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Ramallah, 27/12/08. This morning, Israel started a massive offensive in the Gaza Strip, leaving behind death, destruction and intense suffering. Medical teams, fire fighters and civilians have been working all day to safe those buried under the rubble of destroyed houses, to transport the injured and death to the hospitals, to extinguish the fires, to protect the children, whilst fearing for the lives of their loved ones in the face of renewed attacks.
At 11.30pm, Israeli military planes reached the Gaza Strip, where they carried out heavy air strikes against the most densely populated area on the planet, already suffering from siege for more than a year and a half.
Israeli planes slammed missiles into over thirty targets in the 360 sq km Strip holding over 1.5 million people.
At least 200 have been reportedly killed and 400 wounded, most of them civilians- including women and children. This number is expected to continue to rise throughout the day as more bodies are uncovered from the rubble – and more casualties succumb to their wounds. We fear this attack is only the first of a bloody series that will aim to destroy the Gaza Strip and its population.
When the ceasefire came to an end last week, indicators for a huge humanitarian disaster and the outbreak of intense violence were evident.
However, the International Community failed to listen to those voices that attempted to warn the world for an eminent crisis and equally failed to listen to those who advocated for preventive measures to be taken to protect the lives of over a million innocent human beings.
In the past, Israel has staged incursions into the Occupied Territories when the attention of the world was elsewhere, thereby avoiding widespread condemnation. And again, at a time when people celebrated their Christmas holidays globally, Israel again used the opportunity to plan and execute an attack when the world’s attention was diverted.
If the International Community is truly committed to its International Law and Human Rights Conventions, it has to wake up now, it must gather forces now, and it must take its responsibility to act to protect innocent people facing the imminent threat of death. Although no serious action was taken to prevent the bloodbath, action can be taken to stop the criminal attacks, to provide help to those who suffer, to those who lost their families, and to those who have no sufficient medicines to cure their injured, nor food to give to their children.
Let’s remember the promise of never again following the genocide in Rwanda, let’s not again stand by and watch as people are slaughtered in front of our eyes.