Israel’s decision to completely seal off Gaza Strip crossings has intensified the suffering and privation faced by Gaza residents. Gaza hospitals say they are forced to bury Palestinians killed in IDF strikes draped in flags and bed sheets because of a shortage of burial shrouds. Cement is only available on the black market and its price leaped five-fold, bringing a halt to all construction. UN food aid cannot get through—leaving the more than one million Palestinians who rely on it, about two thirds of Strip residents, facing imminent hunger. The Strip’s sole power station, already at 45% capacity—meaning frequent black-outs—has enough fuel to supply electricity only until Sunday morning.
On a positive note, Israeli military authorities approved the transfer of 48 gravely ill Palestinians to hospitals in the West Bank and in Israel. (YNet, Jan. 19)
In the latest air-strikes, a woman was killed and 46 people were injured in an Israeli missile raid on the interior ministry of the de facto government in the Gaza Strip Jan. 18. The building at Tel al-Hawa was completely destroyed, and one missile also hit a wedding party in front of the ministry, resulting in the injury of dozens of people, including women and children. Israeli warplanes also bombed the marine headquarters of the Gaza security services west of Dir Al-Balah, although no casualties were reported.
In a meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi at the Israeli army headquarters established in Gaza, it was decided to wait until the spring before launching a large-scale invasion of the Strip, the Israeli daily Maariv reported on Dec. 17. However, the newspaper added that Barak issued instructions during the meeting to increase assassination operations. “We must continue to increase assassination operations,” he was quoted as saying.
In the bloodiest week in several months in the Gaza Strip, 36 people were killed and scores injured in Israeli military operations between Jan. 15-18. (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 18)
See our last post on Palestine/Gaza.