door. And this was a bulletproof window. I tried to open the door and I can see the bullets are coming to my face like this [repeatedly slaps his hands together quickly]. They’re not getting in because they were M-16 [bullets]. If he used 250 or 500 or 1,000 then it would’ve broken in two. But we were lucky they were using m-16 bullets and this car was strong enough. Unfortunately, we tried to get him and then the driver who was with us said, “We can’t do that because they’ll start bombing us.” We were thinking of only to open the door and get him into the car and take him. Because all you see of his body is just the upper part of his body and the rest is gone, burned and he’s still alive. We couldn’t get him until three, four hours later. I saw his body in the refrigerator of the hospital, dead.
This is another example. I thought, when I took this photo, that it almost cost me my life. I thought that this Merkava [tank] could not shoot using the windows. I thought they could only shoot using this [points to canon]. [Sound is too low to understand] The first thing that Israel does during attacks is to attack the water supplies, so you don’t have water, phone lines and electricity. That’s what happens in the first ten minutes of an attack. Then you will know that in this area you will not be able to communicate with them. Electricity is not there. Water is not there. And telephone lines are completely destroyed. We were standing next to each other. And then there was Ayman from the German news agency. [Sound too low to understand] One bullet hit him here in the shoulder. [Sound is too low to understand]. Bassam is one of our colleagues. He was injured by the Israelis during the attack. This is the last moment before he collapsed. And Israel on that occasion used weapons or missiles that could hit everybody in the crowd. I’m sure that the donors would like it if they need one bullet or one rocket for each Palestinian. So they used one rocket, hit the corner there, in order to attack everybody. These rockets make shrapnel that are really sharp and get into the eyes and the body and some of them are even from weapons that are internationally prohibited. Even some bullets burn inside. You can smell the human flesh burning inside the refrigerators at the hospitals.
I took this photo of this guy. This is a one ton missile that Israel uses by F-16. I’m glad that this boy made it. The others who were in the other crowd, none of them made it. This boy he managed to make it at the last moment. It wasn’t really the best situation for everybody because the ambulances could not get in or out.
Again, targeting civilians, we mention here Allen Johnston, the BBC correspondent who was attacked and then kidnapped by a Palestinian clan until he was released later on. Journalists are protesting in the Gaza Strip that we should be kept away from this violence because we are journalists who are trying to tell the truth as it is. But unfortunately, most of the time journalists are protesting saying, “We are not going to cover any news because we are always attacked.” Many journalists are killed. Many are injured. Many are kidnapped and many are tortured.
This is the last photo of my presentation. I choose this photo because I was in this situation also. This is Fadel Shana’a. He worked for Reuters, the international news agency. The car was clearly marked as press. The photo revealed to the Israelis that they were wrong. Israel first said there was not car with press. They said that the car didn’t have “press” on it. That was the first allegation. The second allegation was that ‘it wasn’t us that killed him. It must’ve been bombed by someone else,’ which was not true. He was killed by a missile. [Sound too low to hear] He was filming actually. He was filming until the last moment the missile hit his neck. He filmed that and then we were able to see on the video the Israeli missile coming straight from the bulldozer. The ambulances arrive here. We were trying to understand what’s going on with the ambulances. Why weren’t they coming? Because it had been an hour and we called them. I asked a guy who was in the first ambulance and he said, “We are running on near empty fuel. I cannot continue to the hospital. They have no solution. Israel is not allowing the fuel even to the ambulances and therefore I find it difficult to continue.” So that’s why Palestinians started using donkey carts and horses to transfer bodies or flesh. And that you can see all over the Gaza Strip.
I think we are limited with time but that is the last part of my presentation. We’ll have a part for questions and answers. Thank you very much for your attention.
Mr. Mohammed Omer is the Gaza Correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
This transcript may be used without permission but with proper attribution to The Palestine Center. The speaker's views do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jerusalem Fund.