Jan 17, 2010
weeks ago, almost 2,000 internationals came to Egypt and Gaza in a
massive show of civil society support for the people of Gaza. 1,362
persons representing 44 countries in the Gaza Freedom March and over
500 persons with the Viva Palestina Convoy let the people of Gaza know
of their concern for the tragic consequences of the actions of their
governments in support of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.
two weeks later, with the apparent approval of governments (United
States, European Community and Canada) who support the quarantine,
blockade and siege of Gaza, Israel and Egypt have tightened the squeeze
to wring the lifeblood out of the people of Gaza.
US Military Make Underground Wall Construction Visit
United States government continues to assist Egypt with the
installation of the underground wall to cut off the tunnels under the
border of Gaza and Egypt. According to Reuters, on
January 14, 2010, U.S. three military personnel from the U.S. embassy
in Cairo visited Rafah to follow up on the building of the barrier. According to security sources in Rafah, visits by U.S. military have been taking place monthly.
a press conference this week in Washington, U.S. State Department
spokesman Gordon Duguid said, "What we'd like to see is for Hamas to
stop using the border crossings as methods for smuggling in weapons and
let's get the weapons smuggling stopped." Duguid did not address the
use of the tunnels to get life-saving food and materials prohibited by
Deadliest Week for Gaza Strip since last year's Israeli Attack on Gaza
week, January 6-12, 2010, was the deadliest week for the Gaza Strip in
the past year since the 18 January 2009 ceasefire that ended Israel's
"Cast Lead" offensive.
According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
Israeli air force bombing attacks killed seven Palestinians in Gaza,
including three civilians. The attacks came in response to an increase
in the number of mortar shells and rockets fired by Palestinian
factions from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel that caused no
injuries or property damage.
the ceasefire a year ago, a total of 84 Palestinians, including at
least 27 civilians, and one Israeli (a soldier) have been killed and
another 160 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been injured in Gaza
and southern Israel.
8 January, US aircraft flown by Israeli air force personnel targeted
and bombed tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, killing three
Palestinians, including a 15 year-old boy, and wounding another two.
Another Palestinian sustained injuries in a separate airstrike incident
two other incidents, on 6 and 10 January, Israeli aircrafts targeted
and killed four Palestinian militants, three of whom were killed in one
airstrike. Five additional airstrikes, resulting in no casualties, were
carried out during the week. Also this week, on four separate occasions,
Israeli forces drove tanks into Gaza and conducted land-leveling
Israelis Increase Border Zone into Gaza
7 January, the Israeli air force dropped leaflets into areas next to
the border fence with Gaza, warning residents to keep a distance of at
least 300 meters from the border with Israel and to avoid cooperating
with "smugglers" in the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. Israelis
have doubled the "buffer zone" along the border from 150 meters to 300
meters. Israeli forces have opened "warning" fire at farmers as far as 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) from the border.
parallel ban for Gaza fishermen is applied to sea areas beyond three
nautical miles from the coast, though often this distance is less in
practice. This week, in nine separate incidents, Israeli naval forces
opened "warning" fire at Palestinian fishing boats along Gaza's coast,
forcing them to return to shore.
this week, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that
on 6 and 9 January, unknown persons detonated bombs in a pharmacy and
two coffee shops in Gaza City; no injuries were sustained, but damages
to property were reported.
Two Killed in January in Tunnels and Seven Youth Burned in Tunnel Fire
In December, 2009, three Palestinians were killed after a tunnel collapsed beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. The three were reported missing, and later found by rescue workers. In January, 2010, two
Palestinians died in two separate incidents involving the collapse of a
tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border while they were working inside it. At least 70 people have died and 123 others have been injured in the
tunnels since the end of the "Cast Lead" Israeli attack on Gaza.
January 16, seven Palestinians from Gaza were burned in a fire that
broke out in one of the tunnels connected the border towns of Rafah,
Gaza and Rafah, Egypt. The seven burned tunnel workers were treated at
An-Nasser and Ash-Shifa hospitals in Gaza City.
Digging tunnels and working in them is one of the few jobs available for Palestinian youth in Gaza. Tunnel workers reportedly earn $25 per day, a huge sum in the current Palestinian economy. However, they are subjected to daily bombings by US F-16 aircraft flown by the Israeli Air Force, tunnel collapses and fires.
in the tunnels are frequent. According to the Palestinian human rights
organization Al-Mezan, 120 people have been killed working in the
tunnel trade in the past three years.
to OCHA, no commercial gasoline or diesel fuel entered Gaza via Kerem
Shalom during last week. Egyptian gasoline and diesel, which is
transferred through the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, remains
available on the open market, with nearly 100,000 liters of diesel and
100,000 liters of gasoline transferred into Gaza per day.
Israeli Tanks Shell Beit Hanoun, Gaza
tanks operating near the northern Gaza border near Beit Hanoun targeted
civilian properties with heavy artillery fire on January 15, 2010. Tank shells hit civilian homes on the outskirts of the town, causing material damages but no injuries.
Egypt Builds Anchorage for Border Patrol Boats
Egypt is continuing fortification of its borders with Gaza, this time by sea. According to Reuters, Egypt is constructing a port for patrol boats that will block sea routes into Gaza for merchandise, food and weapons.
border patrol boats that will be used to keep Palestinian fishing boats
in Gazan coastal waters. Egypt has said it believes the boats are being
used to carry out smuggling operations, though there have never been
reports of such incidents. "It is to secure the area. It will be used
to direct fishing boats in the area to ensure they do not cross the
Israeli sea border and risk getting fired at," the security sources
As Egypt completes the 14 kilometer underground
wall along the Rafah border, Egyptian surveillance of the Mediterranean
Sea increases the strangling of Gaza. The tunnels are the only way Gazans can bring thousands of goods into the Strip. Israel has
maintained a tight blockade of the area, letting in only 36 types of goods for the past three years.
Future Aid Missions Must be Conducted through the Egyptian Red Crescent
6 January, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrators, protesting Egypt's
delay in allowing the aid convoy "Viva Palestina")into Gaza, as well as
the Egyptian plans to build the underground steel wall, clashed with
Egyptian forces at the Gaza-Egypt border. As a result, an Egyptian
soldier was shot dead and 13 Palestinians were injuries, including six
who suffered gunshot wounds. Eventually, the convoy entered on the same
day, carrying food and medical supplies. [Here]
in response to the clashes, Egypt introduced a new mechanism, through
which future aid convoys into Gaza are brought into Gaza by the
Egyptian Red Crescent.
No internationals allowed into Gaza
the month of December, no internationals were allowed into Gaza through
the Rafah crossing, until 92 persons from the Gaza Freedom March were
allowed in for 48 hours on December 30. During January, only the Viva Palestina convoy personnel were allow in for 24 hours. Many
international persons have letters of invitation from non-governmental
organizations for them to assist the organizations in a variety of
ways. Only one other international has been allowed into Gaza in
January. Egypt has denied the requests for all other internationals.
The ability of citizens of the world to assist Gaza when their governments will not tragically is being strangled also.
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