Friday, January 02, 2009

Gazans face ‘humanitarian crisis’ as Israeli raids intensify.

The Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, stated during a visit to Paris yesterday that, "there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce."

However, several international relief organisations dispute this assessment and say that the people of Gaza are, indeed, facing a humanitarian crisis with air strikes causing severe problems in getting food, medicine and fuel supplies to the besieged civilian population.

One shouldn't need relief organisations to tell us that there must be severe problems in the Strip as the area has already been under siege before the air strikes began and air strikes are never likely to make the distribution of food and supplies easier.

While relief shipments were allowed into Gaza by the Israeli authorities in the days before the start of the offensive, they came after weeks of virtually no supplies getting through, the agencies point out.

The biggest difficulty is that many people are too frightened by bombing to venture out to collect food rations. Gaza officials are also unwilling to take part in food distribution because they could be considered legitimate targets by the Israeli military for working for the Hamas-run administration. Chris Gunness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which looks after 750,000 refugees in Gaza, said: "How can one carry out proper relief work in these conditions of violence? The people of Gaza have already suffered the most stringent economic sanctions. There are obviously problems with giving out aid. Even when people want to get food for their hungry family, they are very aware of the dangers they are facing in going out."

Mr Gunness said the agency carried out food distribution yesterday. "But, as things stand now, we have only a few days supply left."

I would imagine that in any area where extensive bombing was taking place that a humanitarian crisis would quickly develop, and, were this to be done in an area that had already been subjected to restricted supplies of food and medicines, that a crisis would develop quite rapidly.

But Livni is now asking us to suspend all rational thought and to believe that everything in Gaza is tickety boo so that Israel can continue her bombing without interference from the international community.

Dr Hassan Khalaf, of the main Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said that Palestinian civilians are paying a terrible price: "We are getting really badly injured people coming in every day. What is the point of saying you are allowing food in for people when you then go on to bomb them? The Israelis may say they are just attacking Hamas but I am seeing children and women coming covered in blood. What we are seeing is a war on the people. The Hamas fighters firing the rockets are at the border, they are not in the city.

I know that truth is the first casualty of war, but Livni is simply insulting our intelligence when she states something as banal as, "there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce."

Israel, despite their withdrawal from Gaza, remain the occupying power in the region as they continue to control who goes in and who goes out, they control the water supply, air space and access from the sea.

The well being of the civilian population is the responsibility of the occupying power, which is one of the reasons why I find the siege so abhorrent. The people of Gaza are effectively trapped in a prison, a prison which the Israelis have now started to bomb.

Whether one agrees with Israel actions or whether one opposes them, it should be elementary that a people who have been subjected to what Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, described as, "a diet" will be infinitely worse off once one starts bombing them.
'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,' he said. The hunger pangs are supposed to encourage the Palestinians to force Hamas to change its attitude towards Israel or force Hamas out of government.
So, starving the Palestinian population was official policy long before the bombing began. The notion that the situation has not further deteriorated since then is simply incredulous.

Click title for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

It occurs to me that this may be the last run of a government that knows that this kind of thing will not be tolerated by the U.S. in the future, which makes it an act of revenge rather than one of defense.

Kel said...

I have the distinct feeling that this is occurring because none of us know what an Obama presidency will do when it comes to this dispute.

But it's bloody ugly and doing Israel's reputation no favours.