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FreeGaza Movement

Human rights group that sailed 5 times into port of Gaza.

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Some Palestinian families have handed some leaflets over to us, which had fallen down from the sky in the last few days, courtesy of the Israeli Air Force instead of the customary bombs. Leaflet n. 1, translated from Arabic, said: " To all the people living in this area. Due to the terrorist acts that the terrorists in your area attacking Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces were forced to take immediate action in your area. We thus urge you, for your own safety, to immediately evacuate the area. Israeli Defense Forces". In short, the Israeli are sticking "Work in progress signs door to door, before razing whole neighbourhoods to the ground, and forever dashing the hopes of a life for the present and future. They want to bury those who haven't got anywhere to go under tons of rubble. A little while ago they had warned us they intended to throw more leaflets, intimating that "the third phase of war of terror is about to start". The Israeli military summits are indeed polite - they ask the population of Gaza to cooperate before crushing them like insects. If the leaflets aren't persuasive enough, it's up to the Air Force to gently knock onto the roofs of the Gazan houses. It's a newly adopted procedure - slightly less powerful are bombs dropped down, powerful enough to tear off the roofs in the houses and "gently" persuade their inhabitants to evacuate them. After two or three minutes the planes drift past again, and nothing remains of the buildings. Evacuation: but where should they go? There are no safe shelters in the whole of the Strip, and personally I fear for my life a lot more when walking past a mosque or a school, than in front of the government buildings still standing intact. Last night, 20 metres from my home, the Israeli jet fighters tore down the fire station.
This morning, on the street parallel to the port I discovered some craters several metres deep, as if meteors had rained down from the sky as you'd see in a sci-fi movie. The difference here is that the special effects are pretty damn painful. Visiting the wards of the Al Shifa hospital, crowded with injured patients awaiting treatment, you can bump into a doctor who doesn't look very Arabic. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor from the ONG Norwac. Gilbert, an anaesthetist, confirms our suspicion regarding the use of forbidden weapons by Israel on Gaza's civilians: "Many injured arrive with extreme amputations, with both their legs reduced to a pulp, which I suspect is an effect of Dime weapons." This is happening while Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reports that "extremely serious violations possibly constituting war crimes" are taking place.

The last instance of one such crime happened a few hours ago, East of Jabalia, where a family on the point of evacuating their house was stocking up on some food products in a small shop, which was promptly bombed. There were eight killed, all belonging to the same family, the Abed Rabbu family, in addition to two severely injured. People I speak to in the street are under the impression that Israel is taking its time, while the bombs are being dropped non-stop and the land artillery are slowly advancing. The soldiers have no problems stocking up on "k rations", the military food rations, unlike many people in Gaza who can no longer get any bread. The bakers, having run out of flour, have resorted to mixing it up with animal flour to make the buns. It's moldy bread, week-old left-overs green with mold. You cook it over a small fire lit from a couple of pieces of wood and I can assure you that it's not exactly a delicacy.

Especially on the internet, Israel continues to spread bird's eye-view filmed images, allegedly showing how precise its bombings are against the "terrorists" or against hypothetical warehouses stocking weapons and explosives. The dizzying count of civilian casualties are enough to discredit these videos. I wonder how Israel can call itself civilised and democratic, when its army, in trying to drive out and kill an enemy, doesn't hesitate to knock down an entire crowded building, burying innumerable innocents alive in the process. Think about it: it's as if the Italian army hunting down a dangerous mafia criminal started heavily bombing the centre of Palermo. As I write there are 821 Palestinians dead, 93 being women, and 235 children. 12 paramedics were killed fulfilling their duty, and 3 journalists were killed with a camera hanging round their necks. A good 3,350 are among the injured, with more than half being under 18 years of age. According to the Mezan centre for human rights, renowned for its reliability, they make up 85% of the Palestinian civilian casualties massacred in the last two weeks. The death toll on the Israeli side has thankfully stopped at 4.

If the United Nations won't manage to protect the Palestinian civilian population from the massive Israeli violations of their international humanitarian duties, my friends from the Free Gaza Movement will try for in their place, ready as they are to sail to Gaza in a few days. Among them there are doctors, nurses and activists for human rights, who consider it their precise moral duty to do whatever's humanly possible to provide some measures of protection. They had already tried to get here on 31st December, on board the Dignity. But the Israeli Navy had rammed into our boat in international waters, trying to sink it, and had subsequently spoken of "an accident". I will wait for my friends with their load of humanitarian aids among the ruins of what's left of the port, and I would like to hope more "accidents" will reoccur off shore this time.

The second leaflet raining down from the sky that we've translated is a scream (you can find photos of both leaflets on the website: "Citizens of Gaza, take responsibility for your destiny! In Gaza the terrorists and those who launch rockets against Israel represent a threat to your lives and to those of your families. If you wish to help your families and brothers in Gaza, all you will have to do is call the number below and give us information on the whereabouts of those responsible for launching rockets and on the terrorist militia who turn you into the first victims of their actions. Avoiding more atrocities being committed is now your responsibility! Don't hesitate! Complete discretion is guaranteed. You can contact us at the following number: 02-5839749. Otherwise write to us at the following email to give us any information you may have on terrorist activities:"

Many write to me from Italy, filled with frustration at not being able to do anything against the genocide currently taking place. I would urge you to continue showing your indignation and supporting human rights. If you then have 5 minutes to spare and a phone card, the details contained in the last leaflet could come in useful in communicating your disdain to those who cynically gamble with the lives of a million and a half people via the air, sea and land. Never would a phone card have been better spent. Those 235 massacred children are asking for it.

Stay human

Vittorio Arrigoni

(Translated from italian by Daniela Filippin)

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