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Red Cross says Gazans blocked from recovering

Red Cross says Gazans blocked from recovering

The international Red Cross said Monday that Gazans have been unable to recover from Israel's military operation of six months ago and are sliding ever deeper into despair.
Israeli control of border crossings is stopping reconstruction and the shipment of medical and other supplies to Gaza, said the International Committee of the Red Cross in an unusually hard-hitting report for the neutral agency. Making matters worse, the border crossing into Egypt is rarely open.
The situation for people inside Gaza is being worsened by differences between the Hamas leadership in the territory and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the ICRC said.
Israel said the ICRC should have put the blame more squarely on Hamas for the troubles of Gazans.
"The situation in Gaza is indeed very difficult," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "But by stating the obvious, without even shyly referring to the real causes of the Gazans' plight _ namely, the brutal takeover by Hamas and its declared war against Israel _ the Red Cross does a very poor service to truth and justice."
The ICRC report said Gazan civilians whose homes were destroyed during the conflict are unable to recover.
"Six months after Israel launched its three-week military operation in Gaza on 27 December 2008, Gazans still cannot rebuild their lives," it said.
The ICRC report said daily rocket attacks from Gaza put thousands of Israelis at risk in the southern part of the Jewish state, but during the 22 days of Israeli military operations, nowhere in Gaza was safe for civilians.
"Many people in Gaza lost a child, a parent, another relative or a friend," it said. "Israel's military operation left thousands of homes partly or totally destroyed. Whole neighborhoods were turned into rubble. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals and fire and ambulance stations were damaged by shelling."
Many children now suffer deep psychological problems, the ICRC said. Seriously ill people are unable to get the care they need because of travel restrictions or a lack of medical supplies.
Limits on imports have made it impossible to repair or replace many of the thousands of homes that were damaged or destroyed, it said.
Water and sanitation services could be restored somewhat with emergency repairs after the military operation.
But, it added, "every day, 69 million liters of partially treated or completely untreated sewage _ the equivalent of 28 Olympic-size swimming pools _ are pumped directly into the Mediterranean because they cannot be treated," it said.
Water supplies and electricity are frequently cut off to tens of thousands of people, the report added.
Palmor said the report had a "scandalous" feature in failing to refer to Sgt. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas-linked Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip.
"An Israeli hostage has been detained in Gaza for the last three years in total isolation, in breach of the most elementary human rights," said Palmor. "And the Red Cross has not done anything to see this captured serviceman."
Florian Westphal, spokesman for the ICRC at its Geneva headquarters, said the agency had asked the highest levels of Hamas for regular access to Shalit repeatedly since he had been captured, but had never been allowed to see him.
"It would certainly not be correct to say the ICRC hasn't done what is in its powers to do," Westphal said.


Updated : 2021-03-06 01:56 GMT+08:00