A report from a Palestinian refugee from the camp Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza, while Israel maintains the complete closure of the Gaza Strip and continues its war in the northern part, cynically named “Summer Rain” – a war that has killed close to 200 people and left thousands wounded.
Silvia Cattori : Can you confirm what other witnesses have said that, under the pretext of a war against “terrorism” or the rescue of Corporal Shalit, Israel is in fact pursuing its goal of ethnic cleansing?
Hassan : It’s terrible. They are doing everything possible to make us flee the zone. Everyone here knows that the terror that they are bringing, with ever greater savagery these last weeks, is part of a plan that seeks to push us even further away. The first warning leaves families 24 hours to quit their homes. The second leaves them only 15 minutes. I still think that they will never succeed in dislodging us, except by killing us all. Here it is a refugee camp. People have rebuilt their lives here; they are waiting to return home. We always have in mind that these last years [from 2000-2004 – Editor] the Israeli army has destroyed about 6000 houses and that 50,000 people were forced in the street in Gaza. 
Silvia Cattori : Are you drawing a parallel with what happened in southern Gaza? Which means that the current war is not meant to “eradicate terrorists”, as Israel pretends, but is destined to empty the new zone they seek of its population?
Hassan : Yes, Israel’s plan is still the same. In southern Gaza, Israel always acted to push the refugees further away in order to enlarge the zone they had annexed in previous operations. Northern Gaza has known this same situation for some time. The army propagates false information such as that there are tunnels or houses with hidden weapons. This gives them the pretext to raze everything. It is their way of saying “Leave or die”. In Lebanon, it is terrible. The Israelis are doing the same thing, but in an even more massive way. Amir Peretz spoke about “cleansing” southern Lebanon. We see people fleeing in large numbers. In places where people didn’t have time to leave — as in Qana — it is a massacre.
Silvia Cattori : The people who don’t flee are therefore ready to die?
Hassan : No, they aren’t ready to die, but they are forced to die. Every house can be hit.
Silvia Cattori : Aren’t the women afraid of staying with their children.
Hassan : The women are stronger than the men. If the women were afraid, that would mean that the fear would also penetrate into the hearts of the men. It is they who tell the men it is possible to fight Israel in spite of its military superiority. It is they who encourage the men to resist. It is the women and the children that the men defend.
Silvia Cattori : Mr. Abu Mazen is still in talks with Egyptian officials about getting guarantees for those who captured the corporal and is trying to get him released. Will his release liberate Gaza from the current military aggression?
Hassan : Israel has always committed aggressions against us, even when our people did nothing. We think that the war that they wage since June has nothing to do with the capture of the corporal. We think the horrifying war that Israel is waging in Gaza has as its goal to break our will to resist and to dislodge us by force. When Abu Mazen says that we shouldn’t put the freeing the Palestinian women and children held prisoner by the Israelis as a condition for the liberation of the French soldier [Shalit is a French citizen – Editor], the people themselves think that Israel has never respected any agreement and that it is out of the question to concede anything at all until the Palestinian prisoners are released. Israel is a mosquito that could be easily beaten if there was the will on the part of the Arab states to liberate the people under its domination.
Translated from French by Signs of the Times
 It was at Rafah, in southern Gaza, on March 16, 2003, that Rachel Corrie, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, was intentionally crushed by a military Caterpillar bulldozer while she tried to prevent the demolition of a house. It was also at Rafah that the British photographer, Thomas Hurndall, also connected to the ISM, was badly wounded by the intentional shot from an Israel soldier. (He died in February 2004.) Once again, it was at Rafah that the journalist James Miller was intentionally killed by shots from Israeli soldiers in May 2003. Through these assassinations, Israel wanted to chase away any witnesses; they don’t want anyone there to testify to the large scale of the crimes committed by its army.