Death to Israel! But, since you’re not dead yet… Save us, Israel!
“Scared Gazans clamoring to enter Israel,” by Sarah El Deeb for the Associated Press:
EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip – Trapped by Israeli tanks and Hamas gunmen, hundreds of terrified Palestinians holed up in a stench-filled concrete tunnel at a border crossing Tuesday, desperate to flee the Islamic militants now ruling the Gaza Strip.
Israel took in two people hit by Hamas gunfire, 24 hours after they were wounded in an assault on the tunnel, but officials remained steadfast in rejecting pleas to throw open the border. Three people wounded in the Gaza fighting last week also were allowed into Israel.
Israeli officials permitted a food shipment into Gaza for the first time since Hamas seized control in five days of fighting with the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. That eased concerns about a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished coastal territory.
The crowd at the Erez crossing included dozens of Fatah fighters, who Israeli officials feared could destabilize the West Bank, which is separated from Gaza by about 30
miles of Israeli territory. Officials said most of those seeking to cross were not in danger.
As the standoff stretched on, the scene inside the tunnel grew increasingly
Women, children and young men sat between two high concrete walls about 10
yards apart, looking tired and grimy. Suitcases and trash were strewn on the ground. Some people sat on mats, others on bare asphalt, including several men with bloody bandages on their legs.
A breeze barely stirred between the walls. The tunnel, which has no toilets, reeked of urine and sweat.
“It’s disgusting. People are using the walls as toilets. The women are suffering,” said one man, refusing to be identified out of fear for his safety. He said people were on edge and fighting over food.
In one instance, a crowd attacked a food cart, “and only the strong got the food,” the man said. Later, Israel sent in five cartons of food, he said. “There was order because they made everybody sit down,” he said.
The man said some in the tunnel feared Hamas members had infiltrated the crowd to spy on them.
Late Monday, gunmen from a small Hamas-allied group, disguised as civilians, pulled guns and grenades out of their luggage and killed the nephew of a notorious Fatah militia leader who had been slain by a Hamas mob last week, witnesses said. Fifteen people were wounded.
Nearly 24 hours after the attack in the tunnel, Israel allowed in two of the wounded Tuesday, army and medical officials said. Three other Gazans wounded last week also were let in. The army did not identify the wounded, who were taken to Israeli
An Israeli activist group, Physicians for Human Rights, said Israel’s Supreme
Court scheduled a hearing Wednesday to hear its petition seeking to force Israeli authorities to offer immediate medical treatment to anyone needing it at Erez.
Witnesses estimated 600 people were huddled in the long concrete passage that
leads to the Israeli side of the crossing. About 100 were believed to be fleeing Fatah security men, with the others civilians seeking a better life in the West Bank.
Israel, which has sophisticated weapons screening equipment at Erez, said it
was letting only the staff of international organizations, people with special permission
and humanitarian cases to cross.
“We don’t think that all of them there are threatened,” Nir Peres, a military liaison
officer, told Israel Radio.