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January 15, 2009

"A Scene From Dante's Inferno"

By: John Caruso

A Norwegian doctor who's been working in Gaza describes the abattoir Israel has created:

DR. MADS GILBERT: The condition in Shifa Hospital and in the other hospitals in Gaza is horrifying. I’ve been to Gaza for the last ten years, in and out, teaching and training people in the medical field. I’ve never seen anything like this. I mean, all windows in the Shifa Hospital are out, due to the bombing of the mosque across the street. They have very unstable electricity. They lack supplies, disposables, surgical equipment, trolleys, beds even. They have a fantastic staff, who are working heroically to save their patients, but we have been doing surgery with, almost regularly, two patients in each OR, on the wall, on the floor, in the corridors. The lifts are barely working. The ICU had to triple its capacity with makeshift ICUs.

It is really, truly a scene from Dante’s Inferno. It is these loads of patients coming in. We had 120, 130 patients coming a day, children, women. And I would say approximately 90 percent—I repeat, 90 percent—of the killed and injured that we have seen are civilians. Up ’til yesterday, 971 people have been killed; of them, one of three is a child below eighteen. 4,500 injuries, as of yesterday at 4:00; among them, every second is a woman or a child. So this is really targeting civilian Palestinian population.

And I recently happened across this article in Ha'aretz:

Senior Hamas officials in Gaza are hiding out in a "bunker" built by Israel, intelligence officials suspect: Many are believed to be in the basements of the Shifa Hospital complex in Gaza City, which was refurbished during Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip. [...]

During a cabinet meeting a week ago, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said senior Hamas officials found refuge in the hospital basement because they know Israel would not target it, due to the patients in the upper floors.

I have to wonder why this was leaked.  Are they trying to lay the groundwork for a move against Gaza's hospitals?  I'd like to think that actually bombing Shifa is beyond even the Israelis, though I'd never be foolish enough to overestimate them.  But one thing I know from my own experience is that the IDF will kidnap the wounded from hospitals—even going so far as to remove patients from live operating theaters.  I stayed overnight with other activists in Hebron's Al-Ahlia hospital in 2002 because the IDF had surrounded it with tanks the night before, searching for wounded Palestinians and abducting a doctor (who was taken away in a tank, ridden around Hebron, and finally released).  We slept uneasily on stretchers, stationed on various floors, ready to go at a moment's notice to do whatever we could—witness, if nothing else—should the Israelis come again in the night.

As we're seeing again in Gaza, helping the wounded is one of the quickest ways to become the next casualty.  One doctor we saw in Al-Ahlia was also a patient; he'd been shot in the side while trying to help two injured men in town, and was still delirious from the pain and medications.  We joined a funeral march for nine people who'd been killed in the previous day and met a paramedic who said three of the dead were his cousins, who'd been killed while trying to go out and help a man who'd been shot in front of their home.  An older man who'd lost two of his sons was there, crying and falling to the ground, and people were helping him to an ambulance.

Another man we saw in the hospital had been beaten down with rifle butts by Israeli soldiers.  His 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter ran away and was run over by an Israeli jeep, breaking her leg.  The man's brother had been shot in the head by the Israelis two years before.

That's just a small fraction of what I saw and heard.  Do you begin to get some idea of what it's like to be a Palestinian?  There wasn't a single person I met in the West Bank or Gaza who didn't have experiences just like this (going back decades), of beatings, humiliation, imprisonment, torture, shootings, family and friends killed and maimed by the Israelis.  Not one.  Can you imagine what it means to live an entire lifetime like this?

"A scene from Dante's Inferno" today in Gaza, but over the years Israel has played out the entire book.  And all of this—so many human lives disfigured and destroyed—for nothing more than its grasping territorial ambitions.

UPDATE: Oh good god:

In some of the most intense ground combat of the 20-day-old assault on Gaza, Israeli tanks powered into the southern suburb of Tel el Howa clashing with Palestinian militants firing rockets.

The tanks advanced under a barrage of artillery and mortar fire that struck the al Quds, al Fata and al Wafa hospitals.

