Monday 24 May 2004

The day the tanks arrived at Rafah zoo

This just makes me so angry, this is collective punishment, pure and simple. Sharon is going to start a fucking war and lots of people are going to die so that a bunch of insane corrupt zionist scum-fucks supported by some looney evangelical "Christian" scum-fucks can impose their warped world-view on the rest of us!

Are we as a species so lost that we tacitly condone the slaughter of defenceless children. What the fuck is wrong with this planet?

Among ruined houses, a haven for Gaza's children lies in rubble

Ask to be directed to the latest wave of Israeli destruction in Rafah's al-Brazil neighbourhood and many fingers point towards the zoo.

Amid the rubble of dozens of homes that the Israeli army continued yesterday to deny demolishing, the wrecking of the tiny, but only, zoo in the Gaza Strip took on potent symbolism for many of the newly homeless.

The butchered ostrich, the petrified kangaroo cowering in a basement corner, the tortoises crushed under the tank treads - all were held up as evidence of the pitiless nature of the Israeli occupation.

"People are more important than animals," said the zoo's co-owner Mohammed Ahmed Juma, whose house was also demolished. "But the zoo is the only place in Rafah that children could escape the tense atmosphere. There were slides and games for children. We had a small swimming pool. I know it's hard to believe, looking at it now, but it was beautiful. Why would they destroy that? Because they want to destroy everything about us."

The systematic demolition of homes was revealed yesterday as Israeli forces partially pulled out of al-Brazil on the fifth day of an operation officially to hunt down Palestinian fighters and weapons-smuggling tunnels running under the border from Egypt.

More than 40 people have been killed in the assault, about a third of them civilians, besides targets of the operation such as the Hamas military commander in al-Brazil who was hit by a missile.

About 45 buildings were razed by the army in the area it pulled back from yesterday, some of them two or three storeys high and housing several families.

The military says the houses were wrecked by Palestinian bombs planted to attack Israeli forces, or accidentally by tanks turning in the street. But Palestinians consistently gave similar accounts of armoured bulldozers arriving at the door and giving the residents just minutes to get out, at best.

"The bulldozer started hitting the house," said Juma Abu Hammad sitting on the remains of his eight-bed-roomed home that housed two families with 15 children. "I grabbed the children. We did not take a single thing with us, even very important documents like birth certificates. I was just worried about the lives of the children."

Aziza Monsour, 54, pointed to the remains of a yellow taxi tossed by a bulldozer on the top of what remained of a neighbouring house. "That taxi was our only living," she said. "My husband drove it. It provided for everyone who lived in this house."

But there is no house any more.

"The blade of the bulldozer hit the room we were sitting in," said Mrs Monsour. "I waved my white headscarf at the soldiers as we pleaded with them to let us go. We were running between the tanks and the shooting and counting the children as we went to make sure they were all still with us. This is revenge, absolute revenge, for the seven Israeli soldiers killed in Rafah."

None of the homes left destroyed yesterday is close to the "Philadelphi road" security strip under Israeli control along the Egyptian border, and is therefore un-likely to have been used to dig weapons-smuggling tunnels.

Full story...