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Israeli military operation advancing towards PMRS head office in Gaza

Posted on: Thursday, January 15, 2009

Keywords: Palestine, Israel, Peace Building, Middle East, Emergency Relief, Gaza

An update from our sister organization in Gaza, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS):

Ramallah, 15/01/09: Today, the Israeli military operation in Gaza has entered its twentieth day. It is the heaviest and most destructive day thus far and seriously complicates the humanitarian operation. This morning, Israeli ground forces extended their operation to Gaza City, where they struck the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Al-Quds hospital, and a media compound hosting various news agencies, including Reuters and NBC. Currently, the PMRS office is in imminent danger, as the Israeli soldiers are fast approaching.  

The Israeli military operation and bombardment is now a mere 400 meters away from the PMRS head office in Gaza, which directly threatens the lives of PMRS teams and jeopardizes their efforts to secure emergency response to constantly growing numbers of innocent Palestinians, among whom women and children, who are the targets of incessant attacks from the air, the sea and the land. PMRS teams might now be forced to look for alternatives or to move to safer places to continue their work, thereby leaving behind people in life threatening situations without life-saving medical help.

The compound of the UNWRA head office was targeted during the last few hours. The main building was hit and is still on fire at the time of writing. UNWRA store houses holding desperately needed and scarcely available fuel trucks and aid supplies are immediately at risk. The compound was reportedly hit by three white phosphorous shells. The compound has been a place of refuge for hundreds of Palestinians fleeing the violence and dangers resulting from the Israeli offensive. Three people have known to be injured. However, it is not clear yet if any people remained inside the burning building.

UNWRA, which is currently the most important humanitarian organisation with presence in Gaza, is now forced to completely call to a halt its operation in the Strip. This will have huge and adverse impacts on the level of human suffering. Preventing humanitarian organisations from executing their job in conflict situations is in blunt violation with the Fourth Geneva Convention, as is the targeting of civilians. Israel is not respecting either one. As of today, the death toll is rapidly increasing, reaching 1013 (including 322 children and 85 women), and more than 4,650 (of whom around 50% are children (1,600) and women (678)) are severely injured.

PMRS is highly concerned about Israel's impunity. Israel is not respecting International humanitarian law and human rights conventions that are so important for human security. This week, Israel discarded the UN Security Council Resolution calling for a ceasefire, thereby showing disrespect for all international morals and principles so carefully established. Today, Israel directly attacks the United Nations. Israel attacks the world, why does the world still remain so silent and afraid to confront Israel with the legal and political consequences of its criminal acts?  

To view this statement on the PMRS website, go here.

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