Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ruby among the Blooms of Life

In a few days time, La Professoressa and I will leave this island continent far behind. Our dear Cello, gray and blind, will take comfort in Spottswood with his other family. Always this is a time of looking over my shoulder at what has become my home here, the once unfamiliar gifts of garden and at times, endless blue skies, the parrots, red, green and blue, squawking for my feeding hand, but most of all, it is our friends here, that I see, those who took on the risk of an old new friend, and of these new folk in my life, there is our Ruby. Now 16, she stands at our gate, straight and true, dressed in her home-made costume for a fantasy convention in the city, holding tightly to her side the suit case we loaned her for her week at the University. Dear dear Ruby, who lets me pour out my love for the easy complexities of  "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" while I listen to her read the first cantos of The Divine Comedy in Italian. For almost 8 years we have shared the challenges of her writing and literature classes; soon she will go through the gate, a bigger gate, and not need my offered brillances and oh how I wish for her a world so different from this one, a world were the softness of the unarmored human body can flourish in all its differences. Oh how we have enhanced our killing machines, but the gentle longings for beauty of our human selves shiver in the world of cascading steel. La Professoressa and I, childless, teachers, stand in homage to Ruby, the color of life.

And now to you, I turn.

The blueness of Port Douglass, far north Queensland, with our friends Leslie and Louise, last month

Monday, August 18, 2014

Coming to New York, London and Ljubljana, September and October, LHA's 40th Celebration and You

From the porch of our home here, looking towards a storm filled sky.

La Professoressa and I will be in New York City the first two weeks in October, then on to London for Di's work with SOAS, a quick visit with the lesbian community of Slovenia and then back to New York for our last three weeks. Two public dates I offer here. On Sunday, October 19th, at the Brooklyn home of LHA--see website--I will be hosting a day of sharing memories of the old home of LHA, a day for story telling, for communal remembering to help with writing the history of the early days of the archives. Hopefully, we will have a way of preserving the discussion. Come to share, to listen even if you never had a chance to walk through the door of 13A, come to say hello,  lay eyes on and hug.

Then on Wednesday, October 22, the 40th anniversary of LHA will be celebrated at the Gay Center; representatives of all generations of LHA women will be speaking for a short time and then all there can add to the tapestry of what LHA has meant to them over these four decades.

Please if you can, help spread the word about these events and if you want to contact me in NY--we will be staying on the Upper West Side, where living would be impossible now--just write me at

My heart is so filled with what all this means--perhaps my last time back in the geographies that gave me so much. My dear dear friends whom I miss every day. I have learned so much about the privilege of free movement, about how the heart has its own streets.

La Professoressa who will guide my steps

The Old One and the Redhead

Friday, August 15, 2014

How They Honor Our History, Their Losses: Over A Hundred Jewish Survivors and Their Descendants Condemn the War on Gaza

How they honor our history, their losses. These letters of resistance are being refused publication in many many places. 

