bad memories? the UN headquarters in Baghdad after a massive suicide bombing destroyed the building and killed one UN official - 2003.

bad memories? the UN headquarters in Baghdad after a massive suicide bombing destroyed the building and killed one UN official - 2003.

The Guardian just reported that Israel bombed the United Nations headquarters in Gaza with white phosphorous shells.  As Israel is forcing itself deeper into the heart of the city, the peace-keeping force has been set on fire by the heaviest carpet bombing mission unleashed by the Tsahal so far.  Less than a week after Israel rejected UN Resolution 1860, asking for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the war is reaching epic proportions as even international institutions, settled in Gaza for conflict resolution and humanitarian purposes, are now being targeted by the Israeli army.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, has confessed to being “profoundly shocked and outraged” at this blatant display of disrespect, and commented that the number of casualties in the last three weeks amounted to 1,055 – and counting, a number he deemed “unbearable”. Currently in Cairo to take part in the Egypt-engineered peace talks, the Secretary General confided to the Guardian that “there is no reason for violence not to end now”. The international community is sharing Ki-moon’s distress as three people were injured in the chemical attack, including one UN official. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Israel’s attitude was “inacceptable” and “undefensible”. Last week, French newspapers titled on the division caused by the conflict. It seems that the balance is no longer in favour of Israel now that it targeted a United Nations mission which goal was entirely humanitarian. Brown continued: “[the UN mission is] bringing relief to civilians suffering in appalling conditions as a result of the ongoing military action and restrictions on food and medical supplies entering Gaza,” the prime minister said. “UN staff are working on behalf of the international community – any attack on them is unacceptable, as Israel has acknowledged.”

Concern is also expressed regarding several tonnes of relief supplies – medical apparel and food – set ablaze by the attack.  The United Nations’ administration promptly demanded an explanation from Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak.  Barack commented that he considered the attack as a “grave mistake” and promised this would never happen again, adding he would “pay extra attention” to any United Nations buildings and warehouses in the future.  Israel has closed in on the Gaza Strip, targeting no less than seventy locations, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave their homes and seek refugee in neighboring regions. If Hamas accepted to enter the Egyptian peace talks, it is not without a ceasefire and withdrawal condition. Israel, however, wants a total rendition of Hamas and a clause pertaining to their weapon decommission. Probabilities of a satisfying closing deal for both countries might prove to be weak at this point.

Had Israel accepted the conditions posed by the Security Council six days ago, when the death toll hadn’t yet reached a four-digit number, the international community would have perhaps been more keen into understanding their grievances towards Hamas and setting up an independant commission monitoring its weapon decommission. However, because of that extreme showcase of violence against a sovereign international institution, Israel is close to losing any support it might have ever had. It is hard to believe that unleashing illegal chemical weapons on a well-known humanitarian organization in the heart of a city could be simplified as a “mistake”. Will there be any going back after that attack?

Courtesy of Allison Kilkenny’s blog is the video of the bombing.

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