Tragedies and names

You only have to look through the casualty lists at B’Tselem to see that in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, a tragedy equal to Rachel Corrie’s death happens every week, in bad times every day.

Maamun Muhammad Zuhdi a-Dam: 12 year-old resident of Gaza city, killed on 20.06.2012 in Gaza city, by a missile fired from a Aircraft. Did not participate in hostilities. Additional information: Killed when hit by a missile as he played near his parents on agricultural land belonging to them east of a-Zeitun in Gaza City.

On 5th February this year I wrote about Khirbet al-Tawil – one of the Palestinian villages on the West Bank that is scheduled to be destroyed because Israeli settlers are to have their land and their water.

This is not unusual. Roads and settlements which can only be used by Israel citizens are being built all over the West Bank.

The West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been the “Occupied Territories” for 45 years – for the majority of the time that Israel has existed as a state. If they are part of Israel, then Israel is an apartheid state.

If they are not part of Israel, Israel is guilty of breaking the fourth Geneva Convention:

The position that the 4th Geneva Convention does apply to the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights is supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN bodies, and the International Court of Justice.

Israel is a party to the Geneva Conventions, and bound by its obligations.

But its government argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place.

Children have been killed on either side – far more Palestinian children killed than Israelis, children or adults. The goal of the Israeli state appears to be, by its actions, to try to drive the Palestinians out of their land – to be able to claim the “Occupied Territories” as part of Israel once the Palestinian population is so diminished.

Omar Musa ‘Odeh Abu Hamad: 15 year-old resident of Rafah, killed on 02.12.2008 in Rafah, by a missile fired from a helicopter. Did not participate in hostilities when killed. Additional information: He was killed when sitting with friends during an incursion. Apparently, ten minutes earlier, armed Palestinians had fired, from the area of his house, mortar shells at army tanks.

No UN resolution can be agreed against Israel when the US routinely vetos any attempt by the Security Council to make such a resolution.

Hadil ‘Abd al-Karim Suliman a-Samayri: 6 year-old resident of al-Qarara, Rafah district, killed on 11.06.2008 in al-Qarara, Rafah district, by a shell fired from a tank. Did not participate in hostilities when killed. Additional information: Killed while standing with her father at the entrance to her house. About 1.5 kilometers away, there was an exchange of gunfire between Palestinians and soldiers.

Rachel Corrie’s death under a military bulldozer, bought from the US with the military aid money given by the US, was ruled an accident by an IDF tribunal investigating itself in 2003, and has now been ruled an accident by the civil courts. She was killed in Rafah, in the Gaza strip, trying to prevent houses from being demolished. The IDF claim that the homes were hiding tunnels and armaments; but they were never able to show any evidence that this was true, and it appears likely that the goal was simply collective punishment.

Collective punishment is unlawful, but was widely practiced by Israel in the Occupied Territories:

On 17 February 2005, the minister of defense announced that the procedure would no longer be used. In the period between October 2001 (when Israel began once again to demolish homes as a means of punishment in the Occupied Territories, after four years in which it had not used this measure) and the end of January 2005, Israel demolished 664 houses as punishment.

Greg Schnabel, US citizen, who was in Rafah to work with the International Solidarity Movement, and who witnessed Rachel Corrie’s death, said:

As the bulldozer approached she stood her ground. Rachel was wearing an orange fluorescent jacket. She was clearly visible to the bulldozer driver as well as to the soldiers in the tank. The bulldozer began to push up the ground from beneath her feet. The pile of earth was mounding up and she tried her best to stay on top of it. As the ground continued to move Rachel went down on her knees. The bulldozer continued to move forward. Rachel began to become buried beneath the dirt. Still it did not stop. Finally, Rachel was beneath the bulldozer. The bulldozer did not even pick up its blade. It ran over her completely and continued to advance. It stopped when she was completely underneath the body of the bulldozer. It then moved backwards over her body. It moved clear of her and backed away.

At this point I and my friends ran to her. She was obviously in terrible condition. Her upper lip had been split open and was bleeding. We called an ambulance immediately and continued to monitor her vital signs. She was breathing but she was losing consciousness rapidly. Within a minute she was no longer able to give us her name or speak. We continued to talk to her encouraging her, breathing with her, and telling her we loved her.

The ambulance staff came and took her to the hospital. Once there she died within twenty minutes or less.

Rachel Corrie was a hero, died a hero.

But there are so many other deaths.

“Gaza will no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling, the United Nations’ most comprehensive report on the Palestinian enclave said on Monday.” – Reuters

The UN report:

By 2020, electricity provision will need to double to meet demand, damage to the coastal aquifer will be irreversible without immediate remedial action, and hundreds of new schools and expanded health services will be needed for an overwhelmingly young population. Tens of thousands of housing units are needed today.

Gaza is an urban economy, heavily reliant on intensive trade, communication and movement of people. The area has been essentially isolated since 2005, meaning that, in the longer term, its economy is fundamentally unviable under present circumstances. Gaza is currently kept alive through external funding and the illegal tunnel economy.

The people of Gaza remain worse off than they were in the 1990s, despite increases in real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita over the past three years.

I just signed a petition asking TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services in the United States, to divest from the Israeli Occupation. Will you join me? You can sign here:

TIAA-CREF invests in companies such as, CATERPILLAR, which profits from the destruction of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of Palestinian orchards; and VEOLIA, which profits from the construction and expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

This has got to stop.

Please help me convince TIAA-CREF to do the right thing. Join me in signing this petition:


1 Comment

Filed under Human Rights, Poverty

One response to “Tragedies and names

  1. Pingback: Rachel Corrie Shall Never Be Forgotten. « Black Sheep Diary

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