ACT Forum Update from Gaza–January 27, 2009

ACT Forum Update from Gaza–January 27, 2009

Action by Churches Together provides a new daily update from Gaza relief efforts

Evening Update on Gaza – ACT Forum Palestine

Tuesday, 27 January, 2009

It seems that the ceasefire is hanging by a thread. An Israeli army unit was hit by explosive devices which were planted in the area of their patrol, killing one Israeli soldier and wounding three, one in critical condition. As a result, an ensuing exchange of gunfire took place resulting in the death of a Palestinian farmer, according to sources in Gaza. In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force targeted and injured a man on a motorcycle in the area of Khan Yunis, whom Israeli officials believe took part in the attack. There are eyewitness reports of Israeli tank movement and airborne helicopters near the border in the Center of Gaza, with accounts coming in of Palestinians fleeing their homes on the Palestinian side of where the attack took place. The Israeli troops are said to be firing at any suspicious targets.

In other news, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stated that 115 Palestinians are reported to have been missing since the war began. The families of those missing have reported their cases and the ICRC is trying to trace them, as they are either detained, wounded or simply out of touch. According to the ICRC, the three most damaged hospitals in Gaza are Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital and Nursing Home, Al Dorra Pediatric Hospital, and Palestine Red Crescent Al-Quds Hospital. All three have suffered direct hits during the war. Additionally, an interesting statistic from Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin), states that 70% of those suffering from chronic illness in the Strip are missing their treatment.

ACT International Communications Officer, Mika Hentunen, has tried entering into Gaza through Erez this morning, but has been denied access by the Israeli authorities due to this morning’s incident on the borders. Mika will be staying in the nearby Israeli town of Ashkelon and will be trying his luck again tomorrow morning. Mika has been in touch with Mr. Constantine Dabbagh, Director of the Middle East Council of Churches’ Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees in Gaza, who will be hosting Mika and arranging all logistical support and coordination necessary for Mika’s work in Gaza.