 Plus de 100 Juifs, survivants et descendants de survivants du génocide nazi, condamnent le massacre de Palestiniens
Plus de 100 Juifs, survivants et descendants de survivants du génocide nazi, ont signé cette lettre condamnant le massacre de Gaza par Israël et appelant à la fin du génocide du peuple palestinien. Dans cette lettre, ils protestent aussi contre l’abus de l’utilisation de leurs histoires pour promouvoir la déshumanisation de Palestiniens mise en avant par Elie Wiesel parmi d’autres dans ses récentes annonces ( his recent ads) placées  dans le New York Times, le Wall Street Journal, le Washington Post et le Guardian. Si vous êtes un survivant du génocide ou un descendant de survivants, please click here et allez jusqu’au bout pour additionner votre nom à la lettre. Veuillez faire un don pour nous aider à placer cette lettre avec ses signataires comme annonce dans le New York Times pour transmettre le message que plus jamais signifie PLUS JAMAIS POUR TOUS !
La lettre :
Des survivants et des descendants de survivants juifs du génocide nazi condamnent sans équivoque le massacre des Palestiniens à Gaza
Comme survivants juifs et descendants de survivants du génocide nazi, nous condamnons sans équivoque le massacre de Palestiniens à Gaza et l’occupation et la colonisation sans fin de la Palestine historique. Nous condamnons de plus les Etats-Unis de fournir à Israël le financement pour effectuer l’attaque et les états occidentaux pour utiliser plus généralement leurs muscles diplomatiques pour protéger Israël de condamnations. Un génocide commence avec le silence du monde. 
Nous sommes alarmés par la déshumanisation extrême, raciste dans la société israélienne, qui a atteint un comble. En Israël, des politiciens et des experts dans The Times of Israël et The Jerusalem Post ont appelé ouvertement au génocide des Palestiniens et des Israéliens de droite adoptent un insigne néo-nazi. 
De plus, nous sommes dégoûtés et indignés de l’utilisation abusive de notre histoire par Elie Wiesel dans ces pages pour promouvoir des mensonges flagrants utilisés pour justifier l’injustifiable : l’effort DE MASSE pour détruire Gaza et le meurtre de près de 2.000 Palestiniens, y compris plusieurs centaines d’enfants. Rien ne peut justifier de bombarder des abris de l’ONU, des maisons, des hôpitaux et des universités. Rien ne peut justifie de priver des gens d’électricité et d’eau. 
Nous devons élever nos voix collectives et user de notre pouvoir collectif pour mettre fin à toutes les formes de racisme, y compris le génocide en cours du peuple palestinien. Nous appelons à la levée immédiate du siège de Gaza. Nous appelons pour un boycott complet économique, culturel et académique d’Israël. « Plus jamais » doit signifier JAMAIS PLUS POUR TOUS!
Signé par :
1. Hajo Meyer, survivor of Auschwitz, The Netherlands. 
2. Henri Wajnblum, survivor and son of victim of Nazi genocide, Belgium. 
3. Renate Bridenthal, child refugee from Hitler, granddaughter of Auschwitz victim, United States
4. Marianka Ehrlich Ross, survivor of Nazi ethnic cleansing in Vienna, Austria. Now lives in United States. 
5. Annette Herskovits, survived in hiding in France and daughter of parents who were murdered in Auschwitz, United States. 
6. Irena Klepfisz, child survivor from the Warsaw Ghetto, Poland. Now lives in United States. 
7. Karen Pomer, granddaughter of member of Dutch resistance and survivor of Bergen Belsen. Now lives in the United States. 
8. Hedy Epstein, her parents & other family members were deported to Camp de Gurs & subsequently all perished in Auschwitz. Now lives in United States. 
9. Lillian Rosengarten, survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, United States. 
10. Suzanne Weiss, survived in hiding in France, and daughter of a mother who was murdered in Auschwitz. Now lives in Canada. 
11. H. Richard Leuchtag, survivor, United States. 
12. Ervin Somogyi, survivor and daughter of survivors, United States. 
13. Ilse Hadda, survivor on Kindertransport to England. Now lives in United States. 
14. Jacques Glaser, survivor, France. 
15. Norbert Hirschhorn, refugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three grandparents who died in the Shoah, London. 
16. Eva Naylor, surivor, New Zealand
17. Suzanne Ross, child refugee from Nazi occupation in Belgium, two thirds of family perished in the Lodz Ghetto, in Auschwitz, and other Camps, United States. 
18. Bernard Swierszcz, Polish survivor, lost RELATIVES in Majdanek concentration camp. Now lives in the United States. 
19. Joseph Klinkov, hidden child in Poland, still lives in Poland. 
20. Nicole Milner, survivor from Belgium. Now lives in United States. 
21. Hedi Saraf, child survivor and daughter of survivor of Dachau, United States. 
22. Liliana Kaczerginski, daughter of Vilna ghetto resistance fighter and granddaughter of murdered in Ponary woods, Lithuania. Now lives in France. 
23. Jean-Claude Meyer, son of Marcel, shot as a hostage by the Nazis, whose sister and parents died in Auschwitz. Now lives in France. 
24. Chava Finkler, daughter of survivor of Starachovice labour camp, Poland. Now lives in Canada. 
25. Micah Bazant, child of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
26. Sylvia Schwartz, daughter and granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
27. Margot Goldstein, daughter and granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
28. Ellen Schwarz Wasfi, daughter of survivors from Vienna, Austria. Now lives in United States. 
29. Lisa Kosowski, daughter of survivor and granddaughter of Auschwitz victims, United States. 
30. Daniel Strum, son of a refugee from Vienna, who, with his parents were forced to flee in 1939, his maternal grand-parents were lost, United States. 
31. Bruce Ballin, son of survivors, some RELATIVES of parents died in camps, one relative beheaded for being in the Baum Resistance Group, United States. 
32. Rachel Duell, daughter of survivors from Germany and Poland, United States. 
33. Tom Mayer, son of survivor and grandson of victims, United States. 
34. Alex Nissen, daughter of survivors who escaped but lost family in the Holocaust, United States. 
35. Mark Aleshnick, son of survivor who lost most of her family in Nazi genocide, United States. 
36. Prof. Haim Bresheeth, son of two survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, London. 
37. Todd Michael Edelman, son and grandson of survivors and great-grandson of victims of the Nazi genocide in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, United States. 
38. Tim Naylor, son of survivor, New Zealand. Victor Nepomnyashchy, son and grandson of survivors and grandson and relative of many victims, United States. 
39. Tanya Ury, daughter of parents who fled Nazi Germany, granddaughter, great granddaugher and niece of survivors and those who died in concentration camps, Germany. 
40. Rachel Giora, daughter of Polish Jews who fled Poland, Israel. 
41. Jane Hirschmann, daughter of survivors, United States. 
42. Jenny Heinz, daughter of survivor, United States. 
43. Jaap Hamburger, son of survivors and grandchild of 4 grandparents murdered in Auschwitz, The Netherlands. 
44. Elsa Auerbach, daughter of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, United States. 
45. Beth Bruch, grandchild of German Jews who fled to US and great-grandchild of Nazi holocaust survivor, United States. 
46. Julian Clegg, son and grandson of Austrian refugees, relative of Austrian and Hungarian concentration camp victims, Taiwan. 
47. David Mizner, son of a survivor, relative of people who died in the Holocaust, United States. 
48. Jeffrey J. Westcott, son and grandson of Holocaust survivors from Germany, United States. 
49. Susan K. Jacoby, daughter of parents who were refugees from Nazi Germany, granddaughter of survivor of Buchenwald, United States. 
50. Audrey Bomse, daughter of a survivor of Nazi ethnic cleansing in Vienna, lives in United States. 
51. Daniel Gottschalk, son and grandson of refugees from the Holocaust, RELATIVE to various family members who died in the Holocaust, United States. 
52. Ken Schneider, son of refugees from Vienna who lost many family members, United States. 
53. Barbara Grossman, daughter of survivors, granddaughter of Holocaust victims, United States. 
54. Abraham Weizfeld PhD, son of survivors who escaped Warsaw (Jewish Bundist) and Lublin ghettos, Canada. 
55. David Rohrlich, son of refugees from Vienna, grandson of victim, United States. 
56. Walter Ballin, son of holocaust survivors, United States. 
57. Fritzi Ross, daughter of survivor, granddaughter of Dachau survivor Hugo Rosenbaum, great-granddaughter and great-niece of victims, United States. 
58. Raphael Cohen, grandson of Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
59. Emma Rubin, granddaughter of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
60. Alex Safron, grandson of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
61. Danielle Feris, grandchild of a Polish grandmother whose whole family died in the Nazi Holocaust, United States. 
62. Jesse Strauss, grandson of Polish survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
63. Anna Baltzer, granddaughter of survivors of Nazi genocide whose family members perished in Auschwitz (also grand-niece of members of the Belgian Resistance), United States. 
64. Abigail Harms, granddaughter of Holocaust survivor from Austria, Now lives in United States. 
65. Tessa Strauss, granddaughter of Polish Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
66. Caroline Picker, granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
67. Amalle Dublon, grandchild and great-grandchild of survivors of the Nazi holocaust, United States. 
68. Antonie Kaufmann Churg, 3rd cousin of Ann Frank and grand-daughter of survivors, United States. 
69. Aliza Shvarts, granddaughter of survivors, United States. 
70. Linda Mamoun, granddaughter of survivors, United States. 
71. Abby Okrent, granddaughter of survivors of Auschwitz, Stuthoff and the Lodz Ghetto, United States. 
72. Ted Auerbach, grandson of survivor whose whole family died in the Holocaust, United States. 
73. Bob Wilson, grandson of a survivor, United States. 
74. Katharine Wallerstein, granddaughter of survivors and relative of many who perished, United States. 
75. Sylvia Finzi, granddaughter and niece of Holocaust victims murdered in Auschwitz, London and Berlin. 
76. Esteban Schmelz, grandson of KZ-Theresienstadt victim, Mexico City. 
77. Françoise Basch, grand daughter of Victor and Ilona Basch murdered by the Gestapo and the French Milice, France. 
78. Gabriel Alkon, grandson of Holocaust survivors, Untied States. 
79. Nirit Ben-Ari, grandchild of Polish grandparents from both sides whose entire family was killed in the Nazi Holocaust, United States. 
80. Heike Schotten, granddaughter of refugees from Nazi Germany who escaped the genocide, United States. 
81. Ike af Carlstèn, grandson of survivor, Norway. 
82. Elias Lazarus, grandson of Holocaust refugees from Dresden, United States and Australia. 
83. Laura Mandelberg, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, United States. 
84. Josh Ruebner, grandson of Nazi Holocaust survivors, United States. 
85. Shirley Feldman, granddaughter of survivors, United States. 
86. Nuno Cesar Ferreira, grandson of survivor, Brazil. 
87. Andrea Land, granddaugher of survivors who fled programs in Poland, all European RELATIVES died in German and Polish concentration camps, United States. 
88. Sarah Goldman, granddaughter of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
89. Baruch Wolski, grandson of survivors, Austria. 
90. Frank Amahran, grandson of survivor, United States. 
91. Eve Spangler, granddaughter of Holocaust NON-survivor, United States. 
92. Gil Medovoy, grandchild of Fela Hornstein who lost her enitre family in Poland during the Nazi genocide, United States. 
93. Michael Hoffman, grandson of survivors, rest of family killed in Poland during Holocaust, live in El Salvador. 
94. Sarah Hogarth, granddaughter of a survivor whose entire family was killed at Auschwitz, United States. 
95. Natalie Rothman, great granddaughter of Holocaust victims in Warsaw. Now lives in Canada. 
96. Yotam Amit, great-grandson of Polish Jew who fled Poland, United States. 
97. Daniel Boyarin, great grandson of victims of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
98. Maria Luban, great-granddaughter of survivors of the Holocaust, United States. 
99. Terri Ginsberg, niece of a survivor of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
100. Nathan Pollack, RELATIVE of Holocaust survivors and victims, United States. 
101. Marcy Winograd and Jackie Hirtz, relatives of victims, United States. 
102. Rabbi Borukh Goldberg, relative of many victims, United States. 
103. Martin Davidson, great-nephew of victims who lived in the Netherlands, Spain. 
104. Miriam Pickens, relative of survivors, United States. 
105. Dorothy Werner, spouse of survivor, United States. 
106. Hyman and Hazel Rochman, relatives of Holocaust victims, United States. 
107. Rich Siegel, cousin of victims who were rounded up and shot in town square of Czestochowa, Poland. Now lives in United States. 
108. Ignacio Israel Cruz-Lara, relative of survivor, Mexico. 
109. Debra Stuckgold, relative of survivors, United States. 
110. Joel Kovel, relatives killed at Babi Yar, United States. 
111.Carol Krauthamer Smith, niece of survivors of the Nazi genocide, United States. 
112.Chandra Ahuva Hauptman, relatives from grandfather’s family died in Lodz ghetto, one survivor cousin and many deceased from Auschwitz, United States. 
113.Shelly Weiss, relative of Holocaust victims, United States. 
114.Carol Sanders, niece and cousin of victims of Holocaust in Poland, United States.
115 Edith Rubinstein, child refugee from Hitler, granddaughter of three grand-parents and many other members of her family, victims of Auschwitz, Belgium 

Liens importants

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Always and Over and Over Again, the Death of Black Young Men Who Were on the Verge of Their Lives

The image of mostly white police-soldiers walking down a Missouri Street as if they are advancing on an enemy force is emblematic of the persistent deadly racism that confronts Black Americans daily, is emblematic of the wars America has been fighting and enabling for so many years now, against the black and brown bodies of the so-called "terrorist" peoples that haunt the cultural and political imagination of this nation. The color of your skin, the economic positioning of your community, at times, your gender, determine if you are the "terrorist," the disrupter of power relations as usual, your naked humanity is then targeted in the gun sights of faceless soldiers. Such power to eradicate the unwanted will not stay on the streets of Gaza, or in Iraq or Syria or along our borders with Mexico--we have fallen to the acceptability, the video game like hunting of our own citizens and those who desire to be so. We have embraced the power of the automatic weapons mighty recoil, the lust for erasure. It is our own humanity that is being blown away.
Update #1 · 

Statement of solidarity and action

Earlier this week, a group of LGBT*Q organizations signed on to a letter of solidarity with Michael Brown’s family. While we believe that letter was a good start at giving visibility to the LGBT*Q community’s support for the family and for all Black Americans, we believe that more needs to be said and more needs to be done.
As the folks at Black Girl Dangerous said, it is far too easy to get distracted when Black people are murdered. Too often, we get caught up in the “facts” of a case, and ignore the act. The fact is that a teenager was murdered because of a pervasive racist stereotype. The fact is that Michael Brown’s body was left bleeding in the street for four hours. The fact is that he is dead because our country is governed by laws that are informed by and built upon racism. The fact is that this happens every day, and that Michael Brown is not the only young Black man who has been murdered in the past week.  
We must say these things because they’re true, and we must say these things because the louder we say them, the more power we create among those who seek to fight these stereotypes and unjust laws. If we gloss over the fact that policing, enforcement, and criminalization led to this murder and to the murder of thousands of others, we continue to prop up the unjust and racist structures that continue to kill our friends and family. 
The Black Youth Project’s statement says far more poetically what we could ever hope to say — but that doesn’t mean that we should remain silent. As queer people, we know what it means for the government to systematically devalue our lives and for those around us to only rally to our defense when we fulfill a “model minority” stereotype. Though it is tragic that Michael Brown was gunned down by those sworn to protect our communities just before the start of his college career, we should be lifting up his memory regardless of what his future held. Simply put, there is a war on Black bodies and Black lives in this country, and we must resist any effort to gloss over that reality or excuse it with facts and figures. 
#BlackLivesMatter today and every day. We stand with the Black community in this time of tragedy and commit ourselves to fighting relentlessly for liberation.

How you can help

Show your commitment and inspire your family and friends to take action by starting a personal campaign.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yesterday in Tel Aviv; Today in Melbourne--5,000 Waving Israeli Flags and Us

Today in Melbourne, Australia. Women in Black and AJDS, in times when silence is not an option.

From our flyer:
"We stand today in support of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who want the Occupation to end, the Occupation which is destroying by its encouraging of rampant anti-Arab sentiment the very fabric of Israeli democracy. Together with numerous human rights organizations in Israel, we call for an immediate end to the siege and call for a political solution. War does not bring safety, it only claims more and more victims, including hope for a life affirming future. Occupation can never lead to a lasting peace. We stand here today to pressure Israel and its supporters to turn away from armed conflict, to avoid another cycle of violence by continuing the talks with Palestinians about plans for a fair and sustaining peace, the rehabilitation of Gaza and an ending of the blockade so the citizens of Gaza can have a full life. A few days ago in a large outdoor plaza in Haifa, Arabs and Jews met in the glow of the setting sun to forge a new solidarity in their mutual quest for peace. We stand with them this afternoon and though the coming weeks, their courage will be our sun."

Yesterday in Tel Aviv, photograph by Claudia Levin. Women in Black Peace Vigil

Women in Black, last month, in Belgrade. My sisters, our hope.

Friday, August 8, 2014

In the Setting Sun, a New Hope Rises: An Arab-Jewish Emergency Peace Conference in Haifa, Photo by khulud khlamis

July, 1014 When we feel hopeless remember this image and the people seated around tables in the dying of the day, not a gun in sight, just the talking, hearing, feeling human body.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The vision of khulud khamis, Haifa, July 19, 2014

19 July 2014

war is not my language - الحرب ليست لُغتي

photo from the album "war is not my language". All photos can be circulated, shared, and used, under condition credit is given. If possible, provide a link to this poem, and notify me (via email, facebook, comment here).

الحرب ليست لُغتي
war is not my language
no more of yours F-16s
no more of your tanks!
(and your other American made deadly toys)
no more of your Qassams[1]

no more!
we are sleepless
our bodies – collapsing, shaking, bloodied, amputated, dead.

الحرب ليست لُغتي
war is not my language

rule and divide
rule and divide
rule and divide

we refuse.
we scream in desperation
let us live
stop the murder.

LIFT the siege off Gaza
LET the fishermen fish
and let the boys PLAY football.

الحرب ليست لُغتي
war is not my language

LIFT the siege off Gaza
LET the women live with dignity
and let the girls SWIM in the sea

divide and rule
divide and rule

we refuse!
we stand up and loudly, clearly say
together, Jews and Palestinians –
we refuse your wars
we refuse to be enemies

الحرب ليست لُغتي
war is not my language

divide and rule

(c) khulud khamis, 
خلود خميس
Haifa, 19 July 2014
حيفا, تموز 2014

[1] searching for the correct spelling, I find out that Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam lived part of his life in Haifa, my home, playing a major part in laying the foundation for the Black Hand (al-kaff al-aswad) الكف الأسود

"I Was Riding with the Dead"

Gaza: Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians
Fighting in Khuza’a Shows Grave Dangers to Families Seeking Safety
AUGUST 4, 2014

Palestinians carry the bodies of fellow Palestinians in the east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on August 1, 2014.
© 2014 Reuters
When will there be justice for the civilians in Khuza’a, who suffered shelling for days, then faced deadly attacks by Israeli soldiers after being ordered to leave the town?    ~ Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director

(Gaza) – Israeli forces in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a fired on and killed civilians in apparent violation of the laws of war in several incidents between July 23 and 25, 2014. Deliberate attacks on civilians who are not participating in the fighting are war crimes.

Seven Palestinians who had fled Khuza’a described to Human Rights Watch the grave dangers that civilians have faced in trying to flee the town, near the Israeli border, to seek safety in Khan Younis. These included repeated shelling that struck apparent civilian structures, lack of access to necessary medical care, and the threat of attack from Israeli forces as they tried to leave the area.

“When will there be justice for the civilians in Khuza’a, who suffered shelling for days, then faced deadly attacks by Israeli soldiers after being ordered to leave the town?” asked Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director.

Khuza’a, which has a population of about 10,000, was the scene of fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during an Israeli ground offensive in the area on July 23, Israeli news media reported. Israeli forces provided general warnings to Khuza’a residents to leave the area prior to July 21. While the laws of war encourage “advance, effective warnings” of attacks, the failure of civilians to abide by warnings does not make them lawful targets of attack – for obvious reasons, since many people do not flee because of infirmity, fear, lack of a place to go, or any number of other reasons. The remaining presence of such civilians despite a warning to flee cannot be ignored when attacks are carried out, as Israeli forces have done previously .

“Warning families to flee fighting doesn’t make them fair targets just because they’re unable to do so, and deliberately attacking them is a war crime,” Whitson said.

Human Rights Watch investigated several incidents between July 23 and 25 when, local residents said, Israeli forces opened fire on civilians trying to flee Khuza’a, but no Palestinian fighters were present at the time and no firefights were taking place.

On the morning of July 23, Israeli forces ordered a group of about 100 Palestinians in Khuza’a to leave a home in which they had gathered to take shelter, family members said. The first member to leave the house, Shahid al-Najjar, had his hands up but an Israeli soldier shot him in the jaw, seriously injuring him.

Israeli soldiers detained the men and boys over age 15 in an area close to the Gaza perimeter fence. Based on statements from witnesses and news reports, some were taken to Israel for questioning. Israeli forces released others that day, in small separate groups. As one group walked unarmed to Khan Younis, Israeli soldiers fired on them, killing one and wounding two others.

Two older men whom Israeli forces briefly detained near the perimeter fence had been seriously wounded in earlier Israeli bombardments and died soon after being released, two witnesses said. The laws of war provide that wounded civilians and combatants should be given necessary medical care to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay.

In another incident on July 23, Israeli soldiers fired on a group of civilians who had been told to leave their home in Khuza’a, killing Mohammed al-Najjar, a witness said.

One case illustrates the dangers facing civilians both who remain in place and who heed Israeli orders to leave. On July 25, an Israeli strike killed three civilians – Motassem al-Najjar, 5; Kamel al-Najjar, 62; and Salim Qdeih, around 70 – who were among 120 people sheltering in the basement of a home, witnesses said. Another 15 people were wounded. The local Red Cross had difficulty reaching people wounded by shellings in the town. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that on July 25, a Red Crescent volunteer was mortally wounded in an Israeli attack in Khuza’a, and other volunteers who tried to rescue him were fired on. Under the laws of war, medical workers are civilians who may not be targeted for attack.

Those who had survived the attack on the basement fled after the strike and walked to Khan Younis, carrying white flags and raising their hands when they came across Israeli soldiers. An Israeli missile strike hit one group of them, killing a man and wounding his cousin, the cousin told Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch interviewed displaced residents from Khuza’a in Khan Younis. They said they believed that several hundred people were trapped and unable to leave Khuza’a, and expressed concern that many bodies were left in the rubble after intensive Israeli shelling.

Human Rights Watch was unable to conduct research in Khuza’a itself. All four roads leading to the town were impassable due to large bomb craters, and it was not clear whether Israeli forces would permit entrance.

Previous fighting in Gaza between Israeli and Hamas forces and other Palestinian armed groups has resulted in near-total impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas should urgently seek International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction over crimes committed on and from Palestinian territory, as a step toward reducing the accountability gap for grave abuses and deterring crimes in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said.

“The horrors of war are bad enough for civilians even when all sides abide by the law,” Whitson said. “But it’s abhorrent that Israeli forces are making matters even worse by so blatantly violating the laws of war designed to spare civilians.”

Unlawful Attacks and the Plight of Civilians in Khuza’a

Incident 1, Khuza’a, July 23 
Akram al-Najjar, 15, said that after Israeli forces began shelling Khuza’a on July 18, his family had “run from house to house seeking shelter.” On the night of July 22, “more than a hundred people had gathered in one house.” At 6 a.m. on July 23, he said, Israeli forces “caught us in the house and told us to come out.”  He told Human Rights Watch:

The first one to walk out of the house was Shahid al-Najjar. He had his hands up, but the soldiers shot him. He was shot in the jaw and badly injured, but he survived. Two of the people in the house spoke Hebrew and asked the soldiers why they shot him, and the soldiers said that the rest of the men had to take our clothes off before we walked out. The rest of us came out.

Akram al-Najjar and his grandfather, Mohammed al-Najjar, 75, interviewed separately, said that Israeli soldiers separated the women and men in the group, told the women to leave the area on foot, and allowed boys under age 14 to go with them. The Israeli forces then took the men and older boys to a nearby home, where they put about 50 of them in a room and allowed them to put their clothes back on. Next, the soldiers escorted the group to an alleyway, handcuffed them, and put them in a single-file line, where they waited for several minutes. The soldiers then ordered the group to walk east for about 10 minutes, until they reached another house. Mohammed al-Najjar said:

They put us in a corner. There were a lot of soldiers around, and their weapons. For half an hour, we were standing in the corner, not allowed to speak. Behind the house, there are sand dunes leading to the border [with Israel]. They took us to the sand dunes. They gave the older people water and treated the wounds of the injured. They separated us again, and let the old men and the younger boys go.

He said soldiers had also taken him to the sand dunes where soldiers treated a head wound from a few days earlier when a shell exploded near where he was taking shelter. At around 11 a.m., soldiers again separated the group, according to age, he said. “The men aged 16 to 50 they kept with them, and let the rest of us go,” Mohammed al-Najjar said.

Mohammed and Akram al-Najjar, who left Khuza’a in different groups, said that two elderly men died while trying to leave the area on foot. Mohammed al-Najjar said that one of the men in his group, Abu Wa’el Sanfoura, in his late 60s, “had been burned on the face in the bombardment, and he died from his injuries after we had been released by the Israelis, while we were on the road.” Akram al-Najjar said that his group “had been carrying Suleiman al-Najjar with us, who had been wounded before, during the shelling. He was 70. He died and we left his body behind.”

Akram al-Najjar said that soldiers allowed him to leave the area on the afternoon of July 23, in a separate group of 16 boys and young men, and that the group came under fire after they had reached the Tawhid mosque, in the northwestern part of Khuza’a:

The youngest boy in my group was 14 and the oldest one was 19 years old. We had walked from the dunes and had reached the mosque. We got 50 meters past it, and soldiers started shooting at us. The shooting injured three of us. One of them died. He was shot in the stomach.

He said he did not know the name of the young man who had been killed, but that no one in the group was carrying a weapon. He said there were no Palestinian fighters near his group, and that he did not see or hear any exchanges of fire between Israeli ground forces and Palestinian fighters. After the shooting at the Tawhid mosque, the group ran toward a gas station that “had already been bombed”:

It had two rooms that we took cover in. There were six of us in one room, six in the other, and others were hiding across the street. We were trapped there for three days without food or water, there was shelling all around us. A neighboring house was hit, but there was nothing we could do. We used Suleiman’s phone to call our relatives who had made it out already, and they called the Red Cross, but they couldn’t get coordination [Israeli military permission for safe passage]. Then at 8 a.m. [on July 26] we were told there was a ceasefire, so we started walking, and then we met a family. While we were walking we heard soldiers on a megaphone telling us to go to the school in Abasan. After walking a few kilometers we met up with ambulances there.

Mohammed al-Najjar said he believed that his sons Imad, 42 – Akram’s father – Adnan, 40, and Iyad, 30, were still in Israeli custody. Akram said that he last saw his brother Mohammed, 17, in Israeli custody. An Israeli news website, Walla, and the daily Haaretzboth reported that Israeli forces detained hundreds of Palestinians during military operations in Gaza as of July 24, including 150 on July 23. An unknown number of detainees have been released, according to media reports.

Incident 2, Khuza’a, July 23 In a separate incident on July 23, Hossein al-Najjar, 58, said that he and 50 members of his extended family and neighbors had been trapped in Khuza’a by shelling from July 18 to July 22. He said that Israeli forces shot and killed his cousin, Mohammed al-Najjar, when a group of civilians tried to leave the area on July 23. At dawn on July 23, Israeli forces called his home, and “said we had to get out immediately.” Israeli forces attacked the house soon afterward. “We had only seconds to get out, we weren’t able to carry anything out with us,” al-Najjar said. “Why did they attack us? We had no weapons in the house. We were not fighting them.”

The group was walking northeast, in the direction of Abasan, a town between Khuza’a and Khan Yunis, when they came under small-arms fire, al-Najjar said. “While we were walking out, my cousin Mohammad was shot,” he said. “He was shot with a bullet, not hit by shrapnel. We carried him with us all the way to Abasan.” Al-Najjar did not see where the shot was fired from, but said he saw only Israeli ground forces in the area, not Palestinian fighters. Al-Najjar’s cousin died soon after.

Incident 3, Khuza’a, July 23-25Kamel Ibrahim al-Najjar, 59, and his daughter-in-law Hakima Abu Reida, 28, interviewed separately, said that Israeli shelling had trapped them in Khuza’a from July 23 until the early morning of July 26. They had called the Red Cross repeatedly to request evacuation, but said they were told that the Israeli military would not agree to coordinate it.

The family had gathered for shelter with about 30 other people when Israeli forces began shelling the area on the night of July 22. Attacks nearby blew out the windows and damaged the building, and the next day, the group moved to a neighbor’s house, where there were already 80 people in the basement. “By that point we were 120 people, 10 men and the rest women and children,” Kamel al-Najjar said.

Abu Reida, who is eight months’ pregnant, told Human Rights Watch:

At 6 or 7 a.m. on [July 24] we heard there was a ceasefire. Our house is in the middle of Khuza’a, and we walked and walked to get to the western end of town, counting on an ambulance to be there. We were getting close but then we saw another group of people up ahead, coming under attack. I don’t know where the shelling came from, but people were saying, “There’s no ceasefire, it’s a trap.” So we turned back. We went to a neighbor’s basement.

Following a night of heavy shelling, after dawn on July 25 an Israeli munition hit the house where the group was taking refuge, without warning. The strike killed Motassem al-Najjar, 5, Kamel al-Najjar, 62, and Salim Qdeih, aged about 70, Abu Reida and al-Najjar said. Abu Reida said:

It was a shock, the blast, it knocked the breath out of me. I had no time to say the [prayer for the dying]. I don’t know why they hit the house, it was random. There was no resistance there, just us. We realized people had been killed, and everyone focused on getting out of the building: grab your children and run before the roof caves in. A nearby house was not as badly damaged, so we went there. I work as a nurse so I started giving first aid.

The attack wounded about 15 people, said Kamel al-Najjar, who was wounded in the eye and head. Abu Reida said she performed first aid on Rawan Ali al-Najjar, 7, who had a deep cut on her head, and Rana Kamel al-Najjar, 23, who was injured in her left leg, and Mohammed Qdeih, 6.

The Israeli military permitted two Palestinian ambulances to enter part of Khuza’a for one hour on July 24 to collect the wounded and recover bodies, according to news reports. On July 25, Israeli forces granted a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross for “coordination” or permission to access Khuza’a for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), so that workers could retrieve the bodies of “a number of people killed during the bombardment in Khuza’a on 23 July,” the UN reported.

However, members of the al-Najjar family said that the Palestinian Red Crescent had not been able to reach them. “We kept calling the Red Cross but they could not get coordination from the army for us to leave, so the women went and made a white flag,” Kamel al-Najjar said.

The ICRC reported that also on July 25, an Israeli attack killed “a Palestinian Red Crescent [Society] volunteer […] as he attempted to treat wounded people in Khuza`a.” The ICRC said, “Other paramedic volunteers who tried to rescue him were also targeted, making it impossible to bring him to hospital in time.”

Kamel al-Najjar and Abu Reida said that their group left at 6 a.m. on July 26 because of the deteriorating condition of the wounded and fears that the house where they were taking refuge would collapse.  Abu Reida said:

The only men with us were our husbands and children. We thought we saw resistance next to the house, and we shouted at them to stop fighting and move away, but then we saw that they were Israeli special forces! So we made white flags and started walking, we took random back roads and alleys to avoid soldiers and tanks, but they were everywhere.

They joined another group of people trying to get to safety, 150 people in all. They carried the wounded and a woman with a physical disability for almost a kilometer until they found an abandoned cart, which they then pushed over sandy ground for another kilometer.

Kamel al-Najjar said that the group passed by Israeli military bulldozers and tanks on the outskirts of Abasan al-Kabira: “We were about 50 meters from them, we raised our white flag and continued walking. Everyone was holding their hands up in the air except those carrying the wounded.” The group eventually reached several Red Crescent ambulances. “We gave them the wounded and the weak, because we had gone without food or water for three days,” al-Najjar said.  “And we continued walking, to an area that is supposed to be the safe zone. We saw cars and gave them some more of our wounded.”

At that point, he said, an apparent missile strike wounded him and killed his cousin, Shadi Yousef al-Najjar, 22, who was part of the group that had walked from Khuza’a.  He was not carrying a weapon, was not a member of an armed group, and there was no fighting in the area at the time, al-Najjar said:

Suddenly I found myself on the ground. Shadi was killed. I put my hand to my side, and started running, calling for an ambulance. I saw cars ahead of me and they took me in, my left leg was broken and shrapnel in my right, but I didn’t even know it, I was running due to adrenaline. They put Shadi in the car too. I was riding with the dead.