“Take some kittens, some soft little pussycats, and put them in a box,” says Jamal, a surgeon at Al Shifa hospital, the main one in Gaza, while a nurse places a couple of cardboard boxes just in front of us, covered with spots of blood. “Seal the box, and with all your weight and your strength jump on it until you hear the bones crack, and the last miaow is choked.” As I stare at the boxes dumbfounded, the doctor continues, “Now try to imagine what would happen immediately after a scenario like that was publicised: the justified outrage of the world, complaints by animal welfare organisations…” The doctor continues his story, and I cannot remove my eyes for a moment from those boxes placed at my feet. “Israel has locked up hundreds of civilians in a school as if in a box, dozens of children, and then crushed it with the full brunt of its bombs. And what were the reactions of the world? Almost nothing. It would have been better to be born animals, rather than Palestinians; we would have been better protected.”
At this point, the doctor bends towards one of the boxes, and opens it in front of me. Inside are mutilated limbs, arms and legs from the knee down or entire femurs, amputated from the injured who had come from the UN Fakhura School in Jabalia, more than 50 victims until now. Pretending I had an urgent phone call, I take my leave of Jamal; in fact, I head to the toilet, double up, and vomit.
“For the upcoming anniversary of the war, me andother women who lost husbands in the attack plan to give gifts to orphans who lost their fathers during the war. The gifts will be inscribed with the words “On this day you are the beloved ones of your mother”. We want children to remember they still have their mothers and they will always love them”
PCHR is publishing accounts of Operation Cast Lead for 23 days in memory of the Israeli massacre three years ago.
Palestinian Freedom Riders poised to collectively resist Israeli apartheid are inspired by the fifty-year-old legacy of U.S. Freedom Riders, whose bold defiance of Jim Crow laws in the South helped to dismantle legal structures of racism. All those who celebrate the achievements of the Civil Rights Era should be prepared to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers today.
At 11:00 AM on November 15, 2011, Palestinian activists in the West Bank will board Israel’s segregated transportation services en route to occupied East Jerusalem to defy institutionalized prejudice the same way the Freedom Riders did during the United States’ civil rights movement in the 1960s.
Five decades after Black Americans challenged the status quo by riding interstate buses through the segregated South, Palestinians will employ the same method of civil disobedience to further the dismantling of the customs, laws, and military directives that implement the forceful suppression of Palestinian rights. The targeted transportation lines are typically state-sponsored, and they serve to connect illegal Israeli settlements and outposts dotting the West Bank. Although, as Philip Weiss makes clear, Palestinians are not officially prohibited from boarding Israeli public transportation networks built in the West Bank, the lines stop only in Jewish settlements and oftentimes cut through entire Palestinian towns. In order to board a bus in the West Bank, Palestinians, unlike Israelis, must present a virtually unattainable military order to enter the settlement in which a bus or train station is located. While Israelis can rely on guaranteed busing service to reach Jerusalem, Palestinians are forced to take unpaved backroads that usually feature a checkpoint or two.
These are the shameful standards being challenged by the Palestinian Freedom Riders in the coming days.