The Color of Sharon's Rainbows
By Ahmed Amr
Editor's note: A few weeks ago, I asked a niece what she wanted for her fourth birthday. She didn't ask for a toy or a doll. She just wanted a Rainbow in the sky. One of the victims of the vicious Israeli assault on Rafah's refugee camps was Rwan Abu Zaid, a Palestinian girl who was a few months shy of her fourth birthday. She was cut down with a bullet through the head from the gun of an Israeli sniper. The Israeli army called the slaughter in Rafah 'Operation Rainbow'. Given the abject poverty in Gaza, Rwan Abu Zaid must have delighted in the innocent pleasure of enjoying a Rainbow in the sky. She should have been warned about Sharon's choice of Rainbow colors.
Rwan's mother died during delivery. She lived her short live without a mother's loving touch and died at the hands of a serial war criminal, Ariel Sharon. It should be noted that George Bush blessed Sharon's latest venture as a legitimate act of Israeli 'self-defense'.
What follows are a few press accounts about 'Operation Rainbow'. It should give the reader a little insight into the color of Sharon's Rainbows.
Israeli troops shoot dead three-year-old girl in Rafah. AFP. (5/23/2004)
A Palestinian girl was shot dead yesterday here on day five of Israel's offensive in southern Gaza, as angry residents pleaded with a visiting UN official to help them rebuild their ruined homes.
Three-year-old Rwan Abu Zaid died of gunshot wounds to the head after Israeli troops opened fire in Rafah's devastated Brazil neighborhood. "My daughter was just going to the shops. They shot her while she was walking," the girl's father, Mohammed Abu Zaid, said after Rwan's burial in Rafah's main cemetery just a few hours after her death. "My daughter was three years old. Did she fire rockets, shoot at tanks?"
Israel's Justice Minister condemns the conduct of the Israeli Army
Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, who lost many members of his family in the Holocaust had this to say: "I am talking about an old woman on all fours looking for her medicine in the rubble of her home and I thought about my grandmother. We look like monsters in the eyes of the world. This makes me sick."
IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press. (5/23/2004)
Wary residents who left their homes - many for the first time since Israel launched its offensive - confronted streets and homes bulldozed into mounds of rubble, razed farms and greenhouses and sewage running through streets decorated with downed electric and telephone cables. In the bright sun, the destruction looked even worse than residents had originally anticipated.
Rafah's mayor, Saed Zourab, surveyed the damage. "This is Hiroshima 2004. The water and sewer systems have been destroyed, and that it will take a long time to repair downed telephone and electric cables. All the streets in the neighborhood have been damaged, and some residents can't leave their homes because rubble blocks the door. Every house in the neighborhood has been damaged in some way, whether by bulldozers and other heavy military vehicles maneuvering through the camp's narrow alleys, or by machine-gun fire. Zourab said. Even the mosque has been burned.
Chris McGreal in al-Brazil, Rafah. The Guardian. (5/22/2004)
"We did not destroy any houses in al-Brazil," said a spokeswoman who identified herself as Eli. "There was damage to buildings from fighting. The terrorists activate explosive devices under the road or next to the buildings. These bombs that destroy tanks can easily destroy a house."
But, aside from the accounts of Palestinians who fled their homes, the destruction is not consistent with individual explosions. Off al-Imam road, nearly 20 houses in a row were wrecked. There was no sign of a massive explosion, such as a crater in the road or damage to houses standing next to the wrecked buildings.
The demolitions in al-Brazil are the third time the Israeli army has misrepresented its actions in Rafah this week.
On Tuesday the military dismissed accusations that an Israeli sniper shot two children in the head, claiming they were blown up by a Palestinian bomb. But the bodies of both children were later shown to each have only a single bullet wound to the head.
On Wednesday the army said armed men made up the majority of 10 people killed when an Israeli tank fired into a peaceful demonstration. In fact half of the victims were children and television footage showed no weapons among the demonstrators.
The army also initially denied that soldiers deliberately wrecked the zoo that provided Rafah's children with virtually their only contact with live animals, even ordinary ones such as squirrels, goats and tortoises.
The army's explanation evolved through the day. At first it said it had not destroyed the zoo, then it said a tank may have accidentally reversed into it.
By the end of yesterday, the military said its soldiers had been forced to drive through the zoo because an alternative route was booby-trapped by Palestinian explosives.
Finally a spokesman said the soldiers had released the animals from their cages in a compassionate gesture to prevent them being harmed.
The AFP reported that Israel prevented Palestinians from burying their dead
The AFP reported that "Residents of Tel Sultan have been unable to bury their dead as a result of the siege, despite appeals by the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees to allow them to leave on humanitarian grounds."
Jessica Montell, LA Times, (5/26/2004)
Throughout the last week, a macabre exercise has been running through my head. I imagine I have five minutes to get out of my house, never to return. What will I take with me? My wallet and checkbook, a change of clothes for the kids, the photo albums, my daughter's favorite doll, diapers, bottles. In five minutes, I'd never get it all out.
In my quiet neighborhood in West Jerusalem, this exercise seems absurd. No one is going to evict me at a moment's notice. Yet just an hour away, in the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border, this scenario has been played out hundreds of times over the last week.
On May 15-16, the army destroyed 116 houses in Rafah, rendering more than 1,100 people homeless, according to our organization's estimates. It then began Operation Rainbow, in which it demolished an additional 67 houses over the last week. Since January, the army demolished 284 homes in Rafah, leaving 2,185 Palestinians homeless.
The demolition of houses generally takes place in the middle of the night, without any warning to residents. Dozens of Palestinians have told us of awakening to the sounds of tanks and bulldozers at their doorstep. They grab their children, leaving all their possessions behind.
Omar Karmi, The Daily Star (5/25/2004). This report describes the murder of a brother and sister by Israeli snipers.
Asma was collecting washing right here," said Ali, pointing to the corner of the roof where the same clothes Asma would have been collecting still hung, blood spattered and bullet torn. On the floor below was another pool of dried blood where Ali said Asma fell.
"Ahmed was feeding the pigeons," he continued, nodding at a pigeon cage on the other side holding some 15 birds. "He loved feeding the pigeons."
Ali and his father both think Asma was shot first.
"Ahmed heard the shot and saw his sister, and he tried to run down the stairs," says Ali. "I heard him shout for me, but then he was shot and we didn't hear anything else."
Both children were killed by a single shot to the head, hospital officials said.
Ali said when he got to the top of the stairs more shots were fired. Besides the bullet marks at the top of the stairs, there were also three bullet holes in the satellite dish to the left of the clotheslines and behind where Asma would have been standing.
Ali recounted how he pulled his brother down the stairs. His mother was screaming in the background. He placed his brother in a spare bedroom and then went up to get his sister.
"I had to crawl on my stomach to get to her, and when I got there I could see her brain hanging out. Her head was spilt open in the middle. I wrapped her head in a towel, and then I carefully dragged her body across the floor. I was flat on my stomach all the way. It took almost 15 minutes."
Editor's note: Amnesty International has called for an impartial investigation of the murder of these two children. It is unlikely that Israel will respond in any meaningful way. Amnesty also reports that the Israeli Army killed 600 Palestinian civilians in 2003, 100 of them were children.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com. This article can be published at will.
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