Friday, January 30, 2009


Dr. Sonia Robbins is a brave, tough-minded woman I met in Daheisheh refugee camp just outside Bethlehem the evening of November 17, 2008. A British reconstructive surgeon working at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, she had been denied access to her patients there since the imposition of the Israeli blockade on November 4. When near fifty of us decided to peel away from the Sabeel Conference * we were then attending to stand in solidarity with the humanitarian NGOs we had learned would seek to enter Gaza the next morning, Sonia volunteered to go with us to the Erez Crossing, offering sound advice on how to behave with the Israeli security personnel and foreign media we were soon to encounter. I will not forget the day - November 18 - nor Sonia. Here is her unvarnished, unscrubbed report from the day before yesterday from Gaza. She finally got in...and this is what she found. I offer it without further comment. It needs none.


From: "Sonia Robbins" <>

Date: January 28, 2009 10:51:19 PM PST

Subject: from dr sonia

hi, what to say? the aftermath of the massacre leaves destroyed families and buildings, no sign of cement coming in, rafah still intermittently closed, many patients transferred to egypt and lost into black hole of buearocracy and families cannot trace. medical staff and people still shellshocked although cars and people on the streets again but all people have the memories of the events of 20 days bombardment, charred bodies and probably no family is intact. we visited a number of homes where people often children sit with legs in plaster, dressings on multiple wounds not sure what happened and what is going to happen as the medical services probably did break under the strain and now only with all the visitors is there an ongoing care. medical staff here need time off but still sit in clinics trying to cope. Money will no doubt pour into the system now but unless there is some justice over the use of unconventional weapons on a civilian popultation so the extent that almost every street had bits of phosphurus mixture that kids play with to make it ignite 20 days later in some cases. That also needs clearing up safely particularly as rain water or heat of the summer could reignite these remnants. children are already getting fingers and faces burnt as they play with remnants in the streets. reports will come out but all effort must be made to bring some justice to the palestinian people.Phosphorus and possible other materials used may also have a later carcinogenic effect. I am ok and being accompanied by Greek and Uk colleagues some of the time which is good when seeing and hearing about these events. such weapons should not even be produced for any use. there are also very disturbing reports of executions by il ground personnel. no wonder il has done its best to keep all journalists and foreigners out as long as they could and for most of the war and still making it very difficult for entry with egyptian beaurocratic help even to deciding that a psychiatrist was not 'medical enough - not needed' in thi situation and therefore not allowed in. knowing when to leave will be difficult as it will take many years and perhaps never for all the physical scars and rebuilding to be done as well as the unseen psychological ones. but much will be healed and helped if there is some justice here. without that the physical scars on the bodies and buildings here may be patched up but the deeper psychological ones will remain without the healing salve of some restorative justice.

the picture is as it says - the american school in gaza targetted by il probably with munitions from usa. what an education we are giving here.



* We were attending an international conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba or Catastrophe experienced by the Palestinian people in 1948. The conference was sponsored by Sabeel (The Way), an ecumenical Palestinian Christian liberation theology group centered in Jersusalem and Nazareth.

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