January 15, 2008(Part One of a multi-part feature focusing separately
on the horrors endured in Gaza, and the West Bank.)
Weeping father carries child slaughtered by invading
Israeli military forces in a Gaza civilian village. Photo by Mohammed
al Zaanoun, Palestinian photojournalist armed only with a camera, July
The world's current political warlords lord themselves
over us while openly demonstrating they have no regard for our opinions,
our choices, our votes or our protests. They speak convincingly through
their propaganda media machines about "freedoms" when in fact,
liberty is their enemy and they are working hard in a futile attempt to
destroy it. They do not realize, however, that liberty belongs to us,
and it is not theirs to destroy. They speak of lawfulness, while swaggering
in utter defiance of all laws of civility. They speak of terrorists and
point fingers elsewhere, when they are the actual terrorists who have
murdered and displaced millions of civilians since 2001. They speak of
their humanitarian treatment of prisoners, when in fact they are consumed
and entertained by violence and torture that would put Ancient Rome to
shame. Nowhere are prisoners more shamefully treated than in the Gaza
Strip, and this treatment is being funded and made possible by US dollars.
The Gaza Strip is bordered on the south by the sands
and eternal mystique of Egypt, on the west by the beautiful Mediterranean
Sea, its inviting beaches a place where dreams of peaceful tourist resorts
once flourished, and on the east it is bordered by what used to be Palestine.
In 1948, Israel announced itself a state withinPalestine, and began systematically
forcing the Palestinians off their ancestral lands in order to build Jewish-only
For almost two years, the Israeli military forces have
completely surrounded Gaza. Israel has built tall, ugly walls around
the borders of Gaza, including the border between Gaza and Egypt. The
Israeli military forces patrol and attack the civilians of Gaza from
the air with US helicopters, F-16s, and with drones. Israeli/ US tanks
and bulldozers attack from the ground, storming through Gaza villages
and refugee camps, destroying homes and killing more Palestinian victims.
Israeli gunboats sit poised in the once peaceful waters off Gaza's shore,
intent upon shelling unarmed fishing boats and massacring families daring
to enjoy picnics on the beach. With all Gaza borders tightly closed,
and with no way out by land, sea or air, approximately 1.5 million Palestinians
are trapped in Gaza making it the largest and most inhumane prison on
In September of 2007, after sealing all of the borders,
Israel declared the civilian population imprisoned in the Gaza Strip a
"hostile entity," and as such justifiedIsrael's next plan to
block the delivery of all supplies including water, food, soap, paper,
textiles, fuels and electricity. At this moment the civilians trapped
within the closed borders of Gaza, most of them refugees, await their
fate at the hands of the Israeli military force. This is a military force
that is funded by the US, and it is a force from which the civilians cannot
now defend themselves, nor have they ever been able to defend themselves.
Palestinian man tries to carry a wounded friend after
invading Israeli military forces shelled villages in Gaza. July 2006 Photo
by Mohammed al Zaanoun, photojournalist armed only with a camera.
In speaking with photojournalists Mohammed al Zaanoun,
and Mohammed Omer via email yesterday, I asked if the people of Gaza had
access to clean water. The answer received from both was, "No."
"Dear Mary," Mohammed al Zaanoun wrote, "Gaza
has many problems now, such as the electricity was cut off, and they
[Israel] will not allow food and water to enter and many young are infected
and dying due to closure of crossings."
This is a photo of Mohammed al Zaanoun at his desk while
working for Ma'an News in 2006. This photo was taken before he photographed
the above Israeli massacre.
At this time, therefore, the 1.5 million people trapped
in Gaza have little or no access to clean water. Building supplies to
repair water pumps and homes that have been bombed, shelled and bulldozed
by Israeli forces are denied passage through the closed borders. Electricity
is denied. Free trade beyond the borders is blocked. Transfer of emergency
relief funds into Gaza is denied.
Cement is denied, leaving Gazans unable to even properly
bury those already murdered by Israeli forces. Soap is denied. Postal
service is denied. Bottled water is denied. Medications are denied.
The sick are denied access to medical care across the blocked borders,
as Mohammed pointed out. During the past three months, 70 of the desperately
ill and innocent waiting for "permission" from Israel to cross
the border for medical care have died. In 2007 alone, the Israeli forces
slaughtered 290 people outright in Gaza, including children (this does
not include those slaughtered in the West Bank). Now Israel is starving
the remaining 1.5 million in Gaza, while also denying them access to
clean water. (2)
One might wonder what the people of Gaza have done to
provoke such a barbaric demonstration of hatred, racial rage and collective
torture that is being displayed by the Israeli military forces.
While the published reason is that some Palestinians
in Gaza have fired homemade, primitive Qassam rockets towards an Israeli
settlement (while glossing over the fact that this settlement was built
on land stolen from the Palestinians), we now know that much of what is
promoted in the mainstream US news is far from the truth. A more careful
search reveals that Israeli Defense Minister, Yaakov Toran, is quoted
as saying, "we need to remember that Qassams are more a psychological
than physical threat.
