[News] The Strongest Weapon of All - A Report from Gaza

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 20 13:24:44 EST 2009


January 20, 2009

A Report from Gaza

The Strongest Weapon of All


Gaza City.

Dr. Atallah Tarazi, a General Surgeon at Gaza 
City’s 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 
weren’t 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 couldn’t 
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 don’t 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 don’t 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 shouldn’t 
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

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