Wounded Gazans left to die as Israel fires UN aid convoy

Aid agency says Israeli blocked them from entering the bombed areas to evacuate the wounded as a violations of int'l humanitarian law as UN convoy came under fire in Gaza.

Wounded Gazans left to die as Israel fires UN aid convoy

Aid agency says Israeli blocked them from entering the bombed areas to evacuate the wounded as a violations of international humanitarian law as UN convoy came under fire from Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.

At least one Palestinian has been killed after a UN relief agency convoy came under fire from Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, reports said.

The attack took place on Thursday as the lorries travelled to the Erez crossing to pick up supplies that were to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire, Al Jazeera reported.

Thursday's pause in the 13-day Israeli offensive to allow humanitarian aid into the strip was scheduled to last from 1pm (11:00 GMT) to 4pm (14:00 GMT).

John Ging, the head of the UN relief agency in Gaza, said that the casualties were Palestinian civilian contractors contracted to bring supplies from the crossing points.

"They were co-ordinating their movements with the Israelis, as they always do, only to find themselves being fired at from the ground troops," he told Al Jazeera.

"It has resulted tragically in the death of one and the injury of two others."

Wednesday's three-hour ceasefire allowed beleaguered Gazans and aid workers to recover dead bodies, treat the wounded, and gather much-needed supplies in and around Gaza City.

"Breaking international law in Gaza"

Relief workers found four starving children sitting next to their dead mothers and other corpses in a Gaza house bombed by Israeli forces, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

THe ICRC said Israel were delaying ambulance access to the hit area and demanded it grant safe access for Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to return to evacuate more wounded according Reuters report.

"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

"The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded," he said.

The neutral agency said it believed Israel had breached international humanitarian law in the incident.

An Israeli offensive launched against Gaza Strip on Dec. 27 has drawn increasing international protests and condemnations over civilian casualties.

Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances and ICRC officials managed to reach several houses in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City on Wednesday for first time since last weekend, the ICRC statement said.

The rescue team "found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses", the ICRC said.

"They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses," it said.

In another house, the team found 15 survivors of Israeli shelling including several wounded, it said.

Three corpses were found in another home.

Israeli soldiers, some 80 meters (yards) away, ordered the rescue team to leave the area, but they refused to do, it said.

The ICRC said it had been informed that there were more wounded sheltering in other destroyed houses in the area.

"The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuated the wounded.

It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable," it said.

"New Nakba"

Palestinian casualties from Israel's Gaza offensive amount to a national catastrophe recalling the 1948-49 war, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Thursday.

"What our people in Gaza are facing is a humanitarian catastrophe. It's a new Nakba, of a kind that has not happened since 1949," Fayyad told reporters in Ramallah.

Palestinians consider Israeli 1948 occupation their "Nakba", or catastrophe, citing the deportations of Palestinians.

Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Ocak 2009, 16:23
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