Statistically they cause the fewest losses. . . "
Qassams, which were first fired into Israeli settlements
in 2002, are extremely inaccurate, short-range homemade rockets, and when
they are fired from Gaza, they are generally fired in the direction of
the Israeli settlement of Sderot. Sderot is located upon the ashes of
the Palestinian village of Nadj. According to Dr. Walid Khalidi, the
Palestinian inhabitants of Nadj were driven out when this village was
ethnically cleansed by Israeli settlers in 1948, the year Israel announced
its statehood. In Dr Khalidi's book, "All That Remains: The Palestinian
Villages Occupied and Depopulated By Israel in 1948," Najd is said
to be one of 418 ethnically cleansed villages. Not a trace of this peaceful
farming community remains, but in the ashes of this village and the other
417 racially cleansed villages, there is a hint of the true reason behind
the Israeli overkill, its frantic rage, and its racial violence against
the Palestinian refugees. (4)
According to international laws regarding the Right of
Return of refugees to their homes, the Palestinian refugees must be permitted
to return to their own ancestral lands or be compensated justly for what
was taken from them by Israel. The simple truth is that Israel, with
its ever-mutating Swiss cheese borders, cannot remain in existence if
this law is enforced. Israel cannot possibly give back all that it has
taken from the Palestinian refugees, because every Israeli settlement
that is dotting what was once the Holy Land, is built upon land stolen
from the Palestinians. Incredibly, the only "Right of Return"
law that Israel acknowledges, is the right of any Jewish person on earth
to "return" to a land where neither they nor their ancestors
have ever stepped foot, and call it home. (5) (6)
Therefore, one must ask a critical question. In order
to protect the scattered-around "state" of Israel and all of
its illegal settlements and rather than abiding by the international Right
of Return laws, are the Israeli forces instead attempting to destroy
as many Palestinian refugees as possible? One of the largest concentrations
of Palestinian refugees is now being held captive, starved, deprived of
water, bombarded daily, and slowly murdered through neglect and the withholding
of basic needs inGaza.
Bush recently visited Israel, at which time he was "thanked"
by Olmert for the $30 Billion package of US funds promised to Israel.
For those of us who are increasingly opposed to the activities
of the state of Israel (as well as the activities of the US war machine
abroad), this "gift package" is the equivalent of forcing all
Americans into aiding and abetting what now appears to be a true terrorist
state. Forcing Americans to support Zionist Israeli military and its
host of illegal terrorist activities is an abomination. Americans should
not have to helplessly watch as Zionist politicians in the US government
hand US money over to the brutal, racist state favored by all Zionists.
This is especially egregious because numerous US politicians have dual
citizenships in both the US and Israel and enjoy frequent lavish trips
and vacations to "Israel," the land forcefully taken away from
the Palestinians. No one can support the state of Israel while also
upholding his or her oath of office to support and uphold the US Constitution.
This Christmas was bleak in Gaza. There were no winter
clothes or toys to buy, and almost no money with which to buy goods.
There were few sweet treats for the children. There was little food.
There was little medicine. There is no clean water.
But, there was something else that remains in abundance, something that
has never been taken away from the Palestinians. It is something that
one can see well in the Palestinians if one takes a moment to look.
It is something that continues to leave me in awe as well as with a profoundly
The Palestinians have been patiently asking the world
for help in ending the Israeli occupation of their homes and lands for
60 years now. Despite the fact that little help has been given to them
and they remain refugees without human rights in their own land, there
is something about them. Even after 60 years, they have not been broken
in spirit. They have remained steadfast, patient, and still somehow in
possession of a sense of humor that allows a ready smile, but they are
also not ashamed of weeping when their hearts are broken. They have never
given up, and they are determined to live in peace again on their ancestral
lands - but there is something even more: They are filled with grace.
Blocked from selling even their beautiful flowers abroad by the inhumane
US and Israeli border closures, poverty stricken, jobless through no fault
of their own and possessing almost nothing now, they gave each other
those flowers for Christmas. (8)
Christmas in Gaza was also bleak for my friend, Mohammed
al Zaanoun, although to date I have never heard him complain about his
own situation even when I have asked him about it. With the typical
grace shown by many Palestinians, he does not focus attention upon himself
or his own suffering. With rare and brief exception, I have only heard
him speak on behalf of others whose suffering he has witnessed and photographed.
I, however, am aware of his personal suffering.
This photo, below, is one taken of Mohammed as he lay
fighting for his life after he dared to photograph the above Israeli carnage
in 2006. That was carnage the Israelis did not want the world seeing,
and so they stopped the unarmed cameraman with typical Israeli force.
As Mohammed photographed and documented the July 2006
Israeli military attack on Gaza civilians as shown in the opening photos
of this article, he was struck by Israeli fire first in the face and
hand, but he continued photographing. He was then targeted and gunned
down by an Israeli shell fired directly into his abdomen.
Upon impact, the shell fragmented into over 100 pieces
inside him. Mohammed fell to the ground and as rescue workers ran to help
him, he told them to save his camera.
"There are photos in the camera that bear witness
to the truth," he said. "They will help awaken the world,"
They helped awaken me.
mary sparrowdancer is an independent journalist and author
of a bestselling book about the return of the Messiah, "The Love
Song." www.sparrowdancer.com Please feel free to copy this article
about Gaza and send it to anyone in need of an awakening.
Mary is committed to helping Mohammed receive the reconstructive
surgeries that he still desperately requires. If you would like to help,
contributions for Mohammed can be sent via paypal to her email email@example.com
- or her mailing address in care of Tenth Moon Press, 529 East Jennings
Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Please earmark them "For Mohammed."
Mary wishes to thank Congressional Candidate Mark Yannone, (AZ, Congressional
District 3) for his input regarding oaths of office, and his brief, one-word
comment suggesting that I include the photos in this article. He said,
after looking at them, "Jesus."
1.Gaza map. (1/14/2008)
2. 2007 Statistics. (1/14/2008)
3. Yaakov Toran talks about qassams. (1/14/2008)
4. Najd. (1/14/2008)
5. UN Human Rights Resolution 194. (1/14/2008)
6. International laws. (1/14/2008)
7. Thanks for the $30 Billion (1/13/2008
8. Flowers for Christmas (1/13/2008)