We are sailing … Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

As the Freedom Flotilla heads for Gaza, the Israel hasbara machine is in full flight, with scary promotional vids peppering Youtube replete with powerdressing blue suit, gold tie and shifty eyes accompanied on twitter with a cascade of spammy tweets aimed at whomever brings up the flotilla term – messages of gourmet dining in Gaza abound.

Ban Ki-Moon, figurehead of the US owned UN puppet theatre, wags his finger and fails to counteract counteract the spin and outrageous lies about aid to Gaza spewing from all orifices of the glutaginous Israeli Foreign Ministry. As Ali Abunimah [@avinunu] points out, if Ban Ki-Moon had any integrity, he’d be on the flotilla instead of issuing empty statements. Israeli panderer, Cyprus refuses to allow the flotilla to enter its territorial waters – wouldn’t want to jeopardise the illicit irreligious Israeli wedding business.

Meanwhile, in the fascist-operated ziocolony, Amira Hass relates the terrible story of Palestinian children abused whilst detained after kidnapping by the Israeli IOF.

There’s protests against the Israeli government on the 3rd June outside every Israeli embassy in the world from 12.00 – 14.00. If you can’t make it, send an email, or phone the Israeli consulate in your country.

You can follow the journey of the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza live on the web at http://witnessgaza.com/.

Several folks are, like us, watching the flailing desperate hasbara attempts of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. ISM counteracts the pernicious Zionism slime effectively:

Israel claims that there is no ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Every international aid organization working in Gaza has documented this crisis in stark detail. Just released earlier this week, Amnesty International’s Annual Human Rights Report stated that Israeli’s siege on Gaza has “deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.”[1]

Israel claims that its blockade is directed simply at the Hamas government in Gaza, and is limited to so-called ’security’ items. Yet When U.S. Senator John Kerry visited Gaza last year, he was shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade included staple food items such as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste.[2] Furthermore, Gisha, the Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, has documented numerous official Israeli government statements that the blockade is intended to put ‘pressure’ on Gaza’s population, and collective punishment of civilians is an illegal act under international law.[3]

Israel claims that if we wish to send aid to Gaza, all we need do is go through ‘official channels,’ give the aid to them and they will deliver it. This statement is both ridiculous and offensive. Their blockade, their ‘official channels,’ is what is directly causing the humanitarian crisis in the first place.

According to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter: “Palestinians in Gaza are being actually ’starved to death,’ receiving fewer calories per day than people in the poorest parts of Africa. This is an atrocity that is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It is a crime… an abomination that this is allowed to go on. Tragically, the international community at large ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are treated more like animals than human beings.”[4]

Israel claims that we refused to deliver a letter and package from POW Gilad Shalit’s father. This is a blatant lie. We were first contacted by lawyers representing Shalit’s family Wednesday evening, just hours before we were set to depart from Greece. Irish Senator Mark Daly (Kerry), one of 35 parliamentarians joining our flotilla, agreed to carry any letter and to attempt to deliver it to Shalit or, if that request was denied, deliver it to officials in the Hamas government. As of this writing, the lawyers have not responded to Sen. Daly, electing instead to attempt to smear us in the Israeli press.[5] We have always called for the release of all political prisoners in this conflict, including the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, among them hundreds of child prisoners.[6]

Most despicably of all, Israel claims that we are violating international law by sailing unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid to a people desperately in need. These claims only demonstrate how degenerate the political discourse in Israel has become.

In Counterpunch, in addition to annihilating the hasbara machine’s current claims, lawyer James Marc Leas refers back to Israel’s lies in November 08, when it attempted to justify its attack on Gaza.

However, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs own website “One Month of Calm Along the Israel-Gaza Border.” provides evidence that Israel successfully stopped rocket fire on June 19, 2008 with an Egyptian brokered ceasefire. Then the Israeli military launched an attack on Gaza on November 4, 2008 ending that ceasefire. Then, according to another Ministry of Foreign Affairs website , during the Israeli government’s 22 day Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza that started on December 27, 2008, 776 rockets and morters landed in Israeli territory, a doubling of the intensity of rocket fire from Gaza from the previous peak, until a new cease fire was announced on January 18. Thus, it was Israeli government action that belies its supposed concern about the safety of Israeli civilians.

