Gaza: UN HQ Ablazed

Posted: January 15, 2009 in Life, World
Tags: , , ,

UN building in Gaza shelled

The ITN has reported that witnesses and UN officials said the United Nations Relief and Work Agency building was being used as a shelter for civilians fleeing the bombardment of the Palestinian enclave when it was struck.

UN spokesman Chris Gunness said: ‘Our compound in Gaza has now received three hits, reportedly of white phosphorus.

‘Buildings in the compound are on fire, there are loaded fuel tankers nearby. Three people have been injured.

‘It is not clear at this stage if they are UNWRA staff or some of the 700 or so civilians who have taken refuge in our compound.’

The use of white phosphorous, which causes horrific burns on contact with skin, was banned as a weapon of war in civilian areas under the 1980 Geneva protocol.

An explosion in a Gaza City tower block housing the offices of the Reuters news agency and other media organisations was also blamed on an Israeli shell.

Witnesses said the southern side of the 13th floor of the Al-Shurouq Tower in the city centre had been struck by an Israeli missile or shell and a journalist for the Abu Dhabi television channel was injured.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said the number of deaths in the Gaza Strip after 20 days of fighting had become ‘unbearable’.

The Palestinian death toll has risen to at least 1,024, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. A Palestinian rights group said 670 were civilians. Thirteen Israelis -ten soldiers and three civilians- have been killed.

An Israeli envoy is meeting Egyptian mediators in Cairo as efforts to arrange a ceasefire with Islamist militants Hamas intensify.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, a former EU Middle East envoy, said: ‘My perception is we are very close to reaching a ceasefire. They are very close but still there is some work to be done.’

P/S: Not close enough. . .just another ‘comforting’ statement I’d say.

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