Israel begins using sonic booms against Palestinians

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Israel stepped up use of sonic boom raids against civilian communities in the Gaza Strip this week. The Guardian reported that during the past week, Israeli jets created 28 sonic booms by flying at high speed and low altitude over the Gaza Strip. The sonic booms usually occurred 1-2 hours apart during nighttime hours. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the sonic booms have led to miscarriages and heart problems. Buildings in the area have also been damaged, including the Chairman Arafat shop in Gaza City. Israeli citizens living in communities around Gaza have also complained of the booms. The United Nations filed a letter of protest with the Israeli government, alleging that the tactic is an abuse of human rights.

Israel defended its raids, saying the booms are designed to be a show of force against militant groups in the region. According to the Guardian, an anonymous senior Israeli army intelligence source says that the sonic booms were being administered to break civilian support for armed Palestinian groups. "We are trying to send a message in a way that doesn't harm people. We want to encourage the Palestinian public to do something about the terror situation," he said. "What are the alternatives? We are not like the terrorists who shoot civilians. We are cautious. We make sure nobody is really hurt."

The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme filed a suit this week in the Supreme Court. Eyad El Sarraj is a psychologist and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. He told the Guardian Unlimited, "The Israelis do it after midnight and then every one or two hours. You try to go to sleep and then there's another one. When it happens night after night you become exhausted. You get a heightened sense of alert, waiting continuously for it to happen. People suffer hypertension, fatigue, sleeplessness."

"For children, the loud noise means danger. Adults may know it's only a sound but small children feel threatened. They are crying and clinging to their parents. Afterwards they are dazed and fearful, waiting for something to happen."