4 Jan 2009
If Hull were Gaza
I drafted this article after our successful Hull protest on Gaza with about 300 people.
Feel free to adopt the approach to your city as it might help ordinary people get closer to understanding what ordinary Palestinians are going through.
Best wishes, Martin D.
If Hull were Gaza
If Hull were Gaza there would be some 384 casualties of family and friends, with about 64 dead.
These are spread across the city killed or wounded by bombs dropped or missiles fired from state-of-the-art F-16 fighter jets. (These jets, by the way, regularly overfly the city at supersonic speeds making a frightening boom through the sound barrier. This often breaks windows and scares the children so much that they regularly wet the bed).
The army sometimes announces a curfew. You stay in after the time they say otherwise you’ll be targeted. They can overfly the whole city in Apache helicopters and F-16s – and you thought the police chopper was bad! And then they’ll kill you. For going out.
If Hull were Gaza all roads into the city would be barricaded and manned by heavily armed soldiers at checkpoints. There are checkpoints on: Hedon Road, Holderness Road, Beverley High Road, Anlaby Road, Hessle Road, Clive Sullivan Way. And don’t bother with the other roads out of the city. They’ve been blocked off with concrete and a 320 foot wall.
If Hull were Gaza the city would have a wall around it. Not the old city walls, but new ones, giant concrete slabs 25 and 30 foot high, with towers ever so often where soldiers can target individuals in their houses or in the tower blocks, or at the Library.
The Wall separates you from other family just the other side of it. To visit them you have to join the queues. If your job was the other side then you’ve probably had it. You’re on handouts mate.
Typically the queues for the checkpoints are two hours long: day or night, trucks or ambulances, even emergencies, even the very sick, the pregnant, are held up. You’ve got to be searched you see. Because anyone might be a terrorist, or armed, or a suicide bomber. We can’t take any chances. With you.
They’ve just bombed all the police stations, F-16 missiles hit police HQ. They’ve bombed all the TA centres (wrong sort of militants, you see). In fact the police and TA are now being targeted and called terrorists and militants and have bombs dropped on them even when it wipes out their whole family. And don’t even think of joining the traffic wardens!
There’s no petrol anyway. Here and there, the odd garage, when they decide they’ll let a delivery through. Just to be fair, you see.
There are no trains. Not for a long time. It’s not a strike; it’s not leaves neither. Station was closed long ago and railway lines were walled in towards the edge of the city. There’s a few buses. Everyone uses them. No choice really.
An aid ship, carrying vital goods for people across the city, the sick and the wounded especially, had a navy boat deliberately collide with it and was forced to limp away to another harbour.
Meanwhile, there is no working port. The navy bombed it the other day rendering it useless.
It’s become almost impossible to visit your friends even though Beverley’s only seven miles away, let alone go any further than that on the other main roads. And don’t even think about the dual carriageway towards York. It’s military only, and you will be fired at. And not with joke bullets neither. If you want to go to Beverley there is a 2 hour queue all the way down Beverley Road because of the checkpoint up near the roundabout.
All the schools have been evacuated. There’s shattered glass everywhere. Those exams won’t be happening then. But then, you’d want your kids at home at a time like this.
Your kids throw stones at the tanks and the APCs when they can. You don’t blame than anymore.
Hull Royal Accident and Emergency has a 4 hour wait. Oh, wait, it already does, Ok, it has a ten hour wait with only the direst casualties being seen first. But people are rallying around and helping out, if they have some training. But if the rate of casualties goes up, with the lack of medicines because the soldiers turn away drugs and medicines – and often food and fuel too – then before long some will just be left to die.
A lot of people have left over the years. A lot. Like millions. They’ve gone, abroad, for good, maybe, and put as much distance between here and there as they can. You’d leave too. If you could.
News travels fast: they’ve opened a checkpoint, they’ve let a medical supply truck through or food supplies, or fuel. You try to find out where they’ve gone.
There’s a UN depot in the city, for refugees. But we’re all refugees now. It used to have flour but the city’s run out and it doesn’t now. People have to rely on their local bakeries and whatever flour is left in town.
Oh, and it’s not your army. It’s a foreign army that largely hates you.
It’s really hard to understand. And this has gone on so long.
You’re grateful for some among you that fight back in different ways. There’s the odd tunnel been built, secretly, and things sneaked in. But they find them eventually and bomb them or blow them up, even with people in them, preferably with, in fact.
It’s like wartime only worse. It is wartime. And yet it’s not really seen as a war. It’s called an occupation. And it’s turned our city into our prison. No point having Hedon Road!
Your own elected officials can barely keep the place together. None of the schools have windows. Few have the shops have much in.
If Hull were Gaza, imagine something like that for 60 years.
That’s Palestine today.
Gaza: 1.5 million population / 6.25 = Hull, 240,000 population.
Take 2400 casualties (say 400 dead and 2000 wounded)2400 / 6.25 = 384.