Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What provision has the IDF made to help civilians in Gaza? - Marian Houk

Marian Houk,, January 7, 2009

It was announced today (after a phone call Tuesday night between U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert), that the IDF would stop attacking Gaza for three hours today, and perhaps daily, in order to address what was finally recognized Tuesday as a “full-blown humanitarian crisis” (in the words of the ICRC), or the “dire” humanitiarian situation in Gaza (as the U.S. State Department Spokesman called it).

It wasn’t initially clear exactly how that would be done.

Would the three hours “humanitarian” cease-fire be at the same time each day, or at different times daily (and, if so, how would people in Gaza be reliably notified)? Would it be a cease-fire in one area of Gaza only, per day, or would it be all throughout the Gaza Strip? And, as Dion Nissenbaum wrote today in an article for the McClatchy newspaper group, here , “It remained unclear whether Palestinians would feel safe enough to venture from their homes to try to find supplies”.

A few hours later, the Jerusalem Post reported that “”It was decided that the fighting would be suspended between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. every day, beginning today, for the sake of humanitarian needs,” Military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said”. This can be viewed on the web here.

UPDATE: However, a subsequent AP report cast doubt on the daily nature of this arrangement: “Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the ‘recess in offensive operations’ was aimed at allowing in supplies and fuel and would last from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m local time (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST). He said similar lulls in the coming days would be considered. However, Lerner said that even during the pause ‘for every attack against the army, there will be a response’.”

ThIs AP report added that “In the meantime [n.b. - and despite all the discussions about diplomats supposedly getting in gear to arrange a cease-fire], Israel has been making preparations to continue fighting. The military has called up thousands of reserve troops that it could use to expand the Gaza offensive, supporting the three brigade-size formations of regular troops now inside. Defense officials said the troops could be ready for action by Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the army’s preparations are classified“. This report can be read in full here.

AND ONE QUESTION ON THIS UPDATE: Were the international donors ready on short notice to send in maximum possible and best-targetted supplies today?

Read the full article online ...

No comments: