The emergency room in Shifa Hospital is never calm, but on Thursday, the 13th day of Israel’s assault on Gaza, this place of gore and despair was also a lesson in the way ordinary people are squeezed between suicidal fighters and a military behemoth.This recalls not only this posting I wrote yesterday but also a YNet report from Tuesday (h/t Henrik):
...One [patient] was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.
“Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting,” he told the doctors and anyone else who would listen.
He was told that there were more serious cases than his and that he needed to wait his turn. But he insisted. “We are fighting the Israelis,” he said. “When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away.” He continued smiling.
“Why are you so happy?” a reporter asked. “Look around you. Don’t you see the misery that you are helping to cause?”
A girl who looked about 18 was screaming from pain as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded was looking around helplessly. A man had a head injury, with parts of his brain coming out. He was on a stretcher, his family wailing at his side.
“Don’t you see that these people are hurting?” the militant was asked.“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”
s the Israeli operation in Gaza wears on it appears Hamas has relinquished any visage of a socio-political party, abandoning its claim to govern the residents of Gaza in favor of engaging in open war at their expense.The jihadists are explicit not only in their cynical endangerment of civilians but also in their desire to see more of their people get killed, as long as the international community blames Israel.
...Civilians are simply used as cannon fodder or human shields. Reports out of Gaza say residents who attempted to flee their homes in the northern area of the Strip were forced to go back at gunpoint, by Hamas men.
The organization is presumably interested in increasing civilian casualties in order to give rise to international pressure against Israel. Arab media reported that in an IDF strike on a UN school 30 civilians were killed, but there is no legitimate way to prove gunmen were among those killed as Hamas tends to bury these bodies quickly, thus eliminating evidence in Israel's favor.
Other civilian complaints state that Hamas gunmen pull children along with them "by the ears" from place to place, fearing that if they don't have a child with them they will be fair game to the IDF. Others hide in civilian homes and stairwells, UNRWA ambulances, and mosques.
In other reported cases Hamas gunmen hold civilians hostage in alleyways in order to provide themselves with a living barricade to ward off IDF forces.
These reports lead to the assumption that Hamas is attempting to exacerbate the atmosphere of a humanitarian crisis in the Strip, as this may promote an international ceasefire initiative. In any case the reports clearly show that the residents of Gaza have fallen prey to Hamas as well as the IDF.
Despite this, no authoritative anti-Hamas sentiments have been heard from the Gazans. However Palestinian sources claim that grievances against the group are voiced in secret. The animosity towards Israel has not disappeared, say the sources, but it is now accompanied by bitterness towards the organization many are dubbing Iranian in its extremism.