[News] A window to hell in Gaza

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 10 11:11:23 EDT 2015

  A window to hell in Gaza

Max Blumenthal <https://electronicintifada.net/people/max-blumenthal> 
The Electronic Intifada 
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/electronic-intifada> 10 July 2015

Spending the day of 17 August in Khuzaa 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/khuzaa> was like peering through a 
window to hell. But what we witnessed in the landscape of apocalyptic 
oblivion paled in comparison to the experience described to me by two 
Palestine Red Crescent 
volunteers who had attempted to break through the Israeli military 
cordon during the siege of the town.

Twenty-five-year-old Ahmed Awad and 24-year-old Ala’a Alkusofi arrived 
at the edge of Khuzaa at a time when Red Cross ambulance crews refused 
to travel anywhere near the town. They said they had come to collect the 
body of a man whom soldiers had lashed to a tree by both arms and shot 
in the leg. When they arrived at the site, the soldiers ordered the 
driver of their ambulance, Muhammed Abadla, to exit the vehicle. When he 
obliged, they told him to walk five meters forward and switch on a 
flashlight. As soon as he flicked the light on, the soldiers shot him in 
the chest and killed him.

“It was something I’ll never forget,” Awad recalled, “seeing a colleague 
killed like that in front of me. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed.”

The two Red Crescent volunteers told me they later found a man in Khuzaa 
with rigor mortis, holding both hands over his head in surrender, his 
body filled with bullets. Deeper in the town, they discovered an entire 
family so badly decomposed they had to be shoveled with a bulldozer into 
a mass grave. In a field on the other side of town, Awad and Alkusofi 
found a shell-shocked woman at least 80 years of age hiding in a chicken 
coop. She had taken shelter there for nine days during the siege, living 
off of nothing but chicken feed and rain water. “She couldn’t believe it 
when we found her,” said Alkusofi. “She was sure she would die with the 

    Horror stories

In nearly every shattered home I entered in Khuzaa, on every 
bomb-cratered street, in destroyed mosques and vandalized schools, I 
heard horror stories like this. Every resident I met in this town was 
touched by the violence in one way or another. While visiting the town, 
I wandered into the courtyard of a rehabilitation clinic for women and 
children afflicted with Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder — a 
condition that affects a solid majority of youth in Gaza.

Located on a street lined with four-story apartments pockmarked with 
bullets and tank shells, the school was completely empty, but the signs 
of an Israeli presence were everywhere. As we entered, we found Stars of 
David spray painted by soldiers across the walls 
right below colorful heart-shaped paper cut-outs bearing the names of 
students. In the closet of an administrative office that was neatly kept 
except for a few scattered papers, I found a spent M72 Light Anti-Tank 
Weapon. It was one of the shoulder-mounted launching tubes manufactured 
in Mesa, Arizona, by the Norwegian-owned Nammo arms corporation. The 
weapon had been used by the Israelis to rocket civilian homes across 
Gaza’s boundary regions.

In a classroom across the courtyard, sunrays burst through a gaping hole 
in the wall about the size of a 120mm tank shell. They shone light on a 
series of colorful posters decorated with matching ribbons that 
contained motivational messages. They read:

/It always seems impossible until it’s done /

/Stay alive/

/Look to the future/

/No negative thoughts allowed/

We wandered around the corner, past a group of children filling a jug of 
water from a truck that replaced the water tower Israeli forces 
detonated, past the giant dome of the Ebad al-Rahman mosque, which now 
sat on a pile of rubble next to the toppled water tower like the ancient 
ruins of some bygone empire. Nearby, we entered a small courtyard 
surrounded by a warren of shattered homes. At the edge of the yard, a 
small boy lay impassively in his bed in a room with no walls. A ceiling 
fan that looked as though it had been melted dangled above his head. In 
the center of the yard sat a gigantic olive green barrel. It was a spent 
Giant Viper round — one of the C4-packed mine clearing devices the 
Israelis fired into the center of Khuzaa during the assault on the town. 
A hen flapped its wings next to the barrel and chased after baby chicks 
bouncing through the rubble.

“Where are you from?” an old man called out to me from the road. He wore 
large spectacles and a morning robe, his front pocket stuffed with paper 
notepads, various cards and a glasses holder. He reminded me of my older 
Jewish relatives who came of age before the digital era and grew 
accustomed to carrying stacks of business cards, coupons and handwritten 
reminders in their shirt and coat pockets along with assorted mints and 

“I’m from America,” I told the man, readying for an indignant response.

“Ahhhh, /Amreeka/,” he grumbled. “I want to thank the American people,” 
the man continued, advancing to within two feet of me. “They are nice 
people, they give us food and bread and they give the Israelis weapons 
to kill us. They have different standards. It would be nice if they 
treated us all as humans.”

    “We love life”

He introduced himself as Ali Ahmed Qudeh, the father of Kamal Qudeh, the 
doctor who treated the town’s wounded under heavy bombardment and in 
spite of being injured himself. Like his son, Ali Ahmed was a supporter 
of Fatah <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/fatah>, the rivals of 
Hamas <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hamas>. And like virtually 
everyone I met in Gaza, he was an ardent supporter of the armed 
resistance of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing. “Our weapons are 
not terrorist weapons, our weapons are [for] self-defense,” he insisted. 
“Our weapons are to free our land. We are dignified people, we love 
life. We don’t hate life like they say. But we’ll die for our land.”

As a group of small children gathered in the courtyard, Ali Ahmed 
detailed to me how many family members each child lost in the assault on 
Khuzaa. Pointing at the little boy lying in bed, he suggested that the 
most devastating consequence of the war was not the death toll, but the 
psychological impact on the youngest members of his community.

“That kid wants to make an atomic bomb and obliterate Israel!” he 
roared. “Why? Because he saw his family members die in front of him! How 
can you raise kids who want to make bombs?”

When I made my way back into the road, I heard Ali Ahmed call after me 
again. He was rushing forward through the rubble with a tray of sweets. 
“I don’t mean to say that all Americans are bad,” he said, urging me to 
take a freshly baked cookie. “It’s the government that’s the problem, 
not the people.”

Just then, an Israeli squadron of American-made F-16s roared through the 
sky. A small girl standing beside me ducked reflexively at the sound of 
the jets, bracing for another missile strike. The war was far from over.

/This essay is excerpted from Max Blumenthal’s new book,/ The 51 Day 
War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza /published by Nation Books./

/Max Blumenthal is an award winning journalist and bestselling author. 
His previous books include/ Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel 
/(2013, Nation Books)./

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