Finally, Jeff Halper from ICAHD clears up any doubts folks may have about Israel’s motivations:

“It is simply not true that there is no humanitarian crisis. Actually two-thirds of the people of Gaza live in what the World Health Organization calls food insecurity,” Halper said. “More than 10 percent of the children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Goods like bananas, chocolate, beans and fresh meat are prohibited in Gaza. Each person in Gaza gets about half of the required calories for a normal life.”

“There are great problems with babies, iron deficiency with pregnant women. This is a controlled experiment in how to keep people hungry, to punish them, to keep them just a centimeter above the line of starvation,” the activist said.

“The thing behind it – and it’s true of the West Bank as well – that Israel is trying to impose a permanent occupation. Everything that Israel is doing is attempt to break the resistance and the will of Palestinian people, so in the end they give up and accept whatever Israel wants. But that is not succeeding”.

Again we are comfortably esconced in our Facebook cranny along with our near 1100 friends, a number which is matched with 1100 odd twitter followers, who are not necessarily the same folks. It was an interesting process to be reinstated to Facebook and our re-emergence marks the commencementt of a new online experiment – self-branding rather than brand branding 🙂 Enjoy!

Fadi Andrawos – Falasteen W Lebnan : aid contingents reach Gaza

As George Galloway’s 300 strong Viva Palestina aid contingent waits at the Rafah crossing to enter Gaza, celebrated author Alice Walker is already there.

The visitors include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and about 60 other people who arrived over the weekend to celebrate International Women’s Day and see for themselves what life is like for Palestinians after Israel’s devastating 22-day offensive.

The group visited women’s centres and organizations across the Gaza Strip yesterday, handing out about 2,000 aid baskets. They listened to the stories of the women, some of whose children were killed in the war. Over the next few days they will visit refugee camps and neighbourhoods levelled by Israeli shells and artillery.

“This is not a gimmick; it’s a strategy,” Kim Elliott, Toronto publisher of the independent news website http://www.rabble.ca, said in a phone interview from her hotel in Gaza City. “It’s for [us] to see what it’s really like and make the personal connection and go back to [our] homes to talk about it.”

“All great changes come from minorities,” Alice Walker insisted during a phone interview from the home of a Palestinian family where she was being hosted.

“In fact, they usually come from two to three people – especially if they are writers,” said Ms. Walker, best known for her novel The Color Purple. She said she danced, sang and ate and listened to the women and that she saw “a lot of sadness on the faces of the children.”

The visitors not only had to take a bus for hours from Cairo across the Sinai Desert, they were required to pay their embassies to write letters declaring that they assumed sole responsibility for their lives upon entering the Gaza Strip.

“It cost $130!” said Ehab Lotayef, a 50-year-old Montreal engineer who was able to enter Gaza with the assistance of the U.S. women’s peace group Code Pink, which organized the delegation.

“I think they didn’t want a bunch of women with big banners camping out at the border crossing,” said Sandra Ruch, 52, a Torontonian and program co-ordinator for Women’s Coalition for Peace in Israel and Independent Jewish Voices in Canada.

For 2009 International Women’s Day, we at the Fringe celebrate the dedication and intelligence of women throughout the world who resist apathy and make a difference.

Gaza Humanitarian Needs Update

The UN is now feeding 1 million plus people in Gaza – and Israel pays not one cent toward the human and infrastructure disaster it deliberately provoked in its disgraceful quest to expand its illegal settlements and maintain its ugly illegal Occupation.

Press conference on Gaza situation by World Food Programme official

Source: United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)

Date: 29 Jan 2009

Joining the chorus of United Nations officials calling for the uninterrupted opening of border crossings into the Gaza Strip, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Regional Director for the Middle East today said that meeting the immediate needs of Palestinians left traumatized and homeless by Israel’s three-week war with Hamas required the free flow of not just emergency food, but fuel, medicines and necessary building supplies.

World Food Programme’s Daly Belgasmi, whose responsibility also includes Central Asia and Eastern Europe, told correspondents during a Headquarters press conference that the sporadic border closings were only adding to the challenges the agency faced as Operation Lifeline Gaza scaled up deliveries of nutrition-fortified date bars, ready-to-eat meals for hospitals and schools, as well as sugar, wheat flour and vegetable oil.

He said WFP’s portion of the wider United Nations appeal for $613 million, announced earlier today in Davos by the Secretary-General, was $82.3 million. That was “really the minimum to be able to provide some assistance to the people in need”. The formal appeal would be announced by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs next week in Geneva. His agency had enough stocks in Gaza for the next three weeks, and was providing school meals of milk, date bars and bread to 50,000 children to encourage attendance and improve nutrition.

