Friday, 27 February 2009

A Rainy Friday in Nablus

Poem in progress

Raining day today the lemons are getting washed
Lurching, on storm tossed stems, bright yellow diamonds
dance with hills wearing Shrouds, rain cascading in frills
through Fridays old city empty of trade

every awning is flowing a transient flood
silhouettes shimmer in archways, then vanish
martyrs faces on posters melting in memory
washing off paper hanging torn on the walls.

Friday, 6 February 2009

On Mount Gerizim, thinking about Gaza, timeless occupations and endless ethnic cleansings

Over the December period, Israel started shelling Gaza in a major offensive against the civilian population who individually paid the price with massive fatalities, dismembered limbs and phosphorous burns penetrating skin to bone.

Sharp blades of all sizes and shapes, lethal slivers raining down slicing and piecing, amputating; arms from bodies, heads from necks...

Gazans were prevented from leaving the strip, trapped inside as the knives and fire rained down.

In Nablus people clung to their TV screens, eyes spread- eagled wide, unable to work as the seemingly endless deformities of destruction paraded night after night.

The Nabulsi viewers compulsively searched for evidence of relatives amongst the piles of rubble, unable to tear themselves away from Al Jazeera's continuous reels of war porn, knowing through bitter experience that on the ground in Gaza it was hell well beyond this nightly TV spectacle.

In the West Bank meaningful acts of resistance to the massacre seemed impossible.
The political divisions and rivalries prevented any public showing of grief that were not disrupted by the chanting of rival slogans or fist fights between party activists.

Utter futility in the face of Israel's plague on the house of Hamas.

The disturbing footage of dazed child survivors staring blankly into space while doctors removed their bandages for the cameras, revealing the effects of phosphorus burning skin down to bone was terrible to see.

I have experienced full thickness burns on 10 % of my body, so as I saw these images I recalled the excruciating sensation of nerve endings growing back, the intense agony of mere air touching flesh. Wincing as doctors removed the child's bandages, remembering that even large doses of dia-morphine did not block the electric agony of thousands of vibrating nerves reacting to air on wound and that this maddening sensation would continue for up to two hours after the exposure, despite the numbing effect of opiates.

I also recall that the major concern of medical staff was controlling bacterial infections that could attack healthy as well as damaged skin, eating it back to the bone.

When wounds are so intensive, infection is near impossible to prevent.

In my pristine burns unit, the nurses banned lettuce and flowers because these carry the staphylococcus bacteria.

When viewing the state of hospitals in Gaza and the reports of water and fuel shortages I despair for the wounded chances of survival.

Day after day the number of dead and mutilated victims rose to 2300 fatalities and over 5000 serious injuries.

Gaza has been left, following this massacre with 600,000 tonnes of rubble from 14, 000 destroyed homes and buildings.

Living and working in Nablus at this time is strange: people here are traumatized generally from the occupation and constant exposure to violence but this latest offensive in Gaza has shown just how much Israel despises Arab humanity and I am very afraid for the future.