January 7-9: Bringing the dead on donkey carts

Nour, evacuated from Zaytoun on Wednesday

Nour, evacuated from Zaytoun on Wednesday

I covered another ambulance shift Wednesday night, working with two guys who might turn out to be my favourites. S is a sweet EMT driver with good English, very helpful for me, with the ambition to have a baby born in his ambulance since so far he only knows the theory of the process. EB is a dad of three, with a wife who he insists doesn’t mind the idea of him having a second wife at some point. S is scathing about the concept of multiple wives.

EB is happy for me to work as his assistant so that’s pretty cool. I can actually be useful especially when a medic is outnumbered; Wed night at one point we took on four injured people after a rocket blast near Palestine square, all from the same family home. A little boy with a head wound, two adult men, one with a head wound and the other with a leg wound. A young woman who hadn’t any visible bleeding waited uncomplainingly til last, at which point we found that under her shirt, glass or shrapnel had entered deep beside her spine, so she got sent off for an x-ray on arrival to Al Shifa.

Young woman with shrapnel beside her spine on right

Young woman with shrapnel beside her spine on right

I’d heard word that Hassan was here in Al Quds, but by the time I got here he’d been sent home, which was encouraging in terms of his wound, and certainly good for his family who hadn’t seen him since the strikes began I think. I’ve since glimpsed the footage A took of his shooting, presented on AlJazeerah, so at least it’s got that far, and I had reports of it being on New York TV.

Dr Halid’s house in Khan Younis was destroyed yesterday. So was EB’s. So was Dr Basher’s, and his next door neighbour’s. He showed me the usual photos of rubble, his personal rubble. Three more homeless families taken in by relatives, whose houses also may be under threat. Is anyone’s home going to be left standing?

Young boy evacuated from Zaytoun, eye and arm injuries

Young boy evacuated from Zaytoun, eye and arm injuries

Wednesday was the first day when there was a truce from 1pm til 4pm. In that time, the Red Cross successfully negotiated for themselves and Red Crescent medics to enter Zaytoun, one of the places where calls for help have not been allowed to be responded to. My medic friends described walking for about 4 km, using donkey carts to bring out the few dead and injured they could; they only had time to reach four houses. At times they were shot at by the army despite the advance arrangements.

The house of the Samouni family was one of the houses they reached. A medic told me that two days before, there had been a call from this house to the Red Crescent, saying that 25 women and children were there, with about 5 shaheed after shelling attacks. But on Wednesday when the house was reached, almost all were dead, survivors included one 11 year old boy with a leg injury. What shocked the medic I spoke to was that the majority appeared to have been killed by close range shooting – it seemed an execution had taken place. I have not been able to find out further clear details on this, and in fact there are various confusing versions of this story, speaking of seven families and 100 people in fact being in multiple houses together that were shelled. Ramattan journalists are going to interview a survivor in the hospital this afternoon so it may become clearer.

At other locations children without food or water were found besides dead parents. Some of the injured people brought out are above us here in the Al Quds hospital. I met baby Nour, tucked in a bed with her mother, and another woman with them whose child had been killed.

Following this I obtained permission to go on Thursday’s Red Cross/Red Crescent evacuation back to Zaytoun again during the hours of ceasefire. My impression was they were glad of a second woman and another international. The team was made up of three Red Cross folks and about ten Red Crescent medics. A similar RC evacuation team in another location during ceasefire was fired upon, with one Red Cross worker injured. I am going again today, Friday with the team from Al Quds. I will try to write a description of this process shortly.

We understand also that UN food deliveries were fired upon and one or two UN people were killed. My access to the net is so little that you will be able to find out more accurate reports on these sort of events (ie involving international agencies) with your own searching.

Last night for the first time I went back to my flat with the aim of getting a night’s sleep, having not had more than 2 hours in a row in any 24 since this whole thing started. I wish I hadn’t! Being away from Palestinian or international friends was hard, but being woken 2 hours into my longed for sleep by the sound of shooting outside the house had me in complete confusion, since it wasn’t coming from a hovering Apache.

Since on the evacuation today I finally saw Israeli tanks and soldiers and realised how close their lines are, my sleepy mind immediately decided they’d somehow reached the port area. The drone planes were also going crazy, normally they mainly sound sinister but monotonous, now they sounded like a bunch of very mad hornets, swooping about manically.