The Operation aimed to reach some 365,000 people and, he said, together with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations was feeding a little over 1 million of Gaza’s roughly 1.4 million inhabitants. “There are sad, traumatized people in Gaza, who, even before this war, had nothing in their homes but what has been given them by WFP,” he said, stressing that borders, which Israel again briefly closed on Tuesday following a border bomb attack, had to be open on a continuous basis and restrictions on the movement of people and goods lifted so that urgently-needed assistance could reach the population.

“The crossing points remain very, very challenging,” he continued, noting that each of the five border crossings -– Erez, Rafah, Karni, Kerem Shalom and Sufa — presented specific logistical challenges. For instance, at Kerem Shalom, the largest and perhaps most critical of the lifelines into Gaza, WFP and other agencies not only had to deal with security measures, but with complicated pick-up procedures: trucks dropped goods off, shipping and customs documents had to be checked and then the process might simply stall while crews waited on the Palestinian side for pack animals and delivery men to get to the staging area to pick up the shipments. The process of picking up the goods on the Gaza side was also hampered because there were not enough trucks or enough fuel, and no spare parts for repairs.

The United Nations had a “very strong and very capable team” coordinating activities with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv, at Kerem Shalom and the other borders to address logistics as well as the on-again, off-again situation with the borders. “We are doing our best, but the closure of the crossing points is a critical challenge,” he said, stressing that, after Israel’s earlier 18-month blockade, the food chain in Gaza had collapsed. Many basic food items were no longer available in the market, and the price of available commodities such as cooking gas and fuel had increased sharply. After this latest round of fighting, if the borders were not opened for the free movement of goods as well as people, the problem would only worsen.

Responding to questions, he acknowledged that supply trucks were backed up on both sides of the Gaza Strip — the Egyptian and particularly Israeli borders. “It’s not perfect,” he said, but the situation was improving, even if only incrementally.

On tough political issues, including Hamas’ role in the recovery effort and one reporter’s charge that Egypt and the wider Arab world had done nothing while the war inside Gaza had raged, Mr. Belgasmi said that humanitarians tried not to get bogged down by politics. “We are firemen. We go in and put out the fire — in this case, feed the people — and go on with our work,” he said, stressing that WFP, at least, believed that its work was helping to build the peace and promote the self-sufficiency of the Palestinian people. Indeed, by targeting schools and hospitals with feeding programmes, WFP was hoping to help address immediate needs and provide the tools to build a foundation for hope for a better future in Gaza.

“The challenge is to get jobs. When you have, today, unemployment of 70 per cent, people should work on construction […] We need to get them items for construction, we need to get the hospitals working, we need to get the schools coming back to a normal educational life,” he said.

WFP was also carrying out its operations in a way that would allow space for other humanitarian actors, including other United Nations agencies, and especially private companies and non-governmental organizations that could directly assist small farmers and businesses, whose work was vital for the survival of the people in Gaza. He also stressed that reconciliation among Palestinian factions was another key to long-term recovery in Gaza. “By making peace among themselves and forgetting about ideologies”, Palestinians could contribute to the broader effort to promote peace and development in Gaza.

The Australian Government begins to release some of its $5m aid to Gaza:

Australia provides support to NGOs for humanitarian relief in Gaza

Source: Government of Australia

Date: 30 Jan 2009

AA 09 02


I am pleased to announce the Australian Government is providing $2 million for Australian NGOs to deliver immediate emergency assistance to Gaza.

This funding is part of the $5 million package of assistance announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith on 27 January. The remaining $3 million is for United Nations agencies to replenish food and emergency stores.

Details of the support and funding:

Australian Red Cross ($300,000): In partnership with the Palestine Red Crescent Society, the Australian Red Cross will focus on improving access to safe water for up to 50,000 families through the provision of hygiene kits, water purification supplies and the deployment of water treatment units and jerry cans.

CARE Australia ($425,000) will provide basic medical assistance, non-food items such as building materials, cooking equipment, blankets, winter clothes and hygiene kits, and increased access to safe water supplies by deploying water trucks and repairing water pumping stations. Their activities will focus on assisting conflict affected families in the north of Gaza.

Oxfam Australia ($425,000) will distribute family emergency hygiene kits, baby hygiene kits and cleaning kits to 5,000 conflict-affected households across Gaza. They will also improve the water and sanitation conditions in target communities, kindergartens and primary schools by repairing damaged community infrastructure and deploying 10 mobile water tanks.

