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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Date

January 8, 2010

New israeli attack on Gaza

Gaza, January 8, 2010 (Pal Telegraph)- A massive explosion took place few moments ago western Gaza City, in Tal Al Hawa neighborhood. Eyewitness reported that Israeli F16s launched an aerial attack midnight. The attack was followed by a series of air raids.

Palestine Telegraph reported that a number of air raids took place northern Gaza Strip while no new reported about the attacks yet. The attacks also targeted the southern and middle areas of Gaza Strip.

Medical sources reported no casualties till this moment while ambulances hurried to the targeted area.
A number of F16 can be heard at the moment and a case of panic and fear spread amongst the civilians who were in a sleep.

The attacks came amid a very densely populated area where around 150 thousands Palestinians live.
Israeli army launched a number of attacks last week killing a number of Palestinians.

Via Ayman Quaider and Sameh Habeeb

Fears for safety of Irish humanitarians in Gaza as Israel launches air strikes tonight
January 08, 2010 00:19author by Freda H and Fintan Lane – IPSC

There are fears tonight for the safety of several Irish people who entered Gaza yesterday with the Viva Palestina aid convoy. Reports have just reached the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) from both official Palestinian and Israeli sources that the area is under attack by Israeli warplanes.

It appears that the Israeli Air Force bombed several targets in the Gaza Strip tonight – there were no immediate reports of casualties. According to the reports received by the IPSC, the Israelis stuck targets in Gaza City itself. Flames and smoke were spotted in the strike zones.

This attack may be a disproportionate response the firing of mortar shells into Israel this morning. No injuries were reported from that incident. However, there are also fears within Gaza that Israel is planning a larger assault on the enclave and that tonight’s attack may not be over.

The IPSC is gravely concerned at the danger these attacks pose to the Irish aid workers who entered Gaza yesterday. Ten people from Cork, Tyrone and Derry are within Gaza and arrived as part of the Viva Palestina aid convoy. Their names and the contact phone numbers for three of them follow:

From Derry:
Jonathon Crockett,
Eanna O’Donaghaile,
Danny Doyle
Eddie Mc Bride
Derek Mc Chrystal

From Tyrone:
John Hurson
David Callendar

From Cork:
Kate O’Sullivan
Dave Curren
Caoimhe Butterly

The Viva Palestina aid convoy was greeted with scenes of celebration when it arrived via the Rafah crossing yesterday evening. Earlier today, before the air strikes began, John Hurson of Tyrone spoke to the IPSC about the aid distribution situation:

“All the vehicles and aid were handed over to various charities and NGO’s. There were very emotional scenes as people said goodbye to their vehicles which had become their homes for the past month on the road. The appreciation from the Palestinians is very hard to put into words, such was the emotions they displayed. For people from all over the world to travel to Gaza in order to deliver aid, really means so much to the stricken region. This was solidarity on a grand scale.”

The IPSC now fears for the safety of these brave Irish volunteers who may have difficulty leaving the Gaza strip as planned tomorrow.

Yesterday, following an attack on the convoy and its Irish members in Egypt, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said that his Department was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of Irish volunteers participating in the “Viva Palestina” aid convoy. The IPSC is asking him to ensure similar protection for the Irish volunteers from Israeli bombing raids on Gaza. Mr Martin himself was refused permission to visit Gaza recently by the Israeli authorities.

Earlier on Thursday, the Israel Air Force dropped thousands of leaflets over Gaza, telling Gaza residents to stay away from the border with Israel. One of the leaflets included a map and warned Gazans that anyone who goes within 300 metres of the security fence is “endangering” themselves. Another leaflet urged Gazans to inform to Israel on smugglers and on vital smuggling tunnels, which are Gaza’s lifeline to the outside world. It is clear that this is all part of Israel’s ongoing attempt to isolate Gaza and force its people into submission. The leaflet drop and tonight’s attack are clearly linked, and part of an Israeli attempt to intimidate those bringing aid into the besieged Gaza strip.

The siege of Gaza continues despite the suffering it brings daily to the civilian population. It must end.
Related Link: http://www.ipsc.ie

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Galloway interview Jan 7

George Galloway deported

Egypt ‘deports aid convoy leader’Clashes broke out between the actvists and police in El-Arish on Tuesday night [AFP/VIVA PALESTINA]

George Galloway, the British MP leading the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to the Gaza Strip has been forced to leave Egypt, the group has said on its website.

Galloway was apparently picked up by Egyptian officials at the Rafah border crossing on Friday and driven to Cairo where he was placed on a flight back to London.

Galloway told Al Jazeera by telephone from the airport that he had been harassed by about 25 Egyptian police officer as he attempted to re-enter Gaza to join the rest of the Viva Palestina activists.

He said Egyptian officials told him he was being sent out of the country and was now “persona non grata”.

There was no immediate comment on the situation from Egyptian officials.

Galloway has been vocal in his criticism of Egyptian authorities in recent days after their decision not to allow the about 200 vehicles in the convoy to arrive in Egypt through the port at Nuweiba.

Cairo insisted that the aid be sent back through Syria and then by ferry to the port of El-Arish on the Mediterranean.

Arrests ordered

Seven other members of the Viva Palestinian convoy have also been ordered arrested after being accused of inciting riots in El-Arish.

In depth

‘Fighting to break Gaza siege’
Viva Palestina’s bumpy road
Inside Story: Gaza under siege
The decision by the attorney-general in North Sinai means the activists could be detained after passing through the Rafah border crossing from Gaza.

It was not clear if they were in Egyptian custody on Friday.

Late on Tuesday, more than 50 people were wounded during a clash between Egyptian authorities and international members of the convoy.

The protests were sparked by an Egyptian decision to allow 139 vehicles to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, but requiring a remaining 59 vehicles to pass via Israel.

Afterwards, clashes between Egyptian security forces and Palestinians waiting for the aid convoy led to the death of one Egyptian policeman.

Severe restrictions

Israel and Egypt have severely restricted travel to and from the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized power there in June 2007, after winning Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.

The blockade currently allows only very basic supplies into Gaza.

The siege has severely restricted essential supplies and placed Gazans in a dire situation, made worse by Israel’s military assault last winter that reduced much of the territory to ruins.
Source: Al Jazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/01/201018973051973.html

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