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palestine journal: july 20 - Maghazi refugee camp bombing

today is my birthday, yay....i was awoken by a phone call from my friend rami, in al-meghazi refugee camp, asking if i would type something for him, because he has no electricity or internet.
here is what he told me:
A story from Maghazi Refugee Camp, central Gaza
by: Rami Almeghari

Less than one hour after the Washington Based Pacifica had phoned me about doing a
live interview about Maghazi camp, where I live, I laid down my head on the pillow,
under darkness because of the electricity cut, in order to have some peace of mind
before the live interview the next day. It was just after one am when the Israeli
army, backed by war planes, invaded Maghazi, telling the story of palestinian
refugees anew -- not only to pacifica radio, but to all of us who live in Maghazi
and know this story already, having seen it repeated again and again. War planes
began shooting heavily overhead. Abruptly, i rushed to my children beside me,
waking them up and taking them downstairs in case of any stray bullet hitting from

My mother was crying, my father was worried, my sister listening to newscasts.

In the darkness, everybody has been anxious, with kerosene lamps showing their wary
faces and hushed voices.

My six year old son asked me, "Dad, will i be able to be in the second grade at
school?", as we got the news that Israeli war planes had dropped a missile on his

My eight year old daughter sat on the sofa, awake all night looking at me with
frightened eyes, her face yellow and pale.

I was worried about my brother and his children (like many refugee families, we all
live together in one house), so i went upstairs to wake them up. I found my brother
sleeping on the roof, due to the hot weather under darkness.

Unfortunately, i was sorry to break his rest, because the sky was raining in such a
summer night, but, an Israeli-made 'Summer Rain' [The Israeli military code-name for
their ongoing Israeli invasion in the Gaza Strip is 'Operation Summer Rains'].

Now, the whole family has been crowded in one small, much safer room, listening
quietly to the summer rains and to my mother's cries, which i tried to dry, but in
vain. Because she was so worried, lest her other son, who was out with friends,
seeking summer breeze and summer air, get wet by the 'summer rains' that have
started to fall on Maghazi.

From 1 am to 9:30 am as I write this, the 'summer rains' have been falling, making a
flow that has swept away six lives, wounded several others, devastated the camp's
transformer, hit a wall of my son's elementary school, and inflicted damage to many
homes and buildings.

My fear, as well as my family's, is the same as that of thousands of palestinian
refugee families throughout the past six decades starting from 1948, 1956, 1967, and
ending with 2006's latest invasion of Maghazi and other refugee camps since june

However, Palestinians in the past century have found safe shelters to which they
have fled. It now seems we have only one choice -- staying in our homes under
candlelight. This is the story of Palestinian refugees. Now, in the 21st century,
I ask Israel -- where else do you want us to go? It seems that you just want us all
to die, and no one in the world seems to care.

I am writing this by pencil, on used paper, I can no longer type on my computer.
The electricity is fully gone, the backup systems have all been hit. I have to
dictate my writing by cell phone to a friend in the West Bank who can type it up -
but soon, most likely, my cell phone reception will be gone as well. Now I have
heard that two of my relatives were killed in the ongoing attack.....I'll have to
attend their funerals this afternoon. Will Israeli forces attack the funeral?
Lately every time there is a funeral, their warplanes buzz overhead, dropping bombs
on the attendees and making more funerals necessary. I just hope the next one will
not be my own, or that of my dear, dear children.

and here is an article I just wrote about the Israeli targeting of the media.
Contact the Israeli Government Press Office at +972-2-500-7502,  gpo@pmo.gov.il
and the Foreign Press Association (organization representing foreign media serving
in Israel/Palestine):
+(972-3) 691-6143,  fpa@netvision.net.il
to tell them you are dismayed at these incidents, that indicate a pattern of the
direct targeting of journalists by Israeli forces.

also see:
about the targeting of Ramattan News Agency staff in Beit Hanoun, Gaza.

Two reporters shot by Israeli forces, making seven reporters attacked in 10 days
IMEMC & Agencies - Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 16:09
 link to www.imemc.org

A cameraman for Al-Jazeera television was shot in Nablus, and a reporter with Al
Hurrah television was also shot by Israeli forces today in separate incidents.
These attacks follow a late-night attack by Israeli forces on the headquarters of
the main Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, in which media equipment was destroyed and
one reporter was injured by gas.

