Gaza Update: Some Foreign Nationals Allowed to Flee, Leaving Family Behind
Update: News just coming in:
The Israel Defense Forces Saturday launched an air strike on a mosque in northern Gaza, killing 11 people and wounding 50 others, a Palestinian source told Xinhua.
On Friday, Israel allowed a few hundred Gaza residents who hold foreign passports to leave the Gaza Strip. They brought with them reports of the conditions currently faced by those left behind:
The evacuees told of crippling shortages of water, electricity and medicine, echoing a U.N. warning of a deepening humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip in the seven-day-old Israeli campaign.
The U.N. estimates at least a quarter of the 400 Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes on Hamas militants were civilians.
Jawaher Hajji, a 14-year-old U.S. citizen who was allowed to cross into Israel, said her uncle was one of them — killed while trying to pick up some medicine for her cancer-stricken father. She said her father later died of his illness.
"They are supposed to destroy just the Hamas, but people in their homes are dying too," Hajji, who has relatives in Virginia, said at the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel.
The women, dragging confused, frightened children, had to leave behind Palestinian husbands and fathers denied permission to leave by Israel. Anastasia Gabir, 33, a pregnant mother wearing an Islamic head scarf and towing a small daughter, said: “It has been horribly hard the past week. They bombed near our house, hitting another house and a police station. The kids were very scared.” Her daughter screamed as an Israeli artillery unit fired a salvo of shells into Gaza.
Karolina Katba, 15, was leaving with her mother and sister to stay with relatives in Volgograd. She was worried about her father, a Palestinian pharmacist in Gaza City. “I didn’t say goodbye to him because I was crying too much,” she said.
As of midnight PST, 425 Palestinians had been killed, and approximately 2,000 wounded.
One missile killed three Palestinian children aged between eight and 12 as they played on a street near the town of Khan Yunis. One was decapitated.
Madth Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Gaza’s Shifa hospital who could not save a boy who had both feet blown off said: "This is a murder. This is a child."
Israel continues to block access to Gaza by international journalists. Perhaps Israel is afraid that if they actually saw and reported on conditions in Gaza, their reports might be similar to those of Amira Haas from Ha’aretz. Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher points to one of her recent columns:
This is not the time to speak of proportional responses, not even of the polls that promise a greater share of Knesset seats to the mission’s architects. This is, however, the time to speak of the voters’ belief the operation will succeed, that the strikes are precise and the targets justified.
Take, for example, Imad Aqel Mosque in Jabalya refugee camp, bombed and strafed shortly before midnight on Sunday. These are the names of the glorious military victory we achieved there – Jawaher, age 4; Dina, age 8; Sahar, age 12; Ikram, age 14; and Tahrir, age 17, all sisters of the Ba’lousha family, all killed in a "precise" strike on the mosque. Another three sisters, a 2-year-old brother and their parents were injured. Twenty-four neighbors were wounded and five homes and three stores destroyed. This part of the military victory did not open our television or radio news broadcasts yesterday morning, nor did they appear on many Israeli news Web sites.
This is the time to speak about the detailed maps in the hands of IDF commanders, and about the Shin Bet advisers who know the exact distance between the mosque and nearby homes. This is the time to discuss the drone planes and the hot air balloons fitted with advanced cameras floating over the Strip day and night, filming everything.
This is the time to rely on legal advisers studying the operation to find the right phrasing to justify "collateral damage." Time to praise Foreign Ministry spokespeople who in their polished language, with their elegant South African or charmant Parisien accents, say it is the fault of Hamas, which uses neighborhood mosques for its own purposes.