UN suspends aid work in Gaza following Israeli attacks on aid workers

The UN has suspended all aid work in Gaza following the killing by Israel of two of its workers as Israel begins attacking UN convoys carrying aid. Israel claims it will not attack UN staff or operations but with the extent of attacks on UN installations, schools, medical clinics, and now convoys of aid and staff, the UN representatives have concluded they cannot accept Israeli assurances that are plainly contradicted by the facts. The ICRC has described the humanitarian situation as calamitous and shocking, particularly the denial of access to the wounded and starving. The images are unbearable, the outcry deafening, everywhere but in the US.  Still, here are some stories that are making it through the fog of Israeli apologetics.

1. Red Cross: Israel delayed access to Gaza wounded
By FRANK JORDANS
Associated Press Writer

Excerpt:

The international Red Cross accused Israel on Thursday of “unacceptable” delays in letting rescue workers 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, or ICRC, said the Israeli army refused rescuers permission to reach the site in the Zeitoun neighborhood for four days. …

The ICRC normally conducts confidential negotiations with warring parties, and its accusation against Israel was a rare public criticism of one party in a conflict over a specific incident.

Eventually, rescuers from the international Red Cross and Palestine Red Crescent received permission to go into the shelled houses during the halt in fighting Wednesday, four days after the buildings were hit by Israeli
shells.

“This is a shocking incident,” Pierre Wettach, head of the ICRC for the region, said.

The rescue team “found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up,” the statement said. “In all, there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses” in one of the houses, it added.

2. Israeli troops kill U.N. truck driver at Gaza crossing
Shashank Bengali
McClatchy Newspapers

An excerpt:

Israeli soldiers opened fire Thursday on a truck attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Gaza Strip, killing one United Nations-contracted driver and seriously wounding another, U.N. officials said. …

It was at least the second time in recent days that Palestinian relief workers contracted by the U.N. had been killed. On Monday, Israeli shells landed near the parking lot of a Palestinian company contracted by the U.N. World Food Program to deliver food supplies in Gaza. Two employees were killed and three severely wounded…

3. Red Cross Reports Grisly Find in Gaza: Israel Accused of Blocking Aid to Wounded
By Craig Whitlock and Griff Witte
Washington Post Foreign Service

An excerpt:

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had found at least 15 bodies and several children —
emaciated but alive — in a row of shattered houses in the Gaza Strip and accused the Israeli military of preventing ambulances from reaching the site for four days.

In an unusual public statement issued by its Geneva headquarters, the Red Cross called the episode “unacceptable” and said the Israeli military had “failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.”

4. New York Times
Gaza Children Found With Mothers’ Corpses
by ALAN COWELL

An excerpt:

In another house, the statement said, the rescue team “found 15 other survivors of this attack including several wounded. In yet another house, they found an additional three corpses. 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 nearby as well as two tanks.”

Because of berms built by Israeli forces, the ambulances could not enter the area so “the children and the wounded had to be taken to the ambulances on a donkey cart,” the statement said.

The statement quoted Pierre Wettach, an International Red Cross representative for Israel and the Palestinian areas, as calling the incident “shocking.”

“The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded,” he was quoted as saying.

5. New York Times Op-Ed Contributor
What You Don’t Know About Gaza
By RASHID KHALIDI

An excerpt:

NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

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One Response to UN suspends aid work in Gaza following Israeli attacks on aid workers

  1. llwynn says:

    One last reading excerpt, from British-Israeli historian Avi Shlaim:

    How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
    Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli
    army and has never questioned the state’s legitimacy. But its merciless assault
    on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

    Avi Shlaim
    The Guardian, Wednesday 7 January 2009

    The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through
    understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May
    1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials
    bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2
    June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin,
    that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed
    by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment
    was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush
    administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

    I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and
    who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its
    pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond
    the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in
    the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and
    everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish
    Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over
    the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged
    and brutal military occupations of modern times….

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