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Written on December 31, 2008, and categorized as Flip side.
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It is New Year’s Eve and since we’re all preparing to celebrate and give thanks, I decided to give some expression to the revulsion and anger I am feeling about the situation in war-ravaged Gaza, where 1.5 million imprisoned, starved Gazans are suffering out of all proportion to the sin of resisting a brutal, sanctioned, sanitised occupation. To quote Tank Green, “Palestine is literally two rapidly shrinking prisons operated by a foreign military force, and you can’t possibly understand what desperation is unless you have seen them.”

I am connected to this land; I feel obliged to do something.

Medical Aid for Palestine are a local charity – local to me, based a few streets from here, and local to the needs of this bombed and demoralised population. I can’t find a better way to act right now, so I gave some money.

This is what they have to say:

Over 380 people have been killed so far, and over 1400 are injured. Large numbers of civilians are reported among the dead, and the World Health Organisation estimates that at least 30 children have been killed. Our hospital sources report that of the hundreds of injured, dozens more will die in the coming hours and days. The bombing continues, from the air and the sea.

The situation at hospitals is absolutely critical.

”There were mothers, fathers looking for children, looking for relatives. Everyone was confused and seeking support. Mothers were crying, people were asking about relatives, the medical team was confused. There is talk [the Israeli air strikes] were targeting the police and security forces but in Shifa hospital, I saw many, many civilians, some dead, some injured, some were children, some were women, some were elderly people.
There’s no gauze so they are using cotton, which sticks to the wounds. They can’t sterilise clothes for the operating theatre. They’re using wrong sized syringes. They’re working 24 hours. They’re referring cases from one hospital to the next. One hospital was running out of anaesthesia. They’re also drawing blood and there’s no alcohol. This is a disaster.” – Fikr Shalltoot, MAP Programme Coordinator in Gaza

MAP’s On the Ground Response

MAP responded to the crisis immediately: in the first hours, MAP released $100,000 of surgical kits to hospitals struggling to cope with large numbers of dead and wounded. Our staff on the ground in Gaza are working with hospitals to coordinate the supply of essential drugs, disposables and equipment. MAP is providing essential support coordinating blood donations. As the situation changes hour to hour, MAP is responding to the greatest medical priorities.

How can you help?

MAP has launched an Emergency Appeal for Gaza: our aid workers on the ground desperately need additional funds for emergency burns, surgical and medical kits.

MAP has 25 years experience of working in the region and has distributed over $100,000 worth of emergency medical supplies since 27th December. With funds, we can get supplies through to the people that need them. Please give whatever you can today. All donations will be used to provide desperately needed and life-saving medicines and medical equipment for the people of Gaza.

I broadly agree with Robert Fisk on this issue:

Yes, let’s remember Hamas’s cynicism, the cynicism of all armed Islamist groups. Their need for Muslim martyrs is as crucial to them as Israel’s need to create them. The lesson Israel thinks it is teaching – come to heel or we will crush you – is not the lesson Hamas is learning. Hamas needs violence to emphasise the oppression of the Palestinians – and relies on Israel to provide it. A few rockets into Israel and Israel obliges.

Yes, Israel deserves security. But these bloodbaths will not bring it. Not since 1948 have air raids protected Israel. Israel has bombed Lebanon thousands of times since 1975 and not one has eliminated “terrorism”. So what was the reaction last night? The Israelis threaten ground attacks. Hamas waits for another battle. Our Western politicians crouch in their funk holes. And somewhere to the east – in a cave? a basement? on a mountainside? – a well-known man in a turban smiles.


There’s a petition you can sign.

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