Gaza: civilians 'terrorised' 'traumatised' and 'trapped'

  • Gaza

 As the attack on Gaza entered its tenth day yesterday, a UN official said people are 'terrorised' , 'traumatised' and 'trapped'.

Ambulances have been struggling to reach the injured. One doctor and seven paramedics have been killed as the Israeli offensive reached its tenth day. The death toll among Palestinians is now more than 550.

The Israeli military said on Monday it would allow 80 lorries of humanitarian aid and vital fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip - but Oxfam warned this was "not enough at all".

Medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres said surgical services in Gaza were "overwhelmed" by the number of people wounded in the attacks.

After a week of air strikes, Israel launched a ground offensive on Saturday, sending hundreds of troops over the border and cutting Gaza in half.

Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said yestreday that the offensive would continue until the Jewish state achieved its objectives, principally an end to Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

Save the Children staff in Gaza braved the fighting to to deliver emergency aid packages to 6,000 people on Sunday. But the charity said its stocks were now all but gone and the Israeli military was not allowing it to send in more supplies.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Save the Children spokesman Dominic Nutt said: "We now have no supplies or very few supplies left. We can't replenish our stocks - the pipeline has been cut. You're looking at a catastrophe. It is hard to know how you would define a humanitarian disaster if this is not considered to be one."

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Maxwell Gaylard said: "Large numbers of people including many children are hungry, they are cold, they are without ready access to medical facilities, they are without access to electricity and running water, above all they are terrified. That by any measure is a humanitarian crisis."

"There is an overall atmosphere of fear. More than half of the population are children. The spectre of internal displacement is emerging with growing numbers seeking shelter and already there are several thousand civilians in UNRWA's seven shelters," he said.

"Electricity and communications are down over much of the Strip both on account of lack of fuel and damage to critical infrastructure. Over a million people are currently without power, and over a quarter million without running water, some for up to six days," he added.

Speaking just before the land offensive began on Saturday, Father Manuel Musallam, parish priest of the Holy Family church, Gaza's only Catholic church told the Missionary News Service he was working around the clock phoning parishioners, offering help, visiting hospitals.

"No one knows what the Israelis want to achieve, but if the objective was to destroy Hamas, I can say that there isn't a single voice in all of Gaza against Hamas, and actually, the bombings, deaths and injuries in the past hours are pushing hundreds of youths to join the movement; they are people who lost someone, who see their children crying, who decided to resist." Fr Musallam predicted that if there was a ground attack, "it would be a massacre."

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