Gaza breakfast turns to horror

December 27, 2008

Saturday is my day off from being Reuters correspondent in Gaza and I usually sleep until noon.  This Saturday things didn’t go to plan.

My 7-year-old son Abdel-Rahman and his sister Dalia, who is 12, came home early from school, as they have been doing their mid-term exams, to wake me up and ask me to take them for breakfast at a seafront restaurant not far from Gaza’s port.

We got in the car, and for some reason I didn’t take the usual coast road. The decision probably saved our lives.

We had barely taken our table overlooking the sea when we heard one explosion, then another, then a third.

Abdel-Rahman began to cry and Dalia covered her ears with her hands.

I rushed to the front to have a look and saw smoke pouring from the area of the port, and a series of explosions. I figured it was air strikes. Then I heard the roar of Israeli jets.

I radioed my colleagues in television and pictures and told them what I had seen. I tried to phone Reuters’ Jerusalem office — but the mobile phone signal died.

I went to the restaurant’s reception and called the office, but I had to keep running back to my children and wife, were, to calm them down.

“Dad, don’t leave us,” cried Abdel-Rahman. Dalia wept. “Dad, I am afraid. Why? Why did that happen? Do they want to kill us?”

I had no answer as the explosions continued to rock the place that is our home.

I was getting reports by radio about locations that had been hit, including the main police headquarters and another security compound near our house.

What later emerged was that more than 225 people had been killed in dozens of air strikes against the Hamas-ruled strip. Israel said the attacks were in response to daily rocket fire by Gaza militants, which intensified after Hamas ended a six-month ceasefire. On Saturday, one Israeli man was killed by a rocket after the Israeli strikes began.

My wife tried to call her friends in the house, but couldn’t get a signal. Then one of her friends got through to her and told her that there was shattered glass everywhere and the sky overhead was thick with smoke.

So we had to stay put in the restaurant and I had to struggle between coping with the tears of my children and the need to get to my office in Gaza.

Colleagues warned me against driving as my car could be hit if I unwittingly drove near any of the security compounds that the Israelis were attacking.

Then there was a lull in the bombings, and I put my family in the car. I took back roads, and drove as fast as I dared with hundreds of people milling around the streets.

“Dad, be careful,” Dalia said.

We arrived home to see that the adjacent Hamas security compound had indeed been bombed, and there were crowds in the street.

“I saw body parts and some people had their heads cut off,” one man said. “It was a real massacre, Israel has started a war,” said another.

In the compound, ambulance workers were still carrying out the injured as bodies, uniformed and in plain clothes, lay on the ground. Women wept and children huddled in the arms of their mothers and fathers.


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Up to now I had been under the impression that Reuters was a non-partisan news organization. That is until I began reading articles by Nidal al-Mughrabi. This reporter doesn’t even make a pretense of reporting both sides of the story. Her biased reporting on behalf of the palestinian cause is so one sided I am amazed that a news organization publishes them.

Posted by Kenneth Kuhn | Report as abusive

If Nidal had a bit more concern for his children he wouldn’t be working and living in Gaza in this capacity. I’d rather be a dishwasher in a place that is not overrun by terrorists.. His articles are all slanted with anti-Israel propaganda.. I know that alot of people think this way, but they don’t think right.. Best of Luck Nidal in getting your family out and finding some other employment.. Shame on reuters for using this man in this way..

Posted by daniel | Report as abusive

i wish to express my absolute sympathy to those who are loosing family members over absolute political nonsence. There is nothing that any other country can do to protect these people from such evils that war brings. The United States and Canada are now suffering a recession due to our efforts to keep peace. Hammas made a statement regarding the new president elect Obama not providing a statement about the current acts of war towards Gaza. Our countries have exhausted our resorces in trying to solve a problem that really isnt ours to begin with but choose to protect all that we can or in most cases are forced to do. What about the other countries that are on that side of the planet? Why arent they concerned about theyre own surroundings? Thier own neighbours who are struggling who are at war. You actually think our Western Countries would allow this to happen our neighbours? I agree to continue to give our countries as a safe haven for those in need, but there is no reason why our soldiers should be fighting somone elses war. Its disturbing to see children violently murdered because of these careless political leader whom think this will hear say WIN and get the upper hand. I dunno people i could continue but its a large reality that North America is suffering already for aiding others war on the other side of the planet and we dont here that it has any effect on these other contries that surround those that are suffering. Those people need to stand up and protect thier neighbours.

