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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Ici, c’est l’enfer!"

by Hassane Zerrouky

"It’s Hell Here. There are Dismembered Bodies in the Streets"

Translated Sunday 4 January 2009, by Henry Crapo

It’s in a state of shock, during the burial of two of his cousins killed on Saturday, that Ziad Medoukh gave us this statement.

Ziad Medoukh is a professor of French at the University of Gaza. He was prevented by Israeli authorities from coming to France, where he is a recipient of a grant from the French government. Reached by telephone, he was attending the burial of two of his cousins and three neighbors killed in the Israeli bombings, and was in shock. "These people were not militants, not even Hamas sympathizers, he said in a voice filled with emotion. I can testify that it is for the first time since 1967 that the inhabitants of Gaza have undergone such bombardment. This time it’s tough, very tough, worse than it’s been in the past. On Saturday at 11:30am (local time) the strikes started, and lasted for about a half an hour. The bombings started up again at night fall, about 6pm, and went on through the night. Since then, there’s been no let up. Missiles or bombs dropped from airplanes or helicopters fall on Gaza practically every five to ten minutes. Here, it’s Hell, it’s desolation. There are dismembered bodies in the streets. Because of electricity outages (four per day because of the blockade), we don’t get much information, we don’t really know what’s going on. The only source of news is the portable telephone. In Gaza, Israel is bombing today what it already bombed yesterday. They want to level everything," he says.

By way of a media campaign, relayed even by certain Arab media, Israel has succeeded in convincing the so-called "moderate" arab countries, the European Union, and many other countries that their strikes target only Hamas. But, among the 300 dead, with the exception of the chief of police, there were no Hamas or Al-Qassam Brigade (armed Hamas militia) leaders. To be sure, 180 police whom Israel classifies as combatants have been killed, but there have been 120 civilians, the majority being women and children, who have perished," he says, overwhelmed. And what’s more, as everyone knows only too well, Gaza is a narrow over-populated region with more than a million and a half persons stacked on one another, living on 360 square kilometers. The police stations and Hamas offices are necessarily close to homes, and when one targets them, one can’t help but kill civilians.

Now the Israelis know full well where the Hamas military bases are located. The European Union and the United States, having called for a boycott of Hamas after having forced Fatah to organize legislative elections that were won by the Islamists, know that it is the civilians that are targeted. This is nothing but blind bombardment. Otherwise, why target and destroy schools, and factories which, because of the blockade, function at no more than 50% of capacity, mosques, homes, stores, and provisions storage? I call this the politics of terror. Why impose a blockade on the Gaza for two years, when the people of Hamas are not affected by the blockade? Israel knows perfectly well what the situation is. Why does Israel refuse to let the sick people be treated in the West Bank, even when they are not members of Hamas? Why do they prevent the entry of food and medicine into Gaza? In fact, there is but one logic here: Israel wants to punish the civilian Palestinian population."

For Ziad Medoukh, there is no doubt that "the Israeli operation will lead to an advance of Hamas. Is this perhaps the purpose of this new war? Here in Gaza, the popularity of Hamas is about 30%. More than 50% of the population is not in favor of them. Many people are opposed. But the Israeli bombardment is sure to reinforce the Islamist movement. It seems to be the only force of resistance to occupation, a force that Israel pretends to attack. In the long term, I would say that Hamas is in the process of winning. Because over and above the feelings of this and that group, the bombardment will end by uniting the population of Gaza around the Islamists.

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