For Whom the Bell tolls? It tolls for Gaza and Israel. Part One of Two

An Expanded Overview. Details, Stories and four news photos. 
About 5000 words for Part One and same for Part Two

The Buddha Declared: There is suffering, the causes/conditions for suffering,
the cessation of suffering and the way leading to the cessation. DN 22.17.
John Dunne, 1573 – 1631, English poet/religious writer
  • Now this bell tolling softly for another,says to me, Thou must die.
    Perchance, he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill.

 Part One Headings

  • Has the world turned its back on Gaza and Israel?
  • Consequences of the Mindset of Hamas and Israeli government
  • Indiscriminate Bombing
  • Fate of Hospitals in Gaza and the Catastrophe
  • US Politics and the Fate of Gaza
  • Gaza, Totnes and Protests
  • Suffering and Responsibility
  • Mossad and Shin Bet– Intelligence Agencies?
  • Three Personal Recollections
  • Primary Resources
  •  Necessary Steps
  • Link to 50 Alternatives to War

Part Two Headings (see next blog)

  •  An Example of Overseas Dissent
  • Voices in the Buddhist tradition on Gaza
  • The Plight of Israelis
  • Psychic Numbness, Psychic Overload in Israel
  • Impact of Stress and Trauma on Israel
  • Priority of Individuals and the Tormented Mind
  • Link to 50 Alternatives to War

For Whom the Bell Tolls.

It Tolls for Gaza and Israel

Part One of Two

I have no faith in the current crop of political leaders, no faith in self-appointed governments, nor in militaristic invasions used to perpetuate the suffering of people.

We feel grateful for all those who demand (not invite) a cessation to the war in Gaza. They make their voice heard in the United Nations, in Parliaments, in the written word/spoken word and on the streets. They hold rallies, organise fundraising events and call upon their elected officials to speak up for civilians in Gaza. Yet certain big players in the world, such as some of the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, UK and USA – of the UN Security Council, ensure continuity of the bombardment through their feeble-minded rhetoric of concern. The people of Gaza rightfully ask:

Has much of the world turned its back on Gaza and Israel?

  • Where are the citizens in Israel, Palestine and the West, who have no time for war obsessed leaders, democratically elected or otherwise?
  • Where is the media (TV, radio, newspapers, social media) campaigning for a cessation to the invasion of Gaza?Where are the businesses willing to support the oppressed in Gaza?
  • Where are the scientists/neuroscientists who claim to be developing a better world?
  • Where are the Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, who regard the intentional killing of another as a major violation of God’s law or a major violation of Dharma?
  • Where are the former officers/soldiers, who suffered physically and mentally in previous or current wars? Why do they keep silent?
  • Where are the social workers, who protect families from domestic violence, but say nothing about bombing neighbourhoods in Gaza or Hamas attacking homes of Israelis?
  • Where are the grandparents forming together to express the deepest concern about the wilful killing of families trapped in war zones?
  • Where are the feminists speaking up for women in Gaza and women in Israel?
  • Where are the doctors and psychologists/counsellors worldwide who treat the wounds and traumas of citizens/soldiers but say nothing about the causes?
  • Where are the mothers speaking up for mothers in the neighbouring country who suffer bereavement and despair at the loss, wounds and damaged souls of their children?
  • Where are the fathers speaking up for fathers in the neighbouring country suffering despair through bereavement at the loss, wounds and damaged souls of their children?
  • Where are the parents who wave family members in uniform goodbye as they depart for a war zone? Why do they stay silent while experiencing stomach churning anxiety?
  • Where are all those in Israel who campaigned to stop the corruption in their government and weakening authority of the Supreme Court? Why is there no major campaign in Israel to stop the genocide in Gaza?
  • Why do citizens in Gaza stay quiet after the mass murder by Hamas in Israel?

Consequences of the Mindset of Hamas and the Israeli government

Hamas officials have mostly spent their life living in Gaza. They have engaged in the immoral and repugnant launching of rockets and widespread mass killing in Israel. In the past, the same government has supported terror attacks, suicide bombers and random killings of Israelis. Hamas officials knew the citizens of Gaza would suffer a ferocious Israeli military reaction upon Gaza. Based on decades of experience, the Gaza government was determined to trigger the Israeli government to inflict violent retribution on men, women and children, plus destruction of entire sections of the city and its infrastructure.

Since the formation of state of Israel, successive Israeli governments have engaged in relentless punishment of Palestinians in their non-violent and violent efforts to establish an independent state. There is an ongoing expansion of Israel into Palestine; more than 600,000 settlers live there and grab more and more land every year. The Israeli government has now also turned to high levels of death and destruction of Gaza, never experienced before in Palestine.

