"It is feared people are trapped under the rubble" - was the presenter's solemn announcement following an earthquake in Japan on the first day of 2024. International aid agencies had offered assistance, while civil defence crews were busy searching in collapsed buildings for those trapped people.
Back in February last year, one of the largest earthquakes this century hit Southern Turkey and North West Syria, taking the lives of almost 60,000 people, most of whom were crushed beneath the collapsed concrete of apartment blocks. Many were also trapped, while heroic efforts to save them continued until there was no hope left for finding any survivors. With so much destruction happening at once over such a huge area, there was simply not enough machinery and manpower available to search for and retrieve all those who may not have been killed or fatally wounded by the pancaking floors.
But for those who longed to find that their partners, children or parents had somehow survived despite all the odds, weeks would pass before they abandoned hope; even then they would not rest until the bodies were finally recovered. At least 120,000 people were injured, with many of those rescued from the rubble in the first few days. About 300 people remained unaccounted for.
IN GAZA, over 7000 people remain buried under the rubble from Israel's monumental demolition of their homes and shelters, nearly all of whom must now be dead. While some may be rescued by men digging with their bare hands, Israel nightly adds hundreds more to the toll, including by further bombing of the same neighbourhoods where rescuers are searching. This recent report from Al Jazeera details the estimated toll of deaths and injuries, and includes a short video, posted below.
Al Jazeera's reporting of the Gaza genocide has been generally a stand-out amongst Western media, contrasting with its shocking bias in reporting the war on Syria or Kiev's war on Donbas. So it's a little disappointing to read this rather dispassionate view of the crime against humanity that is Israel's deliberate operation to bury thousands of innocent people alive, while preventing any attempts to rescue them before they bleed to death or finally succumb from lack of water and air.
It should be remembered that this burial is unlike the circumstances of any other disaster, like an earthquake or even that of cities bombed in WW2. Before Israel even began its bombing campaign, people in Gaza were just struggling along with minimal services - a chronic lack of clean water and sanitation, shortages of fuel and electricity and a restricted diet. But all those little services they had disappeared on October 8th, as electricity was cut off and fuel for generators ran out. So from the start, families clung together through the long nights, listening to the explosions and menacing sound of drones looking for suitable targets for annihilation.
And a personal note - I remember my mum telling tales of 'the blitz' in London in WW2, and how they listened to the sound of 'doodle-bugs' - the original predator drones - which Germany was sending across the channel to terrorise and demoralise the Brits. If the sound stopped as the thing passed over, then it was heading down to its target. Those planes however were unmanned and unguided, and simply flew on until they ran out of fuel and plunged to earth wherever they happened to be. Their main effect - and intent, was to frighten people, but also to confine them, given almost everyone had bomb shelters. A proper comparison with Doodle bugs is with Hamas' rockets, which rarely do any significant damage but force Israelis to spend a lot of time in their bomb shelters.
How it feels to be in this situation is perfectly described in this first hand account from a 'survivor' of a bombing in Gaza city, who was buried with his family until people came to dig them out two hours later. After that the bombardment continued and they were forced to flee simply to survive - but now face an unknown future if they survive the other many threats to their lives in the short term. (Al Jazeera posted this article today, which I add as an update)
The only bomb shelters that the people of Gaza have had for the last 15 years are their homes or what is left of them - or public buildings that Israel is expected to avoid bombing. But sometimes people survive in the voids beneath concrete slabs, if only they can be rescued. This video shows such an event, as it is discussed by Al Jazeera's political commentator Marwan Bishara:
In the subsequent piece of video it becomes evident that the rescued man has left other members of his family behind, while a little later we see movement in the rubble – of a couple of fingers only.
A slow speed clip of this movement illustrates the dreadful choice for those who saw it, as also pointed out in the highlighted frames below.
We might pause to remember how our media made such a fuss over the rescue of a single person from under the rubble in Turkish cities following that catastrophic earthquake, after every means was used to search for people. This included all work stopping so as to listen for sounds of life. The contrast is truly extraordinary.
It can be only a matter of time before the saner and more rational people in Western countries, who already see what Israel is doing as genocidal, start to realise that Israel has genocidal intent; that it is intentionally targeting civilians, and using munitions that it knows full well will kill hundreds if fired into residential areas. There has been a rather stupid argument recently about Israel's use of 'dumb' bombs, as if it were somehow possible to drop a 900 kg explosive on such targets that one could call 'smart'. The killing is also so blatant that no-one even tries or bothers to talk about 'collateral damage' - the euphemism used by the US to excuse its carelessness about killing, and famously parodied in the Wikileaks video 'Collateral Murder'.
Israel constantly illustrates its ability to kill single individuals or groups of particular individuals, following their movements using satellite and cell-phone data. It has also illustrated its ability to kill hundreds of people with a guided smart missile, as it did with the attack on the Al Aqli hospital, so there is little that happens by chance or accident.
Since I started writing this four days ago there have been already two high profile assassinations carried out by the Zionist state and its constant companion America, along with one major terrorist attack connected to a previous assassination. The killing of General Qasem Soleimani on January 2nd 2020 as he arrived in Baghdad on a diplomatic visit was an unforgiveable crime carried out by Mossad and the CIA, with a missile strike that also targeted the leader of Shia forces in Iraq, Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis. Now the two partners in crime have collaborated again in 'taking out' not just one but three leaders of the Resistance, in Damascus two weeks ago and in Lebanon and Iraq, and timed exactly to coincide with commemorations of their previous killings.
So it seems that nothing is beyond the reach of this monster that we have created, and which we continue to support 'to the end' - an end which Israel and America seem intent on pushing us towards. But we do have a choice - to speak out against Israel's genocide and to demand an end to all cooperation and support for this Nazionist entity occupying and destroying the lives of millions; anything less is consent and collaboration in its crimes - as Chris Hedges has so eloquently written.
How otherwise will we face those on the moral high ground in Gaza, who wish us a happy new year?
There is a lot more to say however, on the matter of rescues from under the rubble of bombed buildings, because the “White Helmets” in Syria have created a whole industry out of their famous ‘rescues’ in the areas occupied by Western-backed armed groups, with whom their cooperate. Take any video broadcast on Western media over the last ten years which shows what purports to be a rescue of civilians from under the rubble in the towns and villages of NW Syria, and then compare it with what we are now witnessing in Gaza. Perhaps only now does it become clear what really happens when buildings are brought down on families sheltering in the dark, and with no machinery or ability to rescue them. Understanding that the White Helmets were a grand fake, and their rescues were fabrications, and that the Syrian and Russian air-forces didn’t bomb residential buildings unless it was to kill these foreign agents and their violent mercenary partners; somehow Al Jazeera is going to have to revisit their terrible crimes, and the crimes committed against the Syrian people that they have supported; otherwise they will be supporting Israel.