( SBS World News Australia US envoy to visit middle east as fragile truce holds, 23 January, 2009. )
Such a slow and turgid step, considering none of this had to have occurred if a foot had been applied to the brake rather than the accelerator in the last days of December, 2008, but still it is a step in the right direction:UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the borders must be opened to allow reconstruction of the enclave. “You have to have cement and construction materials and pipes and spare parts," he said at a UN-run school hit by an Israeli missile in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.
Since Israel began its 22-day offensive on December 27, the army said it had allowed 2,284 truckloads of humanitarian supplies into Gaza where the 1.5 million population relies on the border crossings for virtually everything*.
*This reliance is because for three years since daring to democratically elect a government not favoured by Israel or the US, the people of Gaza have been subjected to a starvation blockade , and Israel and Egypt have closed borders with it. This is why the tunnels are necessary, even though they do also bring in weapons. Israel has not let in construction material, now and in the past, leading to widespread unemployment, as Israel fears weapons will be made from such material - my note.
As for that fragile peace:
Two women, two children and an elderly man were wounded on Thursday by fire from Israeli navy boats patrolling the Mediterranean, medics said. The army said it fired warning shots at a fishing boat.
If you read the blog Tales to Tell from a western volunteer within Gaza (Sharon Lock, I think), that shelling has not stopped since the "ceasefire" began. Rockets are still being fired into Israel, too, so one wonders what the whole sustained incursion was about.
US President Barack Obama said he was dispatching new Mideast envoy George Mitchell to shore up the fragile truce in Gaza.
. . .George Mitchell, [is] a veteran diplomat renowned for negotiating the 1998 Good Friday agreement that helped bring peace to Northern Ireland. . .
Mitchell seems to be balanced; the American Jewish community is divided over his appointment, and what his actual appointment means (that article first viewed here). However, it seems any negotiations are going to be with the very unpopular Abbas, and the Systematic War Crimes will probably largely go unaddressed, paving the way for them to be committed again, and again, and again (SBS World Australia, UN fears Systematic War Crimes).
The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, said he had little doubt about the "unavoidably inhuman character of a large scale military operation of the sort that Israel has initiated... against an essentially defenceless population."
Also from Ha'aretz, UN human rights official: Gaza evokes memories of Warsaw Ghetto, 23 January, 2009.
He was sent back to America (refused entry) by Israel on December 15, 2008 by the way. His role was to be as follows:
In March, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council appointed Falk, a Jewish American and professor emeritus at Princeton University, to a six-year term monitoring the human rights situation as UN Special Rapporteur in the Palestinian territories.( Israel expels UN rights envoy, Ha'aretz, December 15, 2008, and here)
He was refused entry just in time not to observe the massacres. A nice analysis on media treatment of that expulsion here.
Keep up the pressure, U.N. , even though you may be viewed as a toothless tiger. Lets hope that words are eventually passed from generation to generation as being worth more than the cycle of violence that violence breeds.
*Note: Further analysis on Mitchell's posting here (Does Israel fear its friends more than its enemies?, Paul Woodward, War in Context, January 22, 2009)