A Canadian human-rights worker in Gaza City has told the Straight that she witnessed Israel break a temporary cease-fire with Hamas.
“At least four people have been killed since the so-called cease-fire, the unilaterally imposed cease-fire that Israel declared,” Eva Bartlett, an Ontario woman volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, said.
Today (January 7), Israeli authorities announced that there would be the first of daily, three-hour cease-fires, according to BBC News. The lull in fighting was supposed to last from 11:00 GMT to 14:00 GMT, but Bartlett claimed she witnessed an Israeli attack in Gaza City during that time.
“Israeli authorities announced that for three hours, they would impose a cease-fire. But they certainly have not honoured that cease-fire,” Bartlett said from a media centre in Gaza City. “I was in an ambulance when a medic was shot in the leg when he was trying to retrieve a dead body. And that was during the so-called cease-fire.”
She continued, “Anyway, to use the term ”˜cease-fire’ is a misnomer because it is not a war; it is an assault, it is an invasion.”
On December 27, Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip. A ground offensive followed on January 3. Meanwhile, Hamas has continuned to fire rockets into southern Israel. Since the conflict began, 11 Israelis and as many as 700 Palestinians have been killed, according to BBC News.
Bartlett said that she has been in Gaza since November 8 and traveled to the territory with a group of human-rights activists, doctors, and reporters, to assist with human-rights efforts focused on Israel’s blockade around the territory.
She also spoke with the Straight about a January 5 Israeli attack on a media building in Gaza City which was brought to the Straight’s attention by Hanna Kawas, Vancouver resident and chairperson of the Canada Palestine Association.
An ISM media release claims that on January 5, a building housing international media personnel was fired on by an Israeli helicopter.
“Most people are saying that it was some sort of shelling from an Apache helicopter,” Bartlett told the Straight. “It was seven strikes within about 45 seconds, maybe. And this is a building that is obviously, very visibly a media building.”
According to Bartlett, the building housed approximately 10 media outlets, including Reuters and Russia Today, with which Bartlett said she was doing an interview with when the attack occurred.
Bartlett and an estimated 25 people reportedly made it out of the building safely.
“In the end, the Israeli authorities never have to explain an attack,” Bartlett said when asked for a possible rationale for the shelling. “They can just say that there was a Hamas target in and around the building, just as they have said with the over 700 people that have been killed.”
Since the latest conflict began, many high-profile journalists such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper have complained that Israel is limiting the media’s access to the conflict and impeding coverage. Israel says that Gaza is too dangerous for reporters to enter.
You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.