Jan 4-5: Israel targets Jabalia medic’s ambulance, then his funeral

Women queue for bread separately and are served first

Women queue for bread separately and are served first

6pm: To Al Awda hospital, run by the Union of Health Work Committees. It normally has a 50 bed capacity but has been stretched to 75. E and Mo interview Ala’a, the medic from Jabalia RC who was injured when Arafa was killed yesterday.

The story goes as follows:

It was about 8.30 am Saturday morning in Jabalia. Five teenagers found themselves under shell attack and tried to get away. Three escaped. One, Tha’er, 19, had his foot blown off. His friend Ali, also 19, tried to pick him up and carry him to safety, but was shot in the head and killed. It took 75- 90 minutes before a Jabalia Red Crescent ambulance could reach them. Medic Arafa, 35, and Ala’a, 22, carried Tha’er to the ambulance, and then went back for Ali’s body. As they closed the van door, they were shelled.

Ala’a says “I felt nothing – just that I was flying in the air and then falling.” Other ambulances evacuated all. Arafa, who was married with 5 children, had a severe chest wound with most of one lung gone and only survived 2 hours. Ali’s head was blown off. Ala’a is now in hospital with severe shrapnel wounds all over, especially chest and legs. Tha’er survived but also now has several lacerations to back and body from shrapel.

Arafa was a teacher for the UN, gave medic training, and volunteered as a medic after being one professionally earlier.

7pm: We arrange to sleep in shifts at Al-Awda hospital. V and I crash. E, A and M hitch a ride with the first RC ambulance that turns up, out to Karmel Adwan hospital, the Red Crescent’s second new base since evacuating their centre. The base is a few blankets in a corridor, but there is tea sometimes.

11pm: E comes back to sleep, V and I ride with O’s ambulance to Karmel Adwan. O has a scarf wrapped round his knee, he was shot there some years ago and has pain in cold weather. I talking A and Mo into going to back to rest, but fail to convince EJ. The night turns out to be quiet. Unfortunately, I soon understand this is because a) a lot of Jabalia people have run away, and b) Israel is not letting the ambulances collected most of the wounded that do call for help.

2pm: we collect a woman in labour. Back at the hospital, I chat to Om, who is a nurse but volunteers at the Al-Assyria Centre that the Union of Health Work Committees runs. Also to M, in a hospital bed. He is 23, six months married, and made the mistake of standing next to the Jabalia mosque that was bombed two days ago. He is now recovering from abdominal surgery.

Everyone has naps in the ambulances. EJ and I are being called hourly by the BBC to contribute to news bulletins, “live from Gaza”.

5am: we hear that there has been a threat to bomb Al Wafa hospital which I understand is a centre for the disabled.

7.15am: we collect a man seriously injured by rocket explosion from a house in Sikha St, Jabalia; I doubt he has more than minutes to live, but he is still alive when we reach the hospital.

9am: we collect a woman whose home has just been shelled, she is having a panic attack and I am not clear on her injuries. Back at the hospital people are loudly grieving for two recent dead. These may be the nearly dead man my ambulance collected and another I saw arrive, both horribly mangled by rockets and the now-familiar grey colour.

Injured woman having panic attack

Injured woman having panic attack

9.30: we hear that Beit Hanoun is almost completely occupied by the Israeli army, as is the nearby small town Zahra which commands the north/south road. The north (us) and the south (F, G, and OJ in Rafah) may now be cut off from each other. We check in by phone, making contingency plans.

10am: Mo’s sister calls to tell him his village of Khosa is being shelled; the farmland in the centre which is surrounded by housing. “There’s nothing there, just people’s homes.” he tells us. He says there are now Israeli tanks in the Attatta and Shaimah areas of Beit Lahia. This is 1km inside the border, and 2km away from us at Jabalia. He says tank invasions used to take main roads, but he expects this time they will do what they did in February; bring in bulldozers and go directly through the houses.

He tells us that today Palestinian phones are receiving recorded messages from the army, saying “To the innocent civilians: our war is not with you, but with Hamas. If they don’t stop launching rockets, you are all going to be in danger.”

11.50 Call to near Gaza beach, turns out to be a mistake. Instead we pick up a family with two little children who are evacuating, sat on the side of the road, worn out from carrying bags. We passed Beit Lahia UNRWA school earlier, it is filling up with refugee families. Like Naher El Bared all over again.

N draws my attention to one more extremely crowded bread queue, and then we discover a young teenage boy in the queue has collapsed from exhaustion; the medics treat him to the extent they can.

