- Issam AdwanGaza project manager for We Are Not Numbers.
The death toll in Gaza has reached at least 83, including 17 children, and hundreds of people have been injured, as Israel’s aerial bombardment of the besieged territory continues. Israel is now sending troops to the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion as many Palestinians are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The Biden administration on Wednesday gave Israel a green light to continue its assault, and Israel has reportedly rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire, despite growing international condemnation. Issam Adwan, Gaza project manager for We Are Not Numbers, a youth-led initiative to share Palestinian stories with the wider world, says many international observers make the mistake of viewing the latest violence in isolation. “They think this war is the only violation of human rights Israel is doing to the people of Gaza. Over the past 15 years, we have witnessed three brutal wars, and this is a fourth one,” says Adwan.
AMY GOODMAN: The death toll in Gaza has reached at least 83 as Israel’s aerial bombardment of the besieged territory enters a fourth day. The dead include at least 17 children. Over 480 Palestinians have also been injured. Israel is now amassing troops near Gaza for a possible ground invasion.
This comes as many Palestinians are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. On Wednesday, Israel leveled one of the tallest buildings in Gaza City, a 14-story high-rise that housed several local media outlets as well as residential units. It was the third Gaza high-rise destroyed this week by Israel. Israel has also killed several top Hamas commanders.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Israel has reached seven as Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups continue to fire hundreds of rockets into Israel. Israel is reportedly rejecting calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying the assault will continue until there’s, quote, “complete quiet in Gaza.”
The deadly Israeli attacks come after hundreds of Palestinians were injured in Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli security forces Monday and over the weekend, including during crackdowns at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and over ongoing protests to stop the expulsion of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden reasserted Israel’s right to defend itself.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Israel has a right to defend itself, when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory. But I had a conversation for a while with the prime minister of Israel, and I think that — my hope is that we’ll see this coming to conclusion sooner than later.
AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his, quote, “ironclad support for Israel” in a call with his Israeli counterpart. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the United States has blocked another Security Council resolution about the crisis.
Violence is also spreading across Israel with Jewish mobs attacking Palestinians in mixed Jewish and Arab communities. In the Israeli city of Haifa, a video was posted online showing an Israeli mob trying to break into the home of an Arab family.
In the Israeli city of Bat Yam, an Israeli mob was shown on live TV attacking a driver who they suspected of being an Arab. The man was dragged from his car and attacked. He was left bleeding on the ground after what the Israeli media described as an “attempted lynching.” The Financial Times reports the man was Jewish but was mistaken as an Arab. In other parts of Bat Yam, large groups of Israelis were seen vandalizing Arab-owned businesses.
In the city of Acre, Israelis were filmed marching in the streets chanting “Death to Arabs.” In the Israeli city of Lod, hundreds of border patrol officers have been deployed in a curfew following sustained protests by the city’s Palestinian residents. On Wednesday, groups of Israelis attacked the Great Omari Mosque of Lod. Earlier in the week, a Palestinian man was shot dead there. At least one synagogue has also been set on fire.
We begin today’s show in Gaza, where we’re joined by Issam Adwan. He’s the Gaza project manager for We Are Not Numbers.
Can you describe, Issam, what’s happening on the ground in Gaza right now?
ISSAM ADWAN: Thank you, Amy, for having me here.
Basically, we have been seeing an ongoing aggression on Gaza. And this is ongoing, has been happening since 2008, 2012, 2014. And nowadays we are witnessing fourth brutal war of Gaza. The scene is horrific, and it’s terrifying on our children and ourselvesthat we find a lot of stories of the children, a lot of stories of women, and this is creating a lot of scary moments for our people to handle. As you said, the minister of health has reported the death toll, until so far, 83 people, including 17 children and seven females, including a female who was pregnant. And all this coming news out of Gaza, they are not something new. Luckily, that the social media and the international community paid enough attention to the Israeli aggression that is happening in Gaza and the West Bank, as we have been witnessing in the past week as it happens, in Sheikh Jarrah, the land grabbing, the detention of children and — including children and women, and the theft of Palestinian homes and continuous ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and in different cities and different villages of Palestine.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Issam, even before the present assault on Gaza, conditions in Gaza were more or less unlivable. The U.N. warned in 2012 that by 2020, if prevailing conditions at the time continued, the area would be entirely uninhabitable. Could you talk about what conditions, living conditions, in Gaza have been like?
