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Palestine | International

Foreigners Flee Gaza Inferno
by IOL (reposted)
Friday Jan 2nd, 2009 9:56 AM
GAZA CITY — As Israel continued air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday, January 2, hundreds of foreigners left the impoverished strip to escape the week-long Israeli blitz.
"The situation is very bad. We are afraid for our children," Ilona Hamdiya, a woman from Moldova married to a Palestinian, told Reuters.

"We are very grateful to our embassy," she said in lightly accented Arabic.

Between 350 and 450 foreigners boarded buses in the pre-dawn murk into Israel.

They left behind 1.6 million Palestinians unable to escape the week-long Israeli attacks, which killed 428 people and wounded more than 2,200.

"I want to come back when the situation allows it," Alla Semaks, a 34-year-old Ukrainian woman married to a Palestinian, told The New York Times.

"I have nothing in Ukraine," said, Semaks, a mother of four. "My children are very afraid for their father. We fear there will be an Israeli ground offensive."

Three children of the same family were killed Friday in an Israeli air strike in the southern town of Khan Younis.

Medics said the three children, aged seven to 10, were killed when an Israeli missile hit nearby while they were playing on the street.

Deserted

Gaza streets were almost deserted Friday, littered with a week's bombing debris.

At Jabalya refugee camp to the north, boys inspected the twisted concrete left by an Israeli attack on a mosque.

"I will pray at home. You never know, they may bomb the mosque and destroy it on our heads," said one man buying humus from a street stand.

But another Palestinian was defiant.

"What better than to die while kneeling before God?" he said.

Nine mosques have been destroyed by Israeli war jets since Saturday.

Gaza markets, normally bustling on a Friday, were also deserted.

"It is an adventure to get out of your house to fetch a kilo of tomatoes or something," said Abu Yasser, a father of four.

"But I must take my chances because my children are not to blame for this and they do not understand why all this is happening."

More
by reposted
Monday Jan 5th, 2009 3:53 PM
OTTAWA – Canadian officials say they're concerned that Israeli authorities have prevented Canadians from escaping the warfare in the Middle East.

A Canadian Foreign Affairs official says the Israeli Defence Force prevented 36 Canadians from leaving Gaza on Monday, citing ``security concerns."

Canadian officials say a list of 36 Canadians who requested help to leave Gaza was given to Israeli and Jordanian officials Friday.

Their departure from the region was scheduled for today, but Israeli officials cancelled the move.

There are 58 Canadians in Gaza registered with Canadian consular authorities.

Since June 2007, Canada has launched half a dozen operations to help Canadians get out of Gaza.

Prior to the most recent outbreak of violence in the region, a total of 155 people had been evacuated to safer locations.

For the last eight years, Foreign Affairs has formally advised Canadians to stay out of Gaza.

http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/562064