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News, December 2008


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Israeli Occupation Terrorist Attacks Block Humanitarian Aid to Gaza Civilian Population, Hit UN Facilities, Personnel, and Medics

UN calls on Israel to protect aid personnel in Gaza

Date: 31 / 12 / 2008  Time:  17:16
Bethlehem - Ma'an -

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.

Eight 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.

Initial 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
Jerusalem - Ma'an -

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.

Qatar had 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 humanitarian catastrophe

Date: 31 / 12 / 2008  Time:  13:00
Bethlehem - Ma’an -

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 humanitarian catastrophe.

“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 began.

“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
Bethlehem - Ma’an -

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.

The boat 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 hospitals.

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 afternoon.

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 days.

The two girls were scared to go by themselves outdoors, so their brother Ismail volunteered to go with them.

The three 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.

Dr 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 airstrikes

Date: 31 / 12 / 2008  Time:  14:38
Ramallah – Ma’an –

 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:

Ibrahim Al-Jamaj
Isma’il Al-Husari
Isma’il Salem
Isma’il Ghneim
Eyman Natour
Eyhab Ash-Shaer
Ibrahim Mahfoudh
Abu Ali Ar-Rahhal
Ahmad Al-Halabi
Ahmad Al-Kurd
Ahmad Al-Lahham
Ahmad Al-Hums
Ahmad At-Talouli
Ahmad Zu’rub
Ahmad Abu Jazar
Ahmad Radwan
Ahmad ‘Udah
Ahmad Abu Mousa
Ahmad Tubeil
Adham Al-Areini
Osama Abu Ar-Rus
Osama Abu Ar-Reish
Osama Darweish
Ashraf Al-Sharabasi
Ashraf Abu Suhweil
Amjad Abu Jazar
Ameen Al-Zarbatli
Anas Hamad
Anwar Al-Bardini
Anwar Al-Kurd
Ayman Abu Ammouna
Ayman An-Nahhal
Ibrahim Abu Al-Rus
Basil Dababish
Bassam Makkawi
Bilal Omar
Bahaa Abu Zuhri
Tamir Qurainawi
Tamir Abu Afsha
Tawfiq Al-Fallit
Tawfiq Jabir
Thaer Madhi
Jabir Jarbu’
Hatim Abu Sha’ira
Hamid Yasin
Husam Ayash
Hasan Baraka
Hasan Abid Rabbo
Hasan Al-Majayda
Hussein Al-'Araj
Hussein Dawood
Hussein ‘Uroq
Hakam Abu Mansi
Hamada Abu Duqqa
Hamada Safi
Hamdan Abu Nu’aira
Haydar Hassuna
Khalid Zu’rub
Khalid Abu Hasna
Khalid An-Nashasi
Khalid Shaheen
Raed Dughmush
Rami Al-Shaikh
Raafat Shamiyya
Riziq Salman
Rif’at Sa’ada
Rafiq Na’im
Ramzi Al-Haddad
Ziyad Abu ‘Ubada
Sarah Al-Hawajiri
Salim Abu Shamla
Salim Qurainawi
Sa’id Hamada
Salim Al-Gharir
Suheil Tambura
Shadi Subakhi
Shahada Quffa
Shahada Abdul Rahman
Sabir Al-Mabhouh
Suhayb Abu ‘Iffat
Suhayb Abd al-‘aal
Tal’at Salman
Tal’at Basal
‘Aasim Al-Sha'er
‘Aasim Abu Kamil
Abid Al-Dahshan
Abdul Raziq Shahtu
Abdul Salam Al-Nashar
Abdul-Fattah Abu ‘Utaiwi
Abdul-Fattah Fadhil
Abdullah Junaid
Abdullah Al-Ghaffari
Abdullah Rantisi
Abdullah Wahbi
Arafat Farajallah
Azmi Abu Dalal
Isam Al-Ghirbawi
‘Alaa Al-Qatrawi
‘Alaa Al-Kahlout
‘Alaa ‘Uqailan
‘Alaa Nasr Al-Ra’i
Ali Awadh
Imab Abu Al-Hajj
Omar Darawsha
Omran Al-ran
Anan Ghaliya
Gharib Al-Assar
Fayiz Riyad Al-Madhoun
Fayiz Ayada Al-Madhoun
Fayiz Abu Al-Qumsan
Camellia Al-Bardini
Ma’moun Saleem
Mazin ‘Ulayan
Muhammed Al-Ghamri
Muhammed Al-Halabi
Muhammed Asaliyya
Muhammed Al-Zatma
Muhammed Azahra
Muhammed Abu Ghazza
Muhammed Al-Nouri
Muhammed Abu Sabra
Muhammed Abu ‘Amir
Muhammed Abu Libda
Muhammed Haboush
Muhammed Al-Mabhouh
Muhammed Sha’aban
Muhammed Abu ‘Abdo
Muhammed Saleh
Muhammed Tabasha
Muhammed Al-Habeel
Muhammed Abdullah Aziz
Muhammed Abdul Wahhab Aziz
Muhammed Awad
Muhammed Abdunabi
Muhammed Saleh
Muhammed Al-Najjar
Muhammed Hamad
Muhammed Barakat
Muhammed Muhanna
Mahmoud Al-Khalidi
Mahmoud Abu Harbeed
Mahmoud Abu Matar
Mahmoud Abu Tabour
Mahmoud Abu Nahla
Mustafa Al-Khateeb
Mustafa Al-Sabbak
Mu’ein Hamada
Mu’ein Al-Hassan
Mumtaz Al- Najjar
Mansour Al-Gharra
Nasser Al-Gharra
Nahidh Abu Namous
Nabil Al-Buraim
Nathir Al-Louqa
Ni’ma Al-Maghari
Na’im Khait
Na’im Al-Kafarna
Na’im Al-Anzi
Nimir Amoum
Hisham Rantisi
Hisham Al-Masdar
Hisham Abu ‘Uda
Hisham ‘Uwaida
Humam Al-Najjar
Hanaa Al-Mabhouh
Haytham Hamdan
Haytham Al-Sha'er
Wadei’ Al-Muzayyin
Wasim Azaza
Walid Abu Hein
Walid Jabir Abu Hein
Yasser Al-Sha'er
Yasser Al-Lahham
Yahya Al-Hayik
Yahya Shaikha
Yahya Mahmoud Shaikha
Yousuf Thabit
Yousuf Al-Jallad
Yousuf Sha’aban
Yousuf Diab
Yousuf Al-Anani
Yousuf Al-Najjar
Younus Al-Dairi

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.

On 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 children.

***Updated 16:46 Bethlehem time

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