Gaza, Hamas and UNRWA
Deaglán de Bréadún
I was tied up with other matters so did not see the original story on the wires. But just when I thought I was being over-critical of Hamas, I received the following statement in my email from Proinsias De Rossa, Labour MEP for Dublin, who has been a longtime sharp critic of the Israeli Government over its treatment of the Palestinians.
The De Rossa statement said: The confiscation today by the Hamas-run police and Ministry of Social Affairs in Gaza of UNRWA humanitarian aid is an indefensible action declared Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa, who said this evening that Hamas must not undermine the international organisation that has been steadfast in its unwavering support for the people of Gaza throughout the recent Israeli aggression. Interfering in this way with the United Nations is a breach of international law and is not acceptable.
Speaking from Strasbourg following an address to the European Parliament by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr De Rossa stated that “The International Community has been firm in its appreciation and admiration of the work of UNRWA and its staff, who face many life-threatening challenges on a daily basis in Gaza. Challenges that have included providing refugee for almost 51,000 people at the peak of the recent crisis and food aid for 750,000 people on an ongoing basis.”
Mr. De Rossa also called upon all Palestinians to now stand by UNRWA and demand the immediate return of the 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels to the organisation in order to allow them to be distributed to the five hundred needy families that they were intended for.
Mr. De Rossa concluded that “It is imperative that the people of Gaza, particularly women and children be spared further suffering and the distribution of humanitarian aid must not be hindered by the antics of political factions in Gaza for their own gain. I feel strongly that all efforts to work together in preventing further human suffering and human rights violations must be fostered and during my visit to Gaza next week with my European parliament colleagues will meet with UNRWA and other organisations to assess the current humanitarian situation and the action needed by the International Community in bringing a lasting peace to the people of Gaza”
Deaglán writes: It is not so long ago that I filed a piece to The Irish Times from Strasbourg (see below) in which De Rossa attacked the Israeli attitude to the Palestinians in Gaza but Hamas seems intent on losing friends and alienating support. What say you, Betterworld Now?
November 16, 2006
Gaza is a prison camp, says De Rossa
BYLINE: Deaglán de Bréadún, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, in Strasbourg
The Palestinian people were being starved and massacred in the “prison camp” of Gaza, Labour MEP Proinsias De Rossa told the European Parliament in a debate on the Middle East.
“Gaza is a prison camp for 1.3 million Palestinians and it is sealed tight by the state of Israel. The occupants of this camp are being systematically starved, their health and education infrastructure is being destroyed and their economy is being laid to waste. At the same time they are being massacred,” said Mr De Rossa, who represents Dublin.
“Up to 80 men, women and children were killed in the past week, with over 300 killed since the summer, when Israel used its attack on Lebanon as a cover for a parallel assault on Gaza. And this is being done by a state which claims to be the only democracy in the region. This in my view is a shameful expression of democracy,” he added.
Similar sentiments were expressed by his constituency colleague, Eoin Ryan of Fianna Fáil, who said he had viewed a documentary on Gaza at the parliament the day before and listened to colleagues who had recently visited the region.
“I was shocked at what I saw and heard, the sheer brutality that has been inflicted on Palestinian civilians. Both sides have to realise that the only solution is to sit down and talk. Dialogue is the only way forward.”
Mr Ryan also condemned yesterday morning’s rocket attack on the Israeli city of Sderot, in which a woman was killed.