Hamas wanted international attention to shift back to Palestine and away from Ukraine – the more civilian deaths in Gaza, the greater the worldwide media attention. They got what they wanted. The officials exposed fellow Palestinians to a massive military reaction in their small, overcrowded city. Hamas surely knew countless numbers of Palestinian civilians would suffer terrible consequences, yet they still went ahead with the slaughter of Israelis.

On Saturday morning of 7 October 2023, Hamas violent activists broke through the flimsy fences dividing Israel from Gaza and killed as many Israelis and others as possible. They took 250 Israelis hostages, young and old, with 129 currently unaccounted for. These fighters shot and killed anyone they came across in Israel, including children. The death toll included about 300 soldiers and a total of about 900 civilians. Hamas massacred 260 young people at Nova music festival in south Israel. There are eyewitness reports Hamas fighters engaged in sexual violence upon Israelis.

USA, EU and UK supported Israel’s invasion of Gaza step of the way. Western politicians repeated ad nauseum the one-liner “Israel must defend itself.” This one-liner became the justification for the immediate launch of daily bombing of Palestinians. Israeli military has killed on average around 250 people every day since October.

Both sides have an essential policy of adhering to a violent ideology of Us and Them, an ideology that matters far more than the protection and support of Palestinians or Israelis.

Nobody in Gaza, nor in the international community, could have predicted the intensity of the bombardment. The population find themselves trapped, not knowing what to do or where to turn to. Bombed roads make it impossible to reach so-called safer areas. The IDF gave warnings to Palestinians to leave one of the world’s 40 most densely populated cities, but how could two million people organise an exit? Currently, there is no end in sight to the wilful decimation of Gaza.

At the time of writing, Israeli bombs, tanks and soldiers have killed over 20,000 men, women and children in Gaza – 8000 children and over 6000 women – in a population of 2.1 million. IDF have wounded over 52,000 civilians. A spokesperson for the WHO (World Health Organisation) considers the Gaza figures death toll as trustworthy.

There were 57,000 civilian deaths from Nazi bombing of the UK in World War 2 in the six-year period between 1939-1945.

US has opposed overwhelming demands from nations of the world for an immediate ceasefire. In a second vote, USA abstained from a vote to enable a limited amount of aid to enter Gaza.

UN (United Nations) continues to warn of famine conditions in Gaza. More than 85% of people have fled their homes, many have fled to a corner of southern Gaza. The war continues in parts of southern Gaza. IDF claims this area is ‘safer.’

What will trigger a response from us – to save Palestinian lives, lives of hostages and the lives of Israeli soldiers?

UN staff endeavours to monitor the war on the civilians. So far, the IDF has killed 136 UN personnel in Gaza–the highest number since the formation of the UN in 1948—75 years ago. UN can accumulate evidence of the systematic destruction of major areas of Gaza, establish grounds for a range of war crimes, but lacks the power to hold suspects accountable in the international courts. As a result, the daily atrocities continue.

Israel’s paymaster, USA continues to condemn Russia for invading Ukraine while supporting all powerful Israel for invading enslaved Gaza. USA government refuses to support a legally binding ceasefire. No country offer sanctuary so Palestinians cannot escape the daily bombings and ground attacks.

The Fate of Hospitals in Gaza and the Catastrophe

Aerial photos of north Gaza show bombing have flattened widespread areas. IDF artillery has damaged all 36 hospitals in Gaza. Destruction of buildings around hospitals has made it impossible for ambulances to reach hospitals or ambulances to leave hospitals to bring the wounded to hospitals. There are nine partially functioning hospitals, some cannot conduct operations because of the absence of medical equipment. Patients cannot receive treatment, so they wait to die. UN estimates there are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza.

IDF killed 26 members of the same family

Nobody knows in Gaza if they will survive another day or night. Desperately overcrowded hospitals have suffered bomb damage, doctors and nurses run out of medical supplies, heating, electricity, food and water. Israeli air force continues to drop bombs. 300 doctors and other medical staff have died. Craters reveal Israeli planes drop 2000-pound bombs close to hospitals. Hospitals had to be abandoned because of bombing and shelling. Doctors could not offer operations to those suffering appalling injuries. They had to watch many patients die.

Once hospital staff has identified the deceased, the staff wraps the patient up from head to foot in a large white sheet. Then the staffer writes with a black marker pen a number on the front of the white cloth. This means the hospital will count the named person as among the dead. Many corpses are unrecognisable because of the massive injuries, so they cannot go on the list of deceased. Thousands of families and individuals cannot find their loved ones.

