There are at least 800 patients with kidney failure who need dialysis three times a week and depend on electricity for this. No fuel for the generators puts their lives at immediate risk
Health ministry officials in the Gaza Strip have warned that the serious fuel shortage for hospitals and health centres threatens the lives of hundreds of patients in the besieged enclave.
Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that the amount of fuel in stock will only be enough to keep the power on in the hospitals for between two and five days.
It would have run out in November, he added, if the ministry had not taken hurtful emergency steps to save fuel.
A grant from the UN to provide the Gaza Strip’s hospitals with fuel needed to power the generators which switch on when power cuts off 8-16 hours occur every day has run out.
Al-Qidra told Anadolu that if the fuel runs out, Gaza’s hospitals will face “a real, probably deadly, catastrophe.”
There are at least 800 patients with kidney failure who need dialysis three times a week and depend on electricity for this. No fuel for the generators puts their lives at immediate risk.
Furthermore, there are around 120 premature babies in incubators as well as nearly 100 patients in intensive care units, all of whom depend on a constant electricity supply.
Al-Qidra explained that a lack of fuel will also affect routine daily medical services, including thousands of laboratory tests, operations for hundreds of patients, and an average of 150 Caesarean births.
The Gaza Strip has 13 government hospitals and 53 health centres which require 300,000 litres of fuel every month to operate their generators.
Al-Qidra pointed out that the health ministry in Gaza has communicated with local, regional and international organisations, including the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, but has not received any response or assurances from anyone concerning the crisis.
Neither the PA nor the Ministry of Health in Ramallah replied to the request for a comment on Al-Qudra’s statements.
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Sunday handed the local authorities in Teqoa town, east of Bethlehem, a military notice threatening to take punitive measures against the residents.
According to the military notice, the Israeli army said there would be severe measures, including withdrawal of permits and financial penalties, against the families of young men who throw stones at Israeli cars and carry out acts of sabotage.
The army also threatened to carry out activities in the area to confront acts of sabotage and violence against Israeli citizens.
During their presence in the town, the IOF kidnapped a 16-year-old teenager called Oday al-Ammour from his home.
Israeli fighter jets targeted several areas in Gaza last night and today morning, causing horror among children and women
Israeli occupation government suspended funds transfers from Qatar to Palestinian employees in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israeli TV Channel 20 reported on Monday at noon.
According to the Israeli TV, the occupation government claims that freezing the payment came in response to the firing of a rocket from Gaza towards Ashkelon.
Former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “It is shameful that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu had recognised that Israel must not fund terror against itself.”
He added: “I hope that this decision is not related to the elections and that we will not see Netanyahu renew the flow of money to Hamas after April 9.”
The extremist right winger continued: “Anyway, we have to make it clear that the siege will not be facilitate before the release of our soldiers and settlers,” referring to the Israeli soldiers who are being held as prisoners of war in Gaza.
Lieberman resigned from his position as Israel’s defence minister in November following a disagreement over a recently-signed ceasefire with Gaza.
Allies have quit UNESCO after announcement in 2017, arguing it fosters anti-Israel bias
The United States and Israel have officially quit the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day.
The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the US after World War II to foster peace.
The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit, accusing the UN agency of anti-Israel bias.
The Paris-based organisation has previously criticised Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem and granted full membership to Palestine in 2011.
The US has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency.
UNESCO is best known for its work to preserve heritage, including maintaining a list of World Heritage sites, and programmes to promote education in developing countries.
The withdrawals will not greatly affect UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the US stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state.
Since then officials estimate that the US – which accounted for around 22 per cent of the total budget – has accrued $600m in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10m.
Officials say that many of the reasons the US cited for the withdrawal do not apply any more, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.
The State Department couldn’t comment because of the US government shutdown.
Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the US intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicised” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedom and promoting scientific collaboration and education.
The US could potentially seek that status during the UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.
The US has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The US rejoined in 2003.
During the offensive, Israeli occupation targeted 37 houses; 67 security and training sites; 20 workshops; 25 public and private institutions; seven mosques and three educational institutions.
What: Israel waged a three-week military offensive against the Gaza Strip, killing almost 1,400 Palestinians and wounding thousands more.
Where: The Gaza Strip
When: 27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009
On 27 December 2008, the Israeli occupation launched a massive military offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Strip had been placed under an Israeli-led siege a year earlier, subjecting the 265 square-kilometre-enclave to a land, air and sea blockade. Codenamed Operation Cast Lead, this offensive began at 11am on a Saturday morning, with Israeli Air Force jets firing on targets across the territory. Ynet reported at the time that “80 jets, warplanes and helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of targets [during] the initial strike.” Among the targets were the small fishing port and the main police compound in Gaza City.
Throughout the first week of the assault, the Israeli occupation relied on aerial attacks to pound Gaza. A report by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights for the week 24–31 December 2008 (cited in the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, sometimes known as the Goldstone Report) found that Israel “launched at least 300 air and sea strikes against the Gaza Strip. These strikes targeted 37 houses; 67 security and training sites; 20 workshops; 25 public and private institutions; seven mosques and three educational institutions.”
Police stations in particular came under deliberate attack across the Strip. The “Arafat City” police headquarters in Gaza City, as well as three other stations, were attacked within the first few minutes of the assault on 27 December. The UN report states that, over the course of Israel’s military operations, 248 members of the Gaza civil police force were killed, which means that more than one out of every six fatalities was a police officer.
Israeli Defence Minister at the time, Ehud Barak, claimed that there were three objectives for launching the offensive: “Dealing Hamas [which, since winning the 2006 Palestinian elections, had governed the Gaza Strip] a forceful blow; fundamentally changing the situation in Gaza and bringing the rocket attacks against Israeli citizens to a halt.” Barak ordered a “special situation on the home front” for all Israeli communities within a 13-mile radius of the nominal border of the coastal enclave, which was quickly expanded to include the southern Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon.
the Israeli occupation also drafted around 6,700 army reservists, in case it decided to widen the operation. Given that the assault was launched during election season, all contenders halted their campaigns in a show of support for the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who had also launched an offensive on Lebanon just two years earlier.
Escalation and ground invasion
On the eighth day of the offensive – 3 January 2009 — the Israeli occupation launched a ground invasion of Gaza. Israeli infantry entered the enclave from the north, supported by artillery fire and fighter jets. The Palestinians in Gaza, it must be remembered, have no artillery or other heavy weapons, no tanks, no air force and no navy. They faced the full might of one of the world’s strongest and best equipped armed forces with AK47s.
The UN report details how the Israeli occupation tried to cut the Strip in two – bisecting the territory from Karni (Al-Muntar) Crossing in the east, through Al-Nuseirat south of Gaza City, to the coast – before focusing troops in the north. For a further five days the northern towns of Al-Atatra and Beit Lahia came under heavy attack, with the UN report detailing “[Israel’s] alleged use of human shields, the alleged widespread mistreatment of civilians, including detentions, and transfers of large numbers to Israeli prisons in unlawful circumstances.”
Israelis use of chemical weapons
In the later stages of the offensive, reports began to surface claiming that the Israeli occupation had used white phosphorous — a chemical which creates a smokescreen for offensives but which causes severe burns and organ failure — during its attack on the people of Gaza.
The Israeli occupation initially denied these reports, but investigations by several human rights organisations documented evidence to the contrary. A 2009 Amnesty International report found that “Israeli forces made extensive use of white phosphorus, often launched from 155mm artillery shells, in residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians.” Among the targets were the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters and Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City; an UNRWA primary school in Beit Lahia, north of Jabalia and numerous residential areas.
Amnesty explained that:
“White phosphorus is extremely dangerous for humans as it causes deep burns through muscle and down to the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen. It can contaminate other parts of the body, or even people treating the injuries, poisoning and irreparably damaging internal organs.”
The rights organisation added: “Although using white phosphorus as an obscurant is not forbidden under international humanitarian law, air-bursting white phosphorus artillery shells over densely populated areas of Gaza violated the requirement to take necessary precautions to protect civilians.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) agreed with Amnesty’s assessment, claiming that the manner in which Israel used the chemical could constitute a war crime. HRW’s “Rain of Fire” report argued that while “white phosphorus munitions did not kill the most civilians in Gaza […] their use in densely populated neighbourhoods […] violated international humanitarian law (the laws of war), which requires taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm and prohibits indiscriminate attacks.”
On 8 January 2009, the UN Security Council approved resolution 1860 calling for a ceasefire in the Strip by a 14-0 margin. The United States abstained in the vote. The resolution called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.” It condemned “all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism,” calling for “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment.”
Both the Israeli occupation and Hamas declared the resolution invalid. The offensive continued for another 10 days, only coming to a close after a brutal 22 days. “The ferocity of the attack was unprecedented in the more than six-decade-old conflict between Israelis and the indigenous Palestinians,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) observed.
According to figures from Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, 1,390 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead. Among those killed were 344 minors and 110 women. B’Tselem estimates that 759 of those killed in Gaza were Palestinians who did not take part in hostilities, and yet were still killed by Israeli forces.
What happened next?
Donald Macintyre, former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Independent, said in his book Gaza: Preparing for Dawn that following Operation Cast Lead, “It was impossible to ascribe ‘victory’ to either side.” He argued that the Israeli occupation’s “bellicose pre-war talk of ‘crushing’ or ‘removing’ Hamas” proved to be “little more” than talk, while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s claim of victory was “at least as hollow”.
Gaza, however, has never recovered from the 2008 offensive. While acknowledging that its economy was already being strangled by the siege, the UN report found that Israeli military operation “destroyed a substantial part of the Gaza Strip’s economic infrastructure and its capacity to support decent livelihoods for families.” The figures speak for themselves: 700 businesses were damaged or destroyed, with direct losses totalling approximately $140 million; the agricultural sector suffered direct losses worth $170 million; and over 3,354 houses were completely destroyed, with a further 11,112 partially damaged, according to figures from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A separate UN report estimated the cost of Gaza’s losses and damage at $1.1 billion.
In the years since, the Israeli siege of the Strip has prevented the reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed during its 2008 offensive. To add insult to injury, Gaza has also since been the target of two more offensives at the hands of the Israeli occupation: the 2012 offensive, dubbed Operation Pillar of Defence, and the 2014 offensive, dubbed Operation Protective Edge. Almost 4,000 Palestinians were killed during these three offensives. Today, 54 per cent of Gaza’s almost 2 million-strong population is unemployed, while 53 per cent live under the poverty line in what has been described as one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world.
A decade later, the Israeli occupation continues to shirk responsibility for its actions. Earlier this month, an Israeli court ruled against Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who lost three of his daughters during an Israeli air strike on his home in Jabalia, in the north of the Strip. Abuelaish’s story was made famous after he discovered that his children — 13-year-old Bessan, 15-year-old Mayar and 20-year-old Aya – had been killed while he was speaking to an Israeli TV channel; his suffering was broadcast live across the country and later shared widely around the world.
Despite Abuelaish’s grief and the international attention his story received, the court still ruled that Israel bore no responsibility for the girls’ deaths, instead calling it an “unfortunate side effect” of the offensive.