ISSAM ADWAN: That is what — that is exactly what the international community fails to understand, that they think this war is the only violation of human rights Israel is doing to the people of Gaza. Over the past 15 years, we have witnessed three brutal wars, and this is a fourth one, including the situation is deteriorating from different levels. We are seeing medical insufficiency of expertise, of equipment. We are seeing the economy is collapsing day by day, and the unemployment rate is crazily increasing. And the water is undrinkable. People could barely find food and water to feed their children. And so many other levels of dehumanization. Gaza has been sieged 15 years with an absolute policy to suffocate every norms of a human being’s existence. And whatever people are expecting, what methods of Gaza can express to defend the existence of people in Gaza, as much as people in the West Bank and in the Palestinian territories?
What Israel has been enforcing — has been enforcing to Gazans is a bargaining plate, that “If you remain silent, we will grant you crumbs of rights. We will grant you a little bit of water, natural resources to use. We will grant you eight hours a day of electricity. We will grant you other services of import and import — of export and import coming in and out of Gaza.” And this is the forms of dehumanization that the international community and the media stream are failing to understand.
That is why they are calling and they are entitling our suffering as a matter of a conflict, as a matter of tension, as a matter of escalation, which is so untrue. This is not a conflict. When we are talking about conflict and tension, we’re talking about symmetrical powers that are, I would say, having the same military equipment, the same funding. And to talk about the funding itself, which the U.S. is granting impunity on the political level as much as funding Israel with 3.8 billions of dollars per year, mainly to fund the military occupation.
Those facts, they are not new to the people who are following the news coming out of Gaza. But you don’t hear our stories. You only hear our stories whenever there are numbers of people dying, whenever there are hundreds of people injured, and whenever there are tens and hundreds of bombing happening in the areas of Gaza. That is why we are trying to amplify those stories. We don’t want you to see us as means of numbers. We don’t want you to see us as means of people suffering. But we are people trying to live in peace and dignity. And Israel is not allowing this, and Israel has been violating all norms and all accords of humanity, with full impunity by the U.S. government, as well as the supreme countries all over the world.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Issam, as far as the telling of Palestinian stories is concerned, could you also talk about the coverage in the Israeli media? I mean, some have said that media that are routinely critical of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government and his policies, in this instance, in covering this assault in Gaza, those same media outlets have called for the military, the Israeli military, to be as forceful as possible, etc. Talk about how this is being reported in the Israeli media.
ISSAM ADWAN: Of course, the Israeli media, with the support of the international media, as well, they are reporting Gaza as terrorist, because they are only focusing on the reaction — on the self-defense reaction of the Palestinians in Gaza shooting rockets. But why? Why to discuss the shooting of rockets and ignoring the fact that Israel has been ethnically cleansing Palestine since 1948, land grabbing Palestinians, forcibly expelling Palestinians in the West Bank, in the Occupied Territories, and even not allowing people of the diaspora to return, as stipulated by the United Nations Resolution number 194? We are talking about many human rights violations that are — that should be worthy to be discussed and should be worthy to be asked for. But when it comes to Gaza, they only see Gaza as means of reaction.
And when it comes to shooting rockets and comparing to what happened, for instance, during the Great March of Return, we can clearly see and we can clearly state that Israel does not really need any reason to violate human rights. Israel has been violating human rights. Israel has been established on the forcibly expelling of Palestinians, on the killing, on the imprisonment, including children and women. We have been seeing this aggression on Gaza in 2008, 2012, 2014 and nowadays. Taking an example of this aggression, in 2008, when Israel launched a vast-scale bombing in Gaza, in three minutes, death toll raised to 400 people died. During the Great March of Return, people protested peacefully, which is supposedly the international laws protecting. What we have encountered with? Live ammunition, explosive bullets, sniper rifles, tear gas, and so many other means that are considered internationally prohibited to be used against peaceful protesters. So, why to discuss the reaction, the angry reaction, of the Palestinians, considering the existence — Hamas would have never been existed without the existence of the occupation itself.
So, I believe, after 73 years of this occupation, and my age, 27 years, lived under this direct occupation, and for the past 15 years, imprisoned, denied 99% of my rights, I believe those sufferings are worthy to be discussed. Those sufferings are worthy to be put in the discussion table with Israel to impose sanctions, to take those cases to the ICC. And we have been witnessing, over the long decades, that Israel has never been punished, has never been sanctioned by the ICC, of course, because of the protection and because of the funding that the U.S. administration has been providing for so long.
AMY GOODMAN: Issam Adwan, we want to thank you for being with us, Gaza project manager for We Are Not Numbers, speaking to us from Gaza City.
When we come back, we go to Jerusalem to speak with Mohammed El-Kurd about how Israeli forces forcibly removed him from Sheikh Jarrah yesterday, but he did return. Stay with us.