UN calls on Israel to protect aid personnel in Gaza
Date: 31 / 12 / 2008 Time: 17:16
In light of two disturbing incidents in Gaza, the United Nations
Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has called on Israel to step up its
protection of humanitarian agents in the war zone.
Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayd, the UN Designated Official for
Security, and UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry on Tuesday wrote an
urgent joint letter to Israeli occupation terrorist government defence
minister, Ehud Barak.
The two UNRWA officials wrote the letter
"to express deep concern about the safety of UN personnel and
installations in the Gaza Strip and to request specific and immediate
undertakings regarding their security."
More specifically, the
officials wanted to inform Barak of their condemnation, "in the
strongest terms possible," two particular incidents in which UN
personnel were targeted by Israeli airstrikes.
On 27 December at
1:20pm, an Israeli missile targeted a group of policemen standing in the
street near the building of the Gaza governorate, immediately across the
street from the UNRWA Gaza Training Center co-located within the
compound housing the main UNRWA office in the Gaza Strip.
UNRWA Gaza Training Center students aged 18 to 20 years who were
standing nearby waiting for the UN buses to bring them home were killed
and 19 injured from the blast. Eight of the injured remain in hospital
in critical condition today.
One of these critically injured
students is unconscious with intracranial shrapnel and requires
immediate transfer to an Israeli hospital to effect advanced central
nervous system surgery.
On 29 December at 1:35am, UNSCO
Headquarters in Gaza suffered collateral damage when two missiles struck
the immediately adjacent presidential guest house.
assessments by UN staff on the ground are that the strike sites were
approximately 20-30 meters from the UNSCO compound. The UNSCO conference
room in Gaza was heavily damaged along with several staff offices; seven
vehicles were totally or partially destroyed and damage was sustained to
the roof, windows, doors, water pipelines, electricity cables and
internet cables at the complex.
A national professional officer
and three security guards on duty to protect the compound fortunately
escaped without physical injury.
"Every measure has been taken by
the UN to protect our personnel. The UN is operating on a skeleton of
essential staff," the letter said.
"UN premises must be
protected and inviolate," the officials wrote, insisting that Israel
knows where the buildings are.
"The Government of Israel has all
coordinates of UN premises in Gaza. These strikes occurred without prior
warning," they said.
"Military attacks in these circumstances,
so close to UN premises as to recklessly endanger UN personnel and
property, must not be repeated," they added.
Report: Cairo refuses Qatari envoy; Tel Aviv welcomes
Date: 31 / 12 / 2008 Time: 14:12
A Qatari aid plane landed in Tel Aviv to deliver medical supplies to
the Gaza Strip, according to an Israeli newspaper that claimed Egypt
refused the same envoy on Wednesday.
The Israeli daily Hebrew
newspaper reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni gave the
go-ahead for the plane full of aid from the Arab state of Qatar to land
at Ben Gurion International Airport on Wednesday.
previously attempted to deliver several tons of aid to Gaza by sea
earlier in December, in the wake of the success of the Free Gaze
Movement's blockade-breaking voyages to the besieged strip.
Egypt had apparently refused to allow the Qatari plane to land in the
Sinai, for undisclosed reasons.
The report was confirmed by Al-Quds
Al-Arabi newspaper, as well, which said that three planes loaded with
aid had arrived in Israel en route to Gaza.
Qatar is the only
Arab state other than Egypt and Jordan to openly declare its relations
with Israel, so Livni "couldn't let them down," Ma'ariv said.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator says Gaza civilians facing
Date: 31 / 12 / 2008 Time: 13:00
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Maxwell Gaylard warned the
international community Wednesday that if Israel’s attacks on Gaza do
not stop immediately hundreds of thousands of civilians face a
“Conditions for parents and children
in Gaza are dangerous and frightening,” said Gaylard’s statement. “We
are in a life or death situation for many people today. It is absolutely
crucial that there is an end to the fighting. Without it, more civilians
will continue to be killed.”
“Without the violence stopping, it
is extremely difficult to get food to people who need it, we cannot
assess where the most urgent needs are, and it is too dangerous for
civilians to leave their homes to seek urgent medical treatment, buy
supplies and assist people in distress.”
Gaylard explained that
if Israel does not open the Karni crossing, east of Gaza City,
immediately to allow wheat, grain and other basic goods into the area,
than the UNRWA will be unable to provide any relief for the 750,000
civilians who relied on the agency even before the Israeli invasion
“We need to get that wheat grain in now,” said Gaylard,
“This is a must.”
He added that above basic food supplies Israel
must open the Nahal Oz crossing to allow fuel shipments into the area.
“Gaza’s hospitals are facing their largest ever trauma caseloads under
some of the most adverse conditions imaginable. They must have reliable
power,” he explained.
While UNRWA is reportedly in “hourly
contact” with Israeli authorities and said they do meet some very
specific requests, “we need that cooperation translated into real
results on the ground,” said Gaylard.