I started to think about what to grab for an escape back to my friends, but a little while later I got onto V and he explained that the drone planes have started shooting, something at least us foreigners had no idea they could do. Rockets, yes, shooting, no. Last night apparently for the first time they began shooting at anyone on the street. I shelved my escape plans, but then the hornets started swooping nearing to me and the rockets were rocking the building. So I jumped up, packed a bag for if the building fell apart, got dressed, moved my mattress the furthest I could from outside walls, and then miraculously managed to go back to sleep.

When I visited the Kabariti family yesterday, M told me that the girls are asking him how much it hurts to get injured, and what happens if they die. They are seeing so many pictures of children like themselves wrapped in body bags. He has explained that God sends you into unconciousness if you are hurt, so you don’t feel the pain.

11am: I have just heard that the evacuation for today has been called off, I am unclear whether Israel won’t agree to co-ordination or if the RC, like UNWRA, have frozen their operations after being under attack yesterday. So this means more time to wait, for the people trapped in no-man’s-land.

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9 Responses to January 7-9: Bringing the dead on donkey carts

  1. Elita says:

    pls look out for yourself and the people of gaza. our prayers are with you always.. stay safe. Insya Allah.

    love, from singapore

  2. Bill Dienst says:

    Thinking about you and Gaza every day. I am sending your blog site to all my friends so they can get accurate news about what is really going on.

    Best Wishes,


  3. pamela says:

    Glad to see youre safe , we had huge demonstrations here in Damascus , yesterday it was downtown and it was the Palestinian camps today , we are hearing about the house of horrors in Zeitoun, even the BBC are talking about it . I was hoping the ceasefire would take hold but its not happened. Please tell the people we are praying for them , I know they must think the world doesn,t care , but the ordinary people do care and very deeply …God bless and keep you all safe , you and the Gazans . Pamela

  4. Linda J says:

    Hello. We have had something almost every day here in Seattle to protest this monstrous action by Israel. The gov’t here on the U.S. is corrupt, but the people will see the truth.

    Tomorrow a demo. We will be thinking of you all. Hopefully, the insanity will stop soon.

  5. RM says:

    Horrific! Stay safe & try to keep records of what is happening. Later, when governments try to lie & cover up what happened there will be a need of witnesses. Good luck – I admire your courage.

  6. pamela says:

    The ISM website is being upgraded, thats why we can,t access it , watch out for the huge domos in London starting at 12 , 30 from hyde Park then going on to the Israeli embassy , lots of good speakers at both venues, people have been told to bring old shoes with them ….wonder why???

  7. Silwadi says:

    First off I would like to thank you for standing with my people through these difficult times. I have passed your messages to all that I know. My Allah protect you and all of Gaza. There is a big counter protest tomorrow here in Denver, CO. We are planning to be out there to make our voice heard. Again thank you for your Stand with the Palestinian people.

  8. webby says:

    prayers to you& all the poor souls of palestine be safe & with gods will this diabolical action will soon be at an end.god be with you

  9. pietro says:



    azione penale e di risarcimento danni

    Credo che i superstiti di tutte le famiglie palestinesi che sono state gravemente offese con la morte di propri membri e con la distruzione di propri beni da un mese di intensi bombardamenti e cannoneggiamenti dovrebbero citare in giudizio lo Stato di Israele per chiedere l’individuazione e la punizione di responsabili dei crimini e adeguati risarcimenti danni che non possono essere accollati alla comunità internazionale saltando le responsabilità dirette dello Stato Ebraico. Anche le organizzazioni internazionali colpite dai bombardamenti e dagli attacchi mirati come l’Onu, la CRI e le ONG danneggiate dovrebbero costituirsi in giudizio.
    Suggerisco la costituzione di un Consiglio di Giuristi e di avvocati a livello internazionale per iniziare un’azione immediata. Chiedo impegno immediata alla Associazione Giuristi Democratici.
    Non c’è dubbio che Israele debba pagare non solo politicamente ma anche giudiziariamente i misfatti compiuti specialmente per quanto riguarda la soppressione delle vite dei bambini e l’uso di armi che renderanno inguaribili le ferite di quanti ne sono stati colpiti. Quanto ha fatto Israele in trenta giorni nella striscia di Gaza non può e non deve restare impunito anche in relazione alla prigionia forzata della popolazione ed alla chiusura di vie di fuga dalla morte.
    La città di Gaza ed il Governo Hamas della striscia dovrebbero intanto monitorare i danni subiti, periziarli, e chiedere immediato risarcimento.
    Pietro Ancona
    Associazione Umanitaria

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