Family of Dr. Mona El-Farra Slain By Israeli Artillery Fire

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I will stand by Israel for a lot of personal reasons but certainly for political reasons. And I have no hesitation in declaring to the world that’s how I feel.

–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

By Richard Edmondson

Well might it be worthwhile to keep those words of the Nevada senator in mind as you contemplate what follows. Reid’s comment was made yesterday as the Senate voted another $225 million for Israel–Reid was one of the main backers of the bill.

I posted an article about the Senate action late yesterday evening entitled, “More Money for Israel–Less Money for Americans–And They All Shook Hands Afterwards”. You can go here and read it. It includes the quote you see above.

Today I opened up my box and found these photos–the ones above along with this additional one below:

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They are family members of Dr. Mona El-Farra, a physician who practices in Gaza and who also works with the US-based organization Middle East Children’s Alliance. Here is the press release sent out by MECA accompanying the photos:

Condolences to Dr. Mona El-Farra and all who have lost their loved ones

The staff and board of the Middle East Children’s Alliance would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to our colleague Dr. Mona El-Farra, her family, and all of the Palestinian families who have lost their relatives and loved ones.

Early this morning, Israeli tanks shelled a home in Khan Younis and killed nine members of Dr. Mona’s family including 5 children. Ten more relatives are injured and five of them are in critical condition.

We are saddened by the very personal loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. Mona El-Farra, and by the knowledge that her relatives were killed with the full support of our government.

Rest in peace:
Abed Almalek Abed Al Salam El-Farra, 54 years
Osamah Abed Almalek El-Farra, 34 years
Awatef  A’ez Eldeen El-Farra, 29 years
Emad El-Farra, 28 years
Mohamad Mahmoud El-Farra, 12 years
Nadeen Mahmoud El-Farra, 9 years
Yara Abed Al Salam El-Farra, 8 years (pictured above)
Abed Al Rahaman El-Farra, 8 years
Lujain Basem El-Farra, 4 years

We spoke to Dr. Mona by phone today and she told us: “It was shocking to find out that my cousins were killed with their children and grandchildren. But my family is not different from any other family living in the Gaza Strip. This is the brutality of the Israeli occupation and we are expecting bad news all the time. Whenever there is bad news here, we ask ourselves who is next? Still, no matter how much you are prepared for this kind of bad news, it’s shocking and it hit me very hard.”

As always, we are impressed by Dr. Mona’s huge heart and dedication to help children and families. After taking a short break to process the shock of this news, Dr. Mona went to the emergency room at the Red Crescent Society to treat patients today.

This is Dr. El-Farra:

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As you may imagine, doctors in Gaza are not having a particularly easy time of it just now. On Saturday, July 27, one week ago, Dr. El-Farra delivered milk, food, and hygiene kits to UN schools in the Gaza Strip. Below are some photos of the humanitarian effort, along with Dr. El-Farra’s written account, as posted at MECA’s website:

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“MECA team with help of Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip visited and distributed milk, food and hygenic kits to 678 familes at UN schools during the humanitarian ceasefire on Saturday. Here are a few photos from our visits. We have added hygiene kits after treating many children and famlies at the Red Crescent and hearing about the health risks at the schools and finding so many children with diarrhea and severe dehydration.”

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That was on July 27. On Wednesday, July 30, one of the schools where the supplies were delivered–the UN school in the Jabalya refugee camp, near Gaza City–was hit by Israeli artillery fire, killing at least 20. In the photo below we see two Palestinian men inside the school gathering up human remains after the shelling subsided:

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The school at the time was housing 3,300 people. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the UN agency which operated the facility, said a visit to the scene, including an examination of the bomb fragments, showed that the school had been hit by three Israeli artillery shells.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, the UNRWA commissioner-general. “This is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”

That same day, Dr. El-Farra discussed conditions in Gaza during an interview with the Electronic Intifada:

“We Are Surrounded with Death…We Are Surrounded with Horror”

Transcript: Dr. Mona El-Farra

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Dr. Mona, can you tell us about the situation in Gaza right now, especially after the latest Israeli missile strikes overnight and the massacre at the Shujaiya open market earlier today?

Dr. Mona El-Farra: Yes, actually, this day in the morning, the first massacre happened when the Israelis attacked one of the schools in the Jabaliya refugee camp, where twenty at least were killed and tens were injured. I lost track of numbers, but for sure the killed were twenty.

And before that, there was heavy, heavy shelling for two or three hours, then this massacre happened. Then, in the middle of the day, at the Shujaiya market, when people felt safe that there was a humanitarian ceasefire, people went to shop for a few things. And then they were attacked again by missiles, by the Israeli army, and seventeen at least were killed, maybe 200 were injured, and a big, big fire stayed for maybe one hour, you could see the smoke from the other end of town. Two of the health workers, emergency health workers, died in that attack too, as well as one journalist.

The situation is really very, very bad. And we have a big problem at the moment at the hospitals and medical facilities, which are in shortage of medications because the burden is high. The main hospital in Gaza, al-Shifa hospital, is receiving immediately 200 cases, the injured with different sorts of injuries. It is a big burden, it was mass casualities with a lack of essential medication and supplies, that’s why there was an appeal on the radio when this happened asking people to go to the hospital to donate blood.

