Self-defence is legitimate as Israel claims. But war crimes in the name of self defence are not. The UN could be wrong about Israel being behind the shooting in the relief convoy incident although it is certainly doubtful. The Israeli spokesperson notes that Hamas have guns too but this is just the standard dodge of Israeli apologists to blame almost anything on Hamas, even when Israelis shelled a UN school yard they suggested without verifying it that Hamas was using the playground as shield and perhaps suggesting as well that rockets were launched from it.
The incident with the Red Cross should make crystal clear to any but those who will see no evil in Israeli actions that Israel is guilty of war crimes. Usually the Red Cross would remain silent in these situations but this case was simply too outrageous not to reveal it.
UN halts aid to Gaza, citing Israeli attacks on staff
Last Updated: Thursday, January 8, 2009 3:35 PM ET
A United Nations aid agency is halting all deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip because of Israeli attacks on UN staff and installations, its director said Thursday.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it will suspend aid shipments until the safety of its staff can be guaranteed.
"These firings on our convoy are coming from the Israeli military themselves, with whom we have co-ordinated our movement, and that is what is absolutely unacceptable," UNRWA director John Ging said in an interview with CBC News.
John Holmes, the UN's humanitarian affairs chief, said one person was killed and another seriously injured in the morning when a delivery truck contracted by UNRWA came under fire. Holmes said they believe the fire came from an Israeli tank.
The attack occurred despite the fact the UN had co-ordinated the delivery with Israel and the vehicle was clearly identifiable, he said.
As a result, the transport company, which is the only one authorized to handle the movement of goods at the border crossings, will suspend all operations until the safety of its drivers can be guaranteed.
"All movement of goods of any significant kind in Gaza is suspended even if the crossings are opened," Holmes said during a briefing at UN headquarters in New York.
Israel, which launched the Gaza offensive on Dec. 27 to combat the militant group Hamas, said its army is investigating the fatal shooting.
"We're not sure it was us. We're investigating. Any complaint the UN makes, we look into," said Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev. "You've got to remember there are a lot of other … people with weapons in Gaza."
Later Thursday, during the daily three-hour humanitarian lull, a UN medical convoy that included an ambulance and two armoured vehicles came under fire in Gaza City. Holmes said all vehicles were clearly marked and had been on their way to retrieve the body of a UN worker killed earlier in the campaign.
"It's now apparent to us that this has reached an unacceptable level," Ging said. "We just have to now call a hold until we can be assured that we can conduct our humanitarian operations here with a reasonable [sense of] security.
"We are devastated because we're here with people who are in phenomenal need of our assistance."
Red Cross accuses Israeli troops of hindering help to wounded
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is accusing Israel of failing to fulfil its obligation to assist injured civilians in the Palestinian territory.
The accusations were made after Red Cross medical teams discovered four young children huddled around 12 bodies inside a shelled house. The ICRC said in a statement that its aid workers were told by Israeli Defence Forces, who had an outpost about 80 metres from the house, to leave the area, where more than a dozen other wounded Palestinians were languishing in bombed houses.
Large earth walls erected by the Israeli army had made it impossible to bring ambulances into the neighbourhood, according to the statement. The wounded were eventually transported to ambulances on a donkey cart.
"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, ICRC head for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation, but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded."
The accusation was a rare move for the ICRC, which normally conducts confidential negotiations with warring parties.
The Israeli army said any serious allegations would be properly investigated once a formal complaint was received, according to Reuters.