Aid worker killed in Gaza as bombings hamper food distribution

An aid worker for CARE International’s food distribution project in Gaza, Mohammed Ibrahim Samouni, was killed on 7 January when bombs hit his home and also killed nearly 60 others, CARE International said on 8 January.

Samouni was a father of six. One of his sons remains in a critical condition.

Countless targets have been hit across Gaza since Israel began its bombardment on 27 December in response to rocket fire by Hamas into southern Israel.

Samouni worked at a food packing station managed by CARE’s partner, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, for two years. CARE’s Gaza Fresh Food Project, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), delivers fresh fruit and vegetables to 60,000 people, hospitals and orphanages weekly.

“Food distributions cannot continue because of the bombings. And the very people who are trying to deliver aid - paramedics, and now a worker for CARE’s distribution project - are being killed,” said Martha Myers, CARE’s country director in West Bank and Gaza.

Gaza residents have been trapped in their homes for 13-days since the operation started, lacking basic supplies.

CARE delivers blankets, heaters

On 4 January CARE and partner organisations delivered 7,000 blankets to Gaza residents along with plastic sheets and heaters - items desperately needed as many families have been forced to evacuate their homes, or are living in dire conditions in the cold with their windows smashed by the bombardments.

“Mohammed was a lovely person, he dedicated his entire life to helping other people,” CARE officer Juliette Seibold in Jerusalem told IRIN.

It took CARE officials in Jerusalem two days to learn of his death, since his home is in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City where Israeli ground forces are operating, an area CARE cannot access, said Seibold.

CARE currently has a team of 18 local staff working in Gaza. “It has been impossible for foreign staff to enter Gaza for two months,” said Seibold.

A survey by the Association of International Development Agencies based in Jerusalem found that of 25 agencies, none had been given permission to allow staff to enter Gaza since 5 November. Some 107 staff from these agencies have been denied access.