Save the Children Australia ($425,000) will focus their emergency response on improving the health of mothers, newborns and children in hospitals, health care centres and shelters in the north and south of Gaza, as well as Gaza City. This will involve advising mothers on the care of their newborns, establishing community support networks and providing supplementary food and micronutrients.

World Vision Australia ($425,000) will meet the immediate food and hygiene needs of 2,150 vulnerable families that have been affected by the recent conflict in Gaza. These families are located in both the north and south of Gaza.

Contacts: Sabina Curatolo (Mr McMullan’s Office) 0400318205, AusAID 0417680590

Further aid to Gaza is being considered by Australia

Australia is considering what further aid it can send to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, on top of a recent $5 million contribution.

Speaking on Radio National Breakfast, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said Australia views the secretary-general’s appeal with great sympathy.

“We will make a contribution, you can be reliably assured of that,” he said.

“The extent of the contribution and the amount, of course we have to make judgements about that, but also see what other countries are doing, and see where we can be of most assistance – whether it’s a cash contribution, or whether it’s other things that we can do in terms of technical expertise.”

Technical expertise is moot without the oppressor state allowing more than emergency aid into stricken Gaza.

Further threatening the lives of people in Gaza, Israel is refusing to allow the French to import a water purification plant into the stricken region.

Israel has refused to allow a French-made water purification system into Gaza amid a drinking water crisis in the Palestinian strip.

The French Foreign Ministry said Friday that Tel Aviv had blocked the entry of a much-needed water purification station into Gaza and had forced its repatriation.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Eric Chevallier said the move has sparked an outcry in the Elysée, prompting it to summon the Israeli ambassador to Paris to explain why the system was denied access.

“There were a very great number of steps taken at all levels to try to get the water purification station into Gaza,” he said, adding that Israel’s explanation was not satisfactory.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently warned that Israel’s 23-day onslaught on Gaza has pushed its sewage system on the brink of collapse and thus increased risks of groundwater contamination in the Palestinian territory.

“The most dangerous thing is the contamination of drinking water with sewage. We need an international organization like the World Health Organization to investigate the matter,” said Monther Shoblak, head of the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU).

According to the UN, Israel’s three week-long saturation bombing of the Palestinian territory has seriously damaged pipes and has left drinking water in very short supply.

Warning of the serious public health risks, the World Bank has urged the Israeli government to allow enough fuel into Gaza to operate some 170 water and sewage pumps there.

The bank called on Israel to allow maintenance crews to shore up a sewage lake in northern Gaza before it overflows at the expense of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the area.

Israel Restricts Aid to Gaza – Collective Punishment of Gazan People Continues

Israel is still proving intransigent and all too willing to wreak further collective punishment after their massacre of the Gazan people.

Al Zaytoun3

25th January 2009

On 6th January nearly 30 members of the Al-Samouni family were killed when a house was attacked by Israeli forces in the Hai Al-Zaytoun district of Gaza City. The area was inaccessible until Israeli troops withdrew about 2 weeks later, when rescue teams were able to recover the bodies and the full extent of the atrocity was revealed (see Al-Haq report: www.alhaq.org/etemplate.php?id=416).

Footage below contains an interview with 10 year-old Mona Al-Samouni, survivor of the massacre who lost both her parents in the attack and 13 year-old Shaima Al-Samouni. Photos show children from the Al-Samouni family and a destroyed chicken farm next to their home.

Interview with Mona Al-Samouni on 25th January

Interview with Shaima Al-Samouni on 25th January

PS More:

Interview with Shaima Al-Samouni’s younger sister on 25th January:

The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen follows Mona Al-Samouni on her first day back to school:

– Photo & text courtesy of Rafahkid

RAMALLAH, 27 January 2009 (IRIN) – Aid agencies have been protesting about their restricted access to Gaza since the 18 January ceasefire, stressing that the full opening of crossing points is crucial for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“It is unacceptable that staff of international aid agencies with expertise in emergency response are still not given full access into Gaza, and that the crossings are not fully operational for humanitarian and commercial goods,” said Charles Clayton, chair of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), which includes 75 agencies.

A recent CARE survey found that 89 percent of Gazans had not received humanitarian assistance since 27 December, underscoring the clear need, according to CARE, for more aid and humanitarian workers in Gaza.

CARE officer Juliette Seibold in Jerusalem told IRIN by phone on 26 January that eight of their staff members were still waiting for permits to enter to Gaza.

“If the ceasefire is holding, then any blockage of humanitarian access is unacceptable,” said Clayton.

The Israeli authorities are permitting 100-120 trucks to enter Gaza per day, according to the head of UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees) in Gaza, John Ging.

However, “to meet the daily needs, hundreds of trucks are required,” he said, adding: “This is the same approach that led to this conflict. We need a change of policy regarding the crossing points. If they remain closed it will lead to more violence.”

Construction materials and spare parts are vital to repair damaged schools, hospitals, water and sewage systems, and power lines, but “these commodities are not available on Gaza’s market,” Oxfam spokesperson Sara-Eve Hammond, based in Jerusalem, told IRIN by phone, “and the Israeli authorities are waiting for specific donor requests to allow their entry.”


Hamas, which controls Gaza, has set lifting the blockade – imposed on the impoverished coastal territory by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took power in June 2007 – as a condition for an Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel.

“Hamas has called for a complete lifting of the blockade and an opening of all the crossings,” said Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha in Cairo.

“Hamas wants to avoid further Israeli military aggression in Gaza,” Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told IRIN by telephone. “People in Gaza are still bleeding.”

Israel, meanwhile, wants assurances that weapons smuggling into Gaza will stop.

Over 4,000 residences were completely destroyed and 17,000 were partially damaged, according to preliminary estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

Although Israel has continued to shell Gaza daily with its naval gunboats since it declared a unilateral cease-fire, it is blaming Hamas again for cease fire breaches. A bomb has exploded on the border, killing one IDF and wounding 3 others.

Although there was no claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader, said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Al-Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a lull in fighting.

“The Zionists are responsible for any aggression,” he said.

Israel has warned that it would respond harshly to any violations of the cease-fire, which ended the Israel Defense Forces’ 22-day offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

Israeli army helicopters have also fired shells at resident homes located near Deir Al Balah town in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that Israeli troops also took over a house there which is near the Gaza Israeli borders.

Once again, Israel has closed all crossings – concentration camp gates are barred shut again.

YNetnews spews its devious version of the bomb event:

The attack on an IDF force patrolling the Gaza border earlier on Tuesday was carried out by a cell belonging to the Worldwide Jihad. An IDF tracker serving with the Gaza Division’s southern brigade was killed and three additional soldiers were seriously wounded. The name of the tracker, a Bedouin from Rahat, is being withheld at the request of his family.

An Islamist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda calling itself the ‘Jihad and Tawhid Brigades’ claimed responsibility for the attack. The group delivered the announcement to the Ramattan news agency, which distributed the footage.

An Islamist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda calling itself the ‘Jihad and Tawhid Brigades’ claimed responsibility for the attack. The group delivered the announcement to the Ramattan news agency, which distributed the footage.

The IDF believes that the cell behind the attack is an extremist pro-Iranian group, which espouses a militant ideology that surpasses even Hamas’ positions in its opposition to Israel. The group receives direct support from Tehran, but is connected in various ways to Hamas as well.

The army says that even though the attack was executed by this group, Hamas was involved and at the very least gave its consent to the plot.

Later in the afternoon the IAF targeted one of the perpetrators of the attack in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Hussain Abu Shamia, a prominent operative belonging to the Worldwide Jihad, was confirmed injured in the strike. However military officials believe that Israel must broaden its response to the attack in order to deliver a stronger message to Hamas that Israel will not tolerate such violations of the ceasefire.

The army has prepared a number of options for retaliatory action and is now waiting for a green light from the political echelon.

Military sources estimates that Hamas will continue using other organization to operate through in an effort to minimize Israel’s response against its ranks and infrastructure but rather only against the smaller armed groups in Gaza. Senior officials said on Tuesday evening that they see Hamas as solely responsible for the attack, and have no intention of playing along with its scheme to evade responsibility.

I checked the Ramattan site and could find no reference to the IDF allegations above.

The relevant story on the Ramattan site reads as follows:

Israeli soldier killed in explosion south of Gaza

Gaza, January 27, 2009, (Ramattan)- One Israeli soldier was killed and three others wounded on Tuesday in an explosive device east south of Khanyounis, Israeli sources told Ramattan.

Spokesperson of the Israeli army, Avechai Edrei, told Ramattan in a phone call that the Israeli soldiers was instantly killed and three others carried to hospital, one in critical case.

