GAZA SLAUGHTER!

PICT; Israeli banality as a guide in a shop near you…

Israel shells hospital, UN compound (when will UN fight back in self-defence?)

UN issues warning on Gaza children 14 Jan 09

Israeli forces have shelled a hospital and UN compound as they continue to pound Gaza City while pushing deeper into densely-populated neighbourhoods.

Thousands of fear-stricken Gazans fled the advancing Israeli trooops on Thursday, but observers said there was nowhere safe for them to take refuge in the territory that is under relentless Israeli attack.

Officials said that a building of the UN relief agency in Gaza had been hit by Israeli shells and set ablaze.

“They are phosphorus fires so they are extremely difficult to put out because if you put water on it, it will just generate toxic fumes and do nothing to stop the burning,” John Ging, the director of UN relief operations, said.

“This is going to burn down the entire warehouse … thousands and thousands of tonnes of food, medical supplies and other emergency assistance are there.”

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said he was “outraged” by the attack on the UN compound and demanded an explanation as he met Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Intense shelling

About 500 people were inside the hospital in Tal al-Hawa when it came under attack. Many had taken shelter in the hope of escaping the onslaught.

“The last hit was on the Red Crescent’s operations building and destroyed the pharmacy. There’s a hole in the roof and a fire is still burning,” Sharon Locke, a hospital volunteer, told Al Jazeera.

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A building housing a number of international media organisations and several housing blocks were also reportedly hit on Thursday.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said that the Israeli shelling was the closest to the centre of the city that it had been during the Israeli offensive.

“There have, no doubt, been a series of air strikes that have destroyed so many of the buildings here in the heart of Gaza City, but this is the first time we have seen this kind of shelling,” he said.

“We are getting some very horrific accounts from people trapped in buildings unable to leave.”

Mays al-Khatib, a Gaza resident, was speaking to Al Jazeera on the telephone when her building came under attack.

“The shelling is continuous since last night, we are here in this place, we are around 500 families here under bombardment,” she was narrating, when the telephone went dead.

Al Jazeera sources said she survived, though her building collapsed.

Israel also hit smuggling tunnels from Egypt into the southern Rafah area of Gaza.

“They used bombs that went deep into the tunnels and shook the whole Rafah refugee camp. The land trembled beneath our feet,” Bassam Abdallah, a local Palestinian cameraman, said.

One of Israel’s stated objectives is to stop the smuggling of weapons across the border to Palestinian fighters.

The tunnels are also used to bring in basic supplies for the territory which has been suffering under an Israeli blockade.

At least 1,054 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its assault on the Gaza Strip on December 27, medics said.

More than 4,800 people have been injured in the violence.

‘Unbearable’ toll

Ban told a news conference in Tel Aviv that the death toll was “unbearable”.

“The time has come for the violence to stop and for us to change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza”

Ban Ki-moon,
UN secretary-general
“The time has come for the violence to stop and for us to change fundamentally the dynamics in Gaza and to pursue again the peace talks for a two-state solution which is the only road for lasting security for Israel,” he said.

Thirteen Israelis have been killed in the conflict, including three civilians.

However, the two sides appeared to be inching closer towards a ceasefire deal on Thursday.

Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli envoy, was expected to meet Egyptian mediators in Cairo after a Hamas delegation gave its view on the proposed agreement.

Meanwhile, a Greek-flagged vessel trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip with medical aid for the Palestinians was turned back to Cyprus by an Israeli naval vessel.

Huwaida Arraf, an organiser with the US-based Free Gaza Movement, said that the boat was intercepted about 100 miles northeast of Gaza.

“They got very close and they threatened that if we continued they would open fire on us,” she told the Reuters news agency.

“They surrounded us with about four warships making it very difficult to navigate. They said they would use all means to keep us out of Gaza.”

REF: AL JAZEERA

UN Enquiry to Israeli War Crimes in Gaza – 257 Palestinians Children Killed so far

Perspective; Freedom Theater

Fight Israel; Footballer shows his support!!

A Muslim footballer was fined by the Spanish Football Federation Friday for uncovering a T-shirt with the word ‘Palestine’ written on it in several languages after he scored a goal in the Spanish Cup.

Sevilla’s Malian international striker Frederic Kanoute was reprimanded for lifting his shirt in what he said he had to do as an act of support for Palestinians in Gaza where an Israeli assault has claimed at least 800 lives since it began on Dec. 27.

Kanoute is a French born Muslim

“It was something that I felt that I should do. Everyone should feel a bit responsible when there is such a big injustice. I am 100 percent responsible for what I did and I don’t care about the sanction,” he told the television station Telecinco on Thursday.

Federation rules prevent players from displaying any sort of publicity or slogan during matches. The federation did not reveal the amount of the fine but Spanish media said it was between €2,000 and 3,000 ($2,700 and 4,000).

The federation said it was not penalizing the political nature of the message but the fact that the player had displayed a message in violation of the rules. The incident happened after he scored a goal during his team’s 2-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna in the Spanish Cup.

Ref: Al Arabiya

Open Letter to Israeli Soldiers: Jews call on Israeli soldiers to stop War Crimes

Israel Attacks Gaza, Silence from Mainstream Media about Israeli Violations of International Law

Israelis’ shot at fleeing Gazans!

Claims have been received by the BBC and an Israeli human rights group that Israeli troops have fired on Gaza residents trying to escape the conflict area. Israel has strongly denied the allegations.

BBC journalists in Gaza and Israel have compiled detailed accounts of the claims.

Some Palestinian civilians in Gaza say Israeli forces shot at them as they tried to leave their homes – in some cases bearing white flags.

One testimony heard by the BBC and human rights group B’tselem describes Israeli forces shooting a woman in the head after she stepped out of her house carrying a piece of white cloth, in response to an Israeli loudhailer announcement.

The Israeli military has dismissed the report as “without foundation”.

The BBC has spoken to members of another family who say they are trapped in their home by fighting and have been shot at when they tried to leave to replenish dwindling water and food supplies, even during the three-hour humanitarian lull.

Israel is denying access to Gaza for international journalists and human rights monitors, so it is not possible to verify the accounts.

B’tselem said it had been unable to corroborate the testimony it had received, but felt it should be made public.

‘Home destroyed’

Munir Shafik al-Najar, of Khouza village in the south-east of the Gaza Strip, told B’tselem and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of a series of events on Monday which he said left four members of his extended family dead.

He told the BBC that some 75 members of his extended family had ended up huddled in a house, surrounded by Israeli forces, after troops shelled the area and destroyed his brother’s home on Sunday night.

On Monday morning, he said the family heard an announcement over a loudspeaker.

“The Israeli army was saying: ‘This is the Israeli Defence Forces, we are asking all the people to leave their homes and go to the school. Ladies first, then men.’

“We decided to send the women first, two by two,” he said.

First to step outside was the wife of his cousin, Rawhiya al-Najar, 48.

“The army was about 15 metres (50 feet) away from the house or less. They shot her in the head,” he said.

The woman’s daughter was shot in the thigh but crawled back inside the house, he said.

When we were walking, with the women first, they saw soldiers and they started to shout to them, to tell them ‘we have children’. They started to shoot us. My aunt was killed.
Riad Zaki al-Najar

For several hours, the family telephoned the Red Crescent, human rights organisations and Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah in the hope of co-ordinating safe passage to evacuate people injured in the earlier shelling, Mr Najar said.

Several hours later, no help had arrived.

“We decided that’s it, we’re going to die, we are [going] to run and all die at once,” he said.

“When we did that they started shooting with heavy ammunition from a machine gun on top of a tank,” he said.

All the adults carried white flags, he said, adding that he was still grasping a piece of white cloth as he spoke over the telephone a day later.

Three of his relatives, Muhammad Salman al-Najar, 54, Ahmad Jum’a al-Najar, 27, and Khalil Hamdan al-Najar, 80, were killed, he said.

The troops “knew this man was an old man,” he said, because they were so close.

B’tselem says it is working to corroborate the account.

Similar account

A second family member, Riad Zaki al-Najar, gave the BBC a similar account by telephone.

“They told us you all have to go to the centre of the town, where the school is.

“We put the women first, and we put our children on our shoulders, with white bandanas on their heads.

“When we were walking, with the women first, they saw soldiers and they started to shout to them, to tell them ‘we have children, we have children’. They started to shoot us. My aunt was killed with a bullet in her head.”

Israeli troops in Gaza
Israel says it tries to protect civilians and blames Hamas for endangering them

The BBC also spoke to Marwan Abu Rida, a paramedic with the Palestinian Red Crescent, who says he was called to the site at 0810 local time (0610 GMT).

But he says he came under fire as he tried to reach it, and was trapped in a house nearby until 2000 (1800 GMT) because of Israeli shooting.

He said that when he reached the location he found the dead woman, Rawhiya, who appeared to have been shot in the head, as well as the younger woman who was injured.

In a written response to the incident, the Israeli military said: “An initial inquiry into the allegation raised by B’tselem has concluded that the claims are without foundation.

“The IDF goes to great lengths to avoid harming Palestinians uninvolved in combat and reiterates that it is Hamas that chooses to launch its attacks against Israeli towns from within civilian areas.”

‘Fired upon’

The account bears similarities to another received by B’tselem, from Yusef Abu Hajaj, a resident of Juhar al-Dik, south of Gaza City.

He told B’tselem his mother and sister were shot as they tried to flee their home bearing a white banner, in a group of people including small children.

He said an Israeli tank had fired at their house, and they had heard the Israeli military was urging civilians to leave their homes, so had tried to flee.

The ICRC has repeatedly stressed that it is having difficulty reaching families stranded by the fighting, often including injured people and dead bodies.

Its Gaza spokesman, Iyad Nasser, said ambulance crews were struggling to respond to “tens” of calls from areas they still had not gained sufficient access to.

The head of one such family, Daoud Shtewi, told the BBC by telephone that he and 35 members of his family had been trapped in their home, surrounded by Israeli forces, in Zeitoun, a south-eastern suburb of Gaza City, for 10 days.

If you look from the soldiers’ perspective it’s exceptionally difficult – you don’t know who’s behind that door
IDF spokesman Jacob Dallal

“We can’t even look through the windows because we get fired on,” Mr Shtewi said.

“We tried to get water from the neighbours because our tanks are running dry. We are also running out of food and have been without electricity for more than 12 days.

“My mother and father need medicines for high blood pressure and diabetes. We have run out.”

The area, known to house Palestinian militants, has been the scene of some of the heaviest clashes during Israel’s operation in Gaza.

It is one of several that Palestinian Red Crescent convoys have been struggling to reach.

Three-hour ceasefire

It was also the place where the ICRC said it found four small children who had waited with their dead mothers, apparently with no food or water, for four days last week.

Mr Shtewi said 17 children – aged between six weeks and 15 years, and six women, were in the house in the west of the neighbourhood.

“We have tried to leave the house during the three-hour humanitarian ceasefire, but we got shot at,” he said.

He said the family had repeatedly tried to contact the PRC.

Palestinian child injured in Israeli air strike
Aid agencies say the Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis

An ambulance driver with the PRC told the BBC he had received details of a family of 35 people in the location concerned.

But he said it was a closed military zone, that the ambulance workers had not been able to secure co-ordination with the Israeli military to reach it, and were planning to go there as soon as they could secure safe passage with the military.

Israeli military spokesman Jacob Dallal said Hamas was launching rockets from the area in question, and was using civilians’ houses – “exactly these types of homes” – to fire rockets from.

“Especially people who try to move out, those could well be – as they have repeatedly been – Hamas people trying to sneak up and fire on the soldiers. If you look from the soldiers’ perspective it’s exceptionally difficult – you don’t know who’s behind that door.”

He said that Hamas “specifically uses the lull as a time to fire”, and Israeli forces fire back if they are fired upon during that period.

And he added that the military was working with international agencies to try to facilitate safe passage for ambulances and the transport of aid amid the fighting.

Research and reporting by Hamada Abu Qammar in Gaza and Heather Sharp, Fouad Abu Ghosh and Raya el-Din in Jerusalem

Ref: BBC