1 Aug 2014

In the midst of Gaza’s bloody ‘truce’

Warning: this page includes some images that may be distressing.

I’ve just seen what a ceasefire means, on a road east of Khan Younis. It means young men getting carried along dusty roads in blankets, with sniper wounds.

It means a stream of people on foot with their belongings. It means more civilian killings, apparently by Israeli troops, and not just of the accidental kind.

To get to Khozaa you have to go down a single track, lined by smashed houses. None was left standing. The smell of dead bodies, some there since the start of the war, hangs thick in the air.

People had gone in, at the ceasefire, to retrieve the dead and visit their farms – this is open land.

But as the long-dead came back, swollen and black in blankets, they were overtaken by faster running groups carrying new casualties.

A young man hit by a sniper bullet, head raised as they carried him aloft, trying to give the Palestinian peace salute. They slam him into an ambulance containing two dead and rotting bodies and speed off.

Read more: seven things about the military situation in Gaza

All around, on both sides of this track, there were impacts of shell fire. A group of men stopped me. Khozaa looks like a hurricane’s hit it, one told me. What can you hear? Says another: artillery and snipers.

He is correct. We drive to the main hospital in Khan Younis, and there is chaos. The doctor is calm at first but then starts ranting: “We have no beds, no blood, no equipment, we can’t cope.

There is a lot of odeima, a lot of internal injuries.” There is pandemonium outside but in the triage room they go calmly through the injuries of those brought in.

I saw a 12-year-old boy with blast injuries – eardrums bleeding, no wounds on his body.

I saw a baby, about three months old, with shrapnel wounds to its arm – it will live but nobody knows who it belongs to.

I saw a boy aged eight or nine in shock on a trolley, hooked to an oxygen cylinder but with no oxygen mask. I saw a young man with a bullet wound in his side, and another with a bullet wound in his leg.

I saw a woman on a trolley on a drip, still conscious, but with a bullet entry wound to her temple. She will die.

I saw the bodies of maybe six or seven civilians arrive, the old, discovered bodies mixed with the newly dead.

Read more: Gaza live: Israeli soldier ‘may have been captured’

As we drove back, on the road north to Gaza City, you could see the dust of Israeli tanks in the distance. Three times shell fire came close enough to the main road to smell the cordite.

We are back at Gaza City now and safe but what I saw followed a fairly consistent pattern: shelling into farmland where Palestinians were trying to return, and aimed small-arms fire at civilians.

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30 reader comments

  1. Seán ó connachtaigh says:

    Have to say what a great job your journalists are doing in gaza.All of them,risking their lives to bring us the truth.

  2. john morland says:

    Seems like Israel has created
    another generation of children
    who will grow up hating them.
    Israel can never win, by military

  3. Tom Horwat says:

    I fear for the safety of Paul Mason. I cannot believe the Israeli public are seemingly supporting this “war”. They can’t be seeing the pictures we are seeing of wholesale death and destruction of Gazan civilians on such a large scale. Nobody in their right minds can support such a one sided conflict that is killing so many innocent men women and children.

  4. safina najeeb says:

    Thank you seems so inadequate, for what you are doing over in Gaza. You and your crew are the eyes and ears for the outside world, so we will know what is really going on. Please take care out there. The world cannot afford to lose ethical, fearless journalists like yourselves. Gaza can’t afford to lose you.

  5. JN Maron, Brussels, Belgium says:

    Paul, thank you so much for your tremendous work on reporting so honestly this afwul war .
    I can hardly imagine how much strength, courage and compassion it takes.
    God bless you, Paul & your crew ;-)

  6. Maria davies says:

    Paul, thank you & your crew for your Gaza reports. Stay safe, blessings to you and everyone in Gaza xx

  7. Mark Ashdown says:

    Your reporting of this has reached a new pinnacle of war reporting. Appalling scenes brilliantly covered. Keep yourself as safe as you can.

  8. Errum Mumtaz says:

    Thank you channel 4- thank you Paul Mason!! You guys have done an amazing job! so much respect for all your hard work!