He pointed out that a shell was shot at Palestinian militants after the explosion which targeted an Israeli military vehicle.

Palestinian medical sources said that a Palestinian farmer was killed on Tuesday morning by the Israeli occupation forces in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khanyounis.

Nasir Hospital sources in Khanyounis told Ramattan that Anwar Al-Braim, was killed as he was hit in the head with a gunshot.

Witnesses said that the Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the borderline with Israel.

They added that an Israeli helicopter hovered in the area and fired bursts from machine gun.

and this story:

Gaza, January 27, 2009, (Ramattan)- A Palestinian farmer was killed on Tuesday morning by the Israeli occupation forces in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khanyounis, medics and witnesses said.

Nasir Hospital sources in Khanyounis told Ramattan that Anwar Al-Braim, was killed as he was hit in the head with a gunshot.

Witnesses said that the Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the borderline with Israel.

They added that an Israeli helicopter hovered in the area and fired bursts from machine gun.

The gunshot was heard after a huge explosion shaken the area near the borders.

Israeli army office told Ramattan that an explosive device blew up while an Israel patrol was combing the area.

No sign of any new ‘iranian militant group’ or ‘Jihad and Tawhid Brigades’ on Ramattan in English at least – perhaps in Arabic?

The Ynet story reeks of propaganda – for starters, Iranians are Shia, Al Qaeda is Sunni. More likely the Israeli propaganda machine is attempting to conflate Al Qaeda with Iran, Hamas and whoever else they can think up in order to demonise what was more likely an IDF jeep running over an unexploded IDF shell or IAF bomb.

Haaretz spins the ‘bomb’ another way:

A preliminary investigation revealed that the soldiers were patrolling an area that had not been patrolled for several weeks due to the fighting in the Strip. The regional brigade commander was apparently not apprised of the patrol, which was approved by the battalion commander. IDF sources said the Palestinians who planted the bomb did so Monday night, under cover of heavy fog.

The closure of the Gaza crossings is only the first stage of Israel’s response to the attack, Amos Gilad, who heads the Defense Ministry’s political bureau, said yesterday. “The equation in the Strip has changed,” he said during a lecture at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

From the ABC Australia:

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into the Gaza Strip despite the ceasefire.

“We stress that the Zionist enemy has not stopped behaving aggressively in Gaza since the unilateral ceasefire. To have calm means lifting the siege and reopening all the border crossings, including the Rafah crossing. The Zionist enemy bears the full responsibility for any violent developments,” he said.

Associated Press nuances the bomb differently:

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack.

It was not clear if the bomb had been planted after the cease-fire took hold or whether it was an older device.

Israel has reverted to starving the Gazan people – how evil and cruel can Israel be before the world rejects it en masse?

Officials and volunteers in Egypt blame the Israelis, saying that even before the passage stalled Israel had allowed supplies to pass through for only 19 hours each week. Israeli officials said that Egypt had not done enough to coordinate the flood of aid coming to Gaza, and that they hoped a system would soon be in place to remedy the problem.

Israel broke their so-called unilateral cease fire just hours after declaring it.

GAZA CITY, Jan 26 — At 7.30 a.m. Jan. 22, five days after Israeli authorities declared a ‘ceasefire’ following their 22-day air, land and sea bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Israeli gunboats renewed shelling off the Gaza city coast, injuring at least six, including four children.

Mu’awiyah Hassanain, director of Ambulance and Emergency Services, reported more shelling in the north-western coastal area As Sudaniya the same morning. Five fishermen were injured in the attacks, he said.

About 9.45 a.m. that morning in Sheyjaiee district to the east of Gaza city, seven-year-old Ahmed Hassanian was outside his house with friends when Israeli soldiers fired from the eastern border. A bullet lodged in his brain, causing brain haemorrhage. Dr. Fawzi Nablusi, director of the ICU at Shifa hospital, says the boy is not expected to survive.

Three Palestinians have been killed since the ceasefire and 15 injured, including the ten injured Jan. 22, according to both Mu’awiyah Hassanain and Dr. Hassan Khalaf.

Hours after the ceasefire was said to have come into effect Jan. 18, Israeli warplanes flew extremely low over areas of Gaza. Drones capable both of photographing and of dropping targeted missiles continued to circle overhead. At 8.30 am Jan. 18, one of these drones dropped two missiles in the Amal area east of Beit Hanoun, killing 11-year-old Angham Ra’fat al-Masri and injuring her mother.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reports further violations of the ceasefire, including the killing of Maher abu Rjaila, 23, shot in the chest by Israeli troops at 10.40 am Jan. 18 as he walked on his land east of Khan Younis city.

Israeli soldiers fired on residents of Al-Qarara, near Khan Younis, at 1 pm Jan. 20, shooting Waleed Al-Astal, 42, in his right foot.

Humanitarian Coordinator’s Report from Gaza 26 January

Here’s the latest report from the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Gaza

24-26 January 2009, 1700 hours

The cease-ire, implemented unilaterally by Israel on 18 January, and later the same day by Hamas and other Palestinian factions, continues to hold. The cease-ire followed twenty-two days of bombardment by land, sea and air which left over 1,300 Palestinians dead and over 5,000 injured. Many of the injured will require
long-term treatment.

Extensive destruction has been caused to commercial enterprises and to public infrastructure, including
Gaza’s largest lour mill, concrete plant and food processing plant. Many families are homeless: preliminary
estimates by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicate the complete destruction of over 4,000
residences and partial destruction to 17,000 others. Thousands still have no access to piped water.
Unexploded ordnance poses a signiicant threat to the Gazan population and to the work of humanitarian

Needs and damage assessments are currently being undertaken. At this stage, the initial response is focusing
on the re-establishment of basic services, including water, health, food, cash assistance, education and
psychosocial support. Even as assessments are on-going, work has been initiated to conduct repairs to
shelters, water and sanitation systems, health facilities, and other essential infrastructure. The immediate
import of construction materials and spare parts are vital in this regard.

Rescue services continue to recover the dead: two bodies were recovered from the rubble of the Presidential
building in Gaza City on 23 January. Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) igures as of 19 January are 1,314
Palestinians dead, of whom 412 are children and 110 are women. The number of injuries stands at 5,300, of
whom 1,855 are children and 795 are women.

According to the Magen David Adom national society, four Israelis have been killed and 182 injured since
27 December by rocket and mortar ire by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip. Nine Israeli soldiers
were killed and 336 wounded during the course of the military operation, according to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs.

UNICEF, ICRC and other agencies continue to highlight the danger posed by unexploded ordnance (UXOs)
following the deaths of two children by UXOs on 20 January. UXOs are also considered a major obstacle to the work of organisations removing rubble. In addition to assessing the scope and scale of the UXO problem, the mine action team (including UNMAS, MAG and NPA) has delivered UXO safety briefing to staff from approximately 30 NGOs, and is clearing main roads and checking facilities to allow distribution of humanitarian aid. To date, UNICEF has distributed 75,000 lealets and aired two radio spots on four different radio stations on protection from UXOs.

Thousands of Gazans remain homeless, although the exact number of people displaced is still unknown. As of 25 January, fewer than 500 displaced people remain in three UNRWA emergency shelters in Jabalia, Beach Camp, and Deir el Balah. Since the resumption of school on 24 January, the shelters are now in youth centres and other non-school facilities. Most Gazans who have been displaced are currently staying with host families, which are overstretched and face shortages of food, non-food items (mattresses, blankets) and water and electricity.

Although hospitals still have a large number of intensive care patients, capacity is gradually freeing up for the provision of routine care for chronically ill patients who are now returning for treatment, as well as regular services such as elective surgery. Hospitals are receiving mains electricity intermittently, with generators providing back-up electricity supply. Repair of medical equipment, already a priority before the conflict when the blockade hindered the import of necessary spare parts, remains a priority, as does the import of spare parts for medical equipment.

According to a recent report by the consultancy company Near East Consulting, about 96 percent of Gaza residents feel depressed and disheartened. The highest level of depression is in North Gaza and Rafah, where 81 percent of the respondents do not feel secure about their households and family members. This represents an increase of 17 percent since December 2008.

The water and sanitation situation in Gaza Governorate, North Gaza and the Middle Area has improved; at least 70 percent of the water system is functioning, although this does not mean everyone is receiving water due to localized damage. The sewerage network in parts of Gaza is still damaged. In some areas, the price of tankered water is as high as 175 NIS/m3. UNICEF warns that a continued shortage of drinking water and overlowing sewage in residential areas poses serious public health risks.

