“There is no humanitarian crisis in the (Gaza) Strip.” Those were the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni today during her visit to Paris, as she defended Israel’s rejection of a proposed 48-hour humanitarian ceasefire to allow food and medicine into the strip.
But with at least 425 already dead and thousands wounded, the strip’s hospitals have been operating at beyond capacity for days, struggling with shortages of basic medical supplies, the most seriously wounded are increasingly forced to seek medical care in Egypt.
And though the foreign minister describes the humanitarian situation as “completely as it should be,” Gazans have also been without electricity and in many cases running water for days as the bombs push Gaza’s infrastructure, already taxed by months of intermittent blockades, beyond the breaking point. Food stores are closed, out of goods.
World Food Programme Director Christine van Nieuwenhuyse is reportedly furious at Israel’s claims that her organization’s warehouses in Gaza are “full of supplies,” citing shortfalls in goods. UN spokesman Chris Gunness also says Israel is downplaying the situation, saying “when you look at the Israeli assertions about the humanitarian situation it is very hard to square this with the extraordinarily dire situation on the ground in Gaza.” With a ground invasion poised to begin any day now, the situation is likely to get much, much worse.