And we don’t have power at the moment. We don’t have water. And when we don’t have power, the generators at the hospitals will start to not function well. So an imminent humanitarian health problem is coming soon if this continues. For us, for me, working at the Red Crescent Society in the Gaza Strip, which is partnered with the Middle East Children’s Alliance, we receive every day an increasing number of patients coming from the schools, people who took shelter in the schools or with their relatives. There are very bad health conditions, and increasing numbers of infectious diseases like gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infections and skin diseases.

We are not used to this great number of patients daily, we receive between 200-250 patients coming and asking for health consultation at our center. Again, we have a diagnostic center, and the hospital, al-Shifa hospital, their equipment like the CT [scanner] has stopped working, so we receive cases at our center. Every day we receive an increasing number of injured who are in need for diagnostic procedure like the CT.

Today, I came across three cases coming for a CT. Three cases with head injuries. The first one, her name is Buthaina el-Izraia, she came to our diagnostic center with a head injury and many shrapnels all over her body besides the head injury.

And her son was next to her, this patient. She was accompanied by her son, who is a newly-graduated nurse. His name is Yousef el-Izraia, and he was crying and telling me, “My mother was watering her plants when the shrapnel hit her, and we have never ever been members of any political party or militant [group]. We are just normal people, ordinary civilians.”

This was the first case. The second story — a child, three years old, and the name of this child is “Anonymous number six.” He came with a head injury as well. And you understand why he was “anonymous” — that means the child left the whole family and they don’t recognize who is the child.

Another case, her name is Reem Ahmad, again with a head injury, from Nuseirat refugee camp, six years old. And again, she lost all the members of her family.

These stories are common already in Gaza, but it attracted my attention — a human being called “Anonymous number six.” Or a woman, a peaceful woman trying to plant her flowers, trying to normalize an abnormal life, and then the result is to be hit with a head injury. And I don’t know if they will make it or not. After they come to our center, they go back to the hospital to resume their treatment.

Another story — one of our staff, she is a nurse, her name is Afaf Hussein, and this morning I heard that her daughter was killed with her three grandchildren and two of her children. I tried to call her phone several times and she couldn’t answer the phone. Her daughter was one of our volunteers a few months ago in our center.

We are surrounded with death. We are surrounded with horror. We are surrounded with a lack of facilities and we try hard to help people, we try hard to help each other, but the burden is heavy and the attack is very serious, and this should stop now.

NBF: What does it mean for Palestinians in Gaza to be cut off from the outside world because of the electricity crisis, as well as being cut off from family members and loved ones and neighbors as the phone networks are going down?

ME: This is another disaster, because this is our lifeline to the outside world. For me, on a personal level, by the end of the day when I come home, I start writing. I feel that I am still alive. I still can convey the message. And not only that, we feel that maybe something worse is happening and Israel wants to hide this, to keep us isolated from the world, so nobody knows what crimes are going to happen next in Gaza.

It is frightening. It is frightening.

You’ll note in the transcript above that Dr. El-Farra mentions not only the attack upon the school, but also the missile strike upon a crowded market in Shujayya later that same day. That attack killed at least 16 people, including Gaza journalist Rami Rayan. Follow this link and you will see a story about the attack I posted at the time, but be advised it contains some gruesome images.

Yesterday, when Reid was expressing his loyalty to Israel in the Senate, the Gaza death toll had already exceeded that of Operation Cast Lead, five years ago, when more than 1,400 died. According to RT–posted on August 2–the death toll now tops 1,550.

The psychopathic killer responsible for the deaths of Dr. El-Farra’s family and so many others  issued an order yesterday to the president of the United States. Here is how AP reports it:

Sources familiar with conversations between Netanyahu and senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, say the Israeli leader advised the Obama administration “not to ever second guess me again” on the matter. The officials also said Netanyahu said he should be “trusted” on the issue and about the unwillingness of Hamas to enter into and follow through on cease-fire talks.

Don’t ever second guess me again–or else, says the psychopathic killer. And how did the president of the United States respond to this not-so-subtle threat? The next paragraph of the story pretty much gives us our answer:

The Obama administration on Friday condemned “outrageous” violations of an internationally brokered Gaza cease-fire by Palestinian militants and called the apparent abduction of an Israeli soldier a “barbaric” action.

Got that? The abduction of an Israeli soldier (an abduction which Hamas denies even carrying out) is “barbaric,” but attacks upon crowded markets and UN schools–and the murder of Dr. El-Farra’s family–such things as these are, well, “troubling” perhaps, or “regrettable,” but they’re not barbaric.

I wonder if it isn’t time now to start calling for the BDS movement to be expanded to include American products. Appealing to the ‘humanity’ of people in whom no such humanity exists–and that’s a characterization I think could apply to virtually all of America’s top leaders at this point–clearly is pointless. Urging people who are owned by AIPAC to feel compassion for Palestinians really does not make any sense when you think about it. We have been trying it for a number of years now and have gotten nowhere with it. So maybe the next step is for Americans of conscience to start calling for a boycott of US products until America ends its support for the barbaric state of Israel.

Expanding the boycott to include American goods won’t necessarily end the occupation or stop the slaughter of innocents, but perhaps more modest goals could be well within reach–such as, say, giving creatures like Harry Reid reason to start experiencing “hesitation” about declaring to the world how they feel about Israel.

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