1/25/09

Gaza Update

The New York Times reports:

One week after the war between Israel and Hamas stopped, Gaza remains in a kind of stupor. There are numbers, of course, to describe its misery — 4,000 homes destroyed, 21,000 badly damaged, 100,000 people homeless, according to several aid agencies — but they do not tell the full story.

Most of Gaza, especially the capital, Gaza City, remains largely intact. This is not Grozny after the Chechen war or Dresden after World War II. The hospitals are coping; shops are reopening; traffic is becoming a problem once again. Israel has tripled the amount of goods flowing in here since before the war. ...

Gaza has no functioning glass or cement factories and has not been able to bring in raw materials for them for months because Israel and Egypt closed commercial crossings. Now efforts are under way to change that.

John Holmes, a United Nations humanitarian relief official who came here on Thursday, said by telephone that he had been talking with Israel about how to get such materials and other vital components to rebuild.

“We need to fix the water and sanitation networks as quickly as we can,” he said. “That means importation of construction materials on a big scale. It has not happened for the last 18 months. The Israelis don’t say no, but they say we need to have assurances it will not be misused by Hamas. We are trying to work out the mechanisms.” ...

The article concludes by alluding, rather obliquely, to accusations that the Israeli Defense Forces used white phosphorous in civilian areas:

In Israel, officials said that on Sunday, the cabinet is expected to discuss a proposal that the government defend the military if there are any international attempts to accuse it of improper activity or war crimes. The proposal is expected to assert that soldiers and officers operated in accordance with international law, the military’s values and moral principles.

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