  9. Ahmed Fayad says:

    The saddest thing isn’t the blatant murder of civilians. It is the US, UK and other countries blind support and funding of these atrocities. US pays 3.1Billion $ to Israel publicly and probably double that through charity, military aid, contract privileges and “junk” weapon transfers.

    We watch people die and we watch Israel becoming more and more like Nazi Germany (watch the world shriek at this comparison but compare history and you will see where they are heading.) and all of those who proclaimed never again are wondering if the following rise to war crimes:
    1-bombing 2 UN schools, 6 hospitals, 7000 homes, numerous ambulances
    2-people bombed are living in a giant concentration camp where the calorie intake is controlled by the occupier.
    3-people are executed freely by the Israeli forces with no need for justification or fear of persecution.
    4-blood flows in the streets and bodies rot in fallen buildings
    5- destruction of water, waste and electricity facilities intentionally to increase collective punishment of 1.8 million people.

    maybe if they used sniper rifles to attack dolphins for fun the world may react but until then the world is in a deep slumber of hypocrisy and fear of the Israeli propaganda machine.

  10. Ann Lewis says:

    My heart-felt thanks to you and your crew for continuing to bring these reports. Without Channel 4’s coverage, we’d be left with the abysmal coverage the BBC has to offer. I don’t think I could bear to see the BBC’s award-winning journalist Jon Simpson reporting on the distressing story of an Israeli family who had a chandelier broken by one of Hamas’ puny rockets. You, Jonathan Miller, Jon Snow and all the others whose names I don’t know are brave and honest and true and I commend you all.

    The humanity in your reporting, the truth you tell in spite of the consequences is remarkable. Tell your colleagues how grateful we are in the UK for your efforts and endeavours. I pray for the safe return of you all and hope you find a way to cope with all you have witnessed.

  11. Shahid Khan says:

    Where is the middle east peace envoy? Tony BLIAR

  12. Adamkatz says:

    Mr.mason- just state the facts-no death counts – no biased comments – who broke the ceasefire – who continues to leave their Peolpe undefended whilst they seek refuge underground -,your failure to get to the root cause of the war- shows you up for the prejudiced emotional journalist you are – does the geneva convention allow for the kidnapping of soldiers-you normally can’t wait to quote the rules .

    1. Peter Stevens says:

      Dear ‘Adamkatz’, which kidnapping of which soldier are you referring to; is it the one allegedly ‘kidnapped’ before the weekend that Israel now admits was killed but does not say by whom? The story that was reported by the West’s mostly pro-Zionist press in all the weekend press maybe? The one poor soldier who apparently is worth more than thousands of Gaza citizens; women, children, old men UN, workers, students and fighters, makes more headlines than all these people. This killing can never be justified by such a narrow minded, insular and unfeeling government such as that in Israel.

    2. desmondo says:

      kidnapping? Its usually called capturing in war, and yes, the geneva convention does allow for it.

  13. A R says:

    I have to applaud the channel 4 team of their reporting on this conflict, their reporters are doing an amazing job out in Gaza. They are giving a completely different version of events compared to other channels, The incredible footage and interviews they have done really show the true story of the real victims of this massacre.
    Keep up the good work and we all pray for your safety.

  14. Anthony says:

    Paul, you are very obviously an honorable man, but that will not save you from the murdorous IDF. Please do not assume that your Press credentials will offer you any protection from these indisiplined louts. Please take extra care and may God bless you and keep you safe. WE NEED YOU.

  15. Dj Footprint says:

    Thank you so much Paul and all the rest of the Channel 4 Crew for continuing to inform us of what is really happening in Gaza – horrific though it may be, the world needs to know.
    Not only are you the only News station in the UK giving the fully informed view – it is heartening to know / witness your reports via RTE News – Ireland’s state broadcaster. (There is much support for Palestine/Gaza in Ireland).
    Please stay as safe as you can Paul & Crew – my utmost respect for you all for your most unstinting ethical and fearless reporting on behalf of the people of Gaza, and ourselves.

