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Israel: a terrorist state

Khoza’a is a small rural community in the south of the Gaza Strip which endured a brutal incursion by Israeli ground forces on 13 January, indicative of so many attacks elsewhere in Gaza during the three weeks of “Operation Cast Lead”.

Heavy missile strikes preceded the ground offensive, which destroyed 50 homes and razed farmland. Homes with families inside them were attacked by military D-9 bulldozers .

A group of women and children carrying white flags attempted to leave the area. Israeli forces opened fire on them and shot 47-year-old Rowhiya Al-Najar. An ambulance was prevented from reaching her for 13 hours and she bled to death in the street.

Terrified residents sought sanctuary at a local UN school, but missiles were fired around it and they had to retreat.

14 Palestinians were killed during this assault, some of their injuries so horrific that they must have been inflicted by nonconventional weaponry – such as a gunshot injury involving a small entry wound but massive exit wound 40-50cm wide.

Doctors at the Al-Nasser Hospital in nearby Khan Younis, which received 50 casualties from the Khoza’a incursion, described severe chemical burns and victims being covered in a white powder which continued to burn them.

15-year-old Ayman al-Najar is one of these burns patients. He and his family were at home when a missile struck.

His grandfather was killed instantly, his body severed into two parts. His sister, Alaa’, 16, was seriously injured. A third of her face was blown off and a massive part of her waist and pelvic area was destroyed. She pulled through 10 hours of surgery but died five hours later.

Ayman has deep wounds in his back and several days after the attack they are still bleeding profusely. These are not normal burns and will require extensive plastic surgery.

Ayman is a civilian, a minor. Israel claims its bloody war has been on Hamas. Ayman and his family were not Hamas operatives, neither were the thousands of other civilians who have been killed and injured.

Israel would call them “collateral damage”. However, the atrocities committed against Ayman and his family amount to war crimes, especially if weapons have been used illegally.

What exactly is the substance which has inflicted such wounds? Israel won’t admit to the nature of some of the weapons its military has been using on the population of Gaza.

On 17 January, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire and internally displaced people went back to their neighbourhoods to survey the damage.

In Khoza’a a young farmer had gone to check on his greenhouses when he was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers on the Green Line. This is the true face of Israel’s ceasefire.

Now, under the shadow of Israeli troops on the border, F-16s still in the sky and gunboats still in the sea, the Gaza Strip is reeling from the Israeli onslaught.

The Palestinian death toll is 1,330 with numbers still rising as more bodies are recovered from the wreckage. The number of injured is about 4,500.

Approximately 5,000 homes have been destroyed and 17,000 severely damaged.

How will people re-build their lives? Gazans have a long-learned talent of making-do, but there is no escaping the deep sense of shock, loss and uncertainty.

An audio interview with Jenny on 29 December can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/peacenews051