"A Palestinian woman from the El Deeb family, who lost nine relatives in the Israeli attack near a UN school, weeps during their funeral in Jabaliya. Photo: Hatem Moussa"
"Defiant Gazans mourn school dead"
by Taghreed El-Khodary, Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza
- January 9, 2009
- Published in "The Age" (Australia), at:
THE bodies of the children who died outside the United Nations school here were laid out in a long row on the ground. Some were wrapped in the vivid green flag of Hamas, some were in white shrouds, and some were in the yellow flag of Fatah, which is rarely seen these days in Hamas-run Gaza.
"Abdel Minaim Hasan, 37, knelt, weeping, next to the body of his eldest daughter, Lina, 11, who was wrapped in a Hamas flag. 'From now on, I am Hamas!' he cried. 'I choose resistance!' He cursed other Arab nations for ignoring the plight of the Gazans.
"The streets were crowded when the mortar shells struck on Tuesday evening, Mr Hasan said. 'We were in a United Nations school, we were so far from the tanks.'
"He had given his daughter a shekel to run to a nearby grocery store. She was hit by shrapnel and died.
"About 280 families — 1674 people — had been seeking shelter inside the al-Fakhoura School, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which runs it. Most came from further north in Gaza, near Beit Lahiya, and were ordered to evacuate by Israeli forces, who used leaflets and loudspeakers to get them to leave their homes...."
"...Inside the school, Shaaban Hasouni, 47, said he had come from Beit Lahiya on Sunday with eight members of his family, ranging in age from two to 29 years old.
"The Israelis had told them to evacuate, first in calls to their mobile phones and then with leaflets and loudspeaker announcements, he said. They were supposed to hold up white sheets as they evacuated. But he said he and his family left their home only when Israeli forces fired some sort of gas into it.
" 'I couldn't see, I didn't know what it was, but we escaped', he said.
"Mr Hasouni was able to make a quick trip home on Wednesday morning and came back with mattresses and blankets. He said it was so cold, even with 40 people in every classroom, that his children could not stand it without blankets....
"Mahmoud al-Sous, 39, arrived on a donkey cart with blankets, mattresses, water bottles and clothes. 'My children were dying from the cold,' he said. 'After two days I couldn't stand it, so I risked going back to bring these things.'
"Atif Suboh, 25, here with six members of his family, was not so lucky. He said three of his cousins, aged six, eight and 12, had gone back to Beit Lahiya on Wednesday morning to get blankets. They died from the shelling. Asked how he could have let them go, he started to wail. 'They didn't tell us they were leaving,' he said.
"Samira Shakoura, 40, lives in the neighborhood and was defiant about the presence of Hamas. 'Listen, I will always open my house to protect the fighters,' she said. 'We have to be patient. We are dead anyway like this. And when Hamas runs in the elections, I'll vote for them; they have Islam.'
"Nearby, while funerals went on, people surged towards a shop 200 metres away. There were at least as many people at the shop as at the funerals. A shipment of flour had arrived.
* The International Committee of the Red Cross has accused Israeli forces of not assisting wounded people in a Gaza City neighbourhood.
"Red Cross workers yesterday found 12 dead and at least 19 survivors in houses hit during shelling in Zaytun, 100 metres from Israeli military positions. The ICRC said soldiers ordered the rescue workers to leave but they refused."
--NEW YORK TIMES, with AAP