Posted by: Lister | January 1, 2009

Israel Downplaying Crisis

The Telegraph:

Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, speaking during a visit to Paris denied the 1.5 million-strong population of Gaza was suffering a humanitarian crisis.

[…] Her analysis was at odds with Gordon Brown who categorised the current situation in Gaza as a “humanitarian crisis” and called for a ceasefire.

[…] The humanitarian situation has worsened rapidly inside Gaza with families living in unheated, unlit buildings through fear of being hit by flying shrapnel while others venture out to pick through rubbish tips for scraps.

Almost all food shops in Gaza have closed through lack of supplies and the few functioning bakeries are surrounded by long queues of customers on the rare occasions when they open.

Power has been out in central Gaza City since Israel launched operation Cast Lead and other towns in the strip have suffered numerous lengthy power cuts.

Mains water is not available to hundreds of thousands of people and there is a very real threat of a health crisis caused by the total collapse of Gaza’s elderly and overwhelmed sewage system.

Gazans have been seen picking through rubbish dumps looking for anything to burn such is the dire need for fuel for cooking and heating.

[…] Israel has allowed in a small amount of industrial diesel to run Gaza’s sole power station but the amount let in is much lower than that required by an Israeli court order won in an action brought by human rights groups.



  1. The denial continues. The Telegraph:

    Oxfam reported the north Gazan town of Beit Hanoun was experiencing serious sewage flooding after generators that run the local pumping station ran out of diesel.

    Israel is not allowing diesel into the Gaza Strip although it does allow in some industrial diesel for Gaza’s sole power station to run for a few hours each day.

    The amount of industrial diesel allowed in by Israel is considerably less than the delivery ordered by the Israeli supreme court after an action brought by human rights campaigners.

    […] The European Union and United Nations are calling for an immediate ceasefire to deal with what they regard as a humanitarian crisis for Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.

    But Israel, which is barring foreign journalists from Gaza, refused to accept there was a significant problem for Gaza’s civilian population.

  2. The UN Food Agency calls the humanitarian situation in Gaza “apalling“.

    “The current situation in Gaza is appalling, and many basic food items are no longer available on the market,” the World Food Programme’s representative in the occupied Palestinian territory, Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, said in a statement.

    The Rome-based agency appealed for nine million dollars (6.4 million euros) in emergency funds “to meet foreseen additional food needs” as the conflict raged unabated.

  3. The Independent:

    The assessment, by several international relief organisations, contradicts the statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, during a visit to Paris yesterday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”. 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.”

    […] Christine Van Nieuwenhuyse, head of the World Food Programme for Gaza and the West Bank, acknowledged that a “significant amount” of food was allowed in by the Israelis before the start of the air strikes. “But we must not forget this came after weeks when hardly any food had got in at all. One of our warehouses is full but we have another one empty as it is in an area which has seen a lot of bombings.

    “Our partners in Gaza are the Ministry of Social Welfare and their officials are not taking part in the distribution process because they feel they might get bombed for working for a Hamas government. This is a serious problem as is the fact that people are finding it difficult to move about. We are facing an acute food crisis.”

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