- Title: MIDEAST: Red Cross chief visits Sderot as Gaza residents queue for cash
- Date: 14th January 2009
- Summary: BOY CLIMBING DOWN STAIRS FROM TOP FLOOR TO BOTTOM FLOOR OF DAMAGED BUILDING
- Embargoed: 29th January 2009 12:00
- Topics: War / Fighting,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8DQB6QFK1FWH3HGZSZT17HR65
- Story Text: The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, visited the rocket-struck southern Israeli town of Sderot on Wednesday (January 14).
"I wanted to come to Sderot because I wanted to see what it means for a civilian population to live under threat of rocket attacks. And I mean by being here and by having talked to people and by what I have seen, I am just aware of what I knew before, but am even more aware, that it is a very difficult life, it's very difficult in psychological terms," Kellenberger told reporters after touring the town's emergency clinic and meeting local officials.
On Tuesday (January 13), Kellenberger visited the densely-populated Palestinian enclave of Gaza and said he was shocked and saddened by what he saw. Kellenberger urged both sides to spare civilians and to allow aid and rescue workers as well as medics to do their work.
On Wednesday, Israel permitted the entrance of tens of trucks carrying humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. The trucks entered through the Kerem Shalom crossing into southern Gaza.
Human rights groups have reported shortages of vital supplies, including water, in the Gaza Strip. A fuel shortage has brought frequent power blackouts.
Israel has permitted almost daily truck shipments of food and medicine.
But Human Rights Watch said Israel's daily three hour break in attacks to facilitate the supply of humanitarian aid to Gazans was "woefully insufficient".
In Gaza City residents visited the downtown area where the main banks are located to access their salaries. Many residents are afraid to venture out into the Rimal neighbourhood fearing they might be targeted by an Israeli strike.
"I have almost 50 people at home, 30 of them children. They all fled from Zeitoun and are relatives who have all come here to escape the shelling. Of course there is nothing to feed them at home so I came here to get my salary so I can buy whatever there is to feed them from the market," a Gaza City resident Abu Ala' told Reuters.
Many residents of Gaza are hosting relatives and loved ones who fled their neighbourhoods to stay with family in areas that are considered safer.
"Despite the shelling and the destruction that is taking place in all the areas, we have to head to the banks. Even while we stand here we are not safe, everyone is in danger, they could fire a missile from their F-16 at any moment at the park opposite here and we would all be destroyed. But people need to get goods and load their homes with flour, rice or anything that exists in the market in order to have some food to eat," Ahmad Abu Raya told Reuters.
Israeli troops edged closer to the heart of the city of Gaza on Wednesday morning and international organisations expressed growing concern about the plight of children trapped there.
The Palestinian death toll rose to 971, Gaza's Health Ministry said, counting some 400 women and children among those killed.
Israel says 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians hit by Hamas rockets fired across the border have been killed.
Israeli tanks have moved closer to the densely populated downtown area of Gaza City, but have not entered, residents said.
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