Deployment of troops stokes war worries
As Israeli rockets continued to fall across Gaza last night, concerns were growing that the arrival of ground troops could propel the region into another full-scale conflict.
However, even as Israeli reservists were being called to duty, yesterday’s visit by Egyptian prime minister Hisham Qandil, and his government’s commitment to the Palestinians, has buoyed the local population.
“It was very, very positive; we need someone. He said we are with you and during the last war [in 2008] no one cared,” said Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza.
The Palestinians view Egypt as a “big brother” with the potential to protect them against their neighbours, most hope through a peacefully negotiated solution.
Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood are Hamas’s spiritual mentors.
“No one is interested in this war,” said Mr Sourani. “One father who saw the prime minister of Egypt this morning, he handed him his dead child and the blood was on the suit and shirt of the Egyptian prime minister. It’s insane.
“The child was playing with others in the southern part of Gaza near their house – it’s like in the countryside – when the airplane bombed. By the time he arrived [in hospital] he was reported dead. The others were injured.”
Mr Sourani believes that the overnight bombing of Gaza was Israel flexing its muscle, and designed to terrorise an entire population into submission, rather than to “surgically” weed out Hamas militants.
On the ground, humanitarian workers say that as the explosions continue sporadically, the streets and public areas around Gaza are virtually empty. The normally clamorous traffic has almost completely abated.
In most areas residents are still able to buy food and fuel in local shops but in the north of Gaza, where bombing is fiercest, reports of potential shortages have emerged.
Oxfam says that aside from the guarding against injury and death, there must be a focus on infrastructural damage, which could lead to other problems down the line.
Karl Schembri, at Oxfam, said medical supplies, particularly blood stocks, were in short supply.