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Israelis fire on Palestinian women

Gaza military siege ‘made in USA’

Published Nov 9, 2006 8:09 PM

Tel Aviv is carrying out a massacre in the Gaza Strip and there’s not a peep of protest from Democrats or Republicans in Washington—not even after Israeli troops opened fire on unarmed Palestinian women demonstrators.

Shrapnel taken from the bodies of Palestinians
killed in recent Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip.
Imprint reads: "Made in USA."

Operation “Autumn Cloud”—the Israeli offensive against the population in the Gaza Strip—began on Nov. 1. Within six days, some 57 Palestinian women, men and children had been killed and hundreds more wounded. Metal shrapnel dug out of their bodies was stamped “Made in USA.”

The siege began on Nov. 1 as convoys of Israeli tanks and other armored vehicles rolled into the town of Beit Hanoun, tearing up the asphalt streets and crushing cars; 24 tanks cordoned off the local hospital alone.

Ground forces took over the farming community, backed up by helicopter gunships and warplanes. All Palestinian males ages 16 to 45 were rounded up in the town square and the agricultural building, hundreds loaded onto trucks and driven away for interrogation—some later released, others detained indefinitely.

The military cut off Palestinian radio broadcasts, ordering the population of 30,000 to stay in their homes. Troops went from house to house, breaking down and exploding walls to enter.

The bloodletting began immediately. By Nov. 3, at least 20 Palestinians had been killed.

A man who identified himself as Mahmoud stressed, “The situation is very, very bad. The Israelis have destroyed Beit Hanoun—they have destroyed the infrastructure. They’ve cut the water pipes and the telephone lines. They put explosives at the doors of the houses—and then they enter on the women and children.”

Edible food and potable water quickly ran out as the military cordoned off the town, blockading its entrances with sand barricades. Diab al-Bassioni, in his 70s, was cut down by a military sniper when he stepped outside to get water, his neighbors told reporters.

Essential medications and medical supplies ran short as casualties mounted. Paramedics who came to the aid of the wounded were themselves killed and wounded.

The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees called for world support to “End Gaza Carnage.” The group charged that Gaza’s health system was at “the breaking point” and that the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including children, “represent a form of reprisals and collective punishment in violation of article 33 of Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Two protests reportedly erupted in the first two days, during which demonstrators were said to have fired on the invading forces.

As a result, the army lowered its street profile, pulling back troop patrols. However, Israeli snipers positioned themselves on town rooftops, shooting anyone who dared to leave their home. Canadian television reported that armored tanks locked down the streets and air strikes sent missiles hurtling into neighborhoods. (CTV.ca, Nov. 3)

‘Women lead protest to break the siege’

At dawn on Nov. 3, Israeli troops had surrounded the Al Nasir Mosque in which scores of Palestinian men were barricaded for safety. The military had for 19 hours fired tear gas, smoke bombs and stun grenades to drive the men out. The Army had bulldozed the outer wall of the mosque, collapsing the roof.

As word of the standoff traveled over telephone lines, the local Hamas radio station, Al Aqsa, broadcast an appeal at daybreak for women to come to the mosque. Hundreds of Palestinian women left their homes and walked a mile or more to the Israeli military confrontation. Vastly outnumbering the infantry, they surrounded the mosque.

Israeli soldiers opened fire on the unarmed women. The army later claimed to have film showing that its troops were firing at men hiding among the women, who it said were being used as human shields by gunmen. Of course, Tel Aviv claimed that all 57 people killed by its troops in the town—which included a four-year-old child—were “gunmen.” Reuters aired film of the first shots being fired; no men were visible in that footage.

Troops killed two Palestinian demonstrators—both 40-year-old women—and wounded at least 10 more.

The women, however, were successful in helping the Palestinian men escape the troops.

Tahrir Shahin, a 36-year-old with seven children, walked for an hour with her sister at dawn to the mosque. Troops shot her in the leg, which later had to be amputated above the knee. She stated from her hospital bed that she had no regrets about her decision to mobilize. “I was so upset about what was happening, so I answered their call.”

The women were hailed as heroes. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh “saluted the women of Palestine ... who led the protest to break the siege of Beit Hanoun.”

Later that day, some 1,000 women marched to the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Gaza City to condemn Israel and call on Egypt to intervene.

Loudspeakers throughout the Gaza Strip rallied people to come out after Friday prayers in solidarity with Beit Hanoun. Tens of thousands of Palestinians from across the political spectrum filled the streets of the coastal area.

A young Palestinian woman, Mervat Masaoud, detonated her body near Israeli troops in Beit Hanoun on Nov. 6, injuring at least one soldier.

U.S.-Israel: Stop the massacre!

Israeli troops pulled out of Beit Hanoun on the morning of Nov. 7. Thousands of Palestinians marched in funeral processions through the town, some firing weapons, to mourn and honor the dead.

The Israeli military had bulldozed cultivated land and orchards, uprooting the lemon and orange groves that are the livelihood of the farming community. The town’s mayor said 40 homes were demolished and 400 damaged. Utility poles were toppled, water pipes wrecked, telephone and electricity wires downed, tombstones unearthed.

Troops and tanks took up positions outside the town and also redeployed to three other areas in the northern Gaza Strip, including the Jabaliya refugee camp and Beit Lahia.

The evening before, an Israeli air strike on the refugee camp had wounded at least seven civilians, including six children.

Within hours after the redeployment on Nov. 7, the Israeli military had already killed eight more Palestinians.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian Authority Chairperson Mahmoud Abbas denounced the bloody Israeli offensive as “acts of massacre.”

Since Tel Aviv opened up a military offensive against Gaza four months ago, more than 300 Palestinians have been killed. (Muslim Public Affairs Council)

Palestinians are calling for international pressure on Israel to stop the offensive.

This military operation in Gaza, like the shards of shrapnel, bears the stamp: “Made in the USA.”