Friday, January 02, 2009

An update on the Gaza strip

For a while now we have been meaning to post an update on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Israel is now in it's seventh day of bombing, and some foreigners have been allowed out of the region, but Palestinians are still locked in. NPR asked World Vision about the humanitarian situation.

Aid groups are concerned about civilians in the area. Allen Dhynes, a Jerusalem-based communication manager for the aid group World Vision, said residents of Gaza have no power and that fuel is scarce.

"Prior to the violence, there was only an average of eight hours of power a day, and now it's maybe only one hour a day," he told NPR from Portland, Ore., where he has been in contact with colleagues in Gaza.

"Gaza has been under a severe blockade and was already living under dire poverty before any of this occurred, so this is just an overwhelming burden for the population," Dhynes said.

Between 350 and 450 foreigners were authorised by Israel to leave Gaza if they wish, via the forbidding concrete corridor that ushers them into Israel's fortified crossing point and its panoply of security scanners to detect hidden suicide bombs.

Israel launched the aerial campaign Saturday in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. The offensive has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but has failed to halt the rocket fire. New attacks Friday struck apartment buildings in a southern Israeli city. No serious injuries were reported.

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