On or off?


BBC is carrying a report (which seems more likely by the hour) that they have received a communique affirming Hamas’ commitment to breaking the ceasefire.

“Israel has said it is in favour of renewing the truce.
The Islamist militant group Hamas says Israel failed to ease its blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials insist they never made a commitment to do so…

"No mediator has approached us to extend the ceasefire so based on this... [after 19 December] we will respond to any Israeli aggression," the communique said.


Still a few hours left…



OCHA OPT: 'Six trucks a day through end of November'

OCHA reports that despite Israel’s intensified blockade of Gaza, 6 trucks a day have been getting through.

That’s a pitiful statistic when compared to 123 trucks a day in October 2008 and 475 in May 2008.

Or it might be a tiny chink of hope...



UN OCHA long-term report: humanitarian situation report

OCHA has published an in-depth report on the humanitarian crises in Gaza, as reported by UNRWA and OCHA. It doesn’t make for good bedtime reading.

High/lowlights (from an aid point of view):
* UN reports 51% of all Gaza’s power is provided by Israel and 7% by Egypt, total 58%
* Israel is providing enough fuel to power Gaza’s power station to 75-80% capacity, but not during past month

* UN calls for an immediate effort to build desalination plants and artificially recharge Gaza’s aquifer in order to provide water for Gaza’s residents



Financial aid: Italy provides €300k

Via Reliefweb: Italy's Foreign Affairs Ministry, through its Directorate-General for Cooperation and Development, has earmarked €300k for ICRC and primarily for Gaza.

The money will be used for health services and medical supplies.


And there's a bid from al-Zahar too

And Mahmoud al-Zahar has apparently said that he’ll (for Hamas) consider an extension to the ceasefire if Israel provides more food, fuel and other supplies.

Anyone listening in Jerusalem?


Hamas confusion over possible ceasefire extension

JPost carries an article asking whether Khaled Meshaal is trying to force a Hamas leadership split with Ismail Haniyeh.

Meshaal made public comments on Wednesday stating Hamas’ commitment to a resumption of rockets; other leaders (privately) stated that they ‘had no choice but to continue with the tehdiyeh’.

Izzedin al-Qassam, the Hamas ‘armed wing’, held a press conference (wearing balaclavas) and giving equally contradictory responses.

Gossip and intrigue? Or a silver lining?


Wrong type of aid entirely

Israel’s sent in rockets and warplanes following a Gazan rocket barrage aimed at Sderot. Workshops and a blacksmiths’ forge destroyed, but no casualties reported.


New boat: Jordan

Jordan’s sending in another boat, due to set sail on December 25. Slight challenge in that its organisers, the Islamic Action Front, worry that it will have to be refueled at least 6 times on the way to Gaza. Anyway, fingers crossed.

It’ll have activists, trades unionists, MPs and aid on board.


It's not Gaza but...

… the Municipality of Jerusalem is giving all Christian residents a free Christmas tree!

Who says this isn’t the season of cheer and goodwill?

New boat: Free Gaza 5

Free Gaza is sending Dignity back to Gaza – with 1 ton of Qatari aid and two Israeli journalists – on Friday. Fingers crossed!


Cooking gas into Gaza via tunnels

Hamas has put aside concerns over the safety of pumping pressurized cooking gas into Gaza via balloons in the Rafah tunnels. Apparently this method, which was too dangerous in the past (leading to explosions and injuries) is now fine.

You may remember that Hamas has regulated the tunnel industry – we must also hope it has placed safety above income.


Ceasefire ends tonight at 12am

Today marks the end of the 6-month Egyptian-brokered Hamas-Israel ‘lull’ (tehdiyeh).

Lots of news sources waiting for something to happen.
Hamas claims it’s not going to renew the arrangement, saying it wasn’t invited to Egypt to discuss an extension.
Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak says he’s prepared for an incursion if necessary, but would prefer not to fight.

A new threat from tramadol

Guardian Online carries a story about the booming trade in tramadol, a painkiller which heightens mood, relieves stress and increases sexual function, in Gaza. At 17p a tablet, only 5% of users are legally prescribed; the rest are addicted to supplies brought through the tunnels from Egypt.

Definitely amongst the worst kind of aid…


Here's the unofficial statement from UNRWA

No flour, says UNRWA.

Bizarrely, they also say ‘all crossings are closed’. They must mean today.

UN suspends food aid programme

International Herald Tribune and many others are reporting that UNRWA in Gaza has suspended its food aid programme, citing lack of resources.

This wouldn’t be a surprise if it had come before yesterday’s aid shipment, since there’s no doubt that supplies would have been running extremely low. However, yesterday COGAT reported a convoy of 1353 tons of food and medical aid.

More details as we get them.