The body count comes from hospital deaths of named Palestinians and does not include those missing, says the Ministry for Health. Death toll is much higher with the army blowing up whole neighbourhoods. Hamas fighters have killed 153 Israeli army personnel in Gaza. (24.12.2023).

Severe hunger, famine and disease face Palestinians throughout Gaza. There is a growing concern that the Israeli government uses hunger as a weapon. More than a million homeless people struggle to get access to food and drink, despite hours of queueing for food. Raw sewerage runs on the ground, thus creating sickness, such as hepatitis, diarrhoea and dangerous fungi. There is no treatment available.

Hundreds of people queue in line to use a toilet. Gaza enters the winter months. Families lack the clothing to cope with season changes, nor the means to wash their clothes. Rainfall floods sections of the camps. Nightly bombings prevent sleep. Immune systems are weak. Palestinians are slowly starving to death. Despair must surely be the most common mindset in Gaza.

All this and more expresses a catastrophe (nakbar in Arabic).

Indiscriminate Bombing

About a decade ago, I recall giving a retreat in a kibbutz in Israel a few kilometres from Gaza. In the middle of the night, the IDF launched rockets. The next day the government informed the media the army launched 172 rockets into Gaza. The sound of the rockets hitting buildings in Gaza woke us all up. I went to sit in the meditation hall. The walls of the hall shook and vibrations moved through the floor. These were rockets, not bombs. We were 10 kilometres away from Gaza.

Frequent indiscriminate bombing of Gaza appears unprecedented in any war this millennium. Bombs have ranged in size from around 100 pounds (45 kilos) to 2000 pounds (907 kilos). US government provides the bombs to the Israeli army and has continued to deliver to Israel since the war on Gaza started. The high density of the population in an area of 40 kilometres by 10 kilometres makes everyone easy targets, leaving thousands dying or dead under the rubble. 2000 pound bombs, one of its biggest and most destructive bombs, have been dropped in the ‘safer’ zone of southern Gaza.

Gaza houses 5700 men, women and children per square kilometre before the bombing and invasion of hundreds of Israeli army tanks and infantry.

The daily bombardments bring abject terror to the Palestinian families. Nobody is safe from the bombardment. Citizens have three priorities – to stay alive, to drink clean water and get food in their stomachs for their children and themselves.

The terrified hostages do not know their fate – from the bombing, assassinations, starvation or release.

US Politics and the Fate of Gaza

President Biden has refused to call for a ceasefire in his conversations with the Israeli Prime Minister. US President gives the US elections in November 2024 a greater priority than human rights in Gaza. Currently Donald Trump is leading in all seven swing states. Biden desperately needs the votes of the Jewish community, Muslim community, Christian evangelicals and Christian Zionists. So he fudges every concern he has about the bombardment of Gaza – a slight tap on the back of the hand of Netanyahu.

Christian evangelicals see the second coming of Christ after the battle of Armageddon in Israel. Christian Zionists draw from the Book of Genesis, which says that God will bless those who bless Israel. Around one in four American adults describe themselves as Christian evangelicals. In light of their beliefs, evangelical Christians barely mention the nightmare Israeli army inflicts on Gaza. The president wants their vote more than a ceasefire. He ignores desperate appeals for support for Palestinians.

Where is the humanity of the US President?

UN stated southern Gaza has become the most crowded place anywhere on Earth. Nobody in Gaza, not even Hamas, nor in Israel, nor in the international community, could have predicted the merciless ferocity of the ongoing Israeli military attacks upon a trapped population. The Israeli government said it will not stop until they have destroyed Hamas.

Israeli government does not realise Hamas does not consist of a militant group of people but confirms a violent political ideology that will continue, even if the IDF assassinated every Palestinian who currently upholds the ideology. The ideology will continue under the same name or a new name. The Israeli government have guaranteed its perpetuation through the substantial increase in deaths and destruction in the past 11 weeks that have led to genocide in Gaza. The bombardment continues…

Israeli government want as little news as possible published about their air and ground war. Hamas government reported the IDF have killed 101 journalists so far. Most of the journalists were Palestinians. There are eyewitness reports of Israeli drones deliberately assassinating journalists, who have printed PRESS in large white letters on their dark blue coats. This makes journalists easily identifiable in the Israeli employment of drones. When Russian forces killed journalists in Ukraine, the US Secretary of State described such killings as a war crime. The US has remained quiet regarding Israel.