Why is the world standing by and letting Israel get away with the worst WAR CRIMES since WAR WORLD 2. Israel needs to be stop now before they start WAR WORLD 3..

Posted by Donald | Report as abusive

I mean all resolution through dialogues will not happen. Some hard core steps must be taken to make sure if any future dialogues happen and those will be a confirmation and merely not just a dialogues.
Therefore I fully support to your raids on Gaza, as far civilian casualties are concerned none of us are sure whether they are Hamas supporting people or really innocent civilians therefore any such news are to be treated as fake, unless some one confirms.
All the best and hope no rockets will fly towards Israel in future.

Posted by Sali | Report as abusive

It is terrible how Israels are getting away with killing so many civilians and not even allowing the foreign press in.

Posted by Julie | Report as abusive

I have always been a moderate human being. I abhor violence and cherish liberty and freedom for everyone.
When you drive 1.5 millions people into a corner, deprive them not only of basics like food, water and medical care but also of a future perspective, hope and dignity you are asking for trouble.
You know at the end of the day it’s on which side you happened to be born. One side is the terrorist, the other the resistant. If WW11 hadn’t ended the way it had, we would be learning in history books that Hitler was a great leader and that the resistance were terrorists. Every year we watch documentaries about the jewish Holocaust and remember not to repeat history ever again. Haven’t we learned anything?
Jews get this through your head… the Palestinians have a right to exist and they wont go away. Give them back their lands and leave them live in peace. Palestinains get this through your heads… the Jews have a right to exist and they wont go away. Let them have Israel of 1948 and leave them live in peace. Once you understand that, peace will be a fact. Otherwise you’re both no better than Hitler and the Nazi’s.. keep wiping each other out barbarically. Pathetic to say the least…

Posted by Amal | Report as abusive

Those of you who are chanting Go Israel…When Moses led the Hebrews to the promised land and asked them to fight for it ..they refused and the Hebrews asked Moses to go fight them with his God … If you only did what God has ordained from you to do you would probably have had your promised land and you would not had to dwell the earth for centuries looking for an opportunity to steal and murder for a place on this planet to call it home.
Enjoy it as it is prophesied it will not last.

Posted by Kmd | Report as abusive

I too call Hammas rockets FIRECRACKERS, they barely make a whole in a wall with smoke.

How many Israelis died? One due to the so called rockets and one soldier due to the latest ground invasion. Wow, I must not know how to count over 500 killed in Gaza and over 1000 injured = 2 or 1 I am not sure !!!

Also does Hammas rockets = f16 & f18 bombs = mortar shells from the latest Tanks that took the life of entire families in Gaza..!!! I am flabbergasted about the comparisons I hear

Posted by Kmd | Report as abusive

What a bizar world we live in! In our world there is more than enough of everything we need for everyone. If we all showed love and caring towards one another, we would have heavan on earth. I can’t understand how anyone no matter where they come from, what their religion is or what political affiliations they have, can condone or justify the harming or killing of evan one person. Who cares if its a child a man or a waman who is killed. Everyone should have a right to live and to have a good quality of life. True Hamas is a major pain in the but. Retaliating on the Palistinian people however in such a vicious and drastic manner is disgusting!! How many Palistinions have any ability to control Hamas. The vast majority of people are are defenslies sitting ducks!
I live in Canada, and I happen to be half Jewish.
To be honest I find it amazing how the Jews in Isreal(most likely mostly in the government) can justify the slaughter of the Palistinions. Shouldn’t they know better? Didn’t they learn from the atrocities of the Nazis how important humanity is. How can they justify two wrongs making a right. How can they justify retaliating with such unrestrained aggresion.
Nothing good can come out of this. Only more aggression on both sides. How can they be sooo dumb! Man does it suck!! PS so does my spelling.