    @ Ahmed Fayad – A worthwhile and well-reasoned comment you have made there. Israel has used so many munitions of all forms during recent weeks (which must have been an utterly huge stock to begin with) – and those countries Governments wringing their hands over this human carnage, crying crocodile tears – rush to re-arm them in the blink of an eye.

    Israel will not stop until it wipes Gaza off the map – and day by day it is doing so.

  16. Christina Hespe says:

    Thank you Channel 4, especially Paul Mason and Jon Snow, for your honest, ethical reporting of the situation in Gaza. The BBC is a pathetic side show by comparison. Stay safe. The Palestinians need you to carry on being their voice.

  17. Merina says:

    Paul thank you very much for doing such a risky job. They are saying Hamas captured one soldier and what about they keeping so many in their prisons.

  18. Paul says:

    I agree with you Ahmed, I cannot understand the behaviour of the Israeli’s. I used to support them but now I am horrified by what is happening. My support is now for the people of Palestine, May they have peace soon, God Bless them.

  19. Matt says:

    Well done on providing some excellent journalism.
    At least Channel 4 and some of it’s better journalists and human beings are doing their bit.

  20. sarah says:

    Thank you Paul for your reporting of this extremely distressing episode in the Gaza conflict. I am absolutely sickened and I know lots of others feel the same. We collected 102 signature on our High Street in just an hour against the war. But a question – as it seems clear that Israel has an agenda and may be deliberately undermining attempts to get to a final settlement – e.g. precipitating this crisis on the false claim that Hamas was responsible for the teenagers’ deaths and as it this has come so soon after the unity Government, what about dropping the constant pejorative reference of Hamas as ”militants”. At least say ”militants to some, freedom fighters or resistance movement to others”. Also, it is clear there are racist and extremist elements accounting for the barbarity of the Israeli response – how about referencing this. I hope Ch4 will break the mould in a way that we cannot expect from the Bollocks Broadcasting Corp.

  21. Ira Gelnik says:

    What is Paul’s point? That war is ugly. We already know that. That more of them are dying then us is not seen as a bad thing from this side. You need to decide who started this war and which side you see as more justified. The Hamas rulers of Gaza that literally butcher any opponent. That give no rights to women or gays and lesbians or anyone that doesn’t agree with their Koran edicts. Or Israel that is protection it’s citizens from indescriminate bombing.

    1. Ian Allan says:

      Whats the point. He or she has lost their humanity and thats Israel’s problem.

  22. Sam says:

    US Senate approves $100m+ to re-stock the Dome defence system. Why could they not also offer $100m in humanitarian aid to Gaza at the same time? This would show some semblance of neutrality and compassion.

  23. John Webster says:

    All journalists on the ground know that the Israeli’s deliberately target civilians – not only because the individual soldiers in the IDF have been brutalised by propaganda about ‘subhuman’ Palestinians, but because Netanyahu’s strategy is to create a single ‘Greater Israel’and this means that they either have to be exterminated or driven into exile.
    Please be careful with the IDF: they are real terrorists. You need to be much more concerned about them than Hamas. And the IDF is losing now – they are used to fighting with high tech ordnance from a distance. When they come up close against young Palestinians who have known nothing but war and have been toughened and brutalised by it, they retreat like the cowards they are.

  24. brenda says:

    Thank you so much for being there and reporting this Paul, and all your colleagues.

  25. Neil says:

    A book – critical of Israeli policy – from 2009 by Zeev Maoz, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis, the former head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy and of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, as well as the former academic director of the M.A. Program at the Israeli Defense Forces’ National Defense College. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Defending-Holy-Land-Critical-Analysis/dp/0472033417/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407050654&sr=1-1&keywords=Zeev+Maoz . Obviously few will read this massive tome, but the reviews give the gist of it, which sadly seem as relevant today as it was when it was published.

  26. Mohammed Azam says:

    Thank you Paul for your courageous reporting. If only other networks and reporters engaged in balanced reporting- if only!

  27. Lionel says:

    “Seems like Israel has created another generation of children who will grow up hating them. !”

    The sad thing is both sides think it has already gone past that.
    This is a blood fued between two brothers.

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