International News

Gazans Say Nothing Has Changed

by Judith Sudilovsky

JERUSALEM (CNS) – Gazans are frustrated that, despite all the sacrifice and loss of life, nothing has changed for them, except perhaps having more fishing rights, said a Catholic aid official.

“Clearly there is anger felt, (but) people are cautious who they speak to and keep (their opinions) to themselves,” said Sami El-Yousef, Catholic Near East Welfare Association’s regional director for Palestine and Israel.

One Palestinian to whom he spoke told of the destruction caused by Hamas and its failure to meet the needs of the average person, El-Yousef said after a three-day visit to the Gaza Strip.

He saw widespread destruction to residential and commercial property, and directors of partner organizations who thought they would never see him again broke into tears at their meeting as they told of their experiences.

Toward the end of his visit, he could see lines of public employees at ATM machines late at night, waiting to receive their wages.

El-Yousef said people spoke about the eeriness of the precise intelligence information the Israelis had. He heard several stories of incidents in which the Israeli warnings to the civilians were very exact – all the way down to knowing the names of people living in certain buildings and who had left a building and who had not following a warning. People told him the Israelis would call back someone who had not left, asking them to leave.

“In the eyes of most people there was a concerted effort (by the Israelis) to try to give sufficient warning, unless there was an immediate danger of shooting by militants in the area or unless it was the home of an intended operative. Some families responded and others didn’t,” said El-Yousef.

He said that during and immediately following the 50-day summer war, Christian institutions in Gaza were able to provide assistance to those most in need.

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