The CMWU, Gaza’s water utility, continues to work on urgent maintenance of the water and wastewater networks, though it will be unable to complete the repair without the entry of needed spare parts into Gaza: CMWU currently has a list of prioritized items, such as pipes, generators and pumps, awaiting clearance by the Israeli authorities for entry into Gaza. Humanitarian organizations, including ACF, CARE, ICRC, Oxfam and UNICEF, continue to provide drinking water to people in need, material and financial support to CMWU for emergency repairs of water and plumbing, hygiene kits and family water kits, though additional assistance is required to meet the needs of the population.

A damage assessment by the CMWU revealed that four water wells in Beit Hanoun, Gaza and Jabalia have
been completely destroyed and several water carriers (e.g. Nuseirat, Gaza main water wells and Khan
Yunis) have been damaged. The waste water networks in Gaza, Beit Hanoun, Jabalia and Beit Lahia have also
sustained serious damage.

The Gaza population continues to face dificulties accessing food due to price increases and the lack of
currency. In addition, the destruction to agricultural ields has added to a shortage of locally-produced

All 10 UNRWA distribution centres are open, feeding 25,000 people per day. On 25 January, WFP distributed
95 tonnes of food to 993 families (5,958 beneiciaries) in Gaza and North Gaza. On 26 January, WFP began
a school feeding programme in government schools to provide UHT milk, high-energy biscuits and canned
meat to students.

All government and UNRWA schools opened on 24 January. UNICEF reports an 80 percent pupil attendance rate in government schools. UNRWA reports an 89 percent pupil attendance rate and a 99 percent teacher attendance rate in its schools. Schools are currently focusing on providing psychosocial and mental health support to students. UNRWA has 185 counsellors in its schools. On 26 January, UNICEF supplied 130 school-in-a-box kits, targeting 10,400 students; 84 recreational kits targeting 6,720 students; and 42 maths and 42 science kits targeting 4,200 students.

Most of the Gaza Strip receives only intermittent electricity, with Gaza Governorate and North Gaza receiving an average of 12 hours of electricity every day, though some areas still do not have power due to localized damage. While the main power lines in Gaza have been repaired, the low-voltage lines taking electricity directly to households are still not working in Jabalia, Zaitoun and Sudania. This also affects water distribution in those areas. According to GEDCO, Gaza’s power utility, the lines can be repaired within three weeks provided that the necessary parts and other supplies are made available. The power plant is still working on only one turbine, producing 30 MW. On average, since the cease-fire, the power plant has received 223,000 litres per day while it needs 450,000 litres daily to produce its full capacity of 80 MW. Since the cease-fire, Israel has allowed nearly 700 tonnes of cooking gas – approximately 87 tonnes per day – which is much less than its estimated need of 300 tonnes per day. No petrol or diesel has been allowed into Gaza since 2 November, except for UNRWA.

The Nahal Oz fuel pipeline, Karni conveyor belt and Rafah, Kerem Shalom, and Erez crossings were open
on 26 January. On 26 January, two teams from World Vision and Save the Children were refused entry into
Gaza via Erez.

On 25 January, seven truckloads of medical supplies, water, blankets and mattresses entered Gaza via the
Rafah crossing. 120 truckloads, including 74 for aid agencies, entered Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing.
173.5 tonnes of cooking gas and 448,000 litres of industrial gas were transferred into Gaza through the
Nahal Oz pipeline.

On 24 January, all crossings except Rafah were closed due to the Jewish Sabbath.

For the list of immediate funding needs, visit: http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_crisis_cap_funding_2009_english.pdf

Opening of crossings: All crossings into Gaza must be operational and the number of trucks allowed into
the Gaza Strip needs to be increased. The following items in Gaza are critically needed:
Spare parts and fuel for the power plant, hospitals and water and sewage treatment facilities; •
Cement, sand and other construction materials to rebuild destroyed schools, hospitals, clinics and •
Humanitarian Access to Gaza: In the aftermath of the Israeli military operation, it is critical that full and
unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza be granted by all parties to the conlict. International agencies have
faced unprecedented denial of access to Gaza since 5 November. Humanitarian access remains unreliable
and needs to be granted every day without restriction.

Cash/liquidity: Cash has still not entered the Gaza Strip (except for the staff of a few international
organizations) and is urgently needed to reactivate the private sector and prevent increasing dependence
on aid. The lack cash prevents access to basic supplies. A system must be urgently established that ensures
the regular and predictable monthly transfer of the necessary cash.

Operational security: Explosive remnants of war are limiting the access of humanitarian workers to certain
areas. Security, including the marking and clearance of UXOs, is essential to ensure eficient delivery of
humanitarian assistance to the population.