There were unconfirmed reports that Shifa, Gaza City's biggest hospital, was on fire after being struck by Israeli shells.

— John Caruso

Posted at January 15, 2009 12:01 PM

UNRWA headquarters and warehouse just hit, possibly by white phosphorous, some of the last food stores now ablaze.

There is no doubt that this is a conscious war upon the civilians of Gaza.

Posted by: Rojo at January 15, 2009 12:36 PM

MAYBE WE could beg George to stop the killing, maybe. A few prostrate bodies, a few bended knees, some bowing and scraping, who knows?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 15, 2009 01:31 PM

This should not come as any surprise.
Read the history of 'ethnic cleansing.'
Israel-qua-State has clearly decided to cleanse itself of Arabs.
Therefore it will make life so unbearable the Palestinians will leave.
Of course, they get exercised when a Palestinian decides to go, but to take a few (a bus-load?) of his antagonists with him.
But that, they say, is why they need to cleanse them in the first place.

Posted by: woody at January 15, 2009 02:12 PM

What can we do to stop this slaughter? Nothing like this has happened in my memory in the whole world and nobody is doing anything!

As the time arrived for direct action against Israel and the symbols of its Power?

Posted by: Johnny at January 15, 2009 02:26 PM

That's a sweet little article from Ha'aretz. Intelligence officials suspect that Hamas leaders may be hiding out in a bunker under the hospital. As with the schools and the other civilian targets, eventually the Israelis will probably admit that they didn't suspect any such thing -- not that they thought so but were wrong, but that they knew they were lying. And apologists for Israel will go on repeating the lies to justify the atrocity.

Posted by: Duncan at January 15, 2009 02:38 PM

Lovely. I don't know if you caught the AP article about the recent Lancet report, which featured:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor sharply criticized one of the doctors quoted in the Lancet for "spreading vicious lies"…

"Dr. Gilbert is notorious for his radical far left opinions and his systematic demonizaton of Israel. He has already accused Israel of almost every nightmarish crime in the book only to ignore the refutation of every one of his allegations," Palmor told The Associated Press.

"His stories are worthy of Dante's imagination but have been proved time and again to be far removed from reality. It is a pity that serious members of the medical profession should allow themselves to be dragged into an excessive of mad Mads."

He's got a point, in that doctors have a well-known bias against maiming people and blowing off their limbs.

Posted by: Batocchio at January 15, 2009 05:22 PM

takes a real masochist to watch king george give his last speech. what universe does he live in?

Posted by: sloweducation at January 15, 2009 08:13 PM

Batocchio: I don't know if you caught the AP article about the recent Lancet report...

Nope, hadn't, but Palmor makes a good point; if you want to be sure you're not being misled, you should get your facts from a thoroughly objective source like the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Posted by: John Caruso at January 15, 2009 08:56 PM

Maybe WE PAID for Rwanda too. (hint-CIA loves the Congo) That might be why Bill never said or did anything.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 15, 2009 09:00 PM

Man, am I embarrassed. I should have said "Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres".

Menachem Begin also won the Nobel Peace Prize. It's impressive that a small country like Israel has had two people win the award in the last thirty years.

Posted by: cemmcs at January 15, 2009 09:48 PM

It's useful having guys like Peres confirm that they are targeting civilians, just as Friedman said the other day. It's also why I won't participate in FAIR's letter-writing campaign against Thomas Friedman, at least not in the precise way they want. I think it's good to have someone in the mainstream press who is stupid enough to blurt out the real motives when Israel (or the US) terrorizes civilians. The US press may or may not report Peres's remark, but if not, Friedman filled the gap nicely.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 15, 2009 11:35 PM

I repeat, what can we DO to stop this madness NOW?

Posted by: Johnny at January 16, 2009 12:59 AM

I know just how you feel. I don't think there's anything we can do to stop this now, but I do think the tide is turning for the long term. Israel has done tremendous damage to its international reputation (which only increases every day)—and for what? What will they have achieved when they finally stop this madness? They can't destroy Hamas, they can't kill everyone in Gaza, they can't keep the survivors from resisting them yet again by the only means available to them—so what will they ultimately have to show for it other than a monument to their incredible savagery? This attack is just as pointless as it was inevitable.

So although there was never any doubt about the military outcome and even though there may be no way to stop them now, I have a strong feeling that in the future we'll look back on this as the beginning of Israel's defeat.

Posted by: John Caruso at January 16, 2009 02:55 AM

John Caruso: Thanks for your comments. I just get so frustrated aboiut this that I wish there was some direct action I could take against this nazi stateand its helpers here.

When you talk about Israels defeat, can we hope that soon the country will cease to exist and that the Jews will have to pack up and abandon their criminal project? Where will they go? Not here I hope!


["Johnny," here and above, is actually frequent commenter Seth—Jon]

Posted by: Johnny at January 16, 2009 07:24 AM

Seth, I'm not going to bother banning you. But I think everyone, including you, would probably be happier if you went away permanently.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at January 16, 2009 07:51 AM

I am afraid that Seth has a point. The Zionist project is undeniably founded on a great deal of criminality. Also, if the Jews currently supporting the state of Israel do not try to moderate the behaviour of Israel, instead of cheering it on and applauding every atrocity, it seems inevitable that, like white Rhodesians, they will have to pack their tents eventually.

Posted by: MFB at January 16, 2009 09:17 AM

Seth: I'm sorry I only told you what I actually thought instead of what you wanted to hear. Since you asked, "Israel's defeat" means the end of its territorial ambitions and its long-term project of ethnic cleansing. If we're lucky it'll be something like South Africa; if we're not, the frothing mad lunatics (you know, the ones you support) will finally get a chance to use that nuclear arsenal. Hopefully it'll be the former.

And "the Jews" are no more a monolith than any other group—and thankfully, there are more than enough Jews in Israel and all over the world who want peace and peaceful coexistence to balance out putzes like you.

Posted by: John Caruso at January 16, 2009 12:25 PM

Where will they go?

Why can't they go where they've come from - Brooklyn, Minsk, Baghdad, Gdansk?

Is there some kind of a problem with that? I don't see it.

Posted by: abb1 at January 16, 2009 01:16 PM

Back in the early early days of GWBush and whatever pig construction vehicle he was riding along in, the then obvious and growing power of fundamentalist Christian organizations was dismissed consistently and ridiculed constantly by people whose world views were essentially academically derived, because within the parameters of academic labor being delusional and not very bright is an automatic fail.
In the real world, the one with the Galapagos in it, the one with Gaza in it, the one with Arctic albedo and Alberto Gonzales in it, being crazy and or stupid are not by any means an automatic fail. Cows are stupid, much stupider than their wild ancestors, and there's lots and lots of cows around. Buying and fueling an SUV was crazy from the get, but there's lots and lots of SUV's around.
Point being we're not being graded on academic performance here. It's about survival and reproduction, Darwin, evolution.
Any discussion about Israel's behavior in Gaza that ignores the foundational energies of Orthodox Judaism is going to be skewed and inaccurate. But academics aren't comfortable with recognizing it for what it is, because in their value systems delusional mumbo-jumbo is an automatic fail, and Orthodox Judaism, like fundamentalist Christianity, is filled with delusional mumbo-jumbo. Therefore it doesn't count and its adherents should be ignored.
But fundamentalists were the key elements in Bush's ascendancy to whatever puppet throne he now steps down from, and Orthodox Jews are driving Israel's campaign for empire.
Pretending it's purely geo-politics is enabling, just like pretending those room-temperature IQ fundamentalists were marginal players in American politics enabled the real villains in that aspect of the venture.
And "the Jews" are no more a monolith than any other group
This is obviously true, but it's also clearly misleading. It is dangerously inaccurate to separate completely Bernie Madoff, Michael Bloomberg, Tzipi Livni, Rahm Emmanuel, and Roman Abramovitch. It's also dangerously inaccurate to lump them all together.
So now what?

Posted by: roy belmont at January 16, 2009 01:26 PM

In fact, that's a big difference between Israel and South Africa; the Afrikaners are Africans while the Jews are not Palestinians. They are Americans, Russians, Iraqis, etc.

