The Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip moved into their second week, and with at least 520 Gazans already killed and thousands wounded, the humanitarian situation is increasingly dire. Or completely under control, if one is inclined to believe Israeli officials.
Colonel Moshe Levi insists that the “appearance of a humanitarian crisis” is all Hamas’ doing, echoing comments by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that everything is “completely as it should be” in the besieged strip. Yet with a growing chorus of aid agencies pointing at the worsening situation, the lack of foreign journalists on the ground seems insufficient to keep the truth about Gaza quiet.
Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes, and food is in increasingly short supply. As one refugee camp resident told the Associated Press “there’s not a loaf of bread to be found.” One third of the population is without water, and three quarters without electricity.
Even those who are fleeing aren’t going very far, both Egypt and Israel have kept their borders closed to refugees. In a strip about the size of the city limits of Detroit, civilians flee from one warzone to another, hoping at best to stay one step ahead of the persistent air strikes and the advancing columns of tanks.
In Beit Hanoun, the Israeli government’s severe restrictions on aid took a more obvious form than dwindling foodstocks and hospitals struggling to cope with limited medications. After the pumping system ran out of diesel, a torrent of raw sewage was released in the streets. In the city, long delays by the Israeli government in allowing equipment in has left a walled-in lake of sewage looming precariously over residential neighborhoods. As the rockets continue to fall, only one stray Israeli missile, tank or artillery shell hitting the wall would lead to 8,000 civilians drowning in human waste. Hardly Gaza “completely as it should be.”