Thursday, January 8, 2009

'Why are the Israelis doing this to us?'

One Israeli official told MSNBC correspondent Richard Engel that Israel doesn't want reporters in Gaza documenting the humanitarian situation or revealing military tactics. Israel is trying to 'manage the image' of the war, Engel reported. 'This official told me he expects this operation, while negotiations are taking place, will last several more days. And that after that, reporters would eventually be allowed in. But at that stage, Israel is assuming the United States will mostly be focused on all of the coverage around the inauguration, and that viewers simply won't care at that point.'

UN halts aid to Gaza, citing Israeli attacks on staff
CBC: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) will suspend aid shipments until the safety of its staff can be guaranteed, according to director John Ging. 'These firings on our convoys are coming from the Israeli military themselves, with whom we have co-ordinated our movement, and that is what is absolutely unacceptable.'... 'We just have to now call a hold until we can be assured that we can conduct our humanitarian operations here with a reasonable [sense of] security. 'We are devastated because we're here with people who are in phenomenal need of our assistance.'

AP: The International Red Cross accused Israel on Thursday of 'unacceptable' delays in letting rescue worker reach three Gaza City homes hit by shelling where they eventually found 15 dead and 18 wounded, including young children too weak to stand. The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross said the Israeli army refused rescuers permission to reach the site in the Zaytun neighbourhood for four days. Ambulances couldn't get to the neighbourhood because the Israeli army had erected large earthen barriers that blocked access.

NYT: Gaza Children Found With Mothers' Corpses ... ICRC: 'Israeli soldiers posted at a military position some 80 meters away from this house ordered the rescue team to leave the area which they refused to do. There were several other positions of the Israeli Defense Forces nearly as well as two tanks.'... 'The Israeli military must have been aware of this situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they  make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded.'

Washington Post: The Geneva Conventions provide that parties to a conflict 'at all times' should 'without delay' take 'all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and sick, to protect them against pillage and ill-treatment, to ensure their adequate care, and to search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled.' The conventions also say that wounded 'shall not willfully be left without medical assistance and care.' The Red Cross said it was able to remove only three of the bodies and had received reports of other casualties in the neighborhood. The agency said that it was trying to return to the site but that negotiations with the Israeli military to guarantee safe passage were ongoing.

The Guardian: Reem Al Ghussain, an English teacher at Al-Azhar University in Gaza: Today I walked for half an hour to find bread, and then I queued for five hours. All I could buy was enough for one day. My children didn't want me to go -- they were worried I would die. They are scared. Whenever they  hear any sudden sound they think it's a bomb. They don't sleep, and as a result I don't sleep. Sometimes they don't want to eat. I say don't worry, the bombing is far away, but they know it's a big lie because the house shakes. They haven't been outside in 10 days and now they're fighting each other. My children ask me, if they are killed what will happen to them. I say, 'Don't worry, nothing will happen to you.' They ask me: 'Why are the Israelis doing this to us?' My child in fifth grade asks me: 'What did we do to them?' I tell them that they want to take our land and they want all Palestinians to die. They ask me: 'Why is the world watching without doing anything?' I don't have answers for them. If Israel thinks that our suffering from this siege will make us hate Hamas, they are wrong.