It’s been several months since the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza in which at least 1,400 Palestinians were killed–over 900 of which were civilians. Once the Israeli forces withdrew, so did the media attention, but conditions remain desperate for Gazans. And now, there are reports of new Israeli provocations.
Deutsche Press reported yesterday that:
Israeli forces on Saturday opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the security fence in south-east Gaza Strip … The farmers were working their land in the Faraheen area in the east of Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip when they came under machine gun fire from the Israeli army posts on the border, the witnesses said.
While no casualties were reported, the attack coincided with an Israeli incursion of Gaza:
… three Israeli bulldozers, backed by two tanks, rolled for a few hundreds of meters into Beit Lahiya town, an agricultural community in the northern Gaza Strip. Residents said the bulldozers leveled some groves and withdrew later in the morning.
These attacks are all too reminiscent of events back in November–small scale Israeli attacks designed to provoke reactions from Gazan militant groups creating a justification for wider Israeli attacks. Sure enough, yesterday, “the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC)” responded by launching mortar attacks on the Israeli forces–and now Israel has renewed its air strikes on the Gaza-Egptian border at Rafa, hitting four tunnels and killing two Palestinians.
At the same time, the Israeli blockade of Gaza continues to prevent essential humanitarian aid from reaching the civilian population. Items currently blocked include:
The Logistics Cluster continues to request clearance of the following items currently listed in the document ‘Clearance Status of Humanitarian Cargo':
- PARC wheelchairs – Delayed since 02 April
- Mercy Corps International construction material – Delayed since 01April
- UNICEF children’s toys and musical instruments – Delayed since 03 March
- FAO veterinary supplies – Delayed since 19 February
- UK MAP medical equipment – Delayed since 30 January
- ACF and UNICEF WASH items for rehabilitation of water infrastructure – Delayed since January 2009
Wheelchairs may be blocked from entering Gaza, along with Mercy Corps shipment of windows for rebuilding houses and UNICEF’s educational supplies, but Secretary of State Clinton reassured “the House Foreign Affairs Committee that ‘the crossings are no longer completely closed [and] there are many items that are being transported through the crossings.’"
As Human Rights Watch noted in response:
"Washington should disassociate itself from unlawful Israeli policies that directly harm civilians," Whitson said. "Failure to do so suggests US support for a policy that violates international law."