UN nuclear chief boycotts BBC over Gaza appeal


Watch the Gaza aid appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee rejected by the BBC and Sky

The head of the UN”s nuclear watchdog has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC in protest at the corporation’s decision not to air an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

In a statement to the Guardian, Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner, unleashed a stinging denunciation of the BBC, deepening the damage already caused by the controversy.

[ BBC accused of fakery over Barack Obama inauguration speech (Telegraph) ]

The statement, from his office at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the BBC decision not to air the aid appeal for victims of the conflict “violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong”.

It said the IAEA director had cancelled interviews with BBC World Service television and radio, which had been scheduled to take place at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Saturday.

Read moreUN nuclear chief boycotts BBC over Gaza appeal

Army rabbi gave out hate leaflet to troops


The Israeli army has been urged to sack Rabbi Avi Ronzki over the booklet

The Israeli army’s chief rabbinate gave soldiers preparing to enter the Gaza Strip a booklet implying that all Palestinians are their mortal enemies and advising them that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute”.

The booklet, entitled Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, was published especially for Operation Cast Lead, the devastating three-week campaign launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire against southern Israel. The publication draws on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Jewish fundamentalist Ateret Cohanim seminary in Jerusalem.

(“My Fight” can be literally translated into German as “Mein Kampf” (Adolf Hitler).


Related article: UN council urged to look at Israel’s conduct in Gaza (Reuters):
Richard Falk, a special U.N. investigator sent to the Middle East by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, has said there was evidence that Israel committed war crimes in the Gaza Strip and there should be an independent inquiry.

Falk, who is Jewish, has compared the situation in Gaza to that of the Warsaw Ghetto during the World War Two, where the Nazis systematically starved and murdered Jews. Israel denies committing any war crimes during its assault on Gaza.


In one section, Rabbi Aviner compares Palestinians to the Philistines, a people depicted in the Bible as a war-like menace and existential threat to Israel.

In another, the army rabbinate appears to be encouraging soldiers to disregard the international laws of war aimed at protecting civilians, according to Breaking the Silence, the group of Israeli ex-soldiers who disclosed its existence. The booklet cites the renowned medieval Jewish sage Maimonides as saying that “one must not be enticed by the folly of the Gentiles who have mercy for the cruel”.

Read moreArmy rabbi gave out hate leaflet to troops

We will never work for the BBC again – actors and directors in Gaza protest

ACTORS and directors have warned the BBC they will not work for the corporation again if it does not broadcast the Gaza charity appeal.

In a letter written to Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general, the actors Tam Dean Burn and Pauline Goldsmith, and the directors Peter Mullan and Alison Peebles, said they were “appalled” by the refusal to show the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.

Their ultimatum came as the satellite broadcaster Sky also decided yesterday it would not screen the DEC film. Like the BBC, it said it wanted to protect the impartiality of its news reports.

Related article: Tony Benn to BBC: If you won’t broadcast the Gaza appeal then I will myself

Gaza is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, with its 1.5 million population urgently needing food, water, medicine and shelter, after Israel’s three-week assault.

The BBC said yesterday it had received about 15,000 complaints about its decision not to screen the appeal for the DEC, which represents several charities.

Read moreWe will never work for the BBC again – actors and directors in Gaza protest

Gaza faces failed harvests after the bombardment by Israel

“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 flows of goods and people,” said Charles Clayton, head of the Association of International Development Agencies.


Samir Sawafiri pointed at several dozen hungry chickens scavenging for food between the crushed bodies of nearly 65,000 other birds strewn across a destroyed farm in Zeitoun in Gaza City.

“They are all that is left and I have nowhere to put them,” he said. The poultry farms around Zeitoun used to be the Gaza Strip’s main provider of eggs, according to Oxfam. Little but twisted metal and crumbling concrete now remains of the poor suburb on the eastern outskirts of Gaza, one of the areas hit hardest during the war.

“I evacuated on January 9,” Mr Sawafiri said. “Three days later, on January 12, tanks came with bulldozers and levelled the fields. They wanted to spoil the economy – that is the only answer. There is no justification for what they did.” Israel says that Zeitoun is a known Hamas stronghold, and that militants used its fields to launch Qassam rockets into Israel.

International aid groups say that while Israel’s continuing restrictions on the flow of goods and relief workers into the devastated enclave is hampering emergency efforts, the destruction of Gaza’s agriculture means that harvests are likely to fail and the Strip will depend more on handouts.

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In its efforts to choke Hamas, Israel has also frozen the flow of cash into Gaza, meaning that people have no money to buy basics. There are strict curbs on iron and concrete imports to prevent the militants rebuilding bunkers and rocket arsenals. But that also means that the 100,000 people who the UN says are homeless are once again refugees, as were their grandparents, who flooded Gaza after the 1948 Israeli war of independence.

Aid groups say only 100 or so trucks are being allowed in every day, while even before the fighting at least five times that number was needed.


In addition, there is pilfering. “There is quite a bit missing,” one UN worker said. “On some trucks it is 15 to 20 per cent of the goods. We don’t know who is taking it – the Palestinians or maybe Egypt, or Israel.” Another aid worker said that gunmen had been involved in some of the aid diversion. “We are well aware that hijackings do take place,” he said.

Read moreGaza faces failed harvests after the bombardment by Israel

Israel admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza

Amnesty warns Israel could be guilty of war crimes

White phosphorus shells
Israeli soldiers prepare white phosphorus 155mm artillery shells (light green) as troops keep position on the Israel-Gaza border. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israel has admitted – after mounting pressure – that its troops may have used white phosphorus shells in contravention of international law, during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip.

One of the places most seriously affected by the use of white phosphorus was the main UN compound in Gaza City, which was hit by three shells on 15 January. The same munition was used in a strike on the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City the same day.

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Gaza building apparently hit by phosphorus: UN (Vancouver Sun)

Israeli use of white phosphorus ‘undeniable’: Amnesty International (The Age)
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Gideon Levy / Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel (Ha’aretz)

Under review by Colonel Shai Alkalai is the use of white phosphorus by a reserve paratroop brigade in northern Israel.

According to army sources the brigade fired up to 20 phosphorus shells in a heavily built-up area around the Gaza township of Beit Lahiya, one of the worst hit areas of Gaza.

The internal inquiry – which the army says does not have the status of the full investigation demanded by human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – follows weeks of fighting in which Israel either denied outright that it was using phosphorus-based weapons, or insisted that what weapons it was using “were in line with international law”.


Dr Ahmed Almi from the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis describes serious injuries and chemical burns, with victims covered in a white powder that continues to burn long after initial exposure

Phosphorus is a toxic chemical agent that burns on contact with air and creates thick white smokes in order to hide troop movements. However phosphorus shells are largely indiscriminate scattering large numbers of fragments over a large area, which can cause severe damage to both human tissue and property.

As the Guardian reported yesterday, Palestinian doctors have reported treating dozens of cases of suspected phosphorus burns.

Read moreIsrael admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza

Israeli use of white phosphorus ‘undeniable’: Amnesty International

AMNESTY International has said that Israel’s use during the Gaza offensive of white phosphorus – banned under international law for use near civilians – was “clear and undeniable”.

Tension eased in Gaza early yesterday as a fragile ceasefire entered its third day. There were no reports of shooting or rockets for the first time since Israel launched its massive assault on the besieged territory on December 27.

“Amnesty International delegates visiting the Gaza Strip found indisputable evidence of widespread use of white phosphorus in densely-populated residential areas in Gaza City and in the north,” the rights group said.

“We saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli army,” said Christopher Cobb-Smith, a weapons expert touring Gaza as part of a four-person fact-finding team. Human rights groups and medics in Gaza reported treating dozens of people suffering burns caused by white phosphorus during Israel’s 22-day offensive in Gaza that killed more than 1300 people.

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Robert Fisk: So, I asked the UN secretary general, isn’t it time for a war crimes tribunal? (Independent)

Gaza ‘looks like earthquake zone’ (BBC News)
Ban ‘appalled’ by Gaza’s damage (BBC News)
Amid dust and death, a family’s story speaks for the terror of war (Guardian):

48 members of the Samouni family were killed in one day when Israel’s battle with Hamas suddenly centred on their homes
Israel destroys, Saudi rebuilds (Middle East Online):
Saudi King donates one billion dollars to rebuild Gaza, calls for putting end to Arab rifts.
Israel to keep tight grip on Gaza reconstruction (Reuters)
Israel accused of war crimes over 12-hour assault on Gaza village (The Observer)

Under international law, white phosphorus is banned for use near civilians, but is permitted for creating a smokescreen.

Israel has insisted that all weapons used in its Gaza war were within the bounds of international law.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s researcher on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, said the use of white phosphorus could amount to a war crime.

Read moreIsraeli use of white phosphorus ‘undeniable’: Amnesty International

Israel accused of war crimes over 12-hour assault on Gaza village

Photo of Israel’s use of White Phosphorous chemical weapons


Photo of Israel’s use of White Phosphorous in Gaza in the January 2009 attack. Note that there is little smoke cover generated, and LOTS of fires. This is White Phosphorous, a chemical weapon, being used in a clearly residential area, to wound, main, kill and set fire to the place, in other words, to ethnically cleanse it and, and in the process commit genocide. All war crimes. Source: World Press Network


Source: The Observer

White flags ignored and houses bulldozed with families inside, claim residents

Israel stands accused of perpetrating a series of war crimes during a sustained 12-hour assault on a village in southern Gaza last week in which 14 people died.

In testimony collected from residents of the village of Khuza’a by the Observer, it is claimed that Israeli soldiers entering the village:

  • attempted to bulldoze houses with civilians inside;
  • killed civilians trying to escape under the protection of white flags;
  • opened fire on an ambulance attempting to reach the wounded;
  • used indiscriminate force in a civilian area and fired white phosphorus shells.

If the allegations are upheld, all the incidents would constitute breaches of the Geneva conventions.

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Victorious, but vilified: Israel has ‘destroyed its image and its soul’ (Independent)
British Jews attacked for pro-Gaza solidarity (Independent)
Broken town shows Gaza destruction (BBC News)
Israeli flags burnt in Gaza demonstration in Paris
(Reuters)
Britain to send warships to Gaza as Israel prepares for ceasefire (Telegraph)
Patrick J. Buchanon: Is Ehud’s Poodle Acting Up?
Why Arab states are unmoved by plight of Hamas (Telegraph)

The denunciations over what happened in Khuza’a follow repeated claims of possible human rights violations from the Red Cross, the UN and human rights organisations.

Read moreIsrael accused of war crimes over 12-hour assault on Gaza village

Hamas announces ceasefire in Gaza

The ceasefires follow three weeks of intense fighting

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has announced an immediate ceasefire with Israel in Gaza.

A statement read by a Hamas spokesman said the group would hold fire for a week to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.

The move came hours after a unilateral Israeli ceasefire came into effect.

The cessation of hostilities was earlier cast into doubt by fresh rocket fire into Israel and an Israeli air strike on militants in Gaza.

Hamas’ deputy chief in Syria, Moussa Abou Marzouk, said the ceasefire was in the name of all “Palestinian resistance factions”.

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(AFP)
Thousands protest in UK over Gaza
(BBC News)

“We… announce a ceasefire of our factions in the Gaza Strip and we stress that our demand is the withdrawal of the enemy forces from the Gaza Strip within a week, along with the opening of all the crossings for the entry of humanitarian aid, food and other necessities for our people in the Gaza Strip.”

The group said the ceasefire would be temporary unless Israel met these long-standing demands.

The BBC’s Bethany Bell, on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, says Israeli helicopters and drones have been flying overhead and Israeli troops are on high alert.

Many people are hoping that a ceasefire will last, but no-one on either side of the border will be surprised if the fighting starts up again, our correspondent adds.

Read moreHamas announces ceasefire in Gaza

Israel Strike Hits U.N. Complex in Gaza Strip

GAZA – Amid reports that a United Nations building had been hit, Israeli forces shelled areas deep inside Gaza City and edged forward toward the city center Thursday, sending thousands of panicked residents fleeing from their homes, witnesses said.

Among the buildings hit in the center of Gaza City, the witnesses said, was one housing the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that assists Palestinian refugees and another occupied by several media organizations.

The Israeli military would not give precise details of its ground operations, but a spokesman said that “fierce fighting” was under way “relatively deep inside Gaza.”


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Gaza: Israeli troops reveal ruthless tactics against Hamas (Times)
Israel accused of Gaza ‘genocide’ (Al Jazeera):
The president of the UN General Assembly has condemned Israel’s killings of Palestinians in its Gaza offensive as “genocide”.
Israeli soldiers say they have OK to use tough tactics in Gaza (McClatchy)

Iran warns Israel over aid ship interception (Press TV):

A senior Iranian commander says if Israel continues intercepting humanitarian aid for Gazans, Iran will adopt an alternative approach.

EU parliament urges halting relations with Israel (Middle East Online)
Venezuela cuts ties with Israel over Gaza attacks (Reuters)


The military push may be aimed at stepping up pressure on Hamas as cease-fire talks in Egypt entered a pivotal stage.

Read moreIsrael Strike Hits U.N. Complex in Gaza Strip

US Congressman: Israel war violations ‘deliberate’


Congressman Kucinich: America arming Israel with weapons that are used against Palestinian civilians.

PACIFICA – Israel must take the responsibility for its attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, said Congress member Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, during an interview with Democracy Now! on Monday.

“When you look at what the targets of the attacks have been, you know, the Israeli army is given a lot of credit for its precision, so when UN schools are hit, the American university there, when you look at the damage or destruction of the Red Cross’s efforts there, you have to come to an understanding that this is deliberate. This isn’t accidental. Accidents can happen in war, but when you’re using that kind of destructive power, you have to take the responsibility for the consequences of it,” said Congressman Kucinich.

“There’s no question there’s a use of disproportionate force here, and no amount of reasoning or attempt to try to take the side of Israel is going to remove that single fact,” he added.

“Just look at the numbers. Look at the destruction. I mean, believe what you see with your eyes. And that’s, I suppose, one of the reasons why the Israeli government doesn’t want the media to get in there. When you tell civilians to go to a house to be protected, and then you shell that house, I mean, what does that say?” Asked the Congressman.

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Lebanon rockets fired on Israel (BBC NEWS)
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Stunning photos capture Israeli bombs falling on Gaza (Telegraph)
Hamas May Survive Offensive, Israel Says (Washington Post)
Gazans seek new places to bury the dead (AP)
Bowen diary: A just war? (BBC NEWS)
Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas must be ‘removed’ from Gaza (Telegraph)
Netanyahu casts himself as player on a world stage (Independent)
Gaza-bound Iranian aid ship turned away by Israel (Irish Times)

Congressman Kucinich said the US must make sure that its military aid to Israel will not continue to be used against the civilian population in Gaza.

“Not only F-16 jets, Apache helicopters, but now we’re seeing white phosphorus used against the people in Gaza. This should be a great concern to every person in this country, because of the amount of money that we’re giving to Israel,” said the US Congressman.

Such use is even in violations of the US conditions.

“In 1976, Congress passed a law that says that if the United States is going to give arms to another country, that it can attach and does attach conditions that says that those arms are transmitted under the condition, first of all, that they’re used for defensive purposes only, and second, that they not be used to escalate a preexisting conflict. On both of those cases, I think that Israel has failed,” noted Congressman Kucinich.

But Israel seems to be encouraged by Washington.

“The Bush administration encouraged Israel to continue the aggression that occurred in South Lebanon that resulted in, the closing days of that war, the destruction of South Lebanon, which is one of the reasons why I’m concerned about what might happen yet in Gaza in the closing days of this current war,” said Congressman Kucinich.

The US Congressman also addressed the root cause of the conflict – Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

“You have to go back to the blockade and the occupation, and you have to look at Israel’s conduct in the West Bank, as well. I mean, if Israel was so gentle with the people of Gaza, you look at the West Bank and look at what’s happened there,” he explained.

But – outside the US – Israel has failed justify its violence.

“The whole world is watching this, and the world understands what’s happening. You know, no amount of attempt to rationalize this violence in Gaza is going to work for Israel,” he said.

On the timing of the Israeli assault, Congressman Kucinich said: “Israel has a lot of talent, very bright people running their government. They chose to use violence. They chose it on the eve of a presidential inauguration in the United States. They’re trying to take advantage of this situation, because they know the Bush administration couldn’t care less about international law.”

Read moreUS Congressman: Israel war violations ‘deliberate’

Israel testing nasty weapons in Gaza, claims Mads Gilbert

ISRAEL is testing a new “extremely nasty” type of weapon in Gaza, two medics charged as they returned home to Norwayafter spending 10 days working at a hospital in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

Related article: Gaza death toll tops 900 (Reuters)

“There’s a very strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons,” Mads Gilbert said at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport, commenting on the kinds of injuries he and his colleague Erik Fosse had seen while working at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

The two medics, who were sent into the war zone by the pro-Palestinian aid organisation NORWAC on December 31, said they had seen clear signs that Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME), an experimental kind of explosive, were being used in Gaza.

“This is a new generation of very powerful small explosives that detonates with an extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 metres,” Mr Gilbert, 61, said.

“We have not seen the casualties affected directly by the bomb because they are normally torn to pieces and do not survive, but we have seen a number of very brutal amputations … without shrapnel injuries which we strongly suspect must have been caused by the DIME weapons,” he said.

The weapon “causes the tissue to be torn from the flesh. It looks very different (from a shrapnel injury). I have seen and treated a lot of different injuries for the last 30 years in different war zones, and this looks completely different”, Mr Fosse, 58, said.

“If you are in the immediate (vicinity of) a DIME weapon, it’s like your legs get torn off. It’s an enormous pressure wave and there is no shrapnel,” he explained.

Mr Gilbert also accused Israel of having used the weapon in the 2006 Lebanon war and previously in Gaza, and referred to studies showing wounds from the explosive could cause lethal forms of cancer within just four to six months.

“Israel should disclose what weapons they use and the international community should make an investigation,” he said, stressing the amount of damage apparently caused by the new form of explosive.

“We are not soft-skinned when it comes to war injuries, but these amputations are really extremely nasty and for many of the patients not survivable,” he said. From correspondents in Gaza

January 13, 2009 06:30am

Source: Herald Sun

Gaza: UN official reports horrific hospital scenes of casualties


In a UNICEF warehouse in Zarka, Jordan, workers review boxes of supplies for shipment to the Gaza Strip

12 January 2009 – Appalled that fighting was still continuing in Gaza despite the Security Council’s ceasefire resolution, senior United Nations officials said today they were horrified at the human costs amid reports that over 40 per cent of the nearly 900 Palestinians killed in the Israeli offensive, and almost half of the 3,860 wounded, were women and children.

“Behind those statistics that we read out every day is really profound human suffering and grave tragedy for all involved and not just for those who are killed and injured but for their families as well,” UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Director of Operations John Ging told a news conference in New York, speaking by video link from Gaza, where he had just visited the main Al Shifa hospital.

“(It) is the place of course where you see the most horrific human consequences of this conflict. Among the tragic cases that I saw were a child, six years of age, little or no brain activity, people don’t have much hope for her survival; multiple amputee – another little girl; and a pregnant woman who’d lost a leg,” he said, as the Israeli offensive went into its 17th day with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.

“The hospital is really full of patients whose lives have been in many instances really destroyed, and they’re alive.”

Read moreGaza: UN official reports horrific hospital scenes of casualties

Israel Will Attack Gaza Until Hamas Can No Longer Fire Rockets, Livni Says


The rubble of the al-Fadilah mosque sits in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, after it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike on Jan. 11, 2009. Photographer: Khaled Hasan/Bloomberg News

Jan. 12 (Bloomberg) — Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israeli troops will keep on fighting in the Gaza Strip until Hamas rockets no longer pose a threat as representatives of the militant Islamic group headed to Cairo for more cease-fire talks.

Israel’s priority isn’t to reach a cease-fire with Hamas even though the United Nations Security Council called for an immediate truce. Instead, the goal is to reach new security arrangements with Egypt to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza, Livni said.

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“I don’t need Hamas to sign on a piece of paper,” Livni said in discussing efforts to broker a truce during an interview with Army Radio. What’s more important, she said, is that when Palestinians fire rockets into Israel, “they know they will be hurt.”

Read moreIsrael Will Attack Gaza Until Hamas Can No Longer Fire Rockets, Livni Says

WSJ: Israel Is Committing War Crimes

By GEORGE E. BISHARAT
Mr. Bisharat is a professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Hamas’s violations are no justification for Israel’s actions.

Israel’s current assault on the Gaza Strip cannot be justified by self-defense. Rather, it involves serious violations of international law, including war crimes. Senior Israeli political and military leaders may bear personal liability for their offenses, and they could be prosecuted by an international tribunal, or by nations practicing universal jurisdiction over grave international crimes. Hamas fighters have also violated the laws of warfare, but their misdeeds do not justify Israel’s acts.

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The United Nations charter preserved the customary right of a state to retaliate against an “armed attack” from another state. The right has evolved to cover nonstate actors operating beyond the borders of the state claiming self-defense, and arguably would apply to Hamas. However, an armed attack involves serious violations of the peace. Minor border skirmishes are common, and if all were considered armed attacks, states could easily exploit them — as surrounding facts are often murky and unverifiable — to launch wars of aggression. That is exactly what Israel seems to be currently attempting.

Read moreWSJ: Israel Is Committing War Crimes

UN: One-third of Gaza dead, injured are children


Palestinian relatives of a father and four of his sons from the Khalout family who were killed in an Israeli army operation, react in the family house during their funeral in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009. The U.N. halted deliveries to the Gaza Strip on Thursday after gunfire from an Israeli tank killed an aid truck driver, and the international Red Cross said it would restrict activities after one of its drivers was injured in a similar incident. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Palestinian children are dying at a heavy rate in the Israeli-Hamas fighting – about one of every three persons killed, according to Gaza statistics.

As of Thursday, 257 children were among the approximately 760 reported dead in Gaza. There were another 1,080 children among the 3,100 injured in the conflict, according to statistics from Gaza’s health ministry.

The U.N.’s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, described the numbers as “credible” and deeply disturbing. U.N officials say about half of the casualties were civilians.

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Holmes and John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, both expressed anger and regret at their decision Thursday to temporarily suspend aid shipments in the Gaza Strip because it was too risky for their aid workers.

“It’s particularly distressing and horrifying that the current casualties seem to be increasingly civilian casualties, with an increasing incidence of whole families being buried in houses which have been hit,” Holmes said.

Read moreUN: One-third of Gaza dead, injured are children

Israel shelled Gaza Palestinians after evacuating them, UN says

UN: One-third of Gaza dead, injured are children (AP)


Killing of 30 people in house full of evacuees ‘one of gravest incidents’ since Gaza operations began


The body of a girl who was found in the rubble of her destroyed house following an Israeli air strike on a house in Zeitoun Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

At least 30 people were killed in the Zeitoun district of Gaza after Israeli troops repeatedly shelled a house to which more than 100 Palestinians had been evacuated by the Israeli military, the UN said today.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said it was “one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations” against Hamas militants in Gaza by the Israeli military on 27 December.

OCHA said the incident took place on 4 January, a day after Israel began its ground offensive in Gaza.

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UN: Israel shelled house where civilians were held

According to testimonies gathered by the UN, Israeli soldiers evacuated around 110 Palestinians to a single-storey house in Zeitoun, south-east Gaza. The evacuees were instructed to stay indoors for their own safety but 24 hours later the Israeli army shelled the house with rockets. Around half the Palestinians sheltering in the house were children, OCHA said.

Read moreIsrael shelled Gaza Palestinians after evacuating them, UN says

Red Cross: Israel breaking international law, letting children starve in Gaza

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday accused Israel of delaying ambulance access to the Gaza Strip and demanded it grant safe access for Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to return to evacuate more wounded.

Relief workers said they found four starving children sitting next to their dead mothers and other corpses in a house in a part of Gaza City bombed by Israeli forces, the Red Cross said on Thursday.

“This is a shocking incident,” said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded,” Wettach said.

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(Los Angeles Times)

The agency said it believed Israel had breached international humanitarian law in the incident.

Read moreRed Cross: Israel breaking international law, letting children starve in Gaza

Israel to Weigh Truce Offer After Gaza School Attack Kills 40


A father carries his wounded daughter into the al-Shifa hospital after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, Jan. 6, 2009. Photographer: Saleh Jadallah/Bloomberg News

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) — The Israeli government will weigh the future of its military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as mounting casualties among Palestinian civilians increased pressure for a truce.

At least 40 Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces struck a school run by the United Nations in Gaza, a UN official said. Israel, which struck at least 40 more Hamas targets overnight, said it responded after its soldiers were fired at from the building.

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Obama fiddles while Gaza burns (Guardian)
Gaza killing sparks attacks on Jews across Europe (Telegraph)

The school deaths yesterday added urgency to diplomatic efforts aimed at reaching a cease-fire as the conflict entered its 12th day. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak proposed a new initiative last night and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been lobbying throughout the region for a truce, said the casualties at the school demonstrate the urgent need to stop the fighting. “Time works against us,” he said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice backed the proposal and Mubarak’s call for peace talks in Cairo, which may begin as early as today.

Read moreIsrael to Weigh Truce Offer After Gaza School Attack Kills 40

Israel hits UN school, nears major Gaza towns

GAZA CITY, Gaza – Israeli forces edged closer to Gaza’s major population centers on Tuesday and attacked new sites, including a U.N. school, claiming more civilian lives after ignoring mounting international calls for an immediate cease-fire. A Palestinian rocket attack wounded an Israeli infant.

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Gaza clashes spark ‘major crisis’ (BBC)
Israel ‘expands Gaza offensive’ (BBC)
Israel Pushes into Southern Gaza
(The Washington Post)
Death toll rises as Israel encircles Gaza City (CNN)

The United Nations said three civilians were killed in the airstrike late Monday on the courtyard of its school, where hundreds of people from a Gaza City refugee camp had sought shelter from Israel’s blistering 11-day offensive against the Hamas militant group.

“There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized,” said John Ging, the top U.N. official in Gaza.

Read moreIsrael hits UN school, nears major Gaza towns

Qatar says Israel’s Gaza offensive a “war crime”

DUBAI, Jan 4 (Reuters) – U.S. ally Qatar said on Sunday Israel’s attack on Gaza amounted to a war crime and renewed calls for an emergency summit of Arab countries.

“Our (Arab) people in Gaza are subject these days to an unjust aggression which does not differentiate between children, women and old people, and between civilians and fighters,” Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said.

“A war launched with such tools (modern weapons) at such targets (refugee camps) cannot be anything other than a war crime,”
he said in comments aired on Al Jazeera television.

Related articles:
EU and Britain call for Gaza cease-fire (CNN)
In Gaza, at least 35 Palestinians killed in Israeli ground attack (Los Angeles Times)
Israeli Forces Push Farther Into the Gaza Strip (Washington Post)
Muslim anger grows over Israeli strikes on Gaza (
AFP)

Israel’s military offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers has killed 500 Palestinians, including a growing number of civilians. Israel has accused Hamas of using civilians in the Gaza Strip as “human shields”, saying the Islamist group has fired rockets at Israeli towns from densely populated areas.

Read moreQatar says Israel’s Gaza offensive a “war crime”

Ron Paul: ‘The Palestinians Are Virtually In Like A Concentration Camp’

Dr. Paul discusses the invasion of Gaza on January 3, 2009 and its implications for America.

Source: YouTube

Israeli Troops Launch Ground Invasion

“I am greatly surprised by, and I reject, the words of the Israeli foreign minister, who asks: ‘Is there a humanitarian crisis? There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,'” he said. “This is an astonishing thing, that after more than 450 victims and more than 2,000 injured… then it is said there is no humanitarian crisis.

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Hungry Gazans Resort to Animal Feed as U.N. Blasts Israel
BBC: Gazans despair over blockade
U.N. calls for an immediate halt to all violence in Gaza



Israeli troops enter Gaza. Screengrab courtesy of Sky News

Israeli tanks and troops have launched a ground invasion to reoccupy parts of the northern Gaza strip as the military escalated its assault on the Palestinian enclave in an attempt to curb Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

With Israel’s chief military spokesman warning that the attack would take “many long days”, the Israeli Cabinet also authorised the call of thousands more reservists. As Israeli tanks and infantry crossed into northern Gaza reports began to emerge of fighting between Hamas and Israeli troops. The invasion comes after Hamas warned Israeli forces entering Gaza faced a “black destiny” and vowed that they would be defeated.

Palestinian witnesses said a small column of military vehicles moved across the border firing tracer bullets after dark. The Israeli army said the assault is intended to take control of territory in the north of the Gaza strip from where Hamas fires its rockets.

Read moreIsraeli Troops Launch Ground Invasion

Protests against Gaza attack sweep across the world


The streets in Jakarta were filled with protesters today (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty)

From Jakarta to London, a wave of protest erupted across the world today against Israel’s assault on Gaza.

More than 10,000 marched through the Indonesian capital and Israeli flags were burnt and trampled upon in Asia as the Palestinian death toll in the offensive rose above 430, including three young brothers killed this morning.

Thirty new Israeli raids struck the Gaza Strip today as thousands of Hamas supporters attended the funeral of Nizar Rayan, the most senior Hamas victim of the offensive. He was killed with his four wives and 11 of his children in another Israeli raid yesterday.

Hamas leaders responded by calling for a “Day of Wrath” to avenge the deaths as the party warned that it may resume suicide attacks against Israel for the first time since January 2005.

Read moreProtests against Gaza attack sweep across the world