Boy in break queue collapses

Boy in break queue collapses

4pm: F calls to say they’ve heard Al Awda hospital has been shelled. I ring EJ. She says a structure immediately beside it received two shells; one person was injured, the man who lent her his jacket last night. He has shrapnel to the head and she says he isn’t looking too good. A apparently caught the shelling on his camera. We wonder if we should head back there to be again with Jabalia RC instead of Gaza city RC.


There have been two separate reports about Israeli attacks on funeral tents. We are trying to confirm deaths and injuries for one. The second of the funerals attacked was medic Arafa’s yesterday afternoon; there is confusion about how many injured and dead.

Feb 20 Note: It is now confirmed that the attack on Arafa’s funeral killed 5 and injured about 40.

We have also had reports that in the Zaytoun area two days ago, Israeli soldiers rounded up an extended family into one house, possibly as many as 100. Then this morning at 11am Israeli forces shelled the house. We have heard the number of deaths as between 7 and 20. One was a seven year old boy whose father was interviewed on TV while holding his body. We are trying to find out further details. It is getting very hard to keep up with this insanity.

Feb 20 Note: This is the first reference to the now infamous story of the Samouni house.

We asked the Jabalia Red Crescent admin person how much of the emergency calls Israel is not letting them go to. These are in areas where co-ordination must be made with the invading forces via the Red Cross to enter. He said they are not being allowed to attend to about 80% of the calls from the north, covering the Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and Jabalia area.

Shall I repeat that?
Eight of ten people calling for help are being prevented from receiving it.

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14 Responses to Jan 4-5: Israel targets Jabalia medic’s ambulance, then his funeral

  1. I cannot believe what I am reading …… this waring attitude from both sides must stop…. we must pray and will that the message of peace and cease fire over powers the waring factions of these communities. To the soldiers……Stop wounding & killing innocent people now…….and allow aid to be administered properly. STOP, STOP, STOP

  2. Gary says:

    The people of the world are with you in Gaza. Here in London we have been demonstrating at the Israeli embassy everyday and have a big national demo on Saturday at which we hope to break police lines to attack the embassy of the mass murders. Everyone is boiling with anger. To hell with the Arab governments that have collaborated with zionists.

  3. Jose says:

    As no press are allowed into Gaza, you are doing a great job of getting news out

  4. pamela says:

    Again God bless you and keep you safe…as far as I can make out you are in the North , please keep safe. May your friend Arafa rest in peace a true hero . Keep on taking pictures , I,ve noticed that the BBC are starting to show the carnage as Al Jareerah has been doing since the beginning. The lies the Israelis and Egyptians are coming out with are brazen .
    I remember you everytime I make a cuppa and hope you get one too …

  5. Jane Jewell says:

    This makes very grim reading.
    You are doing an incredible job.
    Thank you for your dedication.
    Please look after yourself as well as the Gazans.

  6. livan_war says:

    Assalam alaykum!

    We posted it in our community.


    Wellcome to LiveJournal world, net wants your information

    InshaALLAH we stop the genocide of muslims

  7. jb says:

    In the past it was alright to kill Jews. No more. We have learned. If you fire rockets at us indiscriminately. we will fight back. The casualties are the responsibility of the aggressor, Hamas. Hamas has sworn to annihilate Israel, but they will not. We are awake now and we understand. We do not depend on your good wishes, if there are any, but our own armed might.

  8. Lindy says:

    You are very brave, and doing an important job very well. I hope the Palestinian people know that many people in the rest of the world, seeing what is going on, are horrified and support them, but feel helpless. I hope you keep safe.

  9. Rasha says:

    May Allah keep you safe to keep doing this great job and to keep posting to helpless people like us. Tell us if there is anything at all we could do from the UK. My brain is tired of thinking of what to do and can’t think of anything but participating in the demonstrations.

    Anything we can do????

  10. Jill Turner says:

    Thank you for posting when you can. I have put this on our website.
    I was told that hardship never lasts on anyone for ever.
    Please God I hope your’s is over soon and peace will be with you.

  11. I keep you all in my prayers.

  12. Dylis Pugh says:

    I am awed by your bravery. My heart goes out to everyone on both sides of the conflict, and I really hope you can find a way to pull back from violence and begin to talk. It takes huge courage and humility to talk, and to see the other side as human too. Violence only leads to more destruction, more pain, more anger and so more violence: no one wins.
    I wish you peace and send you love.

  13. samirmortada says:

    Victoire aux palestiniens,grâce a leur volonté de vivre avec dignité même sans armes de destruction massive qu’utilise contre eux Israël avec la complicité de plusieurs pays mondiaux et a leur tête l’USA qui ne condamnent pas ses crimes contre l’humanité. Dieu est avec vous tres chere PALESTINE.

  14. vagelis7 says:


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