Gaza: Comparable to Sabra and Shatilais

Two Norwegian medics who returned on Monday, January 12, from the bombed-out Gaza Strip compared the Israeli onslaught to the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila in 1982.

"Gaza in 2009 is becoming a new bloody chapter in Palestinian and Middle Eastern history that is, unfortunately, comparable to Sabra and Shatila," Mads Gilbert told reporters at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport.

Though no definite figures are available, around 2,000 Palestinians were massacred inside the Lebanese camps in September of 1982 by Christian militia under the watchful eyes of their Israeli alley.

Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen were permitted to enter the two Palestinian refugee camps, in an area under Israeli army control, and slaughter civilians over three days.

Unlike massacres in some other conflicts, the perpetrators of Sabra and Shatila have not been brought to justice.

"We hoped we would never see anything like it again," said Gilbert, who worked in Lebanon in 1982 at the time of the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

More than 917 people have been killed since Israel unleashed its war machine against the heavily-populated Gaza Strip on December 27.

The high number of civilian casualties and the huge amount of suffering in Gaza is similar to what Gilbert, 61, and his colleague Erik Fosse, 58, had seen back in 1982.

The two doctors said as many as 90 percent of the wounded they had treated at the Shifa hospital were civilians.

"Every third person killed and every second person injured is a child under 18 or a woman," said Gilbert.

"The bombing must stop and the borders must be opened so that civilians can receive food, water and be safe."


A divided UN Human Rights Council voted on Monday to "strongly" condemn Israel’s onslaught, saying it had "resulted in massive violations" of the human rights of Palestinians.

It tasked 10 UN experts on human rights and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay with two separate probes into the violence.

It also set up an independent, international fact-finding mission to "investigate all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by Israel."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was asked to investigate the bombing of UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip.

Thirty-three African, Asian, Arab and Latin American countries voted for the resolution.

Thirteen mainly European states abstained, while Canada was the only country to vote against.

The United States is not on the Council and steers clear of it.

Western countries said the text put forward by Arab and African states was too biased and failed to clearly recognize the role that rocket attacks launched by Palestinians played in triggering the offensive.

Last minute changes failed to overcome the differences after the special session spilled into a second day.

The European Union’s representative said the EU could have supported some elements, but found the text too one-sided despite its concern about human rights violations in Gaza.

Israel has refused to cooperate with similar fact-finding missions in the past, as well as a UN special rapporteur on the human rights of the Palestinians.

Israeli authorities last month detained and turned back the UN expert, Richard Falk, upon his arrival at Ben Gurion airport.

( and Agencies)

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