Gaza residents who have lost family fear more destruction as ground assault looms By Reuters

GAZA (Reuters) -As Israel prepared on Sunday for a ground assault on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Palestinians who have lost numerous family members in air strikes were bracing for more destruction if Israel hits back on an unprecedented scale on its territory.

Um Mohammad Al-Laham sat next to her 4-year-old granddaughter Fulla Al-Laham, who lay in a Gaza hospital which like others is operating on low supplies of medicine and fuel.

She said an Israeli airstrike hit the family home, killing 14 people including Fulla’s parents, siblings and members of her extended family.

“All of a sudden and without warning, they bombed the house on top of the residents inside. No-one survived except my grandchild Fulla. May God cure her and give her strength,” said the grandmother, who has witnessed many wars between Hamas and the Israeli army over the years. She says this is the toughest.

“Fourteen people martyred, no-one was left except Fulla Saeed Al-Laham. She doesn’t talk, nothing, just lays in her bed and they give medicine.”

One other 4-year-old child in the family had also been left with almost no relatives, the grandmother said.

Israel has unleashed the heaviest air strikes ever on Gaza in retaliation for the biggest attack on the country one week ago by the Palestinian militant group Hamas since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel has vowed to annihilate the militant group Hamas in retaliation for a rampage by its fighters in Israeli towns eight days ago in which its militants shot men, women and children and seized hostages in the worst attack on civilians in the country’s history.

Some 1,300 people were killed in the unexpected onslaught, which shook the country, with graphic mobile phone video footage and reports from medical and emergency services of atrocities in the overrun towns and kibbutzes.

Israel has responded with the most intense bombardment Gaza has ever seen, putting the small enclave, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, under siege and destroying much of its infrastructure.

Israel has told Palestinian to leave their homes and move south.

Hamas urged people not to leave, saying roads out were unsafe. It said dozens of people had been killed in strikes on cars and trucks carrying refugees on Friday, while medics, Hamas media and relatives say whole families have been killed in the air strikes. Reuters could not independently verify these claims.

Some residents said they would not leave, remembering the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” of 1948 when many Palestinians were forced from their homes during the war that accompanied Israel’s creation.

Israel has intensified its bombings across Gaza City and the north. Gaza authorities said more than 2,300 people have been killed, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded.

Rescue workers searched desperately for survivors of night-time air raids. One million people have reportedly left their homes.

The expected Israeli ground offensive combined with the air strikes themselves have raised fears of unprecedented suffering in the narrow, impoverished enclave.

Witnesses in Gaza City told Reuters the Israeli offensive had forced more people from their homes. Gaza’s largest Shifa hospital was overcrowded with people who had fled their houses.

“We are living the worst nightmare of our lives. Even here in the hospital we are not safe. An air strike hit in the area outside the hospital around dawn,” said a 35-year-old woman who declined to give her name.

Taking the road to southern Gaza, which is considered safer, has become more difficult as several people who had made the journey say Israel continues to bomb around it.

Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesman of the Gaza health ministry, said 70% of the people in Gaza City and the north of the strip are deprived of health services after the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA evacuated its headquarters and suspended its services.

East of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where hundreds of northern residents have fled to, some locals cooked for displaced people, using firewood to prepare 1,500 meals of meat and rice donated by residents.

“We used to cook on cooking gas for the first two days but we are running out of gas, so we are cooking on firewood,” said Youssef Abu Assi, one resident helping out.

Conference Addressing the Criminalization and Prevention of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence has become a growing problem for women, with 50 percent of female homicides being caused by intimate partner violence. Many women avoid divorce, because of financial dependence; however, this does not have to be the case. Contact a Phoenix divorce and domestic violence attorney from the Law Offices of Scott David Stewart at (602)548-3400 to learn more about your legal options.

According to findings in a 2000 U.S. Department of Justice survey,Conference Addressing the Criminalization and Prevention of Domestic Violence Articles an estimated 4.5 million physical assaults are committed against United States women by intimate partners annually. A 1998 survey by The Commonwealth Fund says that nearly one-third of American women report being raped or physically assaulted by a current or former boyfriend at some point in their lives.The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AZCADV) defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior that includes the use or threat of violence and intimidation for the purpose of gaining power over another person.” This kind of violence is not limited to physical abuse and may also be characterized by sexual, economic, emotional or verbal abuse, as well as isolation or control. There are 2.51 domestic homicides of women per one million population in Arizona. AZCADV says, based on newspaper reports, 106 people died in Arizona in 2000 as a result of homicide related to domestic violence.Domestic Violence Victims More Than Faceless StatisticsFox Phoenix reports that earlier this year, Jamie Gallegos was shot to death by her ex-husband, who later killed himself. Gallegos had gotten remarried just two months earlier and was dropping off her two sons, ages 7 and 10, at church when her ex-husband, apparently fueled by jealousy, killed her.Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims, like Gallegos, are women. Additionally, in 2000 in Arizona, 22 perpetrators committed suicide following a domestic violence-related homicide. Although women of all socio-economic groups experience abuse, women in poverty may face particular challenges in leaving abusive relationships because they lack the resources necessary to support themselves and their children.The U.S. Department of Justice says that more than half of female victims of intimate partner violence lie in households with children under the age of 12. Of the incidents known to police, three percent of spouse and intimate partner assaults also include a child abuse victim. Additionally, every year, thousands of American children witness intimate partner violence in their families.Domestic Violence Prosecutions: A Fresh Look at Routine ResponsesSarah Buel is a domestic violence survivor. The former prosecutor and national leader in programming to aid battered women and children, she is currently the faculty director for the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice. Buel was seated on the seven-speaker panel of the recent conference held at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. The conference, titled “Domestic Violence Prosecutions: A Fresh Look at Routine Responses,” pooled domestic violence prosecutors, national scholars and law professors to discuss new challenges and potential solutions in the field.Buel said the conference represented an opportunity to engage scholars and practitioners alike in planning the next steps in the criminalization of domestic violence. These issues did not exist nearly four decades ago, when society first began talking about violence in the home, says conference co-organizer Carissa Byrne Hessick. She says scholars today are challenging whether the modern tactics of prosecutions are particularly effective in combating domestic violence.Historically both underreported and underprosecuted, domestic violence has proved to be an especially intractable problem, despite modern criminal justice innovations such as mandatory arrest and no-drop prosecution policies. The methods for decreasing violence have garnered intense disagreement and debate. Hessick noted the potential for increased conflict in Arizona, with regard to the prosecution of domestic violence on tribal lands. The conference created the unique opportunity to bring practitioners and academics together for discussion. Securing a Safer Future for VictimsThe Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) says that domestic violence affects more than 32 million Americans per year. A woman is physically abused in America every nine seconds, and domestic violence accounts for over 50 percent of female homicides.Buel urges that instead of asking victims why they stay or cooperate with their partner, the community should reach out to them. There are options for victims, even if they feel financially bound to their abusers. After the victims have secured a safe environment for themselves and any children involved, they may wish to seek a protective order, file for divorce or speak with a counselor. Domestic abuse victims should seek shelter in a safe place and then contact a skilled lawyer. A lawyer can file for a protective order to keep the abuser at a distance; a family law attorney can also help protect the economic interests of a battered spouse both in the property division and in any demand for child or spousal support.
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