Live from Occupied Palestine, Eóin Murray,Trócaire

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A day of sadness and shame

1. Fatema Ahmed al-‘Athamna, 70;
2. Sanaa’ Ahmed al-‘Athamna, 30;
3. Ne’ma Ahmed al-‘Athamna, 55;
4. Mas’oud ‘Abdullah al-‘Athamna, 55;
5. Sabah Mohammed al-‘Athamna, 45;
6. Sameer Mas’oud al-‘Athamna, 23;
7. Fatema Mas’oud al-‘Athamna, 16;
8. ‘Arafat Sa’ad al-‘Athamna, 17;
9. Mahdi Sa’ad al-‘Athamna, 13;
10. Mohammed Sa’ad al-‘Athamna, 14;
11. Sa’ad Majdi al-‘Athamna, 8;
12. Mahmoud Amjad al-‘Athamna, 12;
13. Malak Sameer al-‘Athamna, 4;
14. Maisaa’ Ramzi al-‘Athamna, 4;
15. Nihad Mohammed al-‘Athamna, 33;
16. Mohammed Ramadan al-‘Athamna, 28;
17. Manal Mohammed al-‘Athamna, 35; and
18. Saqer Mohammed ‘Edwan, 45.

These are the names of the dead from this morning's attack by the Israeli army.
They were sleeping in their beds when their homes were shelled.

Trocaire's partner, PCHR, tell me that 282 Palestinian civilians [i.e. innocent people] have died in Gaza since the 9th of June.

When is the world going to take action to protect Palestinian civilians?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Falling olives. Falling bombs.

I was sitting akimbo. My legs flat on the ground, my head bent over. Above me a sixteen year old Palestinian boy is beating the Olive tree with a large stick. The olives rain onto my head and back, like soft pebbles. Around us the whole family are up trees or on the ground picking up olives.

It is the time for the annual olive harvest - we have come to a village near Nablus. The family we are with have not been able to access their land for six years because of attacks from the near-by illegal settlements. The annual harvest defines so much of the life of the West Bank - visitors come from afar, money for school fees are paid and so on...for this family the fear of attack meant that this land was inaccessible and so was the rythem of normal life associated with it.

Throughout the day we were, variously, 'guarded' by heavily armed local settler security or abused and stoned by boys from the school in the local settlement.

But all in all, with the help of Trocaire's partners the Rabbis for Human Rights, the olive harvest has been going relatively smoothly, at least thus far. Families have been able to access their land and dozens of Israelis and internationals have been deployed to try and assist them by providing a helping hand and some token security.

Cut from the West Bank to Gaza where forty-eight hours letter the olives falling have turned to bombs falling - in Beit Hanoun; a town of forty thousand people in the very northern point of the Gaza Strip.

By now the Israeli incursion has been going on for five days - over 40 people are dead and the town, which has suffered much in previous incursions, is being ravaged again.

In previous years the Israeli military entered with the same declared intent - to halt the firing of home-made rockets into the south of Israel near Gaza. In the last two years massive incursions have not brought about the desired result. Collectively punishing the entire people of the north has not changed anything.

The pictures finally went accross the world when Israel fired at a peaceful demonstration - when the world asks Palestinians to reject violence, and they demonstrate peacefuly, this is the Israeli response. The women were, evidence suggests, fired upon before reaching the mosque - thus negating the Israeli claims that they only fired at militants escaping from the mosque itself.

Events have continued to expand and escalte. The military has in the last hour moved into the other major northern town of Beit Lahiya.

The scale of killings and attacks is becoming too large to explain in this blog - so I commend you to the work of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights whose fieldworkers are in the area writing reports on an almost daily basis: .

Despite all that is happening - the unprecedented sanctions against an occupied people, the construction of an illegal wall deep inside the territory of the West Bank, the complete seige imposed on the Gaza Strip, the collapse of the Palestinian economy and the deepening humanitarian crisis accross the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the expansion of settlements, the continued internment of human rights defenders - despite all of this, and more, the world continues to practise a conspiracy of silence against the Palestinian people.

Each country which has signed the Geneva Conventions, and even those who have not, have a clear obligation under common article 1 of these conventions to "respect and ensure respect" for the conventions - but this obligation is being ignored. After thirty-four days of Israeli attacks against Lebanon an international force was deployed to protect Israeli civilians - yet after almost 40 years of occupation and almost 60 years since the nakba (catastrophe) - the world has done nothing to protect Palestinian civilians and the climate of impunity continues.