Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Please sign this petition to the UN and pass it on to others:

Open Letter Against Deadly Government Violence in Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran under the Ahmadinejad administration and at the behest of Ayatollah Ali Khamenie is increasingly clinging to power through the use of repression and military force against all civil and constitutional laws of Iran.

The Iranian regime has engaged in all imaginable uncivil behavior and actions including outright killings, mass arrests, torture, and rape of Iranian citizens who have participated in peaceful civil demonstrations or in grieving for deaths of their loved ones.

Major media have reported that on Saturday and Sunday Iranian government security forces opened fire into crowds of protesters who gathered for commemoration of Tāuso’ā and Āshurā, killing at least 10 people, wounding 100s, and arresting over 1000 at this time. The use of violence against peaceful civilians exercising their human rights is against any international rule of conduct and against the Islamic Republics’ own civil and constitutional laws.
We, the undersigned:
• Unequivocally and vociferously condemn the use of violence, killings, and mass arrests of Iranians.
• Support the inalienable rights of Iranians and demand an immediate stop to the use of violence as well as arbitrary arrests.
• Wish to bring this urgent situation to the attention of the international community, civil rights, religious, and civic organizations around the world.
• Extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to all Iranians, especially families that have lost loved ones, and mourn their loss.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Video with full statement in Persian and complete English transcript  here

Interviewer's comments:

Interviewing a former Iranian Basij militia member

Since the election last June, hundreds, maybe thousands, of opposition protestors have been beaten and gaoled. Human rights groups have documented persistent reports of rape within the police stations and gaols.

Now, for the first time, we’ve spoken to a member of the Basij militia – the group said to be responsible for many of the abuses.

He was a broken man, seeking refuge in Britain, and from his own conscience.

I feel pain and the shame in front of people and before God. I’ve lost my world and my religion,” he wept, as he recounted his story.

Aged 27, he had been a member of the Basij for as long as he could remember, born into a deeply religious family, utterly loyal to the Islamic Revolution and above all to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei.

For “Sayyed”, as we’ll call him, Ayatollah Khamanei was the incarnation of the 12th Imam, the equivalent of the Messiah in Shi’a Islam. Not far short of God, in other words.

So he didn’t question it when commanders told his Basij unit, months before the election, that the Supreme Leader had decreed that Ahmadinejad should win. Nor even when they were told to ignore the desires of illiterate voters and vote for Ahmadinejad on their behalf.

He had a twinge when he realised they were simply “disappearing” the ballot boxes with the votes of young people, who mainly voted for the opposition.

As he described how they were armed with batons, cables and other weapons and told to attack protestors, he started to cry.

He says he stood by, but his colleagues killed people on the streets of his city. But the local Basij, it seems, were not performing well enough. So when about a hundred young people were arrested and put in shipping containers, Basij from the provinces were brought in.

At this point in the interview, Sayyed sobbed, tears dripping down his anguished face. He walked around, but he said he wanted to come back and finish telling his story.

From the containers, he said, they heard the desperate cries of men and women, boys and girls, being raped by the Basij from outside the town.

It was 20 June. He gave us the name of the police station where he says the assaults took place, and identified the mullah in charge of the basij in his city. We’re not revealing any of the details which could identify him, but which we needed to know to authenticate his story.

He spoke in the elaborate, religious Persian used by many Basij volunteers, and while he was willing to talk to us, he refused to shake the hand of a woman, another sign of his religious background.

Maybe the most convincing authentification we have is that his story confirms the reports we’ve had from victims and human rights groups, who say rape has been used all over Iran in the brutal months since the June election. That and his desperation. Rarely have I interviewed someone so distressed.

I am ashamed in front of people, even to say that I was mistaken, and I am ashamed in front of my religion,” he said. “I committed crimes, knowingly and unknowingly. Now I’m left with my conscience punishing me for what I did.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today's the birthday of Ahmad Shamlou....


Ahmad Shamlou, Iran's great poet of love and freedom, was born in Tehran on December 12, 1925, died there on July 24, 2000... after having been persecuted for his works and words under both the Shah and the Islamic Republic:

In this dead-end (July 1979)

They smell your mouth
To find out if you have told someone:
I love you
They smell your heart

Such a strange time it is, my dear

And they punish Love
At thoroughfares
By flogging.

