Here’s an English translation of the Cremonesi article by my daughter, Noa Landes.
Doubts on the Number of Victims: Could be 600 rather than 1300
Il Corriere della Sera
January 21, 2009
GAZA – “Get away! Get away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill everyone? Do you want our children to die under the bombs? take your missiles and weapons away,” the inhabitants of the Gaza strip yelled at the Hamas militants and their allies in Islamic Jihad. The more courageous were organized and blocked the entrances to their courtyards and locked the doors to their buildings, barricading quickly and furiously the stairs to the highest rooftops.
But for all of that the guerrillas didn’t listen to anyone. “Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?” This is what they yelled furiously as they broke down doors and windows, hiding themselves on high floors, gardens, using ambulances and barricading themselves near the hospitals, schools and buildings of the UN.
In extreme cases the [Hamas militants] shot those who sought to block them from their streets and houses to save their own families, or they beat them savagely. “The Hamas Militants looked for good places to provoke the Israelis. They were usually youths, 16 or 17 years old, armed with submachine guns. They couldn’t do anything against a tank or jet. They knew they were much weaker. But they wanted the [Israelis] to shoot at the [the civilians'] houses so they could accuse them of more war crimes” asserted Abu Issa, 42, resident of the Tel Awa neighborhood.
“Practically all of the tallest buildings in Gaza that were hit by Israeli bombs, like the Dogmoush, Andalous, Jawarah, Siussi, and many others, had rocket launching pads on their roofs, or were observation decks for the Hamas. They had also put them near the big UN warehouse, which went up in flames. The same goes for the villages in the valley along the border who were more devastated by the mad fury and punishment of the Zionist,” echoes his cousin Um Abdallah, 48. They use family nicknames, but they provide important circumstantial details. It was difficult to get these testimonials. In general, fear of Hamas prevails and the ideological alimentary taboos reign in this century of wars with the “Zionist enemy.”
Those who recount a different version than the story imposed by the “Muhamawa” (the resistance) is automatically an “Amil,” a collaborator and is risking his life. However, the recent fratricidal collision between Hamas and Olp helps. If Israel or Egypt had allowed foreign journalists to enter immediately it would have been easier. These Locals are often threatened by Hamas.
“This is not a new fact, in the Middle East, Arab societies are missing the cultural traditions of human rights. It happened during Arafat’s regime that the press started being persecuted and censured. With Hamas it is even worse,” said Eyad Sarraj, a noted psychiatrist in Gaza City.
And there is another fact coming to light ever more obviously, visiting the hospitals, clinics and families of the victims of Israeli fire: In reality their numbers appear much lower than 1300 dead and another 5000 injured, as reported by the men of Hamas and repeated by the UN officials and the local Red Cross. “The dead can’t be more than 500 or 600. There are many youths between 17 and 23, recruited by Hamas, who sent them quite literally to the slaughter.” Said the doctor from the Shifah hospital who under no circumstances wanted to be quoted for he risked his life.
This data has been confirmed by the local journalist. “We already pointed this out to the heads of Hamas. Why do they insist on inflating the number of victims? Its strange on the other hand that the NGOs, also the western ones, report them without and verification. In the end the truth may come to light. It could be like Jenin in 2002. Initially we spoke about 1500 dead. Then it came out that there were only 54, of whom at least 45 were militants who died in battle.”
How do we arrive at this figure? “Lets take the case of the Al Samoun family massacre in the Zeitun neighborhood. When the bomb landed on their houses they reported that they had 31 dead. And this is how they were registered with the officials of the Health department which is controlled by Hamas. But then, when the bodies were effectively recovered the sum total was doubled to 62 and this si how they are computed into the final balance,” explained Masoda Al Samoun, 24 years old.
And he added in an interesting detail: “To create confusion there were the Israeli special squadrons. They were dressed up as Hamas militants with many green bandanas tied in front with the customary writing: there is no other God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. They slipped in to create chaos. We yelled at them to leave, fearing the retaliation but later we realized they were Israeli.”
Its sufficient to visit a few hospitals to understand that the numbers don’t add up. There are many empty beds in the European Hospital in Rafah, one of the [hospitals] that should be most involved with the victims of the Israeli “war of the tunnels.” The same goes for the “Nasser” of Kahn Yunis. Only 5 out of the 150 beds in the private hospital of Al-Amal are occupied. In Gaza city the Wafa was evacuated, constructed with “charitable Islamic” donations from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Countries of the Gulf, and bombed by Israel at the end of December. The Institute is marked as being a stronghold of Hamas, this is where it’s fighters came to recuperate after the civil war with Fatah in 2007. The others, however, stayed at Al Quds, which in turn was bombed the second half of the week in January.”
Talking about this event, Magah al Rachmah, 25 inhabitant no less than ten meters from the four large buildings of the health complex, today seriously damaged. “Hamas’s Men hid themselves mostly in the building that houses the administrative officials of Al Quds. They used the ambulances and they forced ambulance drivers and paramedics to take off their uniforms with the symbols of paramedics on them so that they would be able to better confuse and escape the Israeli snipers.” All of this vastly reduced the number of beds available in the health institutions of Gaza. Also,
Shifah, the biggest hospital in the city, is very far from exhausting all of it’s resources. It seems in fact that they are densely occupied with their underground tunnels. Hamas hid the emergency jails and the interrogation rooms for the prisoners of Fatah and the people who were evacuated from the bombarded prison of Saraja,” said the militants of the democratic front for the liberation of Palestine.
This [conflict] between Fatah and Hamas was a war within a war. The local humanitarian organizations, mainly controlled by the UN, tell of “dozens of executions, torture chambers, and kidnappings in the last three weeks” committed by Hamas. One of the more notable cases is that of Achmad Shakhura, 47 years old, resident of the Khan Yunis and brother of Khaled, the right hand man of Mohammed Dahlan (the former head of Yasser Arafat’s security services, now exiled) who was kidnapped by order of the head of Hamas’s local secret police, Abu Abdullah Al Kidra, and subsequently tortured, his left eye ripped out and, in the end, killed on the 15th of January.