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A Canadian In Gaza

January 14, 2009

Eva Bartlett is a human rights activist with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement.  She is also a Canadian, the daughter of two classical musicians from Fergus, Ontario.

No shrinking violet, Bartlett has spent the past few years trying to help the people of Gaza and the West Bank by volunteering, bringing aid, protesting, and simply bearing witness.  She even spent a couple of days in an Israeli jail for helping the residents of a small West Bank town dismantle a barricade that was cutting them off from supplies and medical services.

Today, Bartlett is travelling with ambulance crews in Gaza and reporting what she sees on her blog, titled simply “In Gaza”.  Nobody could be closer to the human tragedy that is unfolding there than those who courageously collect the wounded and the dead, and she frequently ends up describing the ground-level reality of events that western journalists can only watch from their distant hilltop on the border.

As we watch those odd-looking white plumes exploding over Gaza, Bartlett is reporting mysterious cases of caustic smoke inhalation being seen by Red Crescent ambulance drivers in Jabaliya.  Days before we heard the story of emaciated children being found next to their dead parents after four days in a bombed-out house, Bartlett was hearing stories about the Israeli Army preventing ambulances from reaching survivors in a house where people had been told to stay (or, possibly, were locked in) and were subsequently bombed.

And all the while, medics she knows and has befriended are being shot at and killed.


I’ve become so caught up in all this that every time she goes for more than a day between posts I imagine the worst.

There is no shortage of personal accounts and horrific images coming out of Gaza.  Sadly, all of these accounts are open to accusations of bias and even outright fabrication because professional journalists (who are assumed to be ‘unbiased’) have been prevented from entering the region.  A few were inside the fence already and are doing what they can, but generally we are left to sort truth from propaganda from the confusing and conflicting stories coming from Israel and from those who are experiencing all this first hand.

Still, sometimes we have to accept the bias of the observer and just look at what they are observing.  However they (or we) are interpreting it, it’s vital that we have this raw data – both as evidence of what has happened, and as human reality check against the punditry and analysis and political spin.

There are no politics in the back of an ambulance.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2009 10:57 pm

    There’s a fellow who works for The Independent named Fares Akram who lives there with his wife. She just gave birth to their first child today. Twelve days ago, Fares’ father was killed when his home was bombed.

    (god, how can anyone read this stuff without crying?)

    His is the only other one I’ve got a link for offhand, but I know there are others. I’ll take another look tomorrow. Al Jazeera is probably more biased than most, but with journalists barred and the U.S. and Canadian media seemingly taking a pass, you take what you can get.

    I don’t know if there are any Israeli bloggers documenting the situation from their side, but I haven’t seen any.

  2. reneethewriter permalink
    January 15, 2009 4:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing Eva’s story, R

  3. January 15, 2009 1:04 pm


    Thanks for this. Do you know if there are other journalists blogging from within the Gaza? If we looked to Al Jazeera, would we get information of what is going on from within the Palestinian communities? Is Witness working with organizations in the area to document what is happening?

  4. January 14, 2009 11:23 am

    thank you for this. i appreciate the reminder not to become too disconnected from the reality on the ground, while still trying to search for long-term solutions.

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