Posted by: abb1 at January 16, 2009 01:31 PM

In fact, that's a big difference between Israel and South Africa; the Afrikaners are Africans while the Jews are not Palestinians.

I don't agree with that. In addition to John Caruso's point above, among both white South Africans (Afrikaner and english-speaking) and Israelis there was/is variation in attachment and willingness to leave. And Israel and Israelis have forged an identifiable society. I think there are plenty of Israelis as "Palestinian" as a far-northern Afrikaner was African (although they might use the term "Israeli". Both groups, of course view their "localness" in terms of their specific ethnic subjectivity. I may be being too brief here to make much sense.

Posted by: pulaski at January 16, 2009 04:01 PM

John Caruso:
Yeah, I just knew you would bring up that Haaretz report on Israel banning two Israeli Arab parties from the upcoming elections. It's not as bad as it looks, though. That's because Israel isn't denying Israeli Arabs the right to vote, they're just limiting the choice of parties they can vote for. This is an important distinction, which totally disproves any superficial resemblance between Israel and South Africa under apartheid, or the American south under Jim Crow.

P.S. I was told this only yesterday by a guy who's a history professor.

Posted by: SteveB at January 16, 2009 05:04 PM

Of course there is a small minority of the Jews who are Palestinians, I know that. But the Jews are not Palestinians, while the Afrikaners are, in fact Africans, South Africans, they are a subset of all the South Africans.

I don't believe that the Israelis have an "identifiable society" in the sense that matters; I haven't been there since 1996, but from what I hear, the Russian Israelis still live among Russian Israelis, marry Russians Israelis, do business with Russian Israelis; Jewish Israelis don't mix with Arab Israelis, etc. Sure, this is identifiable too, but not in a way that help you make your argument.

Not that the Afrikaners were mixing with the black Africans, of course, but, again, the Afrikaners are Africans, and they don't need to claim any "identifiable society" to count as Africans, they just are, like Australians are Australians.

Does it make sense?

Posted by: abb1 at January 16, 2009 05:16 PM

SteveB: P.S. I was told this only yesterday by a guy who's a history professor.

I'm always glad to hear that the system of higher education is doing its job.

Posted by: John Caruso at January 16, 2009 06:22 PM

The Israelis have become so disgustingly Hitler you'd think they worship him.

Posted by: Tim at January 16, 2009 07:00 PM

The Israelis have become so disgustingly Hitler you'd think they worship him.

And so Professor Godwin is vindicated in only 29 comments.

Posted by: SteveB at January 17, 2009 07:36 AM

Getting back to the article ...

Perhaps you have seen the controversial video aired by CNN that purports to show the failure to resuscitate a young Palestinian boy ... you know, the one in which a doctor is performing CPR by tickling the victim's abdomen? (Google CNN Gaza CPR video.)

Meet Dr. Mads Gilbert, propagandist. He is standing on the left, overseeing the fake CPR.

Posted by: rumorist at January 17, 2009 11:30 AM

There is nothing fake about the atrocity of IDF and unbearable grief of a father....I could not bear to hear his agony. How can ANYONE DEFEND THIS? And IDF again hit another UNRWA school today. If Olmert is ordering the administration around, who is going to make them stop this carnage?

"Israeli TV airs Gaza doctor's pleas after children killed"- ENGLISH SUBTITLES
January 16, 2009
If you cannot see the subtitles do the following:
1. Play the video
2. Click the triangle button at the bottom-right corner of the video
3. Click the Turn on captions button that looks like the letters CC.

Above taken from the article below....,0,890792.story

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 17, 2009 11:46 AM

SteveB: And so Professor Godwin is vindicated in only 29 comments.

Godwin said something about Seth trolling with idiotic comments about Hitler?

By the way, the right-wing talking point Seth is vectoring with his "rumorist" sock puppet was apparently born on Little Green Footballs. So now at least we know where he gets his information, not to mention inspiration.

Posted by: John Caruso at January 17, 2009 12:06 PM