We must hide our Love in dark closets.

In this crooked dead end of a bitter cold
They keep their fire alive
By burning our songs and poems;
Do not place your life in peril by your thoughts

Such a strange time it is, my dear

He who knocks on your door in the middle of the night,
His mission is to break your Lamp
We must hide our Lights in dark closets

Behold! butchers are on guard at thoroughfares
With their bloodstained cleavers and chopping-boards

Such a strange time it is, my dear

They cut off the smiles from lips
and the songs from throats

We must hide our emotions in dark closets

They barbecue canaries
On a fire of jasmines and lilacs

Such a strange time it is, my dear

Intoxicated by victory,
Satan is enjoying a feast at our mourning table

We must hide our God in dark closets.


I think my heart
Has never been
So warm and red:

I feel
In the worst minutes of this murderous night,
Thousands of sun-springs
Gush in my heart
Out of certitude.

I feel in every corner of this salt-marsh of despair
Thousands of fresh forests
Suddenly sprout
Out of the ground.

Oh lost certitude, you fleeting fish,
Slipping through the mirror's pools, fold by fold!
I am the lucent lagoon, lo!
Through the magic of love
Find a way towards me from the mirror's pools!


Children of The Depths

They thrive
In the town of no street
In the stale web of dead-end lanes
In the bath of smoke, drug and pain
Talisman in the pocket and stones in hands
The children of the depths
The children of the depths
They thrive.


The cruel swamp of fate in front
The curse of drained fathers on their back
Ears filled with their tired mothers’ blame
A void of hope and future in fists
The children of the depths
The children of the depths
They thrive.


They flourish
In the forest of no spring
On the trees of no yield
The children of the depths
The children of the depths
They chant with a bleeding throat
They hold a long invincible flag in their hands
The children of the depths
The Kaveh* of the depths




The English translations of "In this dead end..." and "Fish" quoted above are from http://shamlu.com, that of "Children of the depths" is from http://www.ahmadshamlou.com/ - both sites contain a rich collection of translations of Shamlou's poems together with biographic information.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Al Jazeera English - Focus - 'My torturers deserve pity'

 Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught interviewed Ebrahim Mehtari, an Iranian pro-democracy campaigner, who says he was held for two weeks in a detention centre run by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence section in East Tehran.
He says he was beaten, tortured, and sexually violated.
He is now living in Turkey under the protection of the government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)


You say you were injured quite severely in jail and have had to have surgery in Turkey. What happened in that jail cell?

I don't have the mental strength to describe to you what they did to me, but the reality is this: For a long time Iran's rulers have spoken a great deal about morality - and to be fair, part of this ruling system was genuinely moral - but today my country is infected by a disease of lying and immorality, and this sickness is spreading throughout the state.

The people shouting in the streets whose blood is spilled, who are tortured and raped in the prisons or killed, or suffer other hardships at the hands of the system – everything they endure is the result of a disease called "the lie", and the loss of morality.

And at the same time, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad can - blatantly - sit on that chair, stand on that platform at the UN and announce that "I am coming from a country where people are very hospitable".

When those men can sit in front of cameras and stand on platforms and say: "We are all moralists, we are the sacred Islamic Republic system …" perhaps they should delete the word "sacred".

He and his cabinet spread nothing but superstition, lies, insults and immorality.


What is happening in Iran right now?

My country is like a dormant volcano that has been heating up for a long time. My country is growing and developing. The Iranian people who are calling for a return to constitutional law and democracy, are merely trying to grow and develop, too.

Iran is a big country and its people are very decent. But unfortunately the country has been ruled by inadequate men who have abused their people's hearts. People today are trying to choose leaders with the same stature as themselves. The people who have taken to the streets have endured batons, torture and prison.

This shows that they're ready to pay the price to achieve a greater goal: Freedom for their country - not freedom for oppressive regimes.

