Thursday, March 06, 2008

Israel, our civilized ally

Human rights coalition: Gaza at worst since 1967

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A human rights coalition charged Thursday that the humanitarian situation in Gaza has reached its worst point since Israel captured the territory in 1967.

Palestinians form a line at a Gaza City bakery, one of few which hadn't closed for lack of fuel.

In a scathing report, eight British-based rights organizations said that more than 1.1 million people, about 80 percent of Gaza's residents, are now dependent on food aid, as opposed to 63 percent in 2006. It said that overall unemployment is close to 40 percent.

It also said that hospitals are suffering from power cuts of up to 12 hours a day, and the water and sewage systems were close to collapse.

The report follows strident international condemnation of Israel after it struck hard against Palestinian militants in Gaza, killing more than 120 in the past week, including many civilians, after Palestinians militants escalated their daily rocket fire at Israel.

The Palestinian rockets have killed 13 people, wounded dozens more, traumatized thousands and caused millions of dollars in damage. Video Watch the people who caught in the crossfire »

Israel's Defense Ministry rejected the report, blaming the militant Hamas rulers of Gaza for the hardships.

"The main responsibility for events in Gaza -- since the withdrawal of Israel from the territory and the uprooting of the settlements there -- is the Hamas organization, to which all complaints should be addressed," read a statement by spokesman, Maj. Peter Lerner.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said Israel must protect its citizens, "but as the occupying power in Gaza it also has a legal duty to ensure that Gazans have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care."

Israel removed all 21 settlements and withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005. Israel maintains that ended its occupation, but rights groups say that since Israel still controls Gaza's land, sea and air access, it is still the occupier.

After Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June, Israel closed its crossings, allowing only shipments of vital goods into Gaza.

The 16-page report -- sponsored by Amnesty, along with CARE International UK, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children UK and Trocaire -- calls on the British government to exert greater pressure on Israel and to reverse its policy on not negotiating with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Israel and the West shun Hamas and label it a terrorist organization. Hamas does not accept the presence of a Jewish state.

Replying to the report, Israel's Defense Ministry said it was misdirected.

The Israeli Defense Ministry also said medicines and medical equipment are shipped into Gaza with no limitation. On Wednesday, a typical day, the military said it allowed 69 truckloads of supplies into Gaza, including basic food and baby formula.

This week NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog, called on human rights groups to end what it called their political use of international law. It cited an Amnesty International press release that it said made unsubstantiated accusations that Israeli responses "are being carried out with reckless disregard for civilian life."

Original article posted here.

1 comment:

Irishdoh said...

Interestingly, I have seen no comment in any news report on the fact that Egypt has sealed its border in a deal worked with Hamas. One wonders how much aid could be pushed through a border not controlled by Israel. One also wonders why the political party in control of the government in Gaza has helped maintain that sealed border at this point, when so many of it's citizens are suffering.

I have seen only one mention of Egypt's failure to assista, and it is buried at the bottom of the article.