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Is There A Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza?

January 6, 2009

Who should a member of the world community believe when it comes to the news out of Gaza?  Is there a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, or not?

The news accounts paint different pictures.

First we have the view from Israel.

Israeli leaders have maintained that there is no humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians living in the densely populated territory, and that they have been keeping border crossings open and are delivering vital supplies.Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni said in Paris Saturday that Israel had been careful to protect civilians and there was no need for a humanitarian truce, since there was no humanitarian crisis.


The view of doctors in Gaza paint a slightly different view.

Her father, Moussa El-Haddad, is a physician who volunteered Monday at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital. On Sunday, a Norwegian doctor at Shifa told reporters that the facility was overwhelmed with so many “patients lying everywhere” that they were dying before doctors had a chance to get to them.

And then there is this.

John Holmes, the U.N. humanitarian chief, told reporters Monday that officials believed as many as 25 per cent of the 548 persons killed in the fighting were civilians.

Additionally, Gaza’s health system has turned “increasingly precarious,” having to cope up with more than 2,500 injured persons. Health, energy and water infrastructure in the coastal territory, home to 1.5 million persons, were already verge of collapse before the fighting broke out.

“This is, in our view, a humanitarian crisis,” Holmes said. “It’s very hard for me to see any other way you could describe it, given the conditions in which the population are living.” He raised fears that cluster munitions are being used, and said that it was “a fair presumption” that most of the civilians killed were women and children.

He also said that the situation would deteriorate as strip was suffering from acute shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies.

Should a person believe a doctor and a U.N. worker who are seeing the carnage of the war in Gaza, or the Israeli government that is blasting the city and people to pieces?







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