For me, it's been a long time since you could genuinely find either the concept of a republic, or of Islam in Iran. Perhaps those people protesting in the streets are doing so because of these two missing concepts, or at least one of them…

According to Article 27 of the Constitutional Law of the Islamic Republic of Iran, all gatherings are permitted if you are unarmed and do not disturb the public order.

My friends in the streets ... and those in prison – what crimes have they committed? These are our crimes: First: We participated in a presidential election and tried our best to uproot the lie in Iran. The second big crime was that we took to the streets asking for our rights, and the third crime was that we didn't keep silent about Ahmedinejad's lies.

A journalist friend of mine tells this joke: We have freedom of speech in Iran, but we don't have post-speech freedom! We can speak one sentence freely, but after that, no-one can protect us.


If you could face your torturers again, what would you say to them?

It's a difficult question, but I feel they are more tortured than me. Now when I look back on it, I feel those men deserve pity. And need help. Because these guys - knowingly or unknowingly - have become part of a system which has turned them into machines of torture and death.

If you had asked this question immediately after my release, or after the things which they did to me, I might have talked about killing them, but today - look, I don't want to pretend to be all intellectual about it - my impression is that dictators are miserable people.

And dictatorship is a disaster. I don't wish the deaths of dictators, but I wish for the death of dictatorship.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


An Iranian activist explains the protest movement and its objectives:

We shouldn’t forget that ordinary people have been scared with all rights to speak up their minds in over 30 years. They need some time and encouraging examples to defeat that and it is exactly what’s happening in Iran since the Election. Iranian people have once again refound their so long lost self-confidence. People have desperately looking for a change during the last 28-30 years and any attempt for more freedom has been crushed. (...) The reformist movement in Iran is very complex and includes so many ideas and interests, for its survival it can’t deny the “Valihe Faghih” but been pushing the limits since death of Khomeini. The Students are womens' rights movement, human rights activists, socialist and etc… Students are probably most radical supporters of Reformist movement and have paid a high price for that. Elderly people who experienced the Rev 79 & Iran – Iraq war are more cynical, most of them didn’t even want to vote the last 3 presidential elections but each election younger has tried to involve them. The reformist movement has helped to regroup and reorganize a solid opposition at the grassroots level in Iran which has grown day by day despite the crackdowns, arrests and many disappointments.

I can’t speak for everyone but now after 5 months fight with the coup I am certain that majority of the people lead by the students want to have a secularism Iran. Majority of people have desired a secular democracy in Iran for a long time but now they (Greens) know that they can achieve it and the way to do it has been through reformist and will be for some more time and anything else would be stopped quite easily & violently by the coup-maker even more violent than now. You can just hear it through the chants and slogans in every protests that things are changing in Iran. Each slogan includes a powerful message to the Coup, the world but mainly to the other people in Iran. Don’t be afraid we can do this.. Velayate Faghih’s time is over. We passed the red line June 2009. No return no surrender.We must just keep fighting patiently until the day... The victory will be ours soon …

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Shame on Mahmoud Abbas!

Abbas helps Israel bury its crimes in Gaza

Shame on Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton!

US 'pressured Abbas on UN report'

Sunday, September 20, 2009


By way of final and definitive obituary for America's criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq plus any future temptations on the part of that or any other nation or gang-thereof to engage in imperialistic/expansionistic invasions in the ME or anywhere else on the planet, here - via the FP blog "Enduring America" - is the full text of Muntazar Al-Zaidi's magnificent speech explaining why he threw his shoes at Bush:

"I am free. But my country is still a prisoner of war. There has been a lot of talk about the action and about the person who took it, and about the hero and the heroic act, and the symbol and the symbolic act. But, simply, I answer: what compelled me to act is the injustice that befell my people, and how the occupation wanted to humiliate my homeland by putting it under its boot.

Over recent years, more than a million martyrs have fallen by the bullets of the occupation and Iraq is now filled with more than five million orphans, a million widows and hundreds of thousands of maimed. Many millions are homeless inside and outside the country.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.

I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

As soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies, while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the blood that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

If I have wronged journalism without intention, because of the professional embarrassment I caused the establishment, I apologise. All that I meant to do was express with a living conscience the feelings of a citizen who sees his homeland desecrated every day. The professionalism mourned by some under the auspices of the occupation should not have a voice louder than the voice of patriotism. And if patriotism needs to speak out, then professionalism should be allied with it.

