Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

UPA Director Discusses Gaza Triage

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

UPA Director Discusses Gaza Triage

Article excerpt

SAMER BADAWI, executive director of the United Palestinian Appeal (UPA), discussed the "Gaza Triage: Humanitarian Crisis and Response" on Jan. 7 at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC. He provided statistical data including how severely basic necessities such as food, medical supplies, fuel, even water, are being restricted to Palestinians during Israel's attack on Gaza

The briefing began with a moment of silence for, as Badawi noted, "the now close to 700 people who have been slaughtered in Gaza." He described Israel's bombing of the U.N. school the previous day, despite the fact that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had been given the school's GPS coordinates. The attack killed more than 40 Palestinians who were seeking refuge there.

Listeners learned that of the (to date) 2,800 Palestinians injured, 45 percent were women and children. At least 11 ambulances had been bombed, some of which were funded by UPA. Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, "has all of two days worth of industrial fuel left," to power its generators, Badawi said. Only three of 56 clinics still functioned, largely because of the shortage of fuel.

There are 5,000 Gazans seeking shelter in 11 different U.N. schools, Badawi explained. These shelters were running out of food and, in some cases, fresh water. They have no electricity or heat. All over Gaza, land lines are cut off and the IDF apparently confiscated cell phones in one area. Not only was Gaza's power-generating plant bombed, but the power lines that run from the plant also were damaged.

Badawi described the severe food crisis facing 1.5 million Gazans, 80 percent of whom depended on food assistance before the attacks began. "As of yesterday," he reported, "50 truckloads were able to get into the Kerem Shalom crossing." If one truckload of rice feeds approximately "a hundred families for three days"-as is estimated by various organizations, including the U.N.-the amount of food alone going into Gaza is "less than the proverbial drop in the bucket," Badawi said.

The Karni conveyor belt, the only point at which wheat grain is allowed into Gaza, has remained closed since the beginning of the attacks and there are no signs of it opening anytime soon. As a result, people cannot bake bread. Only nine of at least 53 bakeries are open-and those nine have not received flour since the attacks began. …

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