[News] The Strongest Weapon of All - A Report from Gaza
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 20 13:24:44 EST 2009
January 20, 2009
A Report from Gaza
The Strongest Weapon of All
By KATHY KELLY
Dr. Atallah Tarazi, a General Surgeon at Gaza
Citys Shifaa Hospital, invited us to meet him in
his home, in Gaza City, just a few blocks away from the Shifaa Hospital.
Early this morning, he and his family returned to
their home after having fled five days earlier
when the bombing attacks on Gaza City had become
so fierce that they feared for their
lives. Believe me, when I would drive from the
hospital to the place where my family was
staying, I prayed all the way, said Dr. Tarazi,
because the Israelis would shoot anyone on the roads at night.
Dr. Tarzi has been practicing medicine as a
General Surgeon all of his adult life. Now, at
age 61, he says he has never seen such terrible
and ugly wounds as he saw during the past three
weeks when he and a surgical team tried to help
numerous patients with broken limbs, shrapnel
wounds, and severe burns. Neurosurgeons,
vascular surgeons, orthopedic and general
surgeons worked together on patients, as a team,
trying to save them, but there were many whose
lives they couldnt save. He described patients
with shrapnel wounds in their eyes, faces,
chests, and abdomens, patients whose legs were
amputated above the lower limbs. Most, he said, were civilians.
These are strange ways of destroying the human
body, said Dr. Tarazi. Please, come tomorrow to
the Burn Unit, and you will see patients
suffering from the use of white phosphorous.
Dr. Tarazi said that he began to understand the
extent of the trauma and danger by listening to
the stories of wounded and injured patients.
Some were sitting in their houses when a tank
bomb hit them. They didnt know what happened
to them, said Dr. Attalah. Survivors would
reach the hospital after many of their relatives had been killed.
Patients from Beit Lahia told him that in one
home, an extended family of 25 people had been
attacked while inside their home. When relatives
came to help them, Israeli snipers shot eight of
them. Many of the wounded were left to
die. Ambulances and Red Cross relief workers
werent allowed to enter the area.
At one point, Israel announced a lull in the
fighting, but then bombed the Palestine Square,
near the municipal offices. Four people came to
the hospital, severely injured. We couldnt
save them, said Dr. Tarazi. Seven others were injured, and they survived.
In Gaza City, all of the important buildings
necessary for maintaining a city have been
bombed, said Dr. Tarazi. From ministries to
civilian police stations, all have been
destroyed. Some were Hamas buildings, but not all.
We had just walked through the area where the
buildings housing ministries of justice,
education, and culture were completely
destroyed. Driving into Gaza City we saw
mosques, factories, houses and schools reduced to
rubble. We asked Dr. Tarazi to tell us why, in
his opinion, the Israelis had attacked Gaza so fiercely.
He believes that the attacks are essentially
irrational but that a main cause for the timing
and the magnitude of these attacks is that
certain Israeli candidates for upcoming elections
want to assure the Israeli public that they are
willing to use military force to insure security
for Israelis. Palestinians all the time pay the
taxes in blood, said Dr. Tarazi.
One of the worst aspects of this war, says Dr.
Tarazi, is the lack of respect for the
UN. Three United Nations Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA) schools were bombed. In Jabaliyah, more
than 45 people were killed at a UN school; F16s
bombed UNRWA supplies and stores.
In Shifaa Hospital, we saw plumes of smoke for
day and night. All Gaza, every day, was covered
with smoke and chemicals. We dont know how it affects the health.
Yes, 'rocklets' did go out, says Dr. Tarazi,
referring to Hamas rockets fired into Israeli
towns, and we felt sympathy for any Israelis
hurt by the rocklets. But, if someone hurts you
with a pin, you dont cut off his head. You ask
WHY the person tried to prick you with a pin.
Consider that people here are trapped in a prison
and there is a shortage of everything. No one
can repair anything. People wanted borders
opened so that goods could come and go. After
six months of closed borders, people are
frustrated. Now, one side declares a cease fire,
they say nothing about opening the borders,
nothing about withdrawal, and yet they want NATO to help tighten the siege.
I hope President Obama will be much better
than George Bush concerning these things, said
Dr. Tarazi. Human beings that have such a
strong army should be civilized and not behave
like a terrorist group. Fanatics can be expected
to use terror, but a democratic state shouldnt
use fallacious statements as an excuse for
massive killing. A state which does this should
be brought before an International Court of Justice.
And yet, he said, we must experiment with ways
of love. We are trying, with Jewish people
feelings and actions. We need to succeed. We
need to live together. We are trying to be in
good relations with all the partners, all the views.
The strongest weapon all over the world is
love, says Dr. Tarazi, adding that he has always
believed this and has said this to his
colleagues, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish,
throughout his career. He recalled declaring
this same belief at the Eretz border crossing,
shortly after the Israelis launched Operation
Cast Lead. He had been among the 200 Christians
who were chosen (800 had applied) to cross the
border and celebrate the Orthodox Christmas
holiday with family members in the West Bank.
When the attacks began, he ended his holiday and
hurried to the border, knowing he must return to
his work and his family. At the border crossing,
he greeted soldiers, Merry Christmas. Soldiers
answered, Do you have weapons? Yes, Dr.
Tarazi replied, I have the strongest weapon of all, the weapon of love.
Kathy Kelly is a co-coordinator of
<http://www.vcnv.org/>Voices for Creative
Nonviolence. She has refused to pay all forms of
federal income tax since 1980. She is the author
Lands Have Dreams, published by AK / CounterPunch
Press. She can be reached at <mailto:kathy at vcnv.org>kathy at vcnv.org
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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