Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vatican official calls Gaza 'concentration camp'

Vatican City's Justice and Peace Minister Cardinal Renato Martino has sparked a row with Israel after saying they had created a virtual 'concentration camp' in the Gaza Strip.

"Let's look at the conditions in Gaza: these increasingly resemble a big concentration camp," said Cardinal Martino. He went on to say if the two sides couldn't find a resolution to the conflict, then it was up to the rest of the world to impose a peace deal upon them.

Needless to say the Israelis were not happy over the Cardinal's remarks, claiming his comments were based on "Hamas propaganda". Of course stories like this from the Times of London: "Red Cross finds starving children with 12 corpses in Gaza 'house of horrors'," aren't likely to make Cardinal Martino reassess his opinion about Gaza. And while the Red Cross hasn't called Gaza a concentration camp, they have used awfully harsh language (for the Red Cross at least) in talking about Israel's actions there accusing them of "unacceptable" conduct and several violations of international law.

The Times story focused on a group of children found alive but very weak lying next to the bodies of their dead mothers. The Red Cross said that it had been trying for four days to gain access to the area of Gaza where the children were found, but that the Israeli army repeatedly blocked them. The United Nations also announced today that they are withdrawing their personnel from Gaza after Israeli forces bombed several UN-run locations. In the worst incident 40 people were killed at a UN school where they went for shelter, thinking it would be safe from the bombing. The Israeli military had said that they fired on the school because Hamas forces were using it as a location to attack their troops, but late yesterday, in one televised report they admitted there were no Hamas forces at the school when it was hit (which begs the yet-unanswered question as to why the school was attacked in the first place).

Meanwhile, Hamas rocket attacks have continued today, as have talks about a ceasefire.
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