SS Dignity to be forensically analyzed to verify Israeli
attacks in international waters
Date: 31 / 12 / 2008 Time: 12:49
Thousands of Lebanese supporters gathered to welcome the SS Dignity
to the Tyre port on Tuesday, after the boat from the Free Gaza movement
was damaged during a confrontation with Israeli navy ships that morning.
According to the movement’s organizers the Lebanese government
has pledged to provide a forensic analysis of what happened to the ship.
Israel says the boat collided with a naval vessel after being warned to
turn around, but the ship’s crew say they were deliberately attacked
after identifying themselves as a humanitarian vessel.
was en route to Gaza where it was set to deliver three tons of medical
supplies and three volunteer doctors to assist in the overburdened
According to the crew the ship was more than 140
kilometres offshore, in international waters, when they were attacked.
They say Israeli warships fired life ammunition into the water ahead of
the ship as they were surrounded then rammed three times.
According to Captain Denis Healy, the Israeli attack came, ""without any
warning, or any provocation."
Fifteen percent of Israel's victims are children like Ismail
Hamdan and his two sisters
Date: 31 / 12 / 2008 Time: 17:56
Gaza – Ma’an –
Three children were torn to pieces by an Israeli missile Tuesday
Two young girls were killed on impact and their
brother was found barely alive. The three were pulled out of a rubble
pile by a passerby and transported to hospital via donkey-cart.
Doctors treated fractures in each of Ismail’s limbs, removed damaged
portions of his liver and pancreas and feared that if the boy survived
he would have massive brain damage. He died on the operating table.
During a lull in the air and artillery strikes Wednesday afternoon
one mother sent three of her children on a quick errand; a chance for
them to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the house for five
The two girls were scared to go by themselves outdoors, so
their brother Ismail volunteered to go with them.
children, Lama Hamdan, 5-years-old, Haya Hamdan, 12-years-old and Ismail
Hamdan, 10-years-old were killed near their home in Beit Hanoun in the
northern Gaza Strip.
Dr Ibrahim Abu Ghazala declared the two
girls dead when they arrived at the hospital and struggled in vain to
keep their brother alive.
The Hamdan children are only the most
recent victims of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which was set to root
out military factions responsible for the continued launch of
projectiles into Israel. As of Wednesday de facto Health Ministry
officials say there are 393 dead; at least 15% are children.
Abu Ghazala has witnessed the death of dozens of children at Gaza City’s
Ash-Shifa Hospital. He explains his bitterness every time another small
body is sent to sit on the ground in the full hospital morgue. ‘They try
so hard to resist death,’ he says, ‘but they end up fueling this
conflict that has nothing to do with them.’
PA Health Ministry identifies first 187 victims of Israeli
Date: 31 / 12 / 2008 Time: 14:38
The Palestinian Health Ministry on Wednesday released a list of
187 Palestinians killed in the first two days of Israeli airstrikes.
According to Dr Omar Nasr, director of the Health Ministry’s Public
Relations department, the death toll through Wednesday at midday had
exceeded 390, and the ministry is trying to collect all the names of the
slain and the wounded.
The first 187 victims were identified as:
Ahmad Abu Jazar
Ahmad Abu Mousa
Osama Abu Ar-Rus
Osama Abu Ar-Reish
Ashraf Abu Suhweil
Amjad Abu Jazar
Ibrahim Abu Al-Rus
Bahaa Abu Zuhri
Tamir Abu Afsha
Hatim Abu Sha’ira
Hasan Abid Rabbo
Hakam Abu Mansi
Hamada Abu Duqqa
Hamdan Abu Nu’aira
Khalid Abu Hasna
Ziyad Abu ‘Ubada
Salim Abu Shamla
Shahada Abdul Rahman
Suhayb Abu ‘Iffat
Suhayb Abd al-‘aal
‘Aasim Abu Kamil
Abdul Raziq Shahtu
Abdul Salam Al-Nashar
Abdul-Fattah Abu ‘Utaiwi
Azmi Abu Dalal
‘Alaa Nasr Al-Ra’i
Imab Abu Al-Hajj
Fayiz Riyad Al-Madhoun
Fayiz Ayada Al-Madhoun
Fayiz Abu Al-Qumsan
Muhammed Abu Ghazza
Muhammed Abu Sabra
Muhammed Abu ‘Amir
Muhammed Abu ‘Abdo
Muhammed Abdullah Aziz
Muhammed Abdul Wahhab Aziz
Mahmoud Abu Harbeed
Mahmoud Abu Matar
Mahmoud Abu Tabour
Mahmoud Abu Nahla
Mumtaz Al- Najjar
Nahidh Abu Namous
Hisham Abu ‘Uda
Walid Abu Hein
Walid Jabir Abu Hein
Yahya Mahmoud Shaikha
The Health Ministry, Dr Omar
Nasr added, will soon provide details of how many civilians were killed
and injured in order to present documents to international humanitarian
organizations when it files legal proceedings against Israel.
Tuesday, the United Nations announced that 51 innocent Palestinian
civilians have been killed since the airstrikes began. On Wednesday, the
Palestinian Center for Human Rights said that 31 of the dead were
***Updated 16:46 Bethlehem time