The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, (01/22/2009), in a report well-documented (recorded interviews, photos, videos) that is being translated into several languages and commented on the whole world, is generating great repercussion, censorship and, as expected, controversies: the Palestinians of Gaza are, in large part, an instrument of Hamas, “living in constant terror’s climate, fear and insecurity, used as human shields when they live and how war’s advertising when dead, especially if be children, women or elderly.”
In the interviews that led to the article, Gaza’s citizens revealed to the world facts
not disseminated by the mainstream press, at the example of how Hamas is using the civilian population, schools, mosques, hospitals, public buildings, press and/or densely inhabited for military operations of attack and defense; arrest, torture and killing political opponents; using expressive part of the global media as a tool  for their war’s advertising.
Read the article ” ‘abitanti di Gaza militant Islamic accusano i” Ci impedivano di lasciare le case and lì sparavano “.’- Gaza citizens accuse Islamic militants:” They wouldn’t let us leave our homes and them shooting from there. “
By Lorenzo Cremonesi *
“Leave, leave now, get out now! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want to see our children dying under the bombs? Take away your weapons and missiles from us now.” Gaza citizens were begging Hamas and Islamic Jihad Militants. The bravest among them got organized and blocked acess doors of their patios and access to rooftops. But whatever the throne asked and to implored the terrorists are not heard anyone: “Traitors! Collaborators of Israel! Spies of Fatah! Cowards! The soldiers of the Jihad (‘holy’ war) will punish you! And in any case you will all die! Fighting the Zionists Jews we are all destined for paradise! Do you not wish to die with us? “. And so, angry shouts, breaking doors and windows and hiding themselves in upper floors, in backyards, using U.N. ambulances and vehicles of other humanitarian agencies, not just as transportation but also to attack Israeli forces, were barricades on the side of hospitals, schools, mosques, buildings of the UN and other international aid agencies.
Sometimes Hamas militants were shooting Palestinians who, crashed access to their homes or while trying to save their own families from the streets, happened to be on their way. Abu Issa, 42 years old, from Tel Awa, claims that “Hamas militants tried intentionally to provoke the Israelis, doing everything for them to open fire on houses and buildings with civilians. It was often young men of 16 or 17 years old armed with a machine guns, granades and mortars. They could not do anything against tanks and jets. They knew they were weaker. But they wanted them to shoot at our houses so they could later accuse them [the Israelis] of war crimes.” He’s echoed by his cousin, Um Abdallah, 48 years old: “Basically all the highest buildings that were targeted in Gaza, as the Dogmoush, Andalous, Jawarah, Siussi had launching pads on the roof and they were used as strategic surveillance points for Hamas. Hamas put Qassam’s launching pads next to the UN building that burned and they did the same with buildings in villages next to the border which were then savagely devastated by the mad and punitive fury of the Zionists”. The names of Palestinians witnesses that agreed to talk to us are not their real names. It was very hard to interview them, since everyone is scared of Hamas and their control over the population.
Life on a wire
Whoever tries to tell a different story from the one told by the “muhamawa” (The resistance) is immediately accused to be “amil” (Enemy’s Collaborator), and therefore he or she pays the prize with his or her own life and putting the lifes of all its family at risk.. Had Israel or Egypt allowed foreign journalists to enter immediately, it would have been easier. Local journalists are often threatened by Hamas: “This is not new, in the Middle East, unfortunately the Arab societies do not have a cultural tradition of human rights. This was true under Arafat, when the press was persecuted and censored. With Hamas the situation is even, even worse”, claims Eyad Sarraj, a well known psychiatric from Gaza city. And there’s another matter which is becoming more evident, by visiting clinics, hospitals and the families of victims of Israeli fire. The truth is that their numbers appear to be much lower than the nearly 1.300 dead and 5.000 wounded reported by Hamas and repeated by UN officials, the local Red Cross and other organizations: “the dead could be no more than 500 or 600 and mostly youngsters between the age or 17 and 23 that have been drafted and literally sent by Hamas literally to be massacred”, we are told by a doctor from Shifa Hospital, who categorically refuses to be quoted, his life is at risk. Even local journalists confirm this information. “We have flagged this matter to Hamas’ leaders. Why do they insist on inflating the numbers of victims? It is also strange that NGO’s and global press, mostly Western, would report them without verifying them! In the end the truth might surface. I would be like Jenin in 2002. Originally, the figure was 1500 dead. Then it emerged that it was only 54, including at least 45 fighters who died in combat.”
How did we come to these figures?
Masoda Al Samoun, 24 years old, explains us the following: “Let’s take the case of the massacre of the Al Samoun family in the Zeitun neighborhood. When bombs hit their homes they reported 31 dead – this was recorded by the Ministry of Health which is controlled by Hamas. Later on, when the bodies were extracted [from the rubble] the total number suddenly increased to 62 and were added to the total sum”. And he adds an interesting detail: “What made the situation more confusing were also Israeli special forces. Their men were dressed like Hamas guerrilla, with the green scarf on their front and the usual sentence written on it: ‘There is no God other than Allah and Muhammad his Prophet.’ They entered the small alleys to spread disorder. It happened that we screamed at them to leave, we were scared of reprisals. Later on we understood they were Israelis”. It is enough to visit a hospital to understand that the numbers are wrong. There are several empty beds in the Rafah European hospital which should be the one most packed from people involved in the “tunnel war“. The same holds true for the “Nasser” in Khan Yunis. Only 5 out of 150 beds are actually occupied in the private hospital of Al-Amal. In Gaza city the Wafam, a hospital build with Islamic charity donations from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries, was evacuated, and bombed by Israel at the end of December. The Institute was well known for being one of the Hamas strongholds; here they hospitalized their wounded of the civil war against Fatah in 2007. The rest were hospitalized at the Al Quds, also bombed in the second half week of January.
Simulations, Arrests, Torture, Assassination…
This is narrated by Magah al-Rachmah, 25 years old, who lives near the four buildings of the seriously damaged hospital complex, tells us: «Hamas people were hiding mostly in the building where the Al Quds hospital administration offices are. They were using ambulances and obliged nurses to take off their uniforms with doctors’ symbols, so they could mix among them and run away from Israeli snipers. Such situation has reduced the number of available beds in health institutes in Gaza. Even the Shifah, the biggest city hospital, is far from declaring full occupancy. Apparently its underground facilities were densely occupied, instead. “Hamas had hidden emergency cells and interrogation rooms for Fatah prisoners and the left secular front that had been evacuated from the bombed prison of Saraja”, tell militants from the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine. This has been a war within the war, between Fatah and Hamas. Local humanitarian organizations, mostly controlled by the PLO, speak of dozens of cases of executions and torture and kidnapping in the last three weeks by Hamas. A well known case is of Achmad Shakhura, 47 years old, who lived in Khan Yunis and he was the brother of Khaled, Mohammad Dahlan’s right-hand (former chief of Arafat secret services in exile) who was kidnapped by an order of Hamas’s head of secret police, Abu Abdallah Al Kidra. He was then tortured and had apparently his left eye pulled out before he was executed on January 15.
* Lorenzo Cremonesi, Italian journalist, international correspondete in the Middle East daily Corriere della Sera.
1. Corriere della Sera newspaper, edition of January 22, 2009