I didn’t do this so my name would enter history or for material gains. All I wanted was to defend my country."


Posted with applause and very deep respect.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


GREAT NEW SONG BY KIOSK ON IRAN'S SHOW-TRIALS with English and Italian translations of the lyrics after the video:

Lyrics in English:

My Fault

If a war started somewhere
or someone became poor
It was my fault

If there was a shortage of water
Emigration was just a mirage
It was my fault

If winters were cold and summers were warm
It was my fault

If the roads are narrow
and the streets are dark
It was my fault

It was my fault

If there was an unemployment crisis
Poverty and homelessness
It was my fault

The Arab - Israeli war
And the Tamil Tigers conflict
It was my fault

Identity crisis
The death of spirituality
It was my fault

The deconstruction of civilization
It was my fault

It was my fault (This is a confession)
It was my fault (I really apologize)

Politics plagued by populism
Defeated diplomacy
It was my fault

National soccer teams elimination
Due to playing with emotion
It was my fault

If Bin Laden managed to get away
and Oil prices shot up to the sky
It was my fault

If you got bored with all these promises
It was my fault

It was my fault (Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologize)
It was my fault (Im very embarrased)
It was my fault

If the plaintiffs are in jail
but the criminals are out on bail
It was my fault

If these are all secrets that everyone knows about
It was my fault

If God unwilling, one day I am not among you
What will happen then?

Or will it always be my fault even if Im not there?
There is no other way

It was my fault
It was my fault
(Traffic) (Environmental pollutions) (passenger airlines crash) (inflation rate)

I'm really sorry I dont know who to apologize to.

With special thanks to Zedekooteda1 for translating the lyrics for me!



E' colpa mia

Se da qualche parte scoppia una guerra
O qualcuno cade in miseria
E' colpa mia

Se manca l'acqua
Se emigrare è solo un miraggio
E' colpa mia

Se fa freddo d'inverno e caldo d'estate
E' colpa mia

Se le strade sono strette
e i vicoli sono bui
E' colpa mia

E' colpa mia

Se c'è disoccupazione
povertà e senzatetto
E' colpa mia

Se c'è la guerra arabo-israeliana
E il conflitto delle Tigri Tamil
E' colpa mia

La crisi d'identità
La morte della spiritualità
E' colpa mia

La decostruzione della civiltà
E' colpa mia

La colpa è mia (ve lo confesso)
E' per colpa mia (ve ne chiedo scusa)

La politica ammorbata di demagogia
La sconfitta della diplomazia
E' colpa mia

Se la nazionale di calcio s'è fatta eliminare
Perché giocava con troppa emozione
E' colpa mia

Se Bin Laden è sfuggito alla cattura
E il prezzo della benzina va alle stelle
E' colpa mia

Se vi siete stufati di sentire tante promesse
E' colpa mia

E' colpa mia (Signori e Signore, ve ne chiedo scusa)
E' colpa mia (Me ne vergogno proprio tanto)
E' colpa mia

Se le vittime finiscono in galera
e i criminali girano a piede libero
E' colpa mia

Se tutti questi segreti sono di pubblico dominio
E' colpa mia

Dio non volesse, se un giorno non ci fossi più
Allora che succederà?

Sarà sempre colpa mia anche quando non ci sarò più?
Non c'è altra via

La colpa è mia
La colpa è mia

(Il traffico) (l'inquinamento) (i disastri aerei) (il tasso d'inflazione)

Mi dispiace tanto non so proprio a chi chiedere scusa.


More about the show-trials here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Saturday, July 18, 2009


Images from 2009 Iranian Election protests set to classic Iranian folk-song "Yare Dabestani", subtitled in English. Warning: graphic images.


I've been following the dramatic events in Iran since June 11th on the "StrategyTalk" thread Elections in Iran

For up-to-the-minute news on the protests in Iran, check out the Iranian blog "Revolutionary Road"

Friday, March 06, 2009

(If the video gets stuck when loading on the page, switch to "full screen" viewing mode by clicking on the second icon from the right at the bottom of the screen - that fixes the problem!)