Israel refuses to allow international journalists to film and report the bombardment but will show selected journalists specific locations, such as the Hamas tunnels under Gaza.

Gaza, Totnes and Protests

An English friend in my hometown of Totnes (population 8400) in Devon, England, is the founder of an international charity. He has made several visits over the years to Gaza, plus facilitated Zoom meetings, to support schoolchildren. He told me one of his colleagues in Gaza told him last week that an Israeli tank stands in his street. The civilians were told if anyone comes out of their home, the soldiers will kill them. Families living in the street remain trapped indoors with neither electricity nor gas supplies. There is barely any food or drinking water left in the home. His family will experience starvation within days. This is life for families under occupation. According to senior aid workers, the Israeli government appears to have launched a deliberate policy to starve the population and deny essential needs, as well as waging warfare. International law regards such a policy as a war crime.

I attended a support concert for the people of Gaza in the Totnes Civic Hall, five minutes’ walk from home, on Saturday evening, 9 December. People filled every seat. Many could not enter a very crowded hall. The concert raised around £3800.00 that evening for the families of Gaza. I saw Israeli friends living in Totnes attending the three-hour evening programme. During the concert, the compere read a poem, If I should Die by Refaat Alareer, a poet and professor of English at the Islamic University of Gaza.

“If I should die…”

If I must die,

you must live

to tell my story

to sell my things

to buy a piece of cloth

and some strings,

(make it white with a long tail)

so that a child, somewhere in Gaza

while looking heaven in the eye

awaiting his dad who left in a blaze

and bid no one farewell

not even to his flesh

not even to himself

sees the kite, my kite you made,

flying up above

and thinks for a moment an angel is there

bringing back love

If I must die

let it bring hope

let it be a tale.

At the end of reading the poem, the compere told us the Israeli air force bombed the home of Refaat Alareer in Gaza city. We were told the bomb killed Refaat the previous day. There have been over 30 million views around the world of his poem.

Suffering and Responsibility

153 nations voted in the UN for a ceasefire. The US put a veto on the first UN vote, which appears to confirm a complicit act of US support for the Israeli government’s war on Gaza.

Protests worldwide have taken place demanding a ceasefire. Full responsibility for the suffering of the civilian population in Gaza lies with the Israeli government and army. Hamas also must take full responsibility for their obscene invasion of Israel rather than blame Israel for leaving Hamas with no choice.

Hamas killed five members of the same family.

People worldwide have witnessed on their screens, listened on the radio and read daily reports of the terrible suffering of Palestinians. Deep international sympathy for Israel on the mass killing of Israelis on 7 October slowly haemorrhaged away with the IDF mass killings day after day in Gaza. In war, the innocent suffers the most. Yet no meaningful change has brought about a ceasefire.

Has the world largely ignored events in Gaza? A precious Palestinian friend sent me an email. Here is an edit of her email:

It’s such hard time for us in Palestine. We did not see such a thing in all of our history. Most of my dear young friends were killed, others lost their children and family members.

I am broken to witness the hypocrisy of the West and the selective solidarity. Humanity is not something to take for granted.

Alongside my full-time job, I share space with Palestinians and meditating.

Mossad and Shin Bet–Intelligence Agencies?

I can’t imagine the Israeli secret services, namely Mossad and Shin Bet, had no knowledge that Hamas were engaged in a massive plan to slaughter Israelis and take hostages, a violent and utter abuse of basic human rights.

I recall in my visits to Nablus, the principal city in the West Bank. In workshops on the theme of Suffering and the Resolution of Suffering, Palestinians would tell me of their experiences of life under occupation. I believed what they said as they were speaking with fellow Palestinians listening. They told me of their horrifying experience when soldiers entered their home in the middle of the night and shot dead their father, brother or son in front of the family. On occasions, the soldiers could not find the person they were hunting. Instead, they took away the father, a son or brother for interrogation and confined him in perpetuity to a political prison without trial, without allegations of his crimes or plotting of crimes against Israel.

Mossad engages in spying on others outside Israel and Shin Bet takes care of domestic security. Shin Bet acts as the intelligence agency for internal security while Mossad takes responsibility for intelligence gathering, secret operations, and counterterrorism elsewhere.

Hamas had to organise in immense detail their plans to assemble the personal equipment to invade Israel with a repulsive determination to heap as much suffering on Israeli citizens as possible. Hamas claimed they fired 5000 rockets into Israel – 2500 rockets according to the Israeli military. These rockets had to be assembled, many parts had to be imported and moved to specific locations. Many volunteers built a network of tunnels beneath Gaza to move Hamas fighters and equipment.

