Analysis of the humanitarian crisis, Israel’s responsibility, the US role in the attacks, aftermath, and peace process.

The AFP reports a final casualty toll from medics in Gaza as:

  • 1,330 people dead, over half of them civilians;
  • 437 of those civililans children;
  • 5,450 wounded including 1,890 children.

al Jazeera – “Assessing the Aftermath in Gaza” – 22 Jan 09 (4:52):

BBC News reports on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza:

Aid agencies are battling to meet the urgent needs of tens and thousands of displaced, homeless and injured people in Gaza, as well as to get damaged water, power and sewage infrastructure back even to their ailing pre-war levels.

That stage alone will cost “hundreds of millions” of dollars, while long term reconstruction will run into “billions,” the UN has said.

Two separate Palestinian surveys have put the cost of the damage just under $2bn.

One said it would take three to five years to rebuild even under normal conditions – never mind with the continued Israeli blockade which stops all but humanitarian basics entering the strip.

FOOD

Even before the Israeli assault, aid agencies were warning of malnutrition in Gaza, as the aid-reliant population struggled to afford and access dairy, meat and fresh vegetable products to supplement the bread, rice and oil that form the backbone of humanitarian aid.

Days after the ceasefire, the UN said there was an “acute shortage” of bread, as mills and bakeries lacked wheat flour and cooking gas.

A survey by Care International found that 89% of families had received no humanitarian assistance, 84% of Gazans said they faced problems accessing food, and 50% said food was their most urgent need.

UN food agency the World Food Programme (WFP) says the price of chicken increased 23% percent; the price of wheat flour by 45%; the price of peppers by 100% and the price of tomatoes by 500%.

WATER AND SANITATION

Before the Israeli operation, Gaza’s water and sewage system was already in dire need of maintenance and spare parts.

The fighting damaged water wells and pipes, and led to shortages in the fuel that powers them, leaving half a million Gazans without running water. Five days after the ceasefire, 400,000 Gazans were still without water.

Officials have confirmed that all two million litres of wastewater at Gaza City’s treatment plant, bombed on 10 January, leaked into surrounding agricultural land.

A pump that sends sewage from Beit Hanoun to the Beit Lahia wastewater treatment plant was also damaged, leaving sewage flowing onto the streets.

FUEL AND ELECTRICITY

At the height of the crisis, two-thirds of Gazans were without power. The strip’s only power plant shut down on 30 December because of lack of fuel, and damage to power lines from Israel and Egypt, and to transformers and the distribution grid….

On 21 January, Gaza’s power utility said 40% of the population were still without power, while 60% were receiving intermittent supply.

Cooking gas has been in short supply for months. Small amounts began entering Gaza in the days after the ceasefire – by 22 Jan, enough to cover about 10% of the estimated weekly need had arrived.

MEDICAL FACILITIES

Eight hospitals and 26 primary health care clinics were damaged during the fighting, according to the World Health Organisation.

A few days after the ceasefire, two of the hospitals and several of the clinics remained unable to function.

The World Health Organization says Gaza’s hospitals were “completely overwhelmed” during the Israel assault, with only a total of 2,000 hospital beds in Gaza, but more than 5,000 people injured.

Hospitals suffered shortages of basic supplies – even when these were able to enter the strip, security problems hampered efforts to get them to where they were needed.

Medical facilities were also hit hard by power cuts and fuel shortages, being forced to rely on back-up generators and fuel for them delivered by Unrwa, with Israeli coordination.

More than 50% of people surveyed by Care International said they faced difficulties accessing basic medicines such as antibiotics and drugs for diabetes, and heart disease – 60% of them said their health had worsened as a result….

SHELTER

Some 55,000 people were sheltering in UN-run schools at the height of the fighting, but many thousands more moved to stay with friends and relatives in different areas.

More than half of the people surveyed by Care International were hosting displaced people in their homes.

Five days after the ceasefire, 35,000 of those people were still staying in shelters, the UN said.

Gazan officials have estimated some 4,000 residential and government buildings were severely damaged and another 20,000 destroyed.

An initial survey by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics said 4,100 homes were totally destroyed and 17,000 others damaged during the conflict.

About 1,500 factories and workshops, 20 mosques, 31 security installations and 10 water or sewage pipes were also damaged, it said.

Israel PM Ehud Olmert says, “I believe the war created levers that could hasten Gilad Schalit’s return home,” speaking of the detained Israeli Sgt., but speaking nothing of releasing non-combatants Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, sons of Hamas activist Ali Muamar, kidnapped by Israel days before Sgt. Shalit’s kidnapping in retaliation. Hamas has up’d its demand, but has vowed to “keep Sgt. Shalit alive.”

(And Israel still chooses to ignore the ‘roots of conflict’ between Palestinians and Israel, namely illegal Israeli occupation and settlements strategically placed to deprive Palestinians of basic living resources in violation of UN resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and international humanitarian law (IHL), etc.)

What is reasonably unacceptable by Israel Foreign Minister, and Kadima candidate for prime minister in the 10 Feb. elections, Tzipi Livni is the release of 1,400 detained by Israel (of which 450 are senior militants) — unconditionally outside of Sgt. Shalit’s release. What shouldn’t be ignored is the consensus in Israel’s government and of its people to approve this exchange, though. The detainment of the 950 non-combatants Hamas demands is still inexcusable.

The terrorists of Hamas should be investigated fully upon Sgt. Shalit’s return for their treatment of the man while in Hamas custody against his will (IDF officer or not, he is a man) and be held responsible for its terror upon him and family to whom our prayers go out (1:12):

The TerrorState of Israel is also responsible for their damages and under IHL (and basic tenets of any contractual theory that seeks to, at least, kiss the cheek of legitimacy) must be held liable for these damages and the BBC addresses that Israel has started to re-open Gaza borders in accordance with Hamas demands for the release of Sgt. Shalit to allow for aid for which the UN is raising emergency funding.

Democracy Now! – “Phyllis Bennis on International Law and the Recent Assault on Gaza” – 22 Jan 09 (6:08):

On this disUnited States of unAmerican Terror role in Israel’s War on Gaza, that US Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) calls a ‘holiday war against Gaza’ for Israel’s timing, Mr. Kucinich addresses US responsibility (1:15):

Democracy Now! – “Ex-Carter Admin Official: Israel Ignored Hamas Offer Days Before Attacking Gaza; Violated Ceasefire with Attacks, Blockade” – 22 Jan 09 (15:12):

Robert Pastor is a senior adviser to the Carter Center and a professor at American University who met with exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus on Dec. 14, along with former President Jimmy Carter. Pastor says Meshaal indicated Hamas was willing to go back to the ceasefire if Israel would lift the siege on Gaza. He says he passed along the statement to the Israeli military, but he never heard back. Two weeks later, Israel launched its three-week assault that left more than 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, at least a third children, dead.

Part One (10:24):

Part Two (4:48):

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