zaterdag 10 januari 2009

IDF ontkent beschieting VN vrachtwagen in Gazastrook

Israelische soldaten zouden hebben gezien dat de vrachtwagen door Hamas werd beschoten:

According to the Magen David Adom medic who said he evacuated the Palestinians to an Israeli hospital, the truck came under Hamas sniper fire. The medic, who asked not to be named, said he got his information from soldiers in the field.   

De VN zegt dat haar beschuldiging ook is gebaseerd op mensen ter plekke:

Gunness said the UN had based its account on reports from truck drivers at the scene, who saw an Israeli tank nearby and "were in no doubt they had been fired upon."

Het is dus het woord van de vrachtwagenchauffeurs tegenover dat van de Israelische Rode Davidster die ook ter plekke was.

Het is moeilijk in zulke gevallen te achterhalen wat er precies is gebeurd, maar hier geldt was mij betreft voor Israel: innocent until proven guilty.

Last update - 16:02 10/01/2009

IDF denies shooting of UN truck in Gaza that killed relief worker
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press

The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday denied that Israeli soldiers had shot at a United Nations aid truck in a convoy headed to a Gaza crossing two days ago.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had initially accused Israeli troops on a two-week offensive against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip of shooting at the UN convoy bringing humanitarian aid on Thursday, killing one worker.

An Israeli statement issued on Saturday said "the Israeli army did not fire upon the truck," and that those wounded in the shooting were treated at an Israeli hospital.
Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for UNRWA, said the agency had not accused Israel of deliberately targeting its personnel.

Gunness said the UN had based its account on reports from truck drivers at the scene, who saw an Israeli tank nearby and "were in no doubt they had been fired upon."

He urged Israel to release any photographs of the scene to "find out what happened."

An IDF source said Israel suspected Hamas was behind that shooting.

UN officials on Friday said they will resume their suspended humanitarian aid operations in Gaza as soon as possible, based on assurances from the Defense Ministry that aid workers be better protected.

A spokesperson for the Defense Ministry's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories office said that Israel and the UN have come to a new agreement regarding the UN's relief work in Gaza.

UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said the Israeli military told senior UN officials at a high-level meeting at Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv that they deeply regretted the incidents that led the UN to suspend aid deliveries in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

The UN halted movement of staff and deliveries to the Gaza Strip on Thursday after gunfire from an Israeli tank killed one aid truck driver and injured two others, Montas said. The international Red Cross also said it would restrict activities after one of its drivers was injured in a similar incident.

The UN received credible assurances that the security of UN personnel, installations, and humanitarian operations would be fully respected including undertakings of improved liaison and more effective internal coordination within the IDF, Montas said, using the initials of the Israeli Defense Force.

"On this basis, UN staff movements suspended yesterday will resume as soon as possible," she said.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes called the announcement very good news and said the Israeli assurances were "exactly the assurances that we're seeking."

Holmes stressed that not all UN operations in Gaza were suspended - only those involving the movement of vehicles, which restricted aid deliveries.

UN staff in clinics and shelters, for example, remained on the job, he said.

"We hope now that all operations will be able to resume insofar as they can be carried out in the circumstances that we have - which is very limited to start," Holmes said.

"That's because not enough goods are coming in, and the goods cannot be distributed even now because the trucking company which does that has also suspended its operations," he said. "Whether they will be able to now resume, I don't know."

Holmes said UN officials will now have to discuss resuming operations with the trucking company.

John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which helps Palestinian refugees, told reporters by video-link from Gaza: "What it means, in effect, is that as soon as practical we will resume our operations."

"What we want on the operational side is that we can rely on information that is provided, and that we will not have our security compromised due to poor coordination or breakdowns in communication, he said. There is enough risk here as it is a combat zone ... and we don't want that added to because of inadequate, poor, or nonfunctioning coordination mechanisms."

Ging said the UN had lost confidence in Israel's military. But he said Israel's assurances at the highest level of improved security for UN aid operations will be taken in good faith because there were given in good faith.

"They have put in place a solution to their problems," he said.

Ging and Holmes, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, expressed regret about having to suspend aid delivery for more than a day.

The staff are eager to continue with their activities, Holmes told reporters at UN headquarters.

The assurances on improved security for UN aid operations came as Israel and Hamas ignored a Security Council cease-fire demand.

With those assurances, the World Food Program and UNICEF can resume moving supplies into or around Gaza. Those agencies said they were still operating in the Palestinian territory, where 1 million people are without electricity and 750,000 are without running water, according to the UN relief agency.

The World Food Program can access 1,900 metric tons of food it already has in Gaza - enough to feed over 130,000 people into February, spokeswoman Emilia Cassell said. But the agency needs 130 more truckloads of food delivered to ensure supplies beyond then, she said.

She said the World Food Program had provided regular rations to 60,000 people and fed at least 20,000 more since Israel launched its attacks Dec. 27.

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