MPs Ms Oona King and Dr Jenny Tonge are today in Gaza City with Christian Aid and local organisations to look at the humanitarian crisis and agricultural restrictions in the area.
Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, the second most senior figure in the Palestinian Hamas movement, escaped an apparent assassination attempt in Gaza City this morning. Israeli helicopter gunships flying over Gaza City fired up to seven rockets at his jeep, one of which hit the vehicle.
Following the Israeli attacks on Abdel Aziz Rantissi, Dr Tonge said: ‘I am gravely concerned that the Israeli government has launched an attack in such close proximity to Gaza’s main hospital.
‘Medical supplies are already extremely low and this can only further undermine the Palestinian Authority’s ability to look after its people. From what we have seen so far, the policy of settlements and land destruction is effectively squeezing the Palestinians to death.’
Ms King said: ‘My fear is that the Israeli action will undermine the Palestinian prime minister, Abu Mazan. His mission in Gaza was to persuade Palestinian militant groups to agree to a ceasefire. Today’s helicopter gunship attacks must surely jeopardise his hopes of progress and I doubt the Israeli government was ignorant of that fact.
‘A Palestinian farmer I spoke to today said “Israel talks peace, but only in news bulletins. On the ground the strategy is to make people refugees.”’
Alison Kelly, Christian Aid’s head of the Middle East and Central Asia team said: ‘The Road Map provides the best opportunity to bring about and end to violence and the occupation - both of which are necessary to end poverty and the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Actions such as we have seen today only undermine progress to peace.’
As soon as the border is reopened again, the MPs and Christian Aid staff leave for the West Bank. They arrived in Israel yesterday (Monday) and will return to the UK on Sunday.
Journalists/ editors: to contact the MPs in Gaza call Dominic Nutt on: 0207 523 2427 or 07720 467680.