Belkis Wille, Harvard Student visiting Gaza, March 2009
"On Thursday evening my boss took me to Northern Gaza, to the most devastated areas. The Israeli army engaged in an operation to raze to the ground all of the houses close to the border that were blocking the view from the Israeli security watchtowers. Hundreds of houses that were not Hamas targets were bombed. One case is particularly disturbing; a family was gathered in one house, and the Israeli army placed explosives under the support columns of the building, and then blew it up from a distance. An ambulance driver was in the neighboring house and got into his ambulance to drive to the house and load in the injured people. The Israeli tanks purposefully blocked his way and he had to watch the people die from 10 meters away. He returned to his house, which was blown up shortly afterwards.
I saw all the remains of phosphorus bombs, mines, F16s, etc. I heard so many awful stories about attacks that were carried out. And yet this is not what disturbed me the most; in wartime these are the unfortunate but expected results. What disturbed me more was the most disgusting damage caused for non-military purposes, but purely out of malice. You drive past hundreds of fields of grape vines that were bulldozed by the army, uprooting every single tree; only a few stumps are left. In one house that the army entered, one soldier stood on the side of the closest and fired a single bullet that pierced through every single item of clothing hanging inside. Another man had several tvs, and he came home to find a bullet in the screen of each one. A friend of mine, not a Hamas supporter, in fact he is a member of the Fatah party, evacuated his house after staying there for the first few weeks of the war. Afterwards the military entered- though it was empty- and shot doors, cupboards, closets, curtains, clothes, even the bathroom has a large bullet hole in the wall. Unfortunately the local government has its own shortcomings- because the family is Fatah, they will received no compensation.
Even more visible willful destruction is seen by simply driving on the roads in the North. Some of the tanks are armed with something like a large big pin that rips through the middle of the road as the tanks drive, ruining the road permanently. Sometimes bulldozers are used to tear up the entire street. There has not been any new asphalt in Gaza for over two years; therefore there is no way of repairing the roads- something desperately needed in Gaza.
This kind of destruction goes beyond military necessity, and goes beyond what wartime can explain. This kind of destruction is the sickening affect of power, power of soldiers to ruin the lives of Gazan civilians with simple actions that have no affect on them or their conscience."