ALERT: difficult to view photos below.
Woe to those who plan iniquity,
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
they rob them of their inheritance.
Historically, prophets have abounded in the Levant, historic Palestine, among them Abraham, his wife Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Obadiah, Amos, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Uriah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Malachi, Deborah, Esther and Jesus himself. Navi, the Hebrew word for prophet, derives from niv sefatayim, meaning fruit of the lips, a speaker. Conventionally thought of as women and men gifted with predicting the future, their more crucial role is often to confront the power structure—often at the risk of their own lives. Are they all sealed into scripture, long expired, known by texts only? I doubt it.
Observing Israeli intoxication by power after the lightning victory of the Six Day War in 1967, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, known by some as a “prophet of wrath, harbinger of the future,” spoke against the Israeli occupation of Palestine up to his death in 1994. He stated, “if we maintain the violent repression of people they will revolt and commit terrorist acts. And we will use all means to suppress this…. The moment nationality becomes the highest human value that is fascism.” Altho recognized by Israel for his contributions to chemistry, philosophy and religion, when he spoke against the occupation he was hated, derided, and excoriated by the state and its populace, but not defeated. The tradition of prophets from that region continues.
As I write Gaza suffers one of its worst assaults in the past 10 years, a string including Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, killing 1,500 people, upwards of 80% civilian, Operation Pillar of Fire in 2012, and most recently “Operation Solid Cliff” (a.k.a. Protective Edge). A limited air assault purported to end rocket fire into Israeli civilian areas has become a major ground assault. Four children innocently playing on the main Gaza City beach were murdered by Israel. Eight members of the Abu Jarads family in Beit Hanoun were killed by Israeli artillery in another attack. The El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation hospital was totally destroyed. The Shejaia district, east of Gaza City, has perhaps suffered the most. Some 72 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed on Sunday as the Israeli army searched for tunnels.
The UN and various human rights groups estimate some 75% of the casualties are civilian. As of July 30, 2014 (numbers increase daily), according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in collaboration with humanitarian partners, 1,170 Palestinians are dead, including 127 women and 232 children, more than 7,000 injured, at least 215,000 displaced persons are sheltered by UNRWA (United Nation Refugee Works Administration, responsible for Palestinian refugees) schools and other shelters, most of the 1.8 million lack adequate access to water and sanitation services, and nearly all receive electricity 4 hours per day. While 57 Israelis have died, including 54 soldiers, with many injured. Three Israeli civilians have died from Gazan rocket and mortar attacks.
SOURCE: U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Israeli Defense Forces. (published in the Washington Post, frequently updated)
Israel attacks anything connected with Hamas, which besides constituting a military organization, is the municipality of Gaza, providing all the usual services, mostly civilian. President Obama declares his unwavering support of Israel, saying, “No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory,” I would ask the president, what nation or region would accept a total siege and periodic military attacks that kill civilians, ruin infrastructure, control all entrance into the territory, and label any resistance as terror?
Thru my 11 years of photographic work in the region I’ve made many friends, Palestine and Israeli. This is a blessing and a curse because I feel heart-connected with the violence, in touch with people there—while, on a minor level, suffering with them. I joined the one-day international fast for solidarity with those who suffer, intensifying my connection. I attend and photograph local demonstrations, vigils, and marches. I report nearly daily to my email list of those who’ve expressed interest in my work and the issues. This blog entry is my first attempt to more specifically explain the situation as I view it and my feelings.
They peaked when David Nir, an Israeli activist and friend living in Jaffa-Tel Aviv forwarded a set of photos allegedly of Gaza. Like him and others who’d circulated the photos I was horrified. They were easily the most disturbing images of violence I had ever viewed. I warn the reader about the following photographs.
Why are “my people” so anxious to create Hell upon Earth?
It is astonishing how the collective field here (i.e. the “Jewish” sector) has so swiftly become totally engulfed in sleep and automatism; except few, the majority is willingly blind to the ongoing butchery and agony of the Palestinians.
If you find it wholesome, please do as you wish with the photos. (I assume you have similar photos from 2008/9).
Another Israeli friend, Nomika Zion, living in Sderot, the small Israeli town built on Arab lands less than one mile from Gaza, asked me if I could verify that these were indeed current Gaza photos.
Dark dark days in Israel and in Palestine in so many ways.
Horrible pictures, horrible reality, and so much violence everywhere. I’m hardly breathing the air around me.
Tnx for sharing, although it’s so painful to look at the mirror.
A few days later:
Question: who took these horrible pictures and how do u know that all of it are coming from the war in Gaza?
I would like to forward it, but I want to make sure that I’m sending accurate and reliable information.
Someone told me that people distribute pics from Syria under the Gaza war title.
Pls, let me know, it’s very important.
About the authenticity of the photos, here’s what I learned:
Using watermark identification on some of the photos and the name of the person who I think initiated the chain I found these links.
David Nir is convinced they are authentic and Uri Davis, an Israeli Jewish activist, who spread the photos seems also convinced.
For further confirmation here’s a portion of an interview by a young Gazan friend, Rana Baker, who studied photography with me in 2012, with her father, a physician working in El Shifa hospital, the main Gaza City hospital. I am convinced that whether these particular photos are recent and from Gaza, they accurately depict the carnage of Gaza.
… My father, Basil Baker, is a neurosurgeon, a Cairo graduate who works at al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip. We live just across the road from this hospital, except that now I live in London….
“Not all wars are the same,” he said. “Incursions in the past were not as bad. This time, most of the injuries fall into one of two categories: first, there are injuries which are the direct result of missiles; these are often very severe, body parts ripped apart. The other category consists of injuries which result from rubble falling down on people: broken ribs and so forth. They [the Israeli army] bombard houses, so there are those who have their walls collapse over their bodies [long silence] and so on.”
I asked him whether there are many women and children in the hospital.
“Yes, a lot,” he said. “I mean, many women, but many more children. They [the Israelis] are probably blind.”
What about amputations?
“A lot. I am sure you’ve seen the pictures. There are so many children whose limbs we had to amputate. There’s a child who came with his belly ripped and legs already gone….”
—Rana Baker <email@example.com>
Dr. MH writes me from Gaza:
Unfortunately, your people in the USA are still very naive and very little understand what’s going on. The current war is not with Hamas or specific Palestinian party ..it’s with all Palestinian seeking freedom…seeking to live in democracy and have access to borders and free trade just like the rest of the people in the world. Now its time to get rid of the ugly occupation…
Believe me, most of the people in the States are just concerned about how quickly the pizza will arrive home, which club to spend fun time at and where to go with girlfriends……I have been to the States several times and this is most of the lifestyle of the American…of course, your government likes you to be in this form …
sorry for my English, electricity will be off in 3 min.
And again, from my courageous and poetic friend, David Nir, a singular voice (but not the only), from an email:
Four prophets, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, David Nir, Nomika Zion, and Rana Baker, along with Eyad Sarraj, Mahmoud Darwich, Uri Avnery, Gideon Levy, and Amira Hass. And, let’s hope, many others who will elevate the discourse—against suicidal diplomacy and for sanity and humanity. May those with ears, hear; and those with eyes, see.
The final word, from my former photography student, Ban Ghussain, in Gaza:
Bomb, attack and kill… but we will never let you kill our children’s hope and smiles… we will always protect them with our love …. we will let them live and laugh despite our pain and fear…
To my beloved son “taym”… you are the most precious thing in my and your dad’s life.. i pray to Allah to give us the strength to give you a safe, peaceful, and happy life..
Then I said,
“Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of Israel.
Should you not embrace justice,
you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;
who eat my people’s flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?”
Then they will cry out to the Lord,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.
—Micah 3 New International Version (NIV)
“Right-wingers beat Haifa deputy mayor during anti-war protest,” by Roy (Chicky) Arad, July 20, 2014
“The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce,” by Francesca Albanese
PHOTOS: Children in Gaza at the Qattan Center for the Child by Skip Schiel
“Why do you continue to kill people?” by Alan Hart
VIDEO: Free Free Palestine (Boston demonstration) by Skip Schiel
PHOTOS: Outrage Against Israeli Massacre in Gaza: Boston Protest :: Part 1 (of 2) by Skip Schiel
VIDEO: Gaza Emergency 2014
Once and For All, by Uri Avnery
“It’s Not Just About Fear, Bibi, It’s About Hopelessness,” by Nomika Zion
“Fathers and Sons in Gaza,” by Wasseem El Sarraj