Gaza UN official asks Israel to use restraint in responding to rocket

22 December 2010Condemning mounting rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, a senior United Nations official today acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defence but urged it to use maximum restraint and ensure that civilians are not endangered. “I condemn the firing of indiscriminate mortars and rockets by militant groups in Gaza, which have escalated in recent days,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said in a statement. “These attacks are in clear violation of international humanitarian law and endanger civilians in Israel.“Israel has a right to self-defence consistent with international humanitarian law,” he added, citing several recent air attacks against militants in Gaza. “I urge Israel to exercise maximum restraint and take every precaution to ensure that its forces do not endanger civilians in Gaza who all too often bear the brunt of escalation of violence.”Mr. Serry noted “modest progress” in recent months in easing Israel’s blockade of Gaza but added: “A lot more still needs to be done. The maintenance of calm is essential to create an environment in which further progress can be made in the interests of the people of both Gaza and Israel.”Meanwhile, Mr. Serry’s deputy, Maxwell Gaylard, who is also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, today criticized Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, noting that 396 structures have been destroyed so far this year, a nearly 45 per cent increase over the 275 demolished in 2009.“These actions have a severe social and economic impact on the lives and welfare of Palestinians and increase their dependence on humanitarian assistance,” he said, adding that 561 people, including 280 children, had been displaced by this year’s demolitions and the livelihoods of over 3,000 affected.“The position of the United Nations remains that the Government of Israel must take immediate steps to cease demolitions and evictions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” he said in the statement, issued as he visited the site of house that had been demolished just a day earlier in the Ras Al Amud neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of 13 people, including four children. read more

Lean ground beef recalled due to possible E coli risk

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is recalling a brand of lean ground beef because of a possible E. coli contamination.The agency says the Good Boucher brand beef was sold in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I., but may have also been distributed in other provinces and territories.The recall includes 285-gram packages with a best before date of March 21 and 510-gram packages with best before dates of March 19 and March 21.The CFIA says the recall was triggered by its test results and that no illnesses have been reported from eating the recalled beef.Food contaminated with E. coli may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage.The agency is advising consumers to check if you have the products in your home and throw them out. read more