Samouni Street, Gaza

Samouni Street is the scene of one of the most notorious incidents in the recent conflict in Gaza.
Palestinian human rights workers say 29 members of the extended Samouni family died, virtually all in an Israeli tank or air strike on a house where about 100 people were gathered.

The corpses and dead animals have been removed, but six weeks after the ceasefires, those left living are only beginning to grasp the extent of their losses.

Ahmed Samouni, 16, was trapped for four days with the bodies of his three brothers, mother and several other relatives. He and three children with him were found barely conscious.

Ahmed now lives nearby. He was passing the site where his brothers died, as well as his own destroyed home, after buying bread.

"Nobody Left"

"I used to sleep here. That was my brother’s bedroom."
"I feel I have nobody left from my family. I feel nothing is left for me in this life," he says.



* 1455 Gazans killed

* 5350 Gazans injured


* 14,000 homes

* 219 factories

* 240 schools

(UNDP estimates)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Palestinian man walks past a chicken farm destroyed during Israeli strikes in Gaza City on January 18, 2009.

Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farms

Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion.

According to the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.

Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme's country director, said: "We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north - where the farming was most intensive - may not be exploitable again. It looks to me like a disaster. It is not just farmland, but poultry as well. (...)


Posted with bated breath:

Report: Hamas agrees to year-long Gaza truce from Thursday

Hamas has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a year-long truce with Israel in Gaza starting on Thursday, Al-Arabiya TV Sunday quoted sources in the Islamist militant group as saying.(...)

According to the report, Hamas has agreed to the deployment along Gaza's border crossings of forces under the control of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the rival Fatah movement.

The deal stipulates that the PA forces will coordinate their activities with Hamas.(...)

Israel, according to the report, has agreed not to interfere in the running of the Egypt-Gaza border crossing.

'Cause as US military intel expert Pat Lang says:
Having failed in this latest attempt to intimidate the Palestinians, what is left for the Israelis to try? More firepower? More dead kids for the world to contemplate? Maybe napalm this time? How about mass expulsions? Creating new "facts on the ground?" ...

A truce? Did I see that magic word in the article? Could it be? ...

What'll it be, mass expulsions, extermination, or a truce?

Meanwhile, occasional Gazan rockets still continue to spatter Israel and occasional Israeli bombs continue to destroy properties in Gaza in retaliation and both sides continue to take occasional close-range potshots at each other across the border, but thankfully no serious casualties reported on either side in the last few days - and despite Olmert's threats of "disproportionate retaliation" against Gaza i.e. more-warcrimes-by-definition if the Gazan rocket-firing continues, there's an official Israeli statement in Haaretz saying Hamas itself isn't considered responsible for the latest spate of qassams:

Israeli MI Chief: Hamas upholding cease-fire, but smaller Gaza groups undeterred

Here's hoping, here's praying: after so many horrors, so many betrayals, so many disappointments, so many atrocities - may Gaza's terrible ordeal soon be ended!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gaza in Ruins

A News Special by Al-Jazeera

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"We Will Not Go Down" (Song for Gaza) by Michael Heart

Visit Michael Heart's website to download this song in Mp3 format - with this message from its author:

I would like to request that after downloading the song from this page, you kindly donate directly to a charity or an organization dedicated to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. Worthy of note is UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which has been helping Palestinian refugees since their dispossession in 1949. Please click here to donate through them: http://www.un.org/unrwa/

Which speaks for me as well: please donate to UNRWA, the people of Gaza urgently need all the help they can get!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It is to you I speak, antipodal men,

I speak man to man,

with the little in me of man that remains,

with the scrap of voice left in my throat,

my blood lies upon the roads, let it not, let it

not cry out for vengeance!

The death-note is sounded, the beasts hunted down,

let me speak to you with these very words

that have been our share-

few intelligible ones remain.

A day will come, surely, of thirst appeased,

we will be beyond memory, death

will have finished the works of hate,

I will be a clump of nettles beneath your feet,

-ah, then, know that I had a face

like you. A mouth that prayed, like you.

When a bit of dust, or a dream,

entered my eye, this eye shed its drop of salt. And when

a cruel thorn raked my skin

the blood flowed red as your own!


A day will come, no doubt, when this poem

will find itself before your eyes. It asks

nothing! Forget it, forget it! It is nothing

but a scream, that cannot fit in a perfect

poem. Have I even time to finish it?

But when you trample on this bunch of nettles

that had been me, in another century,

in a history that you will have canceled,

remember only that I was innocent

and that, like all of you, mortals of this day,

I had, I too had a face marked

by rage, by pity and joy,

an ordinary human face!

(Benjamin Fondane)


BBC: evidence that Israeli forces have been deliberately "turkey-shooting" fleeing Gazan civilians

"The Israeli army was saying: 'This is the Israeli Defence Forces, we are asking all the people to leave their homes and go to the school. Ladies first, then men.'

"We decided to send the women first, two by two," he said.

First to step outside was the wife of his cousin, Rawhiya al-Najar, 48.

"The army was about 15 metres (50 feet) away from the house or less. They shot her in the head," he said.

The woman's daughter was shot in the thigh but crawled back inside the house, he said.

For several hours, the family telephoned the Red Crescent, human rights organisations and Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah in the hope of co-ordinating safe passage to evacuate people injured in the earlier shelling, Mr Najar said.

Several hours later, no help had arrived.

"We decided that's it, we're going to die, we are [going] to run and all die at once," he said.

"When we did that they started shooting with heavy ammunition from a machine gun on top of a tank," he said.

All the adults carried white flags, he said, adding that he was still grasping a piece of white cloth as he spoke over the telephone a day later.

"They told us you all have to go to the centre of the town, where the school is.

"We put the women first, and we put our children on our shoulders, with white bandanas on their heads.

"When we were walking, with the women first, they saw soldiers and they started to shout to them, to tell them 'we have children, we have children'. They started to shoot us. My aunt was killed with a bullet in her head."

... the ICRC said it found four small children who had waited with their dead mothers, apparently with no food or water, for four days last week.

Mr Shtewi said 17 children - aged between six weeks and 15 years, and six women, were in the house in the west of the neighbourhood.

"We have tried to leave the house during the three-hour humanitarian ceasefire, but we got shot at," he said.

See also B'Tselem reports


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gaza is burning - the world is silent...

"They know no limits now"

Canadian human rights advocate Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 3 January 2009:
It's a new year, a new Nakba, and an old scene; Israel is bombarding Gaza once again and the world is standing idly by, sitting on a fence very different from the electrified border fence encaging Gaza, or the separation wall dividing and ghettoizing the West Bank. The world sits on the fence, justifying Israel's massacre of a civilian population already dying from the siege.

We are four ambulances out tonight, versus two last night. The ambulances weave nimbly along blacked-out streets of a manufactured ghost town -- like the streets all over Gaza -- dodging fresh piles of rubble,

It's absolutely impossible, unbelievable, it's a massacre. "They know no limits now," the medics report. "They are going crazy."

We pass shells of houses, mosques, schools and shops, and see streams of panicked residents fleeing for their lives. Many more began to flee this morning after yet another night of bombardment on and around their houses. (...)Acrid smoke from the shelling poisons the air. The feeling of being utterly surrounded by war planes, tanks, bulldozers and warships increases as news comes of the latest attack around Gaza: an orphanage in Gaza City, near the Palestine Mosque, with whispers that the holy place is next, marking at least 10 mosques destroyed. The number of dead and injured from the attack on the Ibrahim al-Makadma Mosque today is 11 and 50 respectively, and rising.

The calls for help from the northwest region, and from 500 kilometers east of this ambulance station, must go unanswered. The medics must coordinate with Israel via the ICRC. A bitter irony; the occupier denies permission to leave, the occupier invades, the invader kills and injures, and -- beyond belief -- holds the power to grant permission to retrieve those that the invader has injured or killed.

My article ends in continued disbelief -- to the thuds of explosions and Apache blades; to the staccato of firing into the night; and to blasts hitting unknown targets with an unknown end.

Uri Avnery: The calculations behind Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza