Friday, March 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Nowhere to go for Gaza civilians urged to evacuate

By
From page A1 | July 17, 2014 |

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The text message was as urgent as it was unwelcome: The Israeli army advised Mouin Ghaffir to leave his home quickly or risk being killed in airstrikes against Hamas rocket squads.

He swiftly sent his wife and 11 children to a dirty U.N. emergency shelter, with more than 40 people crammed in each classroom, but had to endure a night under bombardment at home after failing to find a safe place for his ailing 75-year-old mother.

Such is the life-and-death predicament of tens of thousands of Gazans being told by Israel to flee targeted areas, most with nowhere to go. U.N. shelters lack the space, and relatives, with their own overcrowded homes, often cannot help.

Israel says urging residents to evacuate — with warnings delivered through automated calls, text messages and leaflets dropped from planes — is part of the military’s attempt to spare civilians whenever possible.

It holds Hamas responsible for the ordeal of Gaza’s 1.7 million people, saying Hamas fighters fire rockets toward Israel from residential areas, effectively using civilians as human shields.

However, rights groups say simply sending warnings does not absolve Israel of responsibility and that those being urged to evacuate need somewhere to go.

In Ghaffir’s case, there was no way he could move his mother, Fawziyeh, after receiving the army’s text message late Tuesday. The elderly woman, afflicted by diabetes, high blood pressure and incontinence, needs constant care, he said. Conditions were chaotic in the U.N. girls’ school in a safer area where his wife Mona and their 11 children immediately sought refuge. But it was no place for his mother.

Instead, he moved her into the living room of the family’s home in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, one of three areas Israel said it would target. Mother and son kept low to the ground, away from the windows.

“I didn’t sleep the entire night from the sound of the bombings,” said 48-year-old Ghaffir. “The walls were shaking and there was a crack in the wall.” He said the blasts shattered several windows in the house.

On Wednesday morning, Ghaffir moved his mother to his sister Leila’s apartment in an area deemed somewhat safer. But Leila, 65, had no room for the rest of his family, he said, noting that she lives in a one-bedroom apartment with her husband and four other family members.

After getting his mother out of Shijaiyah, where airstrikes continued Wednesday, Ghaffir joined his wife and children at the U.N. school. The classroom where his family slept the night before on a bare floor was filled with noisy children, but Ghaffir said he preferred the crowded conditions to being at home.

“Here, we are surrounded by people,” he said. “We get the feeling we are all together.”

Ghaffir’s story highlights the hard choices Gazans face in this war.

The Israeli army did not say how many homes it sent the warnings to, but the three areas — the town of Beit Lahiya and the sprawling Gaza City neighborhoods of Zeitoun and Shijaiyah — have a combined population of well over 300,000 people.

That’s far more than can be accommodated in U.N. schools, which cannot shelter more than 35,000. Currently, some 21,000 Gazans are crammed into 24 U.N. schools, said Sami Mshasha, a spokesman for the U.N. aid agency.

Moving in with relatives is not an option for most. While familial bonds tend to be strong in Gaza’s traditional society, families are large and — with a severe housing shortage — homes are crowded.

Danger lurks not only in the areas the Israeli military says it will hit. Since the start of cross-border fighting on July 8, Israel has carried out close to 1,900 airstrikes across Gaza. Israel says it is targeting Hamas installations to try to halt Hamas rocket fire on Israel, but more than half of the over 200 Palestinians killed so far have been civilians, according to U.N. figures.

“There is no safe place, whether in the homes or in the streets,” said Amjad Shawa, who heads a network of civic groups in Gaza.

There were no reliable estimates of how many residents left after Tuesday’s warnings, but the exodus was not massive. Gaza’s Interior Ministry urged people to stay put, saying the Israeli warnings were part of “psychological warfare.” It later said most people had not heeded Israel’s call.

Among those deciding against evacuation was the extended Hassanain family — brothers Jawad and Fathi, their wives, mother and 12 children. “When we hear the sound of explosions, we think we might be the next target,” Jawad said by telephone. “We know it’s not safe, but where to go? Can you tell me about a safe place?”

He said several tank shells landed near the family’s house close to the Israeli border on Wednesday. If the situation gets worse, he might send his wife and five children to a safer area, but said his 72-year-old mother, Khadija, refuses to trade her home for a shelter.

Israel holds Hamas, which has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in the past nine days, responsible for the civilians’ predicament. “All the rockets launched so far have come from these civilian areas,” said Lt. Libby Weiss, an army spokeswoman. “We also know they (Hamas militants) store weapons there as well.”

Hamas rocket squads have become increasingly sophisticated, often firing from underground launch sites with movable covers.

Weiss said the military meets its obligations for safeguarding civilians by sending the warnings.

However, Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said more is required under international humanitarian law. The army also needs to make sure the civilian population can act on the warnings, she said.

At the same time, those firing rockets “show utter disregard for the lives of Israeli civilians, but also the lives of Palestinians in the neighborhoods they are firing from,” she said.

Yet residents in the targeted areas seem unwilling to blame Hamas.

Hassanain, a long-time supporter of Hamas’ political rival Fatah, said he cheers on the rocket squads.

“For me, it’s personal,” he said. “Every rocket avenges the daily terror that my family has been living through since 2000 when they (Israeli troops) started using tanks for shelling.”

“Rockets now are our last symbol of dignity.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Everyday life inspires model’s music

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Hosting gig for comic, birthday party on weekend schedule

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Brasher new president, CEO of Jelly Belly

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Rio Vista singer ready for Rancho Cordova show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
 
 
Spring Fling set to return to Rancho Solano

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Kids fishing day events return

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: March 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun police log: March 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Co-pilot believed to have purposefully crashed plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Lawyers dispute hoax claim, boyfriend says he was drugged

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
L.A. river revamp to cost double previous projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
State to alter ban on where sex offenders can live

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Governor awaits $1B drought relief bill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US drops graphic leaflet to possible Islamic State recruits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

AP Exclusive: Special ops troops using flawed intel software

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Talent agency wants Matt McConaughey speaking fee secret

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Grateful Oklahomans salvage belongings after killer storm

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Fact Check: Myths in the political roar over Common Core

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US: Chicago-area cousins planned US terrorist attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Report: Teen says mom killed her siblings found in freezer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
House OKs bipartisan Medicare doctor bill; fate up to Senate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Tunisians assure Star Wars sets safe from Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
US Thunderbolt II attack planes on training in Poland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Syrian government shells kill 18 in south, activists say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Turmoil in Yemen escalates as Saudi Arabia bombs rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Russian, American ready for a year in space

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
Parents may be enabling son’s drinking and hurting his employment chances

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview March 27 to April 3, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
‘Downton Abbey’ to end after upcoming 6th season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

With ‘Downton Abbey’s coming demise, here are 5 past deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ken Burns unravels the mysteries of cancer in PBS film

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: Animated alien adventure ‘Home’ lands with a thud

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Entertainment Calendar: March 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Marleau, Niemi lead Sharks past Red Wings 6-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Warriors can match franchise record for wins at Memphis

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Prep swimming preview: City teams look to make big splash

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Notre Dame races by Wichita State 81-70 for Elite Eight spot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Kentucky overwhelms West Virginia 78-39 in NCAA Sweet 16

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
San Diego city, county join forces on bid to keep NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Labor, developers reach deal on proposed Inglewood stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Italians will pull out of America’s Cup if boats downsized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Fiancee of Aaron Hernandez to be called to testify Friday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stanford’s VanDerveer, Notre Dame’s McGraw to face off

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, March 27, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B8

 
Former Germany coach Berti Vogts joins Klinsmann’s US staff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Officials OK demolishing Irwindale Speedway for outlet mall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Sharks sign 2 college players

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Top-seeded Wisconsin hangs to beat North Carolina 79-72

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
49ers waive OL Jonathan Martin after 1 season with team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for March 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Mirim Lee leads LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Charley Hoffman takes PGA lead in wind-swept Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Range Rover offers an exclusivity that’s rich with irony

By The Washington Post | From Page: C1

 
Google’s new CFO gets $70M for defecting from Morgan Stanley

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Bankruptcy hearing could decide fate of RadioShack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Microsoft wants US suppliers to give employees paid time off

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Lawmakers unhappy with new fracking rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
Authorities go after crooked car deals in national crackdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Oil prices jump almost 5 percent as tensions mount in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
New Samsung, HTC phones coming April 10 in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Helen Kalis

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Carol A. Vose

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9