What unintended consequences is Israel’s attack on Gaza likely to have?


A significant consequence of the escalation of armed Israel-Palestinian violence is that events on the ground are able to speak with a startling clarity as to the wider realities of this on-going conflict. Over time both sides have built up an armoury of words with which to battle for justification and control of the historical, legal and humanitarian context of this war. Many of us have drifted in accepting this lexicon of crafted terminology, however it is now looking very exposed indeed.

Perhaps one of the most striking illustrations of actual events is the ratio of 1:100 Israelis to Palestinians killed in the conflict. In this stark light talk of ‘Proportional Response’, ‘Precision Targeting’ and ‘Unfortunate collateral damage’ is very hollow indeed. It has become evident to the majority of observers how the words ‘Proportional’ ‘Unfortunate’ and ‘Precision’ are both miss-leading and not relevant in describing the situation.

This reveals a broader issue for the Israeli military and political establishment as they struggle to find a new global/US friendly narrative with which to align the cause and update their PR lexicon. The ‘War on Terror’ had proved a strong geopolitical narrative to replace the ‘Cold War’ and use in aligning Israel’s interest closely with the US. The ‘War in Terror’ lexicon is now looking pretty barren and suffering from extreme exhaustion courtesy of the Bush administration. So what next?

More of the same mantra of ‘Terror’-

“A necessary war on terror does not end with an agreement. We don’t sign agreements with terror; we fight terror.” (Israeli foreign minister January 2009). Tzipi Livni very succinctly excuses Israeli aggression as defensive, with ‘terror’ as a justification for Israel’s rejection of any form of peace process to end the occupation of Palestinian land.

However events on the ground provide a stark revision of who now owns the word ‘Terror’. If the Palestinians are clearly the more ‘Terrorised’ party, it surely begs the question who are the real ‘Terrorists’. There has been an assumption that ‘Terrorists’ work outside the structure of the nation state, do not come in the form of a disciplined uniformed national army. However the Israeli army’s ‘Terrorising’ of a dense civilian area and its stated strategic aim of using this military action to achieve a long term deterrence effect, does require us to reconsider the Israeli army as one of the best organised, equipped and most powerful ‘Agents of Terror’ in the world. Hamas’ action against the citizens of Sderot, makes them look like home-spun amateurs by comparison.

Posted by graham sullivan | Report as abusive

I am 55 years old and I only really realised the suffering of the Palestinian people after spending 5 years in Saudi Arabia where I worked with some Palestinians. That was 6 years ago.

The pro Israel propaganda is incredibly well prepared and maintained. During my school days in Holland everything and everyone was pro Israel. They made the desert bloom. And they were slaughtered by Hitler.

The holocaust story will be repeated until eternity. The genocides in Cambodia and East Africe have long been forgotten or wiped out. Some genocides, like the one in Indonesia when Suharto came to power with help of the CIA, have never been widely publicised. The current slaughter in Darfur just goes on and on, nobody cares. Palestine, Cambodia and Indonesia do not have the likes of Steven Spielberg to make movies and they don’t have heavily financed propaganda machines.

So it is easy to deceive people in Western countries, especially in the USA where people know nothing about the world.

Add to this the religious fanaticism in the USA (Jesus will come back to Jerusalem when the world ends) and the enormous wealth and influence of the Jewish community in the USA…

Do I need to say more. It is a very sick situation and it will not stop until all Palestinians are either dead or removed.

But that is not genocide of course, that is God’s chosen people living their dream.

And the world leaders quietly look on and do nothing.

Posted by Johan | Report as abusive

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