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Middle East

Palestinian children return to school

Article published on the 2009-01-24 Latest update 2009-01-26 09:24 TU

Palestinian school girls walk to school in Gaza on Saturday(Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian school girls walk to school in Gaza on Saturday
(Photo: Reuters)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unwra) has re-opened all of its 221 schools in Gaza after they were closed during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza strip. The population is attempting to resume normal life but building materials are not getting across the border and Palestianians are still unsure if the truces will hold.

Correspondent Catherine Monnet reporting from Gaza says the schools reopening is part of an attempt by the UN agency to bring life back to normal, but that "some of the schools are still used as shelters because there are still thousands of people who are not able to go back to their homes, which have been completely destroyed".

Interview: Correspondent Catherine Monnet in Gaza

24/01/2009 by Rosslyn Hyams

 

"It was quite amazing to see people coming back on the rubble of their homes and camping there. But there is no way they can live there so these people are still in shelters," she added.

She confirmed that the Israeli authorities are allowing trucks with humanitarian food supplies enter the strip but that building materials are not getting through.

Gazans are as uncertain as the rest of the world as to whether or not the current truces will hold. "Several people in these last two days came to me and asked me - because I was a journalist and a foreigner - 'do you think that it will start again?'.

She says the presence of Hamas has not weakened, "Hamas are still there, the siege is still there and the Israeli miltary presence is still around Gaza so the situation basically has not changed except that half of Gaza has been destroyed and more than 1000 people have been killed."

There is also fear of reprisals in the wake of the Israeli offensive as Hamas look around for perceived enemies within the population of the Gaza Strip. "Even if they are not visible, people can feel that Hamas are still in cotnrol of everything and because of the fear of settling scores, people are pretty scared," she said.

Hamas said on Saturday that it would create a committee to oversee all relief efforts in the territory.

Elsewhere in the world, the UK's BBC came in for strong criticism from the British government and from humanitarian campaigners after it refused to broadcast a charity's appeal for funds for Gaza. The BBC said it took the decision so as to remain impartial.

The Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is to travel to the US next week where he will meet with Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. The agenda will include the question of arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza and the sales of US arms.