During its 23-day offensive against the Palestinians living in Gaza (Dec. 08- Jan. 09), Israeli officials kept most mainstream media out of the Strip. Must be easier to “cleanse” the neighborhoods and commit war crimes without the professional journalists and cameramen looking over your shoulder.
Bloggers inside the Gaza Strip (aka “open air prison”) tried to share what was happening with the rest of the world, such as this account of the first day by Eva Bartlett.
Eva was born in Michigan, moved to Canada as a young child, and after earning a liberal arts degree, traveled widely teaching English along the way. She arrived in Gaza on a boat to break the Israeli siege just a month before Operation Cast Lead. Eva documented the first day of the assault with terrifying clarity. Read it here.
UPDATED [12:00 pm Gaza time] 285 have been killed and over 750 wounded in attacks beginning Saturday morning after 11 am, in which over 100 bombs were dropped by 80 helicopters and Israeli warplanes, according to the Union of Medical Health Workers. Hospitals are overflowing with the wounded, and seriously incapable of dealing with all of the injured.
[Back at the Jabaliya house ]At 4:25 am, a deafening and house-shaking explosion erupts, sending the children into renewed cries of fear. They’ve slept little this night, and are already scarred by this trauma. A new Israeli F-16′s missile has landed 30 metres away, across the street on the neighbour, Abu Reia’s, land. Fatema tells us that Abu Reia lives in Ramallah, the house property is enclosed and secured by a wall and a gate. There is no way resistance fighters are within, no rockets being fired from there (expecting the accusation by Israeli authorities), they tell me. Morning light two hours later reveals a crater similar to what Hussein described: 8-10 metres wide and deep. The hole gapes among an otherwise serene grouping of olive trees.
The New York Times reported that President Bush blamed Hamas for the violence and demanded that Hamas stop firing rockets. The NY Times conceded:
Still, there was a shocking quality to Saturday’s attacks, which began in broad daylight as police cadets were graduating, women were shopping at the outdoor market, and children were emerging from school.
The center of Gaza City was a scene of chaotic horror, with rubble everywhere, sirens wailing, and women shrieking as dozens of mutilated bodies were laid out on the pavement and in the lobby of Shifa Hospital so that family members could identify them. The dead included civilians, including several construction workers and at least two children in school uniforms.
By afternoon, shops were shuttered, funerals began and mourning tents were visible on nearly every major street of this densely populated city.
Now for true confessions!
I don’t recall reading any news coverage about Operation Cast Lead or seeing it on the television when Israel struck Gaza on December 27, 2008. I was one of millions of Americans who was oblivious to the carnage that my nation’s “best friend” in the Middle East was wreaking upon the Palestinians in Gaza.