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'Israel' bombs UN aid headquarters in Gaza with white phosphorus (a war crime)



*** The Israeli regime launched chemical weapon shells into a refugee camp at the headquarters of the UN aid agency in Gaza, destroying stockpiles of humanitarian supplies which had been sent to help victims of the Zionist war machine -- including medical items, food and water -- a serious war crime aimed at increasing the suffering of the people of Palestine. The shells contained white phosphorus, a chemical which sticks to human skin, and burns through human flesh, and on contact with the air triggers a chemical reaction igniting intense fires which are impossible to extinguish. On the same day, Israeli gun ships also surrounded a ship carrying humanitarian supplies, forcing it back to Cyprus -- a deliberate and illegal act of picacy. ***

UN chief 'outraged' as Israeli shells hit Gaza headquarters

THE United Nations today expressed "outrage" after its headquarters in Gaza City was hit by Israeli shells.

At least three white phosphorus shells hit the UN compound, where 700 civilians fleeing the fighting were sheltering, wounding three staff members and producing clouds of black smoke.

Israel issued a rapid apology for the strike, saying it was a "grave mistake", as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke of his outrage at the attack.

The shelling, which forced the UN to suspend aid deliveries as its trucks were trapped, came as Mr Ban warned that civilian casualties in the 20-day conflict had reached an "unbearable point".

Medical officials now put the Palestinian death toll at 1,055. Thirteen Israelis have also been killed.

The UN protest followed a renewed Israeli push into the heart of Gaza City with fierce urban fighting reported with Palestinian militants.

Other buildings hit during today's offensive included the Al Quds hospital, which was engulfed by flames.

Elsewhere thousands of residents were reported to be fleeing the city, some in pyjamas and others pushing elderly relatives in wheelchairs.

The sound of sustained machinegun fire was heard echoing off the walls of tower blocks in residential districts, while cameras filmed repeated artillery fire from the edge of the city.

Israeli tanks and bulldozers were seen moving in with the troops as the offensive was backed up by about 70 airstrikes and shelling from gunboats off the coast. At least 15 Palestinians were reported to have been killed.

Hamas officials suggested the latest onslaught was designed to maintain "pressure" on the militant organisation while discussions over a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, continued.

Hamas has already said it has agreed to accept the outline principles of the proposed peace plan - although potentially crucial details have still to be finalised - and Israel today expressed optimism about the agreement.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, said: "There is momentum in these discussions. We are hopeful a deal based on a total cessation of Hamas fire into Israel, and an arms embargo to prevent Hamas rearming, is close and attainable."

The offensive is still backed by Israelis, with a new poll showing 78 per cent of its citizens regard it as a success so far.

Palestinian officials today estimated the cost of the conflict in damage to buildings and infrastructure in Gaza had reached about $1.4billion.


SOURCE

Evening Standard, "UN chief 'outraged' as Israeli shells hit Gaza headquarters", 15 January 2008.
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23620571-details/UN+chief+%27outraged%27+as+Israeli+shells+hit+Gaza+headquarters/article.do


FURTHER READING

BBC News, "Gaza pounded amid push for truce", 15 january 2008.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7829912.stm
    ...
  The UN's relief agency, Unrwa, says part of its HQ in Gaza caught fire after being hit by Israeli shells.
    ...
    Speaking to reporters on the Israel-Gaza border, Unrwa spokesman Christopher Gunness said three of the agency's employees were hurt in the attack on its compound in Gaza City.
    He said the compound was hit by what Unrwa believed to be three white phosphorus shells, which are incendiary weapons used to create smoke screens.
    About 700 people were still sheltering in the compound, he said, and the fire had been burning close to five full fuel tanks.
    Mr Gunness added that Unrwa would not be able to distribute food or medical supplies on Thursday as its trucks were unable to leave the compound.
  An Israeli security source said Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak had told Mr Ban that he regretted that UN personnel had been hurt, but denied that Mr Barak had said it was a "grave mistake".
    Escalation
    Israeli military officials say they attacked 70 military targets overnight, including a mosque they say was being used to store weapons.
    The BBC's Hamada Abuqammar in Gaza said the coastal enclave came under extremely heavy artillery fire from the east in the early hours, and that the skies were full of thick smoke.
    Our correspondent said Israeli tanks seemed to be pushing closer to the heart of Gaza City, close to the Unrwa headquarters, and that there were reports of 21 people killed in fighting since the early hours.
    Witnesses said they saw soldiers on foot marching behind bulldozers and tanks.
    Rushdi Abualouf, the BBC's Gaza producer, described the scene as the building where he lives in Tel al-Hawa, south-west of Gaza City, was surrounded by Israeli tanks.
    Tank shells hit the lower floors two or three times, he said.
    "People have been screaming from their balconies, calling for help," he said.
    He said that from his window he could see fighters from Hamas and other Palestinian factions firing at Israeli tanks from rooftops and balconies, and that the Israeli tanks were firing back.
    More than 1,000 Gazans and 13 Israelis [inluding a number of Israeli military personnel accidently killed by other Israelis] have reportedly died so far in the conflict.
    Speaking to the press after meeting Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv, Mr Ban repeated previous calls for an immediate ceasefire, and said the suffering in Gaza was a "dire humanitarian crisis" that had reached an "unbearable point".
    In other developments:
    - The UK Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown says the British government "utterly" condemns the attack on the UN headquarters in Gaza. Fierce criticism also came from the French foreign ministry
    - Two hospitals in Gaza City are hit by shellfire: the al-Quds hospital in Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood, scene of heavy fighting, and a Red Crescent hospital, the UK Red Cross says
    - The Shurouq tower block in Gaza City, which houses the offices of the Reuters news agency and several other media organisations, is hit by an explosion, injuring a journalist for the Abu Dhabi television channel
    - Leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council are to meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss the crisis. The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, said the meeting was convened because of what he called Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people
    - A boat carrying medical supplies to Gaza is surrounded by Israeli warships in international waters off Lebanon's southern coast and forced to return to Cyprus, according to charity Free Gaza
    - Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip reach 1,028 according to Gaza medical sources. Nearly a third of the dead are said to be children
    'Detailed vision'
    Israel's chief negotiator, Amos Gilad, has arrived in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian ceasefire plan that could end the 20-day-old conflict.
    ...

"The Insider" mailing list article, 15 January 2009.

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Tags: Israel, UN, HQ, UNRWA, offices, hit, building, bombed, on fire, United Nations, white phosphorus, chemical weapon, Gaza, invasion, war, Hamas, WMD, war crime, war crimes, , conspiracy theories.

 
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