After the Israeli Assault: Truth and Trauma On the Ground in Gaza
A banner with the faces of children from the al Dalu family, who were killed in an Israeli airstrike in November 2012.
Photo Credit: Johnny Barber
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Dr. T., a medical doctor, is a Palestinian living in Gaza City. He is still reeling from days of aerial bombardment. When I asked about the children in his community he told me his church would soon be making Christmas preparations to lift the children’s spirits. Looking at his kindly smile and ruddy cheeks, I couldn't help wondering if he’d be asked to dress up as "Baba Noel," as Santa Claus. I didn't dare ask this question aloud.
“The most recent war was more severe and vigorous than the Operation Cast Lead,” he said slowly, leaning back in his chair and looking into the distance. “I was more affected this time. The weapons were very strong, destroying everything. One rocket could completely destroy a building.”
The 8-day Israeli offensive in November lasted for fewer days and brought fewer casualties, but it was nonstop and relentless, and everywhere.
“At 1:00 a.m. the bank was bombed, and everyone in the area was awakened from sleep. Doors were broken and windows were shattered. There was an agonizing sound, as if we were in a battlefield.”
“The bombing went on every day. F16 U.S. jets were hitting hard.”
"This is more than anyone can tolerate. We were unsafe at any place at any time."
U.S. media and government statements are full of accounts about the scattershot Hamas rocket fire that had taken one Israeli life in the months before the Israeli bombing campaign. The U.S. government demands that the Gazans disarm completely. Due to simple racism and a jingoistic eagerness to get in line with U.S. military policy, Western commentators ignore the bombardment of Gazan neighborhoods which has caused thousands of casualties over just the past few years. They automatically frame Israel’s actions as self-defense and the only conceivable response to Palestinians who, under whatever provocations, dare to make themselves a threat.
"Any house can be destroyed. The airplanes filled the skies,” Dr. T. continued. “They were hitting civilians like the one who was distributing water." The Palestine Centre for Human Rights report confirms that Dr. T is discussing Suhail Hamada Mohman and his ten year old son, who were both killed instantly at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 18, 2012 in Beit Lahiya while distributing water to their neighbors.
Dr. T. then mentioned the English teacher and his student killed nearby walking in the street. The PCHR report notes that on November 16, at approximately 1:20 p.m., Marwan Abu al-Qumsan, 42, a teacher at an UNRWA school, was killed when Israeli Occupation Forces bombarded an open space area in the southeast section of Beit Lahia town. He had been visiting the house of his brother, Radwan, 76, who was also seriously wounded.
And Dr. T. mentioned the Dalu family. "They were destroyed for no reason. You can go visit there."
The next day, I went to the building north of Gaza City where the Dalu family had lived.
In the afternoon on Sunday, November 18, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the 4-story house belonging to 52-year-old Jamal Mahmoud Yassin al-Dalu. The house was completely destroyed as were all inside. Civil Defense crews removed from the debris the bodies of 8 members of the family, four women and four children aged one to seven. Their names were:
Samah Abdul Hamid al-Dalu, 27;
Tahani Hassan al-Dalu, 52;
Suhaila Mahmoud al-Dalu, 73
Raneen Jamal al-Dalu, 22.
Jamal Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 6;
Yousef Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 4;
Sarah Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 7;
Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 1;
On November 23rd, two more bodies were found under the rubble, one of them a child.