Wail Tanous was filming Al-Jazeera anchorwoman Guevara Albudeiri live in the
northern West Bank city of Nablus early Wednesday afternoon when an Israeli military
jeep pulled up and rammed the anchorwoman in the middle of her broadcast. The
soldiers then proceeded to shoot the cameraman, Wail Tanous, in the leg. He was
taken to a nearby hospital and is currently being treated, local sources reported.

Faten Al-Wan, a reporter with Al Hurrah television, was also shot Wednesday by
Israeli soldiers in Nablus. Dr. Ghassan Handa, head of the Medical Relief in
Nablus, reported that Al-Wan was injured by a rubber-coated bullet and transferred
to a hospital in Nablus.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli soldiers ransacked the offices of the main Palestinian
News Agency, WAFA, damaging equipment and injuring reporter Mona Al Fares when they
fired tear gas into her office.

Today's incidents are merely the latest in at least seven incidents in which Israeli
forces directly targeted reporters covering the ongoing conflict in the last several

In Lebanon, at least seven journalists have been seriously wounded, and Israeli
bombs directly targeted the headquarters of Al-Manar television, a station which
Israeli spokesmen said was 'marked for death', as the television station funded by
the Hezbollah resistance group.

One of the injured journalists, with the Lebanese station New TV, said that the
well-marked New TV vehicle sustained more damage than any other, "which suggests to
us that it was a targeted attack against our vehicle."

Three employees with Al-Manar, the TV station operated by the Lebanese branch of
Hezbollah, sustained minor injuries when its premises in the Shiite suburb of Haret
Hreik in south Beirut were struck by a missile during an Israeli air raid. The
station said its antenna was not destroyed and broadcasting was not interrupted.
"This flagrant and barbaric aggression is targeted at all the Lebanese media," the
station said.

An Al-Manar correspondent was meanwhile hit during the bombardment of Qasmiye bridge
in the south of the country several days ago.

Said 'Reporters Without Borders', an international press freedom organization based
in France, "It is unacceptable that journalists should be treated as combatants when
they are covering clashes. We point out that this would not be the first time the
Israeli army has deliberately targeted journalists."

And in Gaza, attacks against journalists have been ongoing and deliberate, with a
number of journalists pointing out the fact that Israeli soldiers pointed guns
directly at them and fired, even while the journalists were clearly marked and in
close range.

Two days ago, a news crew from the U.S. based 'Fox' News station were shot at by
Israeli forces while reporting live from Dir al Balah, Gaza, leading one of the U.S.
based commentators to refer to the Israelis as 'bad guys with guns' -- a rare twist
of events for a station that has often been accused by media analysts of being
biased toward Israel in its coverage of the Middle East.

Reporters of Maan, AFP, Reuters and other stations have been repeatedly attacked by
Israeli soldiers while covering the weekly non-violent anti-Wall protests in the
West Bank village of Bil'in, and reporters also report being barred from reporting
on the event.

Walid al-Umari, the bureau chief for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television, known to
many as 'the CNN of the Middle East', was taken prisoner by Israeli forces twice on
Monday as he was reporting on the latest developments in the crisis with Lebanon
from a village in northern Israel.

After being released late on Monday, al-Umari, in a live telephone interview
broadcast on the satellite channel, accused Israel of "interfering with Aljazeera's

Reporters Without Borders recently issued a condemnation the action of the Israeli
troops who shot and wounded Palestinian news photographers Hamid Al Khur and
Mohammad Al Zaanoun on 7 and 8 July while they were covering clashes between
Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"Khur and Zaanoun were both wearing yellow vests that clearly identified them as
journalists, so there was no way they could have been mistaken for combatants,"
Reporters Without Borders said, calling on the Israeli authorities to carry out
investigations to establish how they came to be shot.

Khur, a photographer with the Turkish news agency Ihlas, was shot twice by Israeli
soldiers on 7 July while covering clashes between Palestinian militants and the
Israeli army in Beit Lahiya, in the north of the Gaza Strip. Khur, who was wearing a
bullet-proof vest at the time, was hit first in the chest and then in the right arm.
He was initially taken to Kamal Adwan hospital, and from there to a hospital in
Jerusalem the next day.

Zaanoun, a photographer with the Palestinian online news agency Ma'an, was working
in the district of al-Zaitoun, south of Gaza City, when Israeli tanks arrived on the
morning of 8 July. He was wounded while photographing the bodies of two Palestinian
militants who had been killed in the course of the Israeli incursion. He continued
to take photographs until shot in the leg and stomach by an Israeli sniper. He was
taken to an Israeli hospital where he is said to be in a critical condition.


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