Hamas trained hundreds of men in military style manoeuvres. The ‘army’ then crossed easily into Israel intent on slaughtering Israelis. These were acts of evil, no different an outcome than current events in Gaza. Preparation for mass killings took months and months. The invasion into Israel required much time in preparation, training and funding.

Israel’s two secret service agencies have a long history of spying in offices, meeting places, homes and bedrooms of Palestinians/Arab Israelis. Israel manufactures some of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance cameras planted in strategic locations.

They train spies, track Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and anywhere perceived as a threat to national interests. Their equipment records hours of meetings involving Hamas supporters. Mossad employ paid informers.

Israeli intelligence agencies have access to US equipment planted in strategic locations, as well as being a major exporter of surveillance equipment. They also produce some of the world’s most sophisticated gadgets for spying.

Hamas could not dig countless kilometres of tunnels under the ground, winding the tunnels through the city and north towards the Israeli border, without people on the ground knowing something was going on, including Israeli spies and their surveillance equipment.

Are we being asked to believe the Israeli government knew absolutely nothing about what was about to unfold on the 7 October – on the anniversary 50 years after the Ramadan-Yom Kippur War led by Arab coalition forces attack on Israel?

Perhaps the Israeli Prime Minister decided not to take preventive measures, such as a wall of defence at the border into Israel. Did he ignore the warnings from his Israel’s secret services? Was he waiting for an opportunity to heap war on Gaza in the name of defence of Israel with the determination to cause a mass migration of civilians to expand the state of Israel?

Three Personal Recollections

1.      I recall a meeting around 2005, mostly of bereaved parents of children to teenagers in Nablus in the West Bank. One mother said her 14-year-old son arrived at one of the many Israeli check points used to question anybody who left Nablus to go elsewhere or enter Nablus. She told me 100 metres before the checkpoint, her son shouted out to the soldiers. “I am a suicide bomber. Please help me.” The boy slowly undid his jacket and shirt and revealed the explosives strapped to his chest. With the soldiers hiding behind concrete barricades, he removed the explosives and his shirt. They arrested the teenager and took him for interrogation and imprisonment. The mother did not know what happened to him.

The mother told the parents that her son lacked mental development; doctors confirmed he had the mental age of an 8-year-old. He might have thought it was all a game. A news crew filmed the encounter at the checkpoint.

What kind of warped mind sets up a teenager to blow himself up and as many others as possible? Parents told me they later found out that their children swore to those who planned such suicidal attacks they would not tell their parents, other family members or friends of their preparation for a suicide mission. There are few acts revealing a depravity of mind and childhood abuse, as those who make friends with the young and vulnerable to groom them to become suicide bombers.

My heart found it challenging listening to the depth of grief of such parents. Tears would fill my eyes and the voice would quiver witnessing the sobbing of parents over the many ways they lost their children.

2.      An Israeli friend told me during his years in the IDF he worked as one of the several translators for Mossad from Arabic to Hebrew of the speeches/meetings of Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. My friend said: “Whenever Arafat opened his mouth, Mossad recorded or had notes of what he said.”

After translating for a year, he woke up one morning and experienced sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians pursuing political and economic freedom. Years later, my friend became an academic. He lived for years in Jaffa, where 20,000 Palestinians (referred to as Arab Israelis) live in a population of 50,000 citizens. A small seaport, Jaffa is located six kilometres south of Tel Aviv.

3.      I recall sharing a public talk in a hall in Tel Aviv with an Israeli father who had lost his daughter. A Palestinian gunman had randomly shot and killed Israeli citizens on the streets of Jerusalem. His 17 -year-old daughter lost her life.

Some weeks later, the bereaved father heard about a Palestinian father. An Israeli soldier had shot dead his teenage daughter on a street in Palestine.

The Israeli father contacted the Palestinian father. They shared their grief. Out of this meeting, they formed a group of Israeli-Palestinian parents who had lost a child in similar circumstances. Palestinian and Israeli families in the group realised what they had in common. Their hearts mattered more than their national identity.

Such people keep alive alternatives to the barbarism of war. There are many more alternatives.

Link to 50 alternatives to war

Primary Sources

Al Jazeera

BBC News (online)

Google Search

Israeli/Palestinian friends

Middle East Eye (online news)

New York Times

United Nations

Washington Post





For Whom the Bell tolls? It Tolls for Gaza and Israel

See this blog/post for